Smith v. Biden et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION - Signed by Judge Sue L. Robinson on 3/7/13. (rwc)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE
FRANKLIN C. SMITH,
CARL DANBERG, Commissioner, and
ATIORNEY GENERAL OF THE
STATE OF DELAWARE,
Franklin C. Smith.
Civ. No. 11-415-SLR
Pro se petitioner.
Elizabeth R. McFarlan, Deputy Attorney General, Delaware Department of Justice,
Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for respondents.
Presently before the court is Franklin C. Smith's ("petitioner") application for a writ
of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
Petitioner was in custody at
the Plummer Community Correction Center in Wilmington, Delaware, when he filed the
For the reasons that follow, the court will dismiss his application as
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
In May 2010, petitioner was charged by indictment with two counts of criminal
mischief of less than $1000; third degree burglary; and theft of under $1500.
(0.1. 34 at
In July 2010, the Superior Court ordered petitioner to undergo a psychiatric
After receiving the report of that evaluation, the Superior Court found
petitioner incompetent to stand trial and ordered the Department of Correction ("DOC")
to transfer petitioner to the Delaware Psychiatric Center ("DPC") for treatment.
Following another psychological/psychiatric report from the DPC in November 2010, the
Superior Court allowed petitioner to be transferred back to the DOC and revived the
On January 18, 2011, petitioner pled guilty to the burglary and
The Superior Court immediately sentenced him to an aggregate of four
years at Level V incarceration, suspended immediately for Level IV, and suspended
again for twelve months upon acceptance into the Level III Cornerstone program (mental
health and substance abuse treatment).
The Superior Court ordered the DOC to
house petitioner at the DPC until he was admitted to Cornerstone.
appeal his conviction or sentence.
Id. at 2.
Petitioner did not
Between June 2010 and September 2011, petitioner, acting pro se, filed five state
habeas petitions, four motions for sentence modification (an additional such motion was
filed by counsel), three motions for credit for time previously served, one complaint for an
extraordinary writ, and a motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to Delaware Superior
Court Criminal Rule 61 ("Rule 61 motion").
Petitioner also filed various motions to
compel, to disqualify the judge, and to dismiss counsel.
(D.1. 34 at 2)
Court granted one of petitioner's motions for modification of sentence to substitute the
Crest program for the Cornerstone program.
Superior Court's orders.
Petitioner did not appeal from any of the
The final modified sentence order issued by the Superior
Court on August 31,2011, provided that petitioner, effective July 13, 2011, was to serve
four months at Level IV at the VOP Center, after which he was discharged as
Petitioner filed an undated federal habeas application in May 2011.
Honorable Michael M. Baylson dismissed the application without prejudice on July 25,
2011, for failure to exhaust state remedies.
Petitioner then filed an addendum on
August 11, 2011, which the Honorable Michael M. Baylson construed as a motion to
reopen; the motion was granted and the case was reopened on November 21,2011.
Petitioner filed an amendment to the application in January 2012.
In February, 2012, the case was reassigned to this court's docket.
Thereafter, the State
filed an answer contending that the court must dismiss the application in its entirety
because petitioner's claims are moot and/or not cognizable on federal habeas review.
According to Article III, Section 2, of the United States Constitution, federal courts
can only consider ongoing cases or controversies.
494 U.S. 472, 477-78 (1990);
Lewis v. Continental Bank, Corp.,
v. Kissinger, 309 F.3d 179, 180 (3d Cir.
2002)(finding that an actual controversy must exist during all stages of litigation).
"case-or-controversy requirement subsists through all stages of federal judicial
Lewis, 494 U.S. at 477-78.
When a habeas petitioner challenges his underlying conviction, and he is
released during the pendency of his habeas petition, federal courts presume that "a
wrongful criminal conviction has continuing collateral consequences" sufficient to satisfy
the injury requirement.
Spencer V. Kemna, 523 U.S. 1,8 (1998);
Blackman, 236 F.3d 130, 134 n.4 (3d Cir. 2001).
However, when a petitioner does not
attack his conviction, the injury requirement is not presumed.
INS, 264 F.3d 378, 384 (3d Cir. 2001).
see Steele v.
Chong v. District Director,
"[O]nce a litigant is unconditionally released
from criminal confinement, the litigant [can only satisfy the case-and-controversy
requirement by] prov[ing] that he or she suffers a continuing injury from the collateral
consequences attaching to the challenged act,,1 "that is likely to be redressed by a
favorable judicial decision."
Spencer, 523 U.S. at 7.
In the absence of continuing
collateral consequences, a federal district court does not have jurisdiction to review moot
North Carolina v. Rice, 404 U.S. 244, 246 (1971)("mootness is a
Chong, 264 F.3d at 383-84.
309 F. 3d at 181.
Petitioner's original and amended applications assert ten discernible grounds for
relief: (1) ineffective assistance of counsel; (2) excessive bail; (3) coerced plea; (4)
double jeopardy violation; (5) due process violations; (6) malicious prosecution; (7)
sabotage; (8) miscarriage of justice; and (9) wrongful imprisonment.
The record reveals that the Superior Court fully discharged petitioner from
probation on September 19, 2011.
Thus, to the extent petitioner's application seeks
immediate release from the Plummer Community Correction Center and the
extinguishment of his Delaware sentence, he has received the requested relief. 2
Petitioner has not alleged, and the court cannot discern, any continuing collateral
consequences stemming from the claims raised in his application that can be redressed
by a favorable judicial decision in this federal habeas proceeding.
See Lane v.
Williams, 455 U.S. 624, 631, 633 (1982)(" since [the challenged] sentences expired
during the course of these proceedings, this case is moot; ... [t]hrough the mere
passage of time, respondents have obtained all the relief that they sought ... no live
Harris v. Williams, 2002 WL 1315453, at *2 (D. Del. June 14,
By failing to demonstrate continuing collateral consequences, petitioner has
failed to satisfy Article Ill's case-and-controversy requirement.
Chong, 264 F.3d at 383-84.
See Spencer, 523 U.S.
Therefore, the court will deny the instant application
During the pendency of this proceeding, petitioner filed two motions requesting
representation by counsel.
Having determined that the application
21t appears that petitioner is now incarcerated in Knoxville, Tennessee.
must be denied as moot, the court will deny the motions for representation by counsel as
Petitioner has also filed a motion to compel compensation.
requesting monetary relief are not cognizable on federal habeas review.
the court will deny the motion.
CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY
A district court issuing a final order denying a § 2254 application must also decide
whether to issue a certificate of appealability.
See 3d Cir. L.A.R. 22.2 (2011).
certificate of appealability is appropriate when a petitioner makes a "substantial showing
of the denial of a constitutional right" by demonstrating "that reasonable jurists would find
the district court's assessment of the constitutional claims debatable or wrong."
U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2);
Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473,484 (2000).
When a federal
court denies a habeas petition on procedural grounds without reaching the underlying
constitutional claims, the court is not required to issue a certificate of appealability unless
the petitioner demonstrates that jurists of reason would find the following debatable: (1)
whether the petition states a valid claim of the denial of a constitutional right; and (2)
whether the court was correct in its procedural ruling.
The court has concluded that the instant application does not warrant federal
Consequently, the court declines to issue a certificate of appealability
because petitioner has failed to make a substantial showing of the denial of a
For the foregoing reasons, the court will deny petitioner's § 2254 application.
The court also finds no basis for the issuance of a certificate of appealability.
appropriate order will follow.
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