Hamilton v. State Of Delaware
MEMORANDUM re 1 PETITION for Writ of Habeas Corpus. Signed by Judge Richard G. Andrews on 12/17/2012. (nms)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE
JAMES ROBERT HAMILTON,
Civil Action No. 12-1314-RGA
STATE OF DELAWARE,
In 1996, a Delaware Superior Court jury convicted petitioner James Robert
Hamilton of two charges of first degree unlawful sexual contact. (D. I. 1) The Delaware
Superior Court sentenced Hamilton to one year of incarceration, followed by three years
at Level3 probation. Hamilton was also sentenced to a lifetime registration requirement
as a Tier 3 Sex Offender. /d. at 13.
In October 2012, Hamilton filed in this court a form application for federal habeas
relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 ("petition"). (D.I. 1) Specifically, Hamilton asks the
court to "overturn" his 1996 conviction and sentence, primarily because he received an
unfair trial. /d. at 5-13.
Federal courts are required to liberally construe pro se filings. See Royce v.
Hahn, 151 F.3d 116, 118 (3d Cir. 1998). Nevertheless, a district court may summarily
dismiss a habeas petition "if it plainly appears from the face of the petition and any
exhibits annexed to it that the petitioner is not entitled to relief." See Rule 4, 28 U.S.C.
foil. § 2254. This is such a case. As a general rule, a federal district court only has
jurisdiction over a habeas application when the petitioner is in custody pursuant to the
state court judgment "he is attacking at the time the habeas petition is filed." Obado v.
New Jersey, 328 F.3d 716, 717 (3d Cir. 2003); 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Here, Hamilton
explicitly concedes that he is not presently confined pursuant to the sentence imposed
for his 1996 conviction. In addition, the court does not view Hamilton's lifetime Tier 3
sex offender registration requirement as rendering him in "custody" for federal habeas
Accordingly, the court will summarily dismiss Hamilton's petition for lack of
jurisdiction, and will not issue a certificate of appealability. See 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2);
United States v. Eyer, 113 F.3d 470 (3d Cir. 1997); 3d Cir. L.A.R. 22.2 (2011). A
separate order follows.
Aithough not yet addressed by the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, every
court that has considered the issue has held that a petitioner challenging a state's sex
offender registration requirement who has completed his sentence does not satisfy the
"in custody" requirement of 28 U.S.C. § 2254. See Williams v. Dist. Att'y Allegheny
County, 2010 WL 4388073, at **7-8 (W.O. Pa. Oct. 29, 2010) (collecting cases).
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