Miles v. Pierce et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION re Application for Writ of Habeas Corpus. Signed by Judge Leonard P. Stark on 3/31/17. (ntl)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE
TYRONE A. MILES,
Civ. Act. No. 14-102-LPS
DAVID PIERCE, Warden, and
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE
STATE OF DELAWARE,
Herbert W eiswasser Mondros, Esquire. Attorney for Petitioner.
Karen V. Sullivan, Deputy Attorney General of the Delaware Department of Justice, Wilmington,
Delaware. Attorney for Respondents.
March 31, 2017
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STARK, U.S. District Judge:
Pending before the Court is an Application For A Writ Of Habeas Corpus Pursuant To 28
U.S.C. § 2254 ("Petition") filed by Petitioner Tyrone A. Miles ("Petitioner"). (D.I. 1) The State has
filed an Answer in Opposition. (D.I. 11) For the reasons discussed, the Court will dismiss the
Petition as time-barred by the limitations period prescribed in 28 U.S.C. § 2244.
In November 2007, Petitioner was indicted on charges of attempted first degree murder,
first degree robbery, two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony
("PFDCF"), and possession of a firearm by a person prohibited ("PFBPP"). See Miles v. State, 985
A.2d 390 (Table), 2009 WL 4114385 (Del. Nov. 23, 2009). These charges stemmed from
Petitioner's robbery and shooting of a convenience store clerk in Dover, Delaware. Id. at *1.
Petitioner entered a guilty plea to the charges on July 22, 2008, which he withdrew on September 22,
2008. (D.I. 11 at 3) In December 2008, Petitioner filed a motion to suppress his police statement.
The Delaware Superior Court denied the suppression motion after a hearing, and granted severan.ce
of the PFBPP charge in February 2009. Id.
On February 12, 2009, a Delaware Superior Court jury convicted Petitioner of attempted
first degree murder and PFDCF; the jury found him not guilty of first degree robbery and the
associated PFDCF. (D.I. 11 at 3) On April 16, 2009, the Superior Court sentenced Petitioner to life
in prison ph1s five years at Level V. Id. Petitioner appealed, and the Delaware Supreme Court
affirmed his convictions on November 23, 2009. See Miles, 2009 WL 4114385, at *3.
On November 5, 2010, Petitioner filed his first motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to
Delaware Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 ("Rule 61 motion"). (D.I. 13 at 464) The Superior
Court denied the Rule 61 motion as procedurally barred and meritless on November 10, 2011. See
State v. Miles, 2011 WL 7144238 (Del. Super. Ct. Nov. 10, 2011). The Delaware Supreme Court
affirmed that decision on February 22, 2012. See Miles v. State, 38 A.3d 1255 (Table), 2012 WL
589281 (Del. Feb. 22, 2012).
Petitioner filed his second Rule 61 motion on April 5, 2012 (D.l. 13 at 466), which the
Superior Court denied as time-barred under Rule 61(i)(1) on December 12, 2012 (D.I. 13 at 491504). Petitioner appealed, and the I)elaware Supreme Court dismissed the appeal as untimely on
January 28, 2013. See Miles v. State, 61A.3d1618 (Table), 2013 WL 324114 (Del. Jan. 28, 2013).
Represented by counsel, Petitioner filed the instant§ 2254 Petition in January 2014. (D.I. 1)
The Petition asserts three grounds for relief: (1) defense counsel. provided ineffective assistance by
stipulating to the admission of a fingerprint report and allowing a second fingerprint examiner to
verify the report; (2) Petitioner's Fifth Amendment rights were violated when he was not provided
Miranda warnings prior to the second statement Petitioner made to police Detective Richardson; and
(3) Petitioner's Fifth Amendment rights were violated when the videotaped police statement was
played for the jury. (D.l. 1 at 5-6) The State filed an Answer, asserting that the Petition should be
dismissed as time-barred or, alternatively, because the claims asserted therein are procedurally barred
or meritless. (D.I. 11)
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA") was signed into law
by the President on April 23, 1996. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). AEDPA prescribes a one-year period of
limitations for the filing of habeas petitions by state prisoners, which begins to pm from the latest
(A) the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion
of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review;
(B) the date on which the impediment to filing an application created
by State action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United
States is removed, if the applicant was prevented from filing by such
(C) the date on which the constitutional right asserted was initially
recognized by the Supreme Court, if the right has been newly
recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable
to cases on collateral review; or
(D) the date on which the factual predicate of the claim or claims
presented could have been discovered through the exercise of due
28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). AEDPA's limitations period is subject to statutory and equitable tolling. See
Holland v. Florida, 560 U.S. 631, 645 (2010) (equitable tolling); 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2) (statutory
Petitioner's § 2254 Petition, filed in 2014, is subject to the one-year limitations period
contained in§ 2244(d)(1). See Lindh v. Muphy, 521 U.S. 320, 336 (1997). Petitioner does not allege,
and the Court cannot discern, any facts triggering the application of§ 2244(d)(1)(B), (C), or (D).
Given these circumstances, the one-year period of limitations began to mn when Petitioner's
conviction became final under§ 2244(d)(1)(A).
Pursuant to§ 2244(d)(1)(A), if a state prisoner appeals a state court judgment but does not
seek certiorari review, the judgment of conviction becomes final ninety days after the state appellate
court's decision. See Kapral v. United States, 166 F.3d 565, 575, 578 (3d Cir. 1999);Jones v. Morton, 195
F.3d 153, 158 (3d Cir. 1999). Here, the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed Petitioner's convictions
on November 23, 2009, and he did not seek certiorari review. Consequently, Petitioner's
convictions became final on February 22, 2010. Applying the one-year limitations period to that
date, Petitioner had until February 22, 2011 to timely file his Petition. See Wilson v. Beard, 426 F.3d
653 (3d Cir. 2005) (holding that former Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 6(a) and (e) applies to
federal habeas petitions); Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(a)(1) (providing that day of event that triggers period is
excluded when computing time periods). Petitioner, however, waited until January 26, 20141 to file
the Petition, almost three full years after the expiration of the limitations period. Thus, his habeas
Petition is untimely, unless the limitations period can be statutorily or equitably tolled. See Jones, 19 5
F.3d at 158. The Court will discuss each doctrine in turn.
A. Statutory Tolling
Pursuant to§ 2244(d)(2), a properly filed state post-conviction motion tolls AEDPA's
limitations period during the time the action is pending in the state courts, including any postconviction appeals, provided that the motion was filed and pending before the expiration of
AEDPA's limitations period. See Swartz v. Meyers, 204 F.3d 417, 420-24 (3d Cir. 2000); Price v. Tqylor,
2002 WL 31107363, at *2 (D. Del. Sept. 23, 2002). A post-conviction motion that is untimely under
state law is not properly filed for § 2244(d) (2) purposes and, therefore, has no statutory tolling effect.
See Pace v. DiGugliehno, 544 U.S. 408, 414 (2005).
Here, Petitioner filed his first Rule 61 motion on November 5, 2010. The Superior Court
denied the Rule 61 motion, and the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed that decision on February 22,
2012. As such, the Rule 61 motion tolled the limitations period from November 5, 2010 through
February 22, 2012.
It appears as though Petitioner's attorney filed the Petition in person. Therefore, the Court adopts
the date .on the civil cover sheet CT anuary 26, 2014) as the date of filing.
When Petitioner filed his Rule 61 motion on November 5, 2012, 256 days of AEDPA's
limitations period had already expired. The limitations clock started to run again on February 23,
2012, and ran the remaining 109 days without interruption until the limitations period expired on
June 11, 2012. Contrary to Petitioner's contention, the second Rule 61 motion that he
5, 2012 has no statutory tolling effect because the Superior Court's denial of the motion as untimely
means that it does not qualify as a properly filed post-conviction motion for§ 2244(d)(2) purposes.
Consequently, the Petition is time-barred, unless equitable tolling is applicable.
B. Equitable Tolling
AEDPA's limitations period may be tolled for equitable reasons in appropriate cases. See
Holland, 560 U.S. at 645. A petitioner can ollly qualify for equitable tolling by demonstrating
"(1) that he has been pursuing his rights diligently, and (2) some extraordinary circumstance· stood
in his way and prevented timely filing;" 2 mere excusable neglect is insufficient. Schlueter v. Varner,
384 F.3d 69, 77 (3d Cir. 2004). Consistent with these principles, the Third Circuit has specifically
limited the equitable tolling of AEDPA's limitations period to the following circumstances:
(1) where the defendant (or the court) actively misled the plaintiff;
(2) where the plaintiff was in some extraordinary way prevented from
asserting his rights; or
(3) where the plaintiff timely asserted his rights mistakenly in the
Jones, 195 F.3d at 159; Thomas v. Sf!Yder, 2001WL1555239, at *3-4 (D. Del. Nov. 28, 2001).
Petitioner does not assert, and the Court cannot discern, that any extraordinary
circumstances prevented him from filing the instant Petition in a timely manner. Petitioner also
Holland, 560 U.S. at 648.
cannot demonstrate that he exercised reasonable diligence in pursuing his claims, because he waited
almost a full two years after the denial of his first Rule 61 motion to file the instant Petition. To the
extent Petitioner's untimely filing of the Petition was due to a mistake regarding statutory tolling or
the result of a miscalculation regarding the one-year filing period, such factors do not warrant
equitably tolling the limitations period. See Tqylor v. Carroll, 2004 WL 1151552, at *5-6 (D. Del. May
14, 2004). Thus, the Court concludes that the equitable tolling doctrine does not apply in this case.
Accordingly, the Court will dismiss the Petition as untimely. 3
CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY
A district court issuing a final order denying a § 2254 petition must also decide whether to
issue a certificate of appealability. See 3d Cir. L.A.R. 22.2 (2011); 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2). A federal
court denying a habeas petition on procedural grounds without reaching the underlying
constitutional claims is not required to issue a certificate of appealability unless the petitioner
demonstrates that jurists of reason would find it 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. See Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000).
The Court has concluded that Petitioner's habeas Petition does not warrant relief because it
is time-barred. Reasonable jurists would not find this conclusion to be debatable. Accordingly, the
Court declines to issue a certificate of appealability.
For the reasons discussed, Petitioner's Application For A Writ Of Habeas Corpus Pursuant
To 28 U.S.C. § 22?4 is DENIED. An appropriate Order will be entered.
Having determined that the Petition is time-barred, the Court will not address the State's other
reasons for dismissal.
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