Elder v. State Of Delaware
MEMORANDUM. Signed by Judge Gregory M. Sleet on 1/22/16. (sar)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE
aka Jimmie Lewis,
STATE OF DELAWARE,
Civil Action No. 15-765-GMS
In October 2003, a Delaware Superior Court jury convicted petitioner Emmanuel Elder of
carjacking, felony theft, and resisting arrest. See Lewis v. State, 884 A.2d 512 (Table), 2005 WL
2414293 (Del. Sept. 29, 2005). The Superior Court sentenced Elder to eight years of
imprisonment, suspended after six years for decreasing levels of probation. Elder appealed, and
the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed his convictions and sentences. Id.
Thereafter, Elder filed numerous applications for post-conviction review in the Delaware
state courts, all of which were denied. See State v. Lewis, 2015 WL 301986, at *1-*2 (Del.
Super. Ct. Jan. 22, 2015) In July 2008, Elder filed a federal petition for habeas corpus in this
court, which the court denied as time-barred on December 9, 2009. See Lewis v. Phelps, 672 F.
Supp. 2d 669 (D. Del. 2009). Finally, on June 21, 2010, Eider's Delaware sentence was
completely discharged; as a result, Elder was no longer in custody pursuant to his 2003 Delaware
conviction. See Lewis, 2015 WL 301986, at *2.
On September 8, 2014, Elder filed his fifth Rule 61 motion for post-conviction relief in
the Delaware Superior Court challenging his 2003 convictions and sentence in Delaware. See
Lewis, 2015 WL 301986, at *2. The Delaware Superior Court denied the Rule 61 motion on
January 22, 2015 because Elder's complete discharge from Delaware custody with respect to his
2003 convictions and sentence deprived him of standing to pursue the motion. 1 Id. at *3.
Presently pending before this court is Elder's petition for a writ of error coram nobis filed
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1651. (D.I. 2) Elder challenges the Delaware Superior Court's denial of
his fifth Rule 61 motion, and he contends that his 2003 Delaware convictions were unlawful.
(D.1. 2 at 4) He asks the court to: (1) vacate his Delaware convictions; (2) order a writ to
adjudicate him competent; and (3) order a writ declaring him actually innocent of all the
offenses listed in his original indictment. (D.I. 2 at 24)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Federal courts have authority to issue a writ of error coram nobis under the all writs act,
which permits "courts established by an Act of Congress" to issue "all writs necessary or
appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions." 28 U.S.C. § 1651. The availability of coram
no bis relief is limited to situations where the petitioner's sentence has been served, the petitioner
shows exceptional circumstances and continuing collateral disadvantages, and alternative
remedies (such as habeas corpus) are not available. United States v. Denedo, 556 U.S. 904, 911
It appears that Elder was convicted in Ohio on September 24, 2014 on charges of failure
to comply with an order or signal of a police officer, obstructing official business, failure to
register, a headlight violation, and a no tail light or rear license plate violation. See Elder v.
Ohio, 2015 WL 4138738, at* 1 (N.D. Ohio July 8, 2015). He was sentenced to serve a term of
thirty months in prison. Id. at *2.
(2009). Significantly, however, coram no bis relief is not available in federal court as a means of
attacking a state court judgment. See Obado v. New Jersey, 328 F.3d 716, 718 (3d Cir. 2003).
Rather, a person seeking coram no bis relief with respect to a state court conviction must pursue
such relief in state court, not federal court. Id.
In this case, Elder challenges the legality of his 2003 Delaware convictions for carjacking,
felony theft, and resisting arrest. (D.I. 2 at 24) The court's power of coram nobis review is
limited to challenges associated with federal convictions. Thus, to the extent the instant filing
may be considered a "true" petition for a writ of error coram no bis, it is dismissed for lack of
Even if the court were to construe the instant filing as a petition for a writ of habeas
corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, Elder would not be entitled to relief. A federal district
court can only entertain a habeas petition in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the
judgment of a State court. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Elder is no longer in custody pursuant to the
2003 Delaware convictions and sentence he is presently challenging. Therefore, the court cannot
entertain his habeas request under § 2254.
For the aforementioned reason, the court will dismiss Elder's petition for a writ of error
coram no bis for lack of jurisdiction. The court will also decline to issue a certificate of
appealability because Elder has failed to make a "substantial showing of the denial of a
constitutional right." 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2); 3d Cir. L.A.R. 22.2 (2011);
United States v. Eyer, 113 F.3d 470 (3d Cir. 1997). A separate Order will be entered.
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