Feliciano v. Wesley et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Leonard P. Stark on 11/16/2020. (sam)
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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE
Civ. Act. No. 17-430-LPS
TRUMAN MEARS, Warden, and
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE
STATE OF DELAWARE,
Antonio Feliciano. Pro se Petitioner.
Maria T. Knoll, Deputy Attomey General of the Delaware Department of Justice, Wilmington,
Delaware. Attomey for Respondents.
Warden Truman Mears replaced former Warden Kolawole Akinbayo, an original. party to the case.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 25(d).
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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 Antonio Feliciano ("Petitioner"). (D.I. 1) The State
filed an Answer in Opposition. (D.I. 9) For the reasons discussed, the Court will dismiss the
On April 24, 2014, following a bench trial in the Superior Court, Petitioner was convicted of
second degree burglary and theft under $1500 (lesser included offense). (D.I. 9 at 1) On November
6, 2014, the Superior Court sentenced Petitioner as a habitual offender to eight years at Level V for
the burglary conviction, and six months at Level V suspended for six months of probation for the
theft conviction. (Id.) The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed Petitioner's convictions in June 2015.
See Feliciano v. State, 115 A.3d 1214 (fable), 2015 WL 3766442 (Del June 12, 2015).
In September 2015, Petitioner filed in the Superior Court a motion for postconviction relief
pursuant to Delaware Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 ("Rule 61 motion"). (D.I. 12-9) The
Superior Court conducted a hearing on the Rule 61 motion in February 2016. See Feliciano v. State,
157 A.3d 1235 (fable), 2017 WL 897421, at *4 (Del Mar. 3, 2017). After the hearing, in April 2016,
the Superior Court ordered Petitioner to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to detennine Petitioner's
competency to stand trial and to assess his state of mind at the time of the offense. (D.I. 12-7 at 2)
The psychiatric report was filed in May 2016, finding that Petitioner, although mentally ill, had been
competent to stand trial. See Feliciano, 2017 WL 897421, at *9. The Superior Court denied the Rule
61 motion on June 24, 2016. Id. at *2. Petitioner appealed, and the Delaware Supreme Court
affirmed the Superior Court's judgment on March 3, 2017. Id.
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GOVERNING LEGAL PRINCIPLES
A. Exhaustion and Procedural Default
Absent exceptional circumstances, a federal court cannot grant habeas relief unless the
petitioner has exhausted all means of available relief under state law. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b);
O'Suilivan v. Boercke/, 526 U.S. 838, 842-44 (1999); Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270,275 (1971). The
AEDPA states, in pertinent part:
An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in
custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be
granted unless it appears that (A) the applicant has exhausted the remedies available in the courts
of the State; or
(B)(i) there is an absence of available State corrective process; or
(ii) circumstances exist that render such process ineffective to
protect the rights of the applicant.
28 u.s.c. § 2254(b)(1).
The exhaustion requirement is based on principles of comity, requiring a petitioner to give
"state courts one full opportunity to resolve any constitutional issues by invoking one complete
round of the State's established appellate review process." O'Sullivan, 526 U.S. at 844-45; see also
Wms v. Vaughn, 228 F.3d 178, 192 (3d Cir. 2000). A petitioner satisfies the exhaustion requirement
by demonstrating that the habeas claims were "fairly presented" to the state's highest court, either
on direct appeal or in a post-conviction proceeding, in a procedural manner permitting the court to
consider the claims on their merits. See Bell v. Cone, 543 U.S. 447,451 n.3 (2005); Castille v. Peoples,
489 U.S. 346,351 (1989).
A petitioner's failure to exhaust state remedies will be excused if state procedural rules
preclude him from seeking further relief in state courts. See Lines v. Larkins, 208 F.3d 153, 160 (3d
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Cir. 2000); Teague
Lane, 489 U.S. 288, 297-98 (1989). Although treated as technically exhausted,
such claims are nonetheless procedurally defaulted. See Unes, 208 F.3d at 160; Coleman v. Thompson,
501 U.S. 722, 750-51 (1991). Similarly, if a petitioner presents a habeas claim to the state's highest
court, but that court "clearly and expressly'' refuses to review the merits of the claim due to an
independent and adequate state procedural rule, the claim is exhausted but procedurally defaulted.
See Coleman, 501 U.S. at 750; Hanis ti. Reed, 489 U.S. 255, 260-64 (1989).
Federal courts may not consider the merits of procedurally defaulted claims unless the
petitioner demonstrates either cause for the procedural default and actual prejudice resulting
therefrom, or that a fundamental miscarriage of justice will result if the court does not review the
claims. See McCandless v. Vaughn, 172 F.3d 255,260 (3d Cir. 1999); Coleman, 501 U.S. at 750-51. To
demonstrate cause for a procedural default, a petitioner must show that "some objective factor
extemal to the defense impeded counsel's efforts to comply with the State's procedural rule."
Murray v. Carrier, 477 U.S. 478,488 (1986). To demonstrate actual prejudice, a petitioner must show
"that [the errors at trial] worked to his actual and substantial disadvantage, infecting his entire trial
with error of constitutional dimensions." Id. at 494.
Altematively, a federal court may excuse a procedural default if the petitioner demonstrates
that failure to review the claim will result in a fundamental miscarriage of justice. See Edwards v.
Carpenter, 529 U.S. 446, 451 (2000); Wenger v. Frank, 266 F.3d 218, 224 (3d Cir. 2001). A petitioner
demonstrates a miscarriage of justice by showing a "constitutional violation has probably resulted in
the conviction of one who is actually innocent." Murray, 477 U.S. at 496. Actual innocence means
factual innocence, not legal insufficiency. See Bousley v. United States, 523 U.S. 614, 623 (1998). In
order to establish actual innocence, the petitioner must present new reliable evidence - not
presented at trial - that demonstrates "it is more likely than not that no reasonable juror would have
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found petitioner guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." House v. Beil, 547 U.S. 518, 537-38 (2006); see
also Sweger v. Chesn~, 294 F.3d 506, 522-24 (3d Cir. 2002).
B. Standard of Review
If a state's highest court adjudicated a federal habeas claim on the merits, the federal court
must review the claim under the deferential standard contained in 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). Pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), federal habeas relief may only be granted if the state court's decision was
"contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law, as
determined by the Supreme Court of the United States," or the state court's decision was an
unreasonable determination of the facts based on the evidence adduced in the trial. 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(d)(1) & (2); see also WiJJiams v. Tt!Jlor, 529 U.S. 362,412 (2000);Appei v. Horn, 250 F.3d 203,
210 (3d Cir. 2001). A claim has been "adjudicated on the merits" for the purposes of 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(d) if the state court decision finally resolves the claim on the basis of its substance, rather
than on a procedural or some other ground See Thomas v. Horn, 570 F.3d 105, 115 (3d Cir. 2009).
The deferential standard of§ 2254(d) applies even ''when a state court's order is unaccompanied by
an opinion explaining the reasons relief has been denied." Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 98
(2011 ). As explained by the Supreme Court, "it may be presumed that the state court adjudicated
the claim on the merits in the absence of any indication or state-law procedural principles to the
contrary." Id. at 99.
Finally, when reviewing a habeas claim, a federal court must presume that the state court's
determinations of factual issues are correct. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). This presumption of
correctness applies to both explicit and implicit findings of fact, and is only rebutted by clear and
convincing evidence to the contrary. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); CampbeJJ v. Vaughn, 209 F.3d 280,
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286 (3d Cir. 2000); Miiler-EI v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322,341 (2003) (stating that clear and convincing
standard in§ 2254(e)(1) applies to factual issues, and unreasonable application standard of
§ 2254(d)(2) applies to decisions on merits).
Petitioner timely filed the § 2254 Petition presently pending before the Court, which asserts
the following three grounds for relief: (1) defense counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing
to subpoena a witness identified by Petitioner; (2) there was insufficient evidence to support
Petitioner's conviction; and (3) Petitioner was not competent at the time of his trial because he was
taking medication for his mental illness. (D.I. 1)
Claim One: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
In Claim One, Petitioner contends that defense counsel provided ineffective assistance by
failing to subpoena Bruce Cherry to testify at trial. According to Petitioner, Cherry is one of the two
eyewitnesses to the offense for which Petitioner was convicted. Petitioner presented the arguments
in Claim One to the Delaware state courts in his Rule 61 proceeding. The Superior Court denied
the Claim as meritless, and the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed that decision "on the basis of the
[Superior C]ourt's order." Feliciano, 2017 WL 897421, at *1. Given these circumstances, Claim One
will only warrant relief if the Superior Court's decision2 was either contrary to, or an unreasonable
application of, clearly established federal law.
The Supreme Court precedent governing ineffective assistance of counsel claims is the twopronged standard enunciated in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), and its progeny. See
W@ns v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510 (2003). Under the first Strickland prong, a petitioner must demonstrate
that "counsel's representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness," with
Given the Delaware Supreme Court's reliance on the Superior Court's judgment, the Court will
reference the Superior Court's decision for all claims analyzed under§ 2254(d)(1) in this Opinion.
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reasonableness being judged under professional norms prevailing at the time counsel rendered
assistance. See Strick/and, 466 U.S. at 688. Under the second Strick/and prong, a petitioner must
demonstrate "there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the
result of the proceeding would have been different." Id. at 694. A reasonable probability is a
"probability sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome." Id. A court can choose to address
the prejudice prong before the deficient performance prong, and reject an ineffective assistance of
counsel claim solely on the ground that the defendant was not prejudiced. See Strickland, 466 U.S. at
In order to sustain an ineffective assistance of counsel claim, a petitioner must make
concrete allegations of actual prejudice and substantiate them or risk summary dismissal. See Wells v.
Petsock, 941 F.2d 253, 259-60 (3d Cir. 1991); Dooley v. Petsock, 816 F.2d 885, 891-92 (3d Cir. 1987).
Although not insurmountable, the Strick/and standard is highly demanding and leads to a "strong
presumption that counsel's conduct falls within the wide range of reasonable professional
assistance." Strickland, 466 U.S. at 689.
With respect to the first prong of the§ 2254(d)(1) inquiry, a "state court decision is contrary
to clearly established federal law if it applies a rule that contradicts the governing law set forth in
Supreme Court precedent, or if it confronts a set of facts that are materially indistinguishable from a
decision of [the Supreme] Court and nevertheless arrives at a result different from that reached by
the Supreme Court." Eley v. Erickson, 712 F.3d 837, 846 (3d Cir. 2013). Here, the Superior Court
decision was not contrary to Strickland; it correctly identified and applied the Strickland standard. See
Williams, 529 U.S. at 406 ("[A] run-of-the-mill state-court decision applying the correct legal rule
from [Supreme Court] cases to the facts of a prisoner's case [does] not fit comfortably within
§ 2254(d)(1)'s 'contrary to' clause.").
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The Court must also determine if the Superior Court reasonably applied the Strick/and
standard to the facts of Petitioner's case. When performing the second prong of the§ 2254(d)
inquiry, the Court must review the Superior Court's decision with respect to Petitioner's ineffective
assistance of counsel Claims through a "doubly deferential" lens.3 See Richter, 562 U.S. at 105. The
relevant question when analyzing counsel's performance under the "doubly deferential lens" "is not
whether counsel's actions were reasonable, [but rather] whether there is any reasonable argument
that counsel satisfied Strick/antis deferential standard." Id. In tum, when assessing prejudice under
Strickland, the question is "whether it is reasonably likely the result would have been different'' butfor counsel's performance, and the "likelihood of a different result must be substantial, not just
conceivable." Id. Finally, when viewing a state court's determination that a Strickland claim. lacks
merit through the lens of§ 2254(d), federal habeas relief is precluded "so long as fairminded jurists
could disagree on the correctness of the state court's decision." Id. at 101.
As defense counsel explained in his Rule 61 affidavit, the only available witness - Petitioner's
son - actually did testify at trial. Bruce Cherry, the other eyewitness, "was incarcerated at the ti.me of
trial and unavailable according to his attomey." (D.I. 12-6 at 40) During the Rule 61 hearing,
defense counsel further explained that Cherry's attorney asserted Cherry's Fifth Amendment right
against self-incrimination and refused to allow Cherry to testify at trial. See Feliciano, 2017 WL
As explained by the Richter Court,
The standards created by Strickland and§ 2254(d) are both "highly
deferential," and when the two apply in tandem, review is doubly so.
The Strick/and standard is a general one, so the range of reasonable
applications is substantial. Federal habeas courts must guard against
the danger of equating unreasonableness under Strickland with
562 U.S. at 105 (internal citations omitted).
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897421, at *8. Given this record, the Court concludes that defense counsel did not perform.
deficiently by failing to subpoena an unavailable witness.
It follows that Petitioner has failed to demonstrate that he suffered prejudice &om Cherry's
absence as a witness. See Zettlemoyer v. Fu/comer, 923 F.2d 284,298 (3d Cir.1991) (petitioner cannot
establish ineffective assistance of counsel for failure to call a witness in absence of specific allegation
or offer of evidence that testimony was forthcoming or available upon reasonable investigation);
Lewis v. MaZflrkiewiez, 915 F.2d 106, 115 (3d Cir.1990) (prejudice prong of Strickland not satisfied
where petitioner did not establish that testimony of potential witness - whom counsel failed to
interview - would have supported his claim of self-defense). Notably, Petitioner has provided no
evidence that Cherry would have testified at trial, that Cherry would have admitted to burglarizing
the home, or that Cherry would have absolved Petitioner of participating in the burglary.
For all of these reasons, the Court concludes that the Superior Court reasonably applied
Strick/and in holding that defense counsel did not provide ineffective assistance by failing to
subpoena Cherry to testify at trial.
Claim Two: Insufficient Evidence
In Claim Two, Petitioner contends that insufficient evidence was presented at trial to
support his conviction because the victim homeowner ("victim") had given him permission to be in
her house. He asserts that he was only at the house to find money that the victim had taken &om
him the night before.
The record reveals that Petitioner did not exhaust state remedies for Claim Two, because he
did not present a stand-alone insufficient evidence claim to the Superior Court in his Rule 61 motion
and to the Delaware Supreme Court on post-conviction appeal. Instead, he argued that defense
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counsel was ineffective for failing to challenge the evidence and for having Petitioner forego a
suppression hearing. (D.I. 12-9 at 4; D.I 12-4 at 4-9)
At this juncture, any attempt by Petitioner obtain review of Claim Two in a new Rule 61
motion would be time-barred under Delaware Superior Court Criminal Rule 61(1)(i) and barred as
second or successive under Rile 61(i)(2). Therefore, Claim Two is procedurally defaulted, meaning
· that the Court cannot review the merits of the Claim absent a showing of cause and prejudice, or
that a miscarriage of justice will result absent such review.
Petitioner does not assert any cause for his procedural default of Claim Two. In the absence
of cause, the Court does not need to address the issue of prejudice. Nevertheless, Petitioner cannot
demonstrate that he was prejudiced by the default. Although Petitioner asserts he did not ''break
into" the house because he had the victim's permission to be there, a person is guilty of second
degree burglary when the person knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a dwelling with the
intent to commit a crime therein. See 11 Del. Code§ 825(a). In Petitioner's case, the trial court was
aware that the victim had previously entrusted Petitioner with holding her mail and with keeping an
eye on her house. However, the fact that Petitioner may have had permission to enter the victim's
home does not change the fact that Petitioner was found in possession of the items that were stolen
from the victim's home. Thus, under Delaware law, there was sufficient evidence for a trier of fact
to find that Petitioner was guilty of second degree burglary.
Finally, the miscarriage of justice exception cannot excuse Petitioner's default, because he
does not assert any new reliable evidence of his actual innocence.
Thus, for all of these reasons, the Court will deny Claim Two as procedurally barred
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Claim Three: Competency to Stand Trial
In Claim Three, Peri.ti.oner contends that he was not competent to stand trial because he was
taking medications that affected his mental state. The Superior Court rejected the argument as
meritless in Peri.ti.oner's Rule 61 proceeding, and the Delaware Supreme Court affinned that decision
on the basis of the Superior Court's order. As a result, Claim Three will only warrant habeas relief if
the Superior Court's decision was either contrary to, or an unreasonable application of, clearly
established federal law.
The clearly established federal law governing competency issues is the standard announced
in Dusky v. United States, 362 U.S. 402 (1960), and Drope v. Missouri, 420 U.S. 162 (1974). As
explained by the Supreme Court:
the Constitution does not permit trial of an individual who lacks
"mental competency." Dusk:, defines the competency standard as
including both (1) "whether" the defendant has "a rational as well as
factual understanding of the proceedings again.st him" and (2)
whether the defendant "has sufficient present ability to consult with
his lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding." 362
U.S., at 402. Drope repeats that standard, stating that it "has long
been accepted that a person whose mental condition is such that he
lacks the capacity to understand the nature and object of the
proceedings again.st him, to consult with counsel, and to assist in
preparing his defense may not be subjected to a trial." 420 U.S., at
Indiana v. Edwards, 554 U.S. 164, 169-70 (2008).
Turning to the first prong of the§ 2254(d)(l) inquiry, the Court notes that the Superior
Court stated that the standard for competency was "whether [the defendant] has sufficient present
ability to consult with his lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding - and whether
he has a rational as ·well as factual understanding of the proceedings again.st him, and whether he
possess[es] the ability to 'assist in preparing his defense."' Feliciano, 2017 WL 897421, at *13. While
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the Superior Court did not specifically mention Dusky and Drope, the Delaware case it referenced4
did articulate the applicable standard and cite to Dusky and Drope. Consequently, the Superior
Court's decision was not contrary to clearly established federal law. See Fahy v. Horn, 516 F.3d 169,
196 (3d Cir. 2008) (concluding state court's decision was not "contrary to" clearly established federal
law where it relied on state court cases which themselves articulated proper standard derived from
Supreme Court precedent); Williams, 529 U.S. at 406 ("[A] run-of-the-mill state-court decision
applying the correct legal rule from [Supreme Court] cases to the facts of a prisoner's case [does] not
fit comfortably within§ 2254(d)(l)'s 'contrary to' clause.").
The Court must further detennine if the Superior Court unreasonably applied the standard
articulated in Drope and Dusky in rejecting Petitioner's argument that he was not competent to stand
trial because he was medicated. Significantly, when a state court renders a determination as to
determinations on the merits of a factual issue are entitled to a
presumption of correctness on federal habeas review. A federal court
may not overturn such determinations unless it concludes that they
are not "fairly supported by the .record." We have held that a state
court's conclusion .regarding a defendant's competency is entitled to
such a presumption.
Demosthenes v. Baal, 495 U.S. 731, 735 (1990) (internal citations omitted).
After .reviewing the .record in accordance with this framework, the Court concludes that the
Superior Court's competency determination is .reasonably supported by the record and, in tum, that
the Superior Court reasonably applied clearly established federal law in denying Petitioner's
contention that he had not been competent to stand trial due to being medicated for his mental
illness. Although Petitioner contends that his medicated-state rendered him incompetent to stand
The Superior Court citied State v. Williamson, 2013 WL 268981, at *2 (Del. Super. Ct Jan. 23, 2013),
which itself cited Dusky, 362 U.S. at 402, and Drope, 420 U.S. at 171. See Feliciano, 2017 WL 897421,
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trial, there is no support for this claim. The transcript of the pre-trial colloquy and the exchanges
between Petitioner and the trial judge reveal that Petitioner was able to respond clearly and properly
to the judge's questions and that Petitioner was aware of the proceedings against him. During the
pre-trial colloquy, defense counsel informed the trial judge that he had known Petitioner for twentyfive years, and provided valuable insight and support for the finding that Petitioner was competent
to stand trial. The trial judge also independently questioned Petitioner about his familiarity with the
criminal justice system, the medications he was taking and their effect on his ability to understand
the proceedings against him, his understanding of the charges against him and possible sentences,
his desire to proceed with a bench trial instead of a jury trial, and confirmed that the final decision
on how to proceed was Petitioner's alone. (D.I. 12-10 at 17-19)
After all of this interaction, the trial judge then concluded:
I find that based on what [defense counsel] has told me, your
attorney, and my conversation with you, [Petitioner], I find that you
are aware of what is going on today, you understand the process, you
understand what you're facing. You are able to communicate with
your attorney and that you feel that you are prepared for trial and that
we can go forward.
(D.1. 12-10 at 19)
The Superior Court's inquiry into Petitioner's competency during the Rule 61 proceeding
provides additional support for the determination that Petitioner was competent to stand trial. The
judge who conducted the pre-trial competency colloquy with Petitioner was the same judge who
conducted the Rule 61 hearing on Petitioner's competency argument, so that judge had the benefit
of assessing Petitioner's credibility and awareness in both proceedings. However, the Superior
Court did not just rely on its past understanding of Petitioner's case. Rather, after initially reviewing
Petitioner's Rule 61 allegations, defense counsel's Rule 61 affidavit in response, and the State's
response, the Superior Court found it necessary to conduct a hearing on Petitioner's contentions.
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The Superior Court described Petitioner's demeanor and presentation during the Rule 61
hearing as follows:
[Petitioner] represented himself, appeared coherent, responsively
answered questions, and acted appropriately. [Petitioner] was aware
that he was on medications, was able to tell the Court the names of
his current medications (Geodon and Zoloft), and knew that he took
Risperdal, Haldol, and Seroquel for twelve years prior to his trial
He acknowledged that his medications actually helped his mental
illness because his prescribed drugs lower the voices in his head,
make him feel calmer, and make him feel better about himsel£ He
also admitted that his mental health issues were essentially the same
before and after his trial He said that he was not sure what was
happening in the trial because he has memory problems.
Moreover, although [Petitioner] claimed that his medication
interfered with his ability to understand the trial, [Petitioner]
acknowledged that he did not inform. the Court, when he had the
opportunity, that he did not understand the proceedings or was
unprepared to go forward on the day of trial.
Feliciano, 2017 WL 897421, at *4.
Defense counsel testified during the Rule 61 hearing. In addition to reminding the Superior
Court about his twenty-five year relationship with Petitioner and his knowledge of Petitioner's
mental health issues, defense counsel stated that Petitioner had assisted in his defense and had
participated in his trial, explaining that it was Petitioner who suggested defense counsel should
subpoena Cherry and his niece to testify at trial. Feliciano, 2017 WL 897421, at *8.
The Superior Court also questioned Petitioner about the difference between his Rule 61
allegation of incompetency and the answers he had given during the pre-trial colloquy. See Feliciano,
2017 WL 897421, at *4. Petitioner acknowledged he remembered the trial judge's pre-trial questions
and, in response to the Superior Court's statement that "you told me you understood what was
going on," Petitioner responded:
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Well, I was just basically trying to, you know - I don't know what I
was tbiolciog about but I really wasn't feeling good that day.
Feliciano, 2017 WL 897421, at *4. Petitioner then proceeded to describe his recollection of the
burglary, and stated that he was taking responsibility for the crime even though his son ''was one of
the brains behind" the burglary. Id. After that statement, the following discourse occurred:
Which is contrary to what he testified to in
[trial] Court, right?
So, he lied in [trial] Court?
Feliciano, 2017 WL 897421, at *4.
After the conclusion of the Rule 61 hearing, the Superior Court ordered Petitioner to
undergo a competency examination. The psychiatrist issued a report on May 20, 2016, which stated
that Petitioner had been competent to stand trial, even considering his mental illness. Id. at *10.
Specifically, the report stated that Petitioner "possessed an intact understanding of the legal charges
against him ... the plea available to him, the plea bargaining ..., the weight of the evidence against
him and the potential outcome of the case." Id. at *11.
Given this record, Petitioner cannot demonstrate that the Superior Court erred in
determlolog he was competent to stand trial. There is strong evidence that Petitioner had a rational
and factual understanding of the proceeding against him, that he was sufficiently able to consult with
defense counsel, and that he assisted in the preparation of his defense. Accordingly, the Court
concludes that the Superior Court reasonably applied Drope and Dusk:] in rejecting Petitioner's
contention that he was incompetent to stand trial, and that its rejection of Claim Three was not
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based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence. Accordingly, the Court
will deny Claim Three for failing to satisfy the standards set forth in § 2254(d)(1) and (2).
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
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." 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2); see also
Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473,484 (2000).
The Court has concluded that the instant Petition does not warrant relief. Reasonable jurists
would not find this conclusion to be debatable. Accordingly, the Court will not issue a certificate of
For the reasons discussed, the Court concludes that the Petition must be denied. An
appropriate Order will be entered.
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