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Darby v. Ricci

April 27, 2009

MICHAEL DARREN DARBY, PETITIONER,
v.
MICHELLE RICCI, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hillman, District Judge

Hon. Noel L. Hillman

OPINION

Michael Darren Darby filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a) challenging a conviction entered in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Cumberland County, on December 9, 1991. For the reasons expressed below, and because the Petition, as drafted and read in light of the pertinent state court decisions, shows that the claims are time barred, this Court will dismiss the Petition and deny a certificate of appealability.

I. BACKGROUND

Petitioner challenges a judgment of conviction entered in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Cumberland County, on December 9, 1991, based on his plea of guilty to murder and four armed robberies. (Pet. ¶¶ 1-2.) The Law Division imposed a life sentence, with a 30-year period of parole ineligibility for murder, and a consecutive 15-year term, with five years of parole ineligibility, for the armed robberies. (Pet. ¶ 3.) See also State v. Darby, 2008 WL 2121748 at *1 (N.J. Super., App. Div., May 20, 2008). Petitioner did not file a direct appeal. (Pet. ¶ 8.) See also Darby at *1.

Petitioner asserts that he filed a state petition for post-conviction relief on October 11, 2005, and the Law Division denied relief on February 14, 2008.*fn1 (Pet. ¶ 11(a)(3) and (a)(8).) Petitioner appealed. See Darby at *1. The Appellate Division affirmed the order denying post-conviction relief in an opinion filed May 20, 2008, holding: (1) Darby failed to show excusable neglect or exceptional circumstances warranting relaxation of the five-year time limit for a petition for post-conviction relief under N.J. Court Rule 3:22-12(a); (2) Darby failed to establish that counsel was constitutionally ineffective; and (3) the sentence was neither illegal nor an abuse of discretion. Id. at *2-*3. On September 9, 2008, the New Jersey Supreme Court denied certification. See State v. Darby, 196 N.J. 464 (2008) (table); (Pet. ¶ 11(b)(8).)

Petitioner executed his first § 2254 Petition, which is presently before this Court, on October 3, 2008. The Petition raises four grounds:

Ground One: a/DENIAL OF EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL; b/COUNSEL INEFFECTIVENESS BY DENIAL OF RIGHT OF APPEAL; C/INEFFECTIVENESS OF POST PROCEEDING COUNSEL; d/INEFFECTIVENESS OF PCR-APPELLATE COUNSEL.

Ground Two: PETITION FOR POST CONVICTION RELIEF COURT FAILED IN ITS SPECIFIC PURPOSE TO NOTICE, OR REMEDY OBVIOUS; a/LACK OF JURISDICTION BY SENTENCING COURT; b/SUBSTANTIAL DEPRIVATION OF DEFENDANT'S FEDERAL CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS; c/IMPOSITION OF ILLEGAL SENTENCE OR THAT NOT AUTHORIZED BY LAW.

Ground Three: a/DEFENDANT WAS FACED WITH CHALLENGES HE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO; b/DENIED FAIRNESS AND ACCESS TO THE COURT.

Ground Four: a/THE PETITION FOR POST CONVICTION RELIEF IN THIS MATTER HAS BEEN WRONGFULLY DENIED; b/CONVICTION WAS OBTAINED BY USE OF COERCED CONFESSION VIOLATING FEDERAL CONSTITUTIONAL PRIVILEGE AGAINST SELF INCRIMINATION; c/CONVICTION AND DENIAL OF RELIEF ON POST PROCEEDING WERE OBTAINED BY CONSTITUTIONAL FAILURE OF PROSECUTION TO DISCLOSE TO DEFENDANT EVIDENCE FAVORABLE TO THE DEFENDANT. (Pet. ¶ 12, Grounds One-Four.)

II. DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review "Habeas corpus petitions must meet heightened pleading requirements." McFarland v. Scott, 512 U.S. 849, 856 (1994). Habeas Rule 2(c) requires a § 2254 petition to "specify all the grounds for relief available to the petitioner," "state the facts supporting each ground," "state the relief requested," be printed, typewritten, or legibly handwritten, and be signed under penalty of perjury. 28 U.S.C. § 2254 Rule 2(c).

Habeas Rule 4 requires a judge to sua sponte dismiss a § 2254 petition without ordering a responsive pleading "[i]f it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court."

28 U.S.C. § 2254 Rule 4. Thus, "Federal courts are authorized to dismiss summarily any habeas petition that appears legally insufficient on its face." McFarland, 512 U.S. at 856. Dismissal without the filing of an answer or the State court record has been found warranted when "it appears on the face of the petition that petitioner is not entitled to relief." Siers v. Ryan, 773 F.2d 37, 45 (3d Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 490 U.S. 1025 (1989); see also McFarland, 512 U.S. at 856; United States v. Thomas, 221 F.3d 430, 437 (3d ...


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