Submitted: October 22, 2013
Upon Defendant's Second Motion for Postconviction Relief – DENIED
R. David Favata, Esquire, Department of Justice.
Curtis M. Collins, James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Pro Se Defendant.
William C. Carpenter, Jr. Judge.
On this 23rd day of January 2014, upon consideration of Defendant's Second Motion for Postconviction Relief, it appears to the Court that:
1. Defendant filed this pro se Motion for Postconviction Relief pursuant to Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 ("Rule 61") on October 22, 2013. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's Second Motion for Postconviction Relief is hereby DENIED.
2. Commencing July 8, 2003, a two-day jury trial was held in which the Defendant was found guilty of two counts of First Degree Robbery, two counts of Possession of a Deadly Weapon During the Commission of a Felony, Possession of a Deadly Weapon by Person Prohibited, Assault Second Degree, and Terroristic Threatening. Defendant was sentenced as a habitual offender on September 26, 2003 to a minimum of 28 years of incarceration, to be followed by periods of decreasing supervised probation. Upon appeal, Defendant's convictions were affirmed by the Delaware Supreme Court and the mandate was issued on March 16, 2004.
3. On February 2, 2006, Defendant filed his first motion for postconviction relief arguing two grounds: ineffective assistance of counsel and prosecutorial and/or judicial misconduct. The Court denied the Motion on April 28, 2006, finding that Defendant's prior counsel acted reasonably in deciding not to file a motion to suppress, which would likely be denied, and choosing not to visit the crime scene. Further, the Court found that the State had no obligation to offer a plea to Defendant, there was adequate notice of the trial date, and there was no indication that the trial was conducted unfairly or in a manner prejudicial to Defendant. For those reasons, the motion was denied.
4. On October 22, 2013, Defendant filed the present motion, arguing that the following constitute grounds for relief: (1) judicial abuse of discretion in denying Defendant counsel in his first motion for postconviction relief; (2) judicial abuse of discretion in not conducting a conflict hearing sua sponte and/or assigning a conflict attorney prior to trial; (3) ineffective assistance of counsel; and (4) prosecutorial misconduct during trial.
Procedurally- Barred Claims
5. Prior to addressing the merits of any postconviction claim, the Court must determine whether the procedural requirements of Rule 61 have been met.Specifically, any ground for relief raised by the Defendant that was not raised at trial or on direct appeal is procedurally barred unless the Defendant shows both cause for relief and prejudice from a violation of his rights. Additionally, any grounds for relief previously adjudicated, including those adjudicated in "the proceedings leading to the judgment of conviction, in an appeal, in a postconviction proceeding, or in a federal habeas corpus proceeding, " are barred unless "reconsideration of the claim is warranted in the interest of justice."
6. The Court finds that Defendant's claims of judicial abuse of discretion at the trial level and prosecutorial misconduct at trial, enumerated as (2) and (4) above, are procedurally barred. First, in regard to judicial abuse of discretion, Defendant argues that when he filed his Motion to Disqualify Counsel on March 28, 2003, the Court should have conducted a conflict hearing and/or appointed conflict counsel sua sponte. Instead, after receiving the motion, the Court ...