Submitted: December 2, 2013
On Appeal from a Decision of the Court of Common Pleas, AFFIRMED.
Louis B. Ferrara, Esquire, Ferrara & Haley, Attorney for Defendant.
Daniel B. McBride, Esquire, Deputy Attorney General, State of Delaware, Department of Justice, Attorney for State of Delaware.
Vivian L. Medinilla, J.
This case comes before this Court on appeal from a decision of the Court of Common Pleas ("CCP") finding Defendant, Miguel Burgos ("Defendant"), guilty of Operating a Motor Vehicle While Under the Influence of Alcohol in violation of 21 Del. C. § 4177. For the reasons set forth below, this Court finds that Defendant's arguments do not warrant a reversal of the trial court's decision. Therefore, the CCP's decision is AFFIRMED.
PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
On March 6, 2011 Corporal John Breen of the Delaware State Police ("Cpl. Breen") responded to the scene of a single car accident at the corner of Route 141 and Route 13 in New Castle County, Delaware. Cpl. Breen observed Defendant near the disabled vehicle. Defendant was unbalanced and exhibited slurred speech and an odor of alcohol. Cpl. Breen confronted Defendant, who first confessed to being intoxicated and then failed to complete field sobriety tests. Defendant was arrested by Cpl. Breen and charged with Operating a Motor Vehicle While Under the Influence of Alcohol, Inattentive Driving, and Failure to have Insurance Identification in violations of 21 Del. C. §§ 4177, 4176 and 2118, respectively.
On November 19, 2012, the trial judge heard and denied Defendant's Motion to Suppress and presided over a non-jury trial immediately thereafter. On February 25, 2013, after hearing Defendant's oral Motions for Judgment of Acquittal and Re-argument, Defendant was found guilty of Operating a Motor Vehicle While Under the Influence of Alcohol.
Defendant filed an Opening Brief for this appeal on July 1, 2013. Defendant asserts three independent arguments in support of this appeal: (1) Defendant was not properly identified, (2) the trial court improperly admitted evidence in violation of CCP Rule 16, and (3) the trial judge improperly advocated on behalf of the State.
In response, the State filed its Answering Brief on July 26, 2013. Defendant filed a Reply Brief on August 5, 2013. Oral arguments were presented to this Court on December 2, 2013.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
As an intermediate appellate court, the function of this Court in its review of appeals from the CCP mirrors that of the Supreme Court. As such, this Court has an obligation to correct errors of law and to review findings of fact "to determine if they are sufficiently supported by the record and are the product of an orderly and logical deductive process." Questions of law receive de novo review, whereas questions of fact are reviewed under a "clearly erroneous" standard. The trial court's findings must be supported by substantial evidence, or in other words, such evidence as a "reasonable mind might accept to support a conclusion." If substantial evidence exists for a finding ...