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Collins v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

June 9, 2014

JOSHUA A. COLLINS, Defendant Below-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff Below-Appellee

Submitted: May 16, 2014.

Case Closed June 25, 2014.

Editorial Note:

This decision has been designated as "Table of Decisions Without Published Opinions." in the Atlantic Reporter.

Court Below--Superior Court of the State of Delaware, in and for Kent County. Cr. ID 0911013039.

Before STRINE, Chief Justice, BERGER and RIDGELY, Justices.

OPINION

Henry duPont Ridgely, Justice.

ORDER

This 9th day of June 2014, upon consideration of the opening brief and the appellee's motion to affirm pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 25(a), it appears to the Court that:

(1) The defendant-appellant, Joshua A. Collins, filed this appeal from the Superior Court's summary dismissal of his first motion for postconviction relief. The State of Delaware has filed a motion to affirm the judgment below on the ground that it is manifest on the face of Collins's opening brief that his appeal is without merit.[1] We agree and affirm.

(2) The record reflects that Collins was indicted for nineteen drug and weapon offenses on January 4, 2010. Collins, with the assistance of counsel, pled guilty to delivery of heroin, maintaining a dwelling for keeping controlled substances, possession of ammunition by a person prohibited, and drug trafficking on March 30, 2010. The remaining fifteen charges in the indictment were dismissed. The Superior Court sentenced Collins to a total of forty-one years Level V imprisonment, suspended after eight years for decreasing levels of supervision. Collins did not file a direct appeal.

(3) On March 12, 2014, Collins filed his first motion for postconviction relief and requested appointment of counsel. Collins claimed he would not have pled guilty but for his counsel's ineffective assistance. The Superior Court summarily dismissed the motion for postconviction relief as procedurally barred by Superior Court Criminal Rule 61(i)(1) (" Rule 61" ) and denied the request for counsel as moot. On April 10, 2014, Collins filed a notice of appeal. Collins argues that the Superior Court abused its discretion by summarily dismissing his motion for postconviction relief and denying his request for counsel.

(4) This Court reviews the Superior Court's denial of postconviction relief for abuse of discretion and questions of law de novo .[2] The Court must consider the procedural requirements of Rule 61 before addressing any substantive issues.[3] Applying the procedural requirements of Rule 61(i), Collins's motion for postconviction relief was time-barred because it was not filed within one year after his conviction became final.[4] Collins did not file his motion for postconviction relief until almost four years after his conviction became final.

(5) To avoid application of Rule 61(i)(1), Collins relies upon Rule 61(i)(5). Rule 61(i)(5) provides that the Rule 61(i)(1) time bar does not apply to " a colorable claim that there was a miscarriage of justice because of a constitutional violation that undermined the fundamental legality, reliability, integrity or fairness of the proceedings leading to the judgment of conviction." The miscarriage of justice exception is narrow and only applied in limited circumstances.[5] Collins argues that his counsel's ineffective assistance resulted in a colorable claim of a miscarriage of justice. According to Collins, his counsel was ineffective because he: (i) dismissed Collins's concerns regarding the legality of certain searches, the weight of heroin seized, and the chain of ...


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