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State v. Nyala

Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle

September 11, 2014

STATE OF DELAWARE,
v.
DILIP NYALA, Defendant.

ORDER

Diane Clarke Streett, Judge

This 11th day of September, 2014, upon consideration of the State's Motion for Reargument, Defendant's opposition thereto, the parties' arguments at the hearing, and the record of this case, the State's Motion for Reargument is DENIED. It appears that:

1. On July 17, 2014, the Court issued a written opinion granting Defendant Dilip S. Nyala's (the "Defendant") Motion to Suppress. The Opinion was docketed on July 23, 2014.

2. On July 30, 2014, the State of Delaware (the "State") timely filed a Motion for Reargument, pursuant to Superior Court Criminal Rule 57(d) and Superior Court 59(e).

3. The State's grounds for reargument are: (1) the Court has previously upheld traffic stops where an officer, conducting surveillance in an unmarked vehicle, radios his or her observation of a traffic violation to another officer, (2) the Court should "reexamine" its interpretation of 21 Del. C. § 701 based on the decision in State v. Coustenis[1], and (3) the Wilmington Police Department officers had reasonable suspicion to detain Defendant independent of the traffic stop.

4. On August 5, 2014, Defendant filed an opposition to the State's Motion. He asserts that the Court did not misapprehend the facts or the law and, thus, reargument is "wholly inappropriate" in this case.[2]

5. A hearing was held on September 5, 2014. Following the hearing, the Court reserved decision and advised the parties that a written decision would be issued.

6. A motion for reargument in a criminal case is governed by Superior Court Criminal Rule 57(d) and Superior Court Civil Rule 59(e).[3]

7. The law is well-settled that a motion for reargument will be denied unless "the Court has overlooked a controlling legal principle or has misapprehended the law or facts that would have changed the outcome of the underlying decision."[4] The motion "should not be used merely to rehash arguments already decided by the Court."[5] Moreover, the motion cannot be used to "present new arguments not previously raised."[6]

8. In the instant case, the Court previously considered each of the grounds asserted by the State in support of its Motion for Reargument.

9. The Court found that the officer (or officers) who initiated the stop lacked probable cause to stop Defendant for a traffic code violation.[7] The State did not present any testimony or other evidence from the officer(s) who stopped Defendant's vehicle. Moreover, the officer who testified that he observed a traffic violation "detached himself from any stop."[8]

10. The Court also found that even if the initial stop for a traffic code violation was arguably valid based on the testifying officer's observation, there was no evidence of any facts that developed after Defendant's vehicle was stopped which would have enabled the officer(s) to lawfully detain Defendant for further questioning and investigation in accordance with 11 Del. C. § 1902.[9]

11. In addition, the Court found that there was no evidence in the record that the officer(s) who arrested Defendant did so based on a Title 21 violation that Defendant committed in their presence in accordance with 21 Del. C. § 701(a).[10]

12. Although the State urges the Court to adopt a "liberal view" of 21 Del. C. § 701(a) based on the 1967 decision in State v. Coustenis, the General Assembly amended the statute in 1968. The language at issue in the Coustenis decision (that authorized law enforcement officers to make an arrest for a Title 21 violation committed "upon view") was replaced with the current language (authorizing an arrest for a Title 21 violation committed "in their presence").[11] Furthermore, the General Assembly has specified only four circumstances under which an "arresting officer [may] work[] in conjunction with an observing officer" – speed violations, red traffic lights, electronic communication devices, and seat belts.[12] The State does not assert, and the record does not reflect, that there is any evidence of a speed, red traffic light, electronic communication device, or seat belt violation in this case.[13]

13. Finally, based on the totality of the circumstances, the Court found that the Confidential Informant's ("CI") tip did not provide reasonable, articulable suspicion to stop and seize Defendant (or probable cause for his warrantless arrest).[14] The Court acknowledged that the CI was past proven and reliable, however the CI's tip lacked detail as to the alleged illegal activity.[15]

14. Here, the State's asserted grounds for its Motion for Reargument merely rehash arguments that have already been decided by the Court. The State has not established that the Court overlooked a controlling legal precedent or misapprehended the law or facts such that would change the outcome of the decision. Therefore, the Court's decision granting Defendant's Motion to Suppress stands.

Accordingly, the State's Motion for Reargument is hereby DENIED.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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