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Hoskins v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

September 22, 2014

TREMEIN HOSKINS, Defendant Below-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff Below-Appellee

Submitted June 30, 2014.

Case Closed October 8, 2014.

Page 725

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Court Below: Superior Court of the State of Delaware in and for Kent County. ID No. 0809018844.

Santino Ceccotti, Esquire, of Wilmington, Delaware for Appellant.

John Williams, Esquire, of the Department of Justice, Dover, Delaware for Appellee.

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

OPINION

Page 727

RIDGELY, Justice:

Defendant-Below/Appellant Tremein Hoskins appeals from a Superior Court order denying his Rule 61 Motion for Postconviction Relief following his conviction of murder second degree. Hoskins raises five arguments on appeal, all related to the performance of his trial counsel. First, Hoskins argues that the Superior Court erred in relying on his counsel's affidavit in response to Hoskins' Motion for Postconviction Relief, creating a structural error that violated his Sixth Amendment right to counsel. Second, Hoskins contends that his counsel was ineffective when he failed to request an accomplice credibility jury instruction. Third, Hoskins argues that his counsel was ineffective when he failed to request a single theory unanimity jury instruction. Fourth, Hoskins contends his trial counsel was ineffective when he failed to object to the admissibility of out-of-court statements made by his accomplice. And fifth, Hoskins argues that the cumulative effect of trial counsel's actions resulted in an unfair trial.

We find no merit to Hoskins' appeal. Accordingly, we affirm.

I. Facts and Procedural History[1]

On December 10, 2009, Hoskins was convicted in Superior Court of Murder in the Second Degree for his involvement in the shooting death of Brandon Beard. He

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appealed his conviction to this Court, claiming that the Superior Court committed plain error by failing to give jury instructions on accomplice credibility and single theory unanimity and by admitting his accomplice's out-of-court statements without technically complying with the foundation requirements of 11 Del. C. § 3507.[2] We found no merit to Hoskins' appeal and affirmed.

In 2012, Hoskins, through new counsel, filed a Motion for Postconviction Relief under Delaware Superior Court Criminal Rule 61, requesting a new trial on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel. The trial judge referred Hoskins' motion to a Superior Court Commissioner for proposed findings and recommendation pursuant to 10 Del. C. § 512(b)(1)(b)[3] and Superior Court Criminal Rule 62(a)(5).[4] The Commissioner ordered Hoskins' trial counsel to file an affidavit with the court. In his affidavit, trial counsel admitted to " oversights" with regard to the accomplice credibility instruction and the accomplice's out-of-court statements but denied that any of the actions advanced by Hoskins amounted to ineffective assistance of counsel. The Commissioner agreed, finding that none of the grounds that Hoskins alleged prejudiced him. Hoskins objected to the Commissioner's report before the Superior Court judge. He argued that the Commissioner's reliance on trial counsel's affidavit was improper and that the Commissioner erred in not finding trial counsel's ...


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