LARRY J. SARTIN, III, Defendant Below, Appellant,
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff Below, Appellee
Submitted September 26, 2014.
Case Closed November 6, 2014.
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. Nos. 1103008787, 1103008790.
Before HOLLAND, RIDGELY, and VALIHURA, Justices.
Henry duPont Ridgely, Justice.
This 21st day of October 2014, upon consideration of the briefs of the parties and the record in this case, it appears to the Court that:
1. In 2011, the appellant, Larry J. Sartin, III, was indicted by Kent County and New Castle County grand juries for multiple felonies arising from burglaries and robberies in Kent County and New Castle County. On August 18, 2011, Sartin pled guilty in the Kent County Superior Court to one count of Robbery in the First Degree, two counts of Robbery in the Second Degree, and one count of Burglary in the Second Degree. The plea agreement resolved cases in Kent County and New Castle County.
2. In the Truth-In-Sentencing Guilty Plea Form and during the plea colloquy with the Superior Court, Sartin agreed that he was a habitual offender under 11 Del. C. § 4214(a). The State and Sartin agreed to recommend that Sartin serve a total of twenty-one years of Level V incarceration. The State also agreed to dismiss the remaining charges in Kent County and New Castle County. On August 18, 2011, Sartin was declared a habitual offender under 11 Del. C. § 4214(a) and sentenced as follows: (i) for Robbery in the First Degree, twenty-five years of Level V incarceration, suspended after three years for decreasing levels of supervision; (ii) for Burglary in the Second Degree, eight years of Level V incarceration; and (iii) for each of the counts of Robbery in the Second Degree, five years of Level V incarceration. Sartin did not appeal his convictions or sentence.
3. On August 10, 2012, Sartin filed his first motion for postconviction relief. The grounds for this motion were: (i) ineffective assistance of counsel based upon counsel's failure to investigate Sartin's mental health issues; (ii) ineffective assistance of counsel based upon counsel's failure to communicate; (iii) ineffective assistance of counsel based upon counsel's failure to recognize Sartin's use of prescribed mental health psycho-tropic medications before the plea colloquy and acceptance of the guilty plea; and (iv) diminished capacity. The postconviction motion was referred to a Superior Court Commissioner, who gave Sartin the opportunity (and an extension) to submit a memorandum of law in support of his motion, requested an affidavit from Sartin's former counsel, asked the State to submit a response to the motion, and set a deadline for Sartin to submit a reply to his former counsel's affidavit and the State's response. Sartin did not submit an opening memorandum of law, but did file a reply to his former counsel's affidavit.
4. After receiving the submissions of the parties, the Commissioner issued a Report and Recommendation. The Commission considered the merits of Sartin's ineffective assistance of counsel claims and concluded that they lacked merit and were barred by Superior Court Criminal Rule 61(i)(3). The Superior Court conducted a de novo review of the proceedings, adopted the Commissioner's Report and Recommendation, and denied Sartin's motion for postconviction relief. This appeal followed.
5. Sartin filed a motion for a transcript of the plea and sentencing hearing at State expense, which the Superior Court denied. The State included a copy of the transcript in the appendix with its answering brief on appeal. Sartin also claims to have filed a motion for appointment of counsel in the Superior Court, but the docket does not reflect such a motion. Sartin's request for appointment of counsel in this Court and a remand to the Superior Court was denied.
6. On appeal, Sartin first argues that the Superior Court abused its discretion and violated his constitutional rights when it denied his motion for postconviction relief as procedurally barred. This Court reviews the Superior Court's denial of a Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 (" Rule 61" ) motion for postconviction relief for abuse of discretion. ...