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Hansley v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

October 27, 2014

NICOLE HANSLEY, Defendant Below-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff Below-Appellee

Submitted September 17, 2014

Case Closed November 13, 2014.

Page 834

Court Below: Superior Court of the State of Delaware in and for New Castle County. No. 1211021447.

Bernard J. O'Donnell, Esquire, of the Office of the Public Defender, Wilmington, Delaware for Appellant.

Maria T. Knoll, Esquire, of the Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware for Appellee.

Before STRINE, Chief Justice, HOLLAND, RIDGELY, VALIHURA, Justices, and NOBLE, Vice Chancellor.[*]

OPINION

Page 835

RIDGELY, Justice:

Defendant-Below/Appellant Nicole Hansley (" Hansley" ) appeals from a jury conviction in the Superior Court of Tier 4 Drug Dealing, Tier 5 Aggravated Possession, Possession of Cocaine, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Hansley raises two claims on appeal, one of which has been conceded by the State.[1] Hansley's remaining claim is that the trial court erred by precluding Hansley from introducing relevant testimony of a former police officer, Cynthia Aman (" Aman" ), that Hansley was a prostitute addicted to crack cocaine, thereby violating Hansley's constitutional right to present a defense.[2] We find that the trial court erred by excluding relevant testimony in violation of the Delaware Rules of Evidence (" D.R.E." ). Accordingly, we reverse. Because we find that the trial court committed reversible error by excluding Aman's testimony in violation of the D.R.E., we do not reach Hansley's constitutional argument.

I. Facts and Procedural History

In 2012, Delaware State Police, along with other officers of the Governor's Task Force,[3] were conducting surveillance at the Riverview Motel in Claymont, Delaware. During this surveillance, the officers engaged and began questioning two individuals. While the officers were talking to the individuals, Hansley approached the officers, informed them that she was staying in Room 404 of the motel, and told them that the two individuals being questioned were there to give her a ride. Hansley also admitted that she had recently smoked marijuana. The officers then went to the door of Room 404 and noticed a strong odor of marijuana emanating from inside. Hansley was arrested and searched. The officers found a small glassine bag containing .01 grams of cocaine on Hansley's person, and a digital scale with

Page 836

cocaine residue on its base in her purse. A later search at the police station revealed two pipes used to ingest crack ...


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