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State v. Bradley

Superior Court of Delaware, Sussex

June 5, 2015

EARL BRADLEY, Defendant.

Submitted: February 13, 2015.

On Petitioner Earl B. Bradley's Second Amended Motion for Postconviction Relief - DENIED

Elizabeth R. McFarlan, Esquire, Department of Justice, 820 N. French Street, Wilmington, DE 19801. Attorney for State of Delaware.

Patrick J. Collins, Esquire, Albert J. Roop, V, Esquire, Collins & Roop, 8 East 13thStreet, Wilmington, DE 19801. Attorneys for Defendant Earl Bradley.



Before this Court is Petitioner Earl Bradley's Motion for Postconviction Relief pursuant to Superior Court Rule 61. For the reasons set forth below, Petitioner's Motion is hereby DENIED.


A detailed account of the allegations against Earl Bradley ("Bradley" or "Petitioner") are set forth in the Court's Opinion of April 13, 2011, and the Supreme Court decision of September 6, 2012, and as such they will not be repeated. However, relevant to the issues raised in this Motion, following Bradley's December 16, 2009 arrest, Eugene Maurer, Esquire represented Bradley at his preliminary hearing on January 14, 2010, entering a waiver on his behalf. On January 20, 2010, the State filed a complaint under 11 Del.C. § 1505, alleging violations of the civil racketeering statute, and the next day they filed a Racketeering Lien Notice effectively freezing Bradley's assets. A Grand Jury indicted Bradley on February 22, 2010, charging him with multiple counts of first degree rape, second degree assault, sexual exploitation of a child, first and second degree unlawful sexual contact, and continuous sexual abuse of a child.

On March 21, 2010, Mr. Maurer wrote to President Judge Vaughn indicating that, due to the financial demands of this case, he could no longer represent Bradley. Shortly thereafter, Dean Johnson, Esquire, and Stephanie Tsantes, Esquire, of the Public Defender's Office entered their appearance in Bradley's case.[1]

On July 9, 2010, Bradley moved to suppress all evidence seized during the December 16 and 17, 2009 search. The Court held an evidentiary hearing on the motion on August 31 and September 1, 2010, and subsequently denied the motion. As a result, Bradley waived his right to a jury trial, and a bench trial commenced on June 7, 2011. On June 23, 2011, the Court found Bradley guilty on all counts. He was sentenced to 14 life sentences, and 164 years at Level V incarceration. On appeal, the Delaware Supreme Court sitting en Banc affirmed, finding that the affidavit of probable cause alleged sufficient facts to support the search warrant and that the execution of the warrant was reasonable and within the bounds of the warrant issued.

Bradley filed a timely pro se Motion for Postconviction Relief on February 27, 2013. This Court appointed counsel for Bradley, and counsel submitted an Amended Motion for Postconviction Relief. Without objection, Bradley filed a Second Amended Motion for Postconviction Relief and this is the Court's decision on that Motion.


In the instant motion, Bradley asserts five grounds for postconviction relief: (1)State action deprived him of his choice of counsel under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, § 7 of the Delaware Constitution; (2)Ineffective assistance of trial counsel for failing to challenge the trial court's consideration of evidence outside of the four corners of the search warrant; (3) Ineffective assistance of appellate counsel for failure to raise the issue of the trial court's consideration of evidence outside of the four corners of the search warrant on appeal; (4) Ineffective assistance of appellate counsel for failing to move for reargument following the Delaware Supreme Court's Opinion affirming conviction after it misapprehended a key fact; (5) Ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to effectively assert or move for reargument on Detective Spillan's "unguided, discretionless" search of digital items violated the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, § 6 of the Delaware Constitution.

Bradley's Motion for Postconviction Relief, filed in May 2014, is controlled by Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 prior to its amendment in June 2014. Before addressing the merits of a motion for postconviction relief, the Court must first address the four procedural requirements of Superior Court Criminal Rule 61(i).[2]

First, a motion for postconviction relief must be filed within one year of the conviction's final judgment.[3] Second, the motion must not assert any ground for relief not raised in a prior postconviction motion.[4] Third, the motion must not advance any claims the movant did not raise in the proceedings leading to his conviction unless he shows cause for relief from the procedural default and prejudice from the violation of his rights.[5] Fourth, the motion must not contain any claim that has already been adjudicated in a proceeding leading to the conviction unless the interest of justice requires reconsideration.[6]

If a procedural bar exists, the Court will not consider the merits of the postconviction claim unless the defendant can show that the exception found in Rule 61(i)(5) applies.[7] Rule 61(i)(5) provides that consideration of otherwise procedurally barred claims is limited to claims that this Court lacked jurisdiction, or 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."

At the outset, the Court notes that Bradley has satisfied Rule 61(i)(1)'s first procedural requirement because he timely filed his Motion. The second requirement is inapplicable here because Bradley has not filed any previous postconviction motions. The State argues that Bradley's choice of counsel claim is procedurally barred under the third requirement because Bradley failed to assert this claim prior to his conviction. Furthermore, the State contends that Bradley's ineffective assistance claims against both trial counsel and appellate counsel are barred by 61(i)(4) to the extent that he is attempting to refine and restate his allegations that an illegal search occurred, as those claims have already been adjudicated. This Opinion ...

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