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State v. Rust

Superior Court of Delaware, Kent

March 8, 2017

EDWARD L. RUST, Defendant.


          Hon. William L. Witham, Jr. Resident Judge

         Before the Court are Defendant Edward Rust's Amended Motion for Postconviction Relief, the State's Memorandum in Opposition, and Mr. Rust's Reply Brief. This is Mr. Rust's first motion for postconviction relief under Superior Court Criminal Rule 61. Mr. Rust premises his motion upon the State's nondisclosure of potential impeachment material: specifically, evidence of misconduct at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME).

         The motion fails to assert a colorable claim because Mr. Rust waived his right to receive impeachment material under Brady when he entered a valid plea. The motion is thus time-barred under Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 and his motion will be dismissed.


         On October 3, 2011, Mr. Rust was arrested by police on suspicion that he was involved with growing and selling marijuana. According to police reports, Mr. Rust confessed that he drove around the state cutting and gathering marijuana, storing it on his property, and providing it to others to sell. Police obtained a search warrant and discovered marijuana in several sheds. They also received consent to search other areas around the property and discovered still more marijuana.

         From shed number 1, officers seized 7 grams of loose marijuana and 107 grams of marijuana in a bag. From shed number 2, police seized a glass jar containing a plastic bag of 29 grams of marijuana, an ibuprofen bottle of 36 grams of marijuana, other bottles with trace amounts of marijuana, and a morphine bottle with 11 grams of marijuana seeds. From shed number 3, police recovered a red cup with 47 grams of marijuana and seeds and 3 grams of loose marijuana. Elsewhere on the property, police seized four one gallon Ziplock bags of marijuana containing 233 grams, 239 grams, 232 grams, and 234 grams, one paper bag with 579 grams of marijuana, a white plastic shopping bag with 234 grams of marijuana, a white plastic bag containing 133 grams of marijuana, a yellow plastic bag containing 184 grams of marijuana, a large black plastic bag containing 1.2 kg of marijuana, and another large plastic bag containing 545 grams of marijuana.

         The drug evidence was tested by forensic chemists within the OCME. The items that were tested returned positive for the suspected substances. There were minor discrepancies in the weights of the substances as collected and as tested.

         At the final case review on July 25, 2012, Mr. Rust accepted the State's plea offer. On the record, the State summarized the agreement, stating that Mr. Rust was: ple[ading] guilty to [Count 1], drug dealing. .. .

The State will enter a nolle prosequi on the remaining charges in this indictment. We are asking for immediate sentencing: 25 years at Level V suspended after ten years at Supervision Level V followed by six months at Level IV home confinement and one year at Level III probation.
Again, the State is requesting an enhancing penalty because he would otherwise be eligible for sentencing as an habitual offender.
The other conditions are: Forfeit all the evidence seized; undergo a substance abuse evaluation and treatment; the statutory DNA. And it is a joint request, your Honor, that the defendant be permitted to report on August 8, and that is because of his medical condition; trying to get all of his medicine ready, essentially, for him to bring with him.[1]

         Following the State's summary of the agreement, defense counsel related to the Superior Court judge:

The Court has before it paperwork that I filled out with Mr. Rust today. The procedural history in this matter reflects not only the fact that I was involved in another case for an extended period of time but also extensive discussions with Mr. Rust with his medical providers and discussions with [the prosecutor] which have ultimately resulted in this plea today as opposed to going to trial.
I filled out with him the truth-in-sentencing guilty plea form. The Court will note question number four. There was an error. That was initialed indicating that there should be a corrected answer which was put in.
I reviewed with him the trial rights he would be waiving by entering the plea, the sentence guidelines. He also understands there is the revocation of the license for a six-month period. And in all other respects, I believe the Court will determine that this is a knowing, voluntary, and intelligent plea.[2]

         After the defendant was placed under oath, the judge engaged in a plea colloquy with him:

THE COURT: Mr. Rust, did you hear what your attorney, Mr. Schmid, just said to me about your offer to plead guilty?
THE COURT: Was what he said correct?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, your Honor.
THE COURT: Now, since this charge is an amended charge, I'm going to read it to you again, Mr. Rust. It reads: Count 1, drug dealing, a felony, in violation of Title 16 §4752.
THE COURT: Subsection 2 of the Delaware code of 1974, as amended. Edward L. Rust, on or about the 23rd day of October 2012, in the county of Kent, state of Delaware, did knowingly manufacture, deliver, or possess with intent to manufacture or deliver 1500 grams or more of marijuana, a Tier III controlled substance, as described and classified in 16 Del. C. §4701(26) and also §4714(d)(9), and there is an aggravating factor.
Do you understand that charge?
THE DEFENDANT: I don't understand the aggravating part of it.
MR. SCHMID: May I, your Honor?
(Confers with client.)
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, your Honor.
THE COURT: Okay. Your attorney has just explained to you what ...

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