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State v. Scheidegg

Superior Court of Delaware

May 16, 2017

STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff,
v.
DAVID M. SCHEIDEGG, Defendant.

          Submitted: April 18, 2017

         COMMISSIONER'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION THAT DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR POSTCONVICTION RELIEF SHOULD BE DENIED.

          Matthew C. Bloom, Esquire, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for the State.

          David M. Scheidegg, Howard R. Young Correctional Center, Wilmington, Delaware, pro se.

          PARKER, Commissioner

         This 16th day of May 2017, upon consideration of Defendant's Motion for Postconviction Relief, it appears to the Court that:

         BACKGROUND, FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         1. On August 31, 2015, Defendant David M. Scheidegg was indicted on the charge of driving under the influence of alcohol ("DUI") and additional motor vehicle charges arising out of an incident that occurred on August 2, 2015.

         2. On February 3, 2016, Defendant pled guilty to a seventh-offense DUI. During the pendency of this case, there was another DUI charge pending against Defendant which resulted in a conviction, and a new DUI conviction would be Defendant's ninth DUI conviction.[1]

         3. A seventh offense DUI is a Class C felony, subject to incarceration of between 5 years to 15 years.[2]

         4. The subject charges stemmed from an incident that occurred on August 2, 2015. Defendant, whose license had been suspended, was involved in a collision while driving on Philadelphia Pike in New Castle County, Delaware. A police officer responded to the scene of the motor vehicle collision involving a sedan and a minivan. The driver of the sedan was present at the scene of the accident but, according to a witness, the driver of the minivan left the scene. Assisting police units located Defendant walking along a road. Defendant had an odor of alcohol on his person and admitted to drinking at Murphy's Pub on Philadelphia Pike prior to the accident.[3]

         5. Defendant told the police officer that he collided with another vehicle and he left the scene because he was afraid and he did not have a driver's license.[4] Defendant consented to providing a breath sample to the Intoxilyzer. His blood-alcohol content was measured at 0.112%, above the legal limit in Delaware.[5]

         6. As part of the plea agreement, the State agreed to cap its recommendation for unsuspended Level V time to a total of 5 years. The State also agreed to dismiss the remaining charges in the indictment.

         7. Following a presentence investigation, on April 8, 2016, Defendant was sentenced to a total of four years of unsuspended Level V time, followed by decreasing levels of probation.

         8. Defendant did not file a direct appeal to the Delaware Supreme Court.

         DEFENDANT'S RULE 61 MOTION

         9. Defendant filed the subject Rule 61 motion on October 31, 2016. In the subject motion, Defendant claims that his counsel was ineffective because: 1) his plea was "coerced"; 2) his counsel deprived him of his right to a suppression hearing; 3) his counsel failed to confront witnesses and subpoena witnesses for his defense; and 4) that he was denied the right to immediate medical treatment after the accident.

         10. Before making a recommendation, the record was enlarged and Defendant's trial counsel was directed to submit at Affidavit responding to Defendant's ineffective assistance of counsel claims. Thereafter, the State filed a response to the motion. Finally, Defendant submitted a reply thereto.[6]

         11. The claims raised in the subject motion are procedurally barred, waived and without merit.

         A) One of the Claims Raised by Defendant is Procedurally Barred

         12. Prior to addressing the substantive merits of any claim for postconviction relief the court must first determine whether the defendant has met the procedural requirements of Superior Court Criminal Rule 61[7] If a procedural bar exists, then the claim is barred, and the Court should not consider the merits of the postconviction claim.[8]

         13. Rule 61(i)(3) required that Defendant raise his claims, with the exception of his ineffective assistance of counsel contentions, on direct appeal.[9] Defendant's ineffective assistance of counsel claims are not procedurally barred by Rule 6l(i)(3) because a Rule 61 motion is the appropriate vehicle for raising these claims.[10]

         14. As to Defendant's claim that he was denied immediate medical treatment, this claim is procedurally barred by Rule 61(i)(3), for Defendant's failure to raise it on direct appeal. This claim was known to Defendant since the date of the incident, and certainly known to Defendant at the time he accepted the plea. Therefore, there is no justifiable reason for Defendant's failure to raise the issue in a direct appeal if Defendant genuinely believed the claim had any merit.

         15. If a procedural bar exists, the court will not consider the merits of the claim unless the defendant can show that an exception found in Rule 6l(i)(5) applies. Rule 61(i)(5) provides that consideration of an otherwise procedurally barred claim is limited to claims that the court lacked jurisdiction, or to claims that new evidence exists that creates a strong inference that the defendant is actually innocent of the underlying charges for which he was convicted; or to claims that a new rule of constitutional law applicable to that defendant's case would render his conviction invalid.[11]

         16. In the subject motion, Defendant is unable to overcome the procedural hurdles of Rule 61(i)(3) by showing an exception in Rule 6l(i)(5) applies. Defendant has not established that the court lacked jurisdiction, that any new evidence existed to create a strong inference that Defendant is actually innocent of the underlying charges, or that a new rule of constitutional law exists that would render his conviction invalid. Defendant's claim as to the denial of immediate medical treatment is procedurally barred.

         B) All of Defendant's Claims Were Waived Upon Entry of His Plea

         17. In addition to Defendant's claim that he was denied immediate medical treatment being procedurally barred, all of Defendant's claims were also waived upon the entry of Defendant's guilty plea.

         18. Although Defendant now claims that his plea was somehow defective and was not informed due to his counsel's ineffectiveness, Defendant's present claims are belied by the representations he made at the time he accepted his plea, admitted his guilt, and was sentenced.

         19. A defendant is bound by his answers on the guilty plea form and by his testimony at the plea colloquy in the absence of clear and convincing evidence to the contrary.[12] In this case, the Truth-in-Sentencing Guilty Plea Form, Plea Agreement and plea colloquy reveal that Defendant knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently entered a guilty plea to the DUI charge for which he was sentenced.[13]

         20. At the plea colloquy, Defendant represented to the court that he had read and understood the plea agreement and the Truth-in-Sentencing Guilty Plea Form, and that he had reviewed the terms of the plea with his counsel and that she answered any questions he had to his satisfaction.[14]

         21. Defendant represented to the court that nobody was forcing him to enter his plea. Defendant represented that he was freely and voluntarily pleading guilty to the DUI charge. Defendant represented that he was not being threatened or forced to do so by his attorney, by the State, or by anyone else.[15]

         22. During the plea colloquy and in the Truth-in-Sentencing Guilty Plea Form, Defendant represented that he understood that by pleading guilty he was waiving his constitutional rights: to have a trial; to be presumed innocent until the State proves each and every part of the charges against him beyond a reasonable doubt; to a trial by jury; to hear and question witnesses; to present evidence in his defense; to testify or not testify; and to appeal, if convicted.[16]

         23. Defendant represented that he understood that he was waiving each and every one of those rights by pleading guilty.[17]

         24. Defendant admitted his guilt for the DUI charge for which he pled guilty.[18] Only after finding that Defendant's plea was entered into knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily, did the court accept the plea.[19]

         25. Defendant has not presented any clear, contrary evidence to call into question his prior testimony at the plea colloquy, Plea Agreement or answers on the Truth-In Sentencing Guilty Plea Form.

         26. Since Defendant's plea was entered into voluntarily, intelligently and knowingly, Defendant waived his right to challenge any alleged errors, deficiencies or defects occurring prior to the entry of his plea, even those of constitutional proportions.[20] All of Defendant's claims presented herein, including those alleging ineffective assistance of counsel, stem from allegations of defects, errors, misconduct and deficiencies which existed at the time of the entry of the plea. All of Defendant's claims were waived when he knowingly, freely and intelligently entered his plea.[21]

         C) Defendant's ...


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