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State v. Wood

Superior Court of Delaware

June 27, 2017

STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff,
v.
BRUCE WOOD, Defendant.

          Submitted: May 16, 2017

          Joseph Grubb, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for the State.

          Bruce Wood, James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Smyrna, Delaware, pro se.

         COMMISSIONER'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION THAT DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR POSTCONVICTION RELIEF SHOULD BE SUMMARILY DISMISSED, DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL SHOULD BE DENIED AND DEFENDANT'S MOTIONS TO COMPEL SHOULD BE DENIED

          KATHARINE MAYER, Commissioner

         This 27th day of June, 2017, upon consideration of Defendant's Motion for Postconviction Relief and the record in this matter, the following is my Report and Recommendation.

         BACKGROUND, FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         1. After a jury trial, Bruce Wood ("Defendant") was found guilty of sixteen (16) counts of Rape First Degree and two (2) counts of Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child.[1] On September 7, 2007, Defendant was sentenced to a total of 290 years of Level 5 incarceration.[2] Defendant appealed his conviction and the Delaware Supreme Court issued a mandate on September 30, 2008 affirming the judgment.[3]

         2. Defendant filed his first motion for postconviction relief on April 9, 2009 (the "First Motion").[4] After full briefing, this Court denied the motion.[5]Defendant appealed and the Delaware Supreme Court again affirmed the Superior Court Judgment.[6]

         3. Defendant then filed a second motion for postconviction relief on March 16, 2011 (the "Second Motion").[7] This Court denied the Second Motion[8] and when Defendant once again appealed, the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the denial of the Second Motion as well.[9]

         4. Defendant has now filed his third motion for postconviction relief[10] as well as a motion for appointment of counsel[11] and his fourth and fifth motions to compel.[12] Based upon my review of the record, I do not see a reason to order additional briefing or set the matter for an evidentiary hearing.

         DEFENDANT'S RULE 61 MOTION

         5. Before considering the merits of a claim, the Court must first determine whether there are any procedural bars to the motion.[13] After reviewing Defendant's motion, it is evident that pursuant to Super. Ct. Crim. R. 61(d)(5) the motion may be summarily dismissed because it is procedurally barred and it plainly appears from the record in the case that the movant is not entitled to relief. As such, the Court should not consider the merits of the claims.[14]

         6. Defendant's motion is procedurally barred by Superior Court Criminal Rule 61(i)(1) for having been filed more than one year after the conviction became final.[15] As this is Defendant's third motion for postconviction relief, Defendant admittedly, can only overcome this bar if the motion either (i) pleads with particularity that new evidence exists that creates a strong inference that the movant is actually innocent in fact of the acts underlying the charges of which he was convicted; or (ii) pleads with particularity a claim that a new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the United States Supreme Court or the Delaware Supreme Court, applies to the movant's case and render the conviction or death sentence invalid.[16]

         7. Defendant does not argue that a new rule of constitutional law applies but rather relies on the "new evidence" and "actual innocence" prong of the test. In summary, Defendant argues that he has uncovered "new evidence" supporting his innocence, that he has just become lucid, and that he never had counsel during his first collateral proceedings. Collectively, Defendant believes this justifies allowing a third motion for postconviction relief, filed more than eight years after the deadline, to proceed.

         8. As an initial matter, the issue of Defendant's lucidity and use of psychotropic medications has already been addressed by this Court and the Delaware Supreme Court in response to Defendant's First and Second Motions. Moreover, in its decision affirming the denial of Defendant's First Motion, the Delaware Supreme Court addressed Defendant's argument that the Superior Court erred in failing to appoint counsel. Therefore, these arguments are not only barred as untimely, but are also barred as having been previously adjudicated.[17]

         9. In order to overcome the procedural bars, Defendant is required to plead with particularity that there is new evidence demonstrating a strong inference that he is actually innocent of the charges.[18] Defendant must establish "(1) that the evidence is such as will probably change the result if a new trial is granted; (2) that it has been discovered since the trial and could not have been discovered ...


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