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State v. Anderson

Court of Common Pleas of Delaware, New Castle

August 9, 2017

STATE OF DELAWARE,
v.
BRITTANY A. ANDERSON, Defendant.

          Submitted: June 20, 2017

          William Raisis, Esquire Deputy Attorney General Attorney for the State of Delaware.

          Benjamin S. Gifford IV, Esquire, Law Office of Benjamin S. Attorney for Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR REARGUMENT

          ALEX J. SMALLS, CHIEF JUDGE.

         The defendant, Brittany A. Anderson ("Defendant"), was charged by Information with Driving Under the Influence ("DUI"), in violation of 21 Del. C. § 4177, Failure to Remain Within a Single Lane, in violation of 21 Del. C. § 4122(1), and Possession of Marijuana, in violation of 16 Del. C. § 4764(c) following an arrest on November 28, 2016, On May 4, 2017, the Court held trial on this matter. Before trial commenced, Defendant moved to exclude all evidence provided by the State after the discovery deadline set in the Court's scheduling order. After argument, the Court denied Defendant's request to exclude all untimely provided evidence, but excluded the evidence related to Defendant's blood draw and blood chemical analysis. Trial was ultimately continued in order for the Court to consider a separate defense motion, which has since been withdrawn.

         On May 11, 2017, Defendant filed the instant motion for reargument pursuant to Court of Common Pleas Criminal Rule 57(b) and Court of Common Pleas Civil Rule 59(e). On June 7, 2017, the State filed an untimely response to the motion.[1] On June 20, 2017, the Court held a hearing on Defendant's motion, and at the conclusion thereof, reserved decision. For the reasons stated below, Defendant's motion for reargument is hereby DENIED.

         FACTS & PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On November 28, 2016, Defendant was arrested and charged with DUI, failure to remain within a single lane, and the civil violation of possession of marijuana. On January 17, 2017, Defendant appeared at arraignment, whereupon she entered a not guilty plea, and this matter was scheduled for a DUI case review on February 10, 2017. On February 6, 2017, Defendant, through counsel, served her first request for discovery upon the State pursuant to Court of Common Pleas Criminal Rule 16.

         On February 10, 2017, the Court held case review on this matter. At that date, the parties agreed-and the Court subsequently ordered-that the State would provide all discovery on or before March 1, 2017. The Court then scheduled trial for May 4, 2017. On February 14, 2017, Defendant served her second request for discovery upon the State, along with a blank DVD in order to obtain a copy of any media captured by the police. However, between the case review on February 10, 2017 and the discovery deadline of March 1, 2017, the State failed to provide any discovery to Defendant.

         On May 1, 2017-three days before trial-the State provided Defendant discovery via email, and indicated that the State would provide a copy of the mobile video recording ("MVR") upon a mutually agreeable appointment. The next day, the State informed Defendant that a copy of the MVR was available at the Office of the Attorney General for pickup, which Defendant retrieved on May 3, 2017.

         On May 4, 2017, Defendant appeared for her scheduled trial date. Before trial commenced, Defendant moved to dismiss the case, or, in the alternative, to exclude all evidence provided by the State after the Court's discovery deadline of March 1, 2017. After arguments, the Court denied Defendant's request to dismiss and exclude all untimely provided evidence; however, the Court did grant Defendant's motion to exclude all evidence related to Defendant's blood draw and the chemical analysis of Defendant's blood. Ultimately, trial was continued for reasons separate from Defendant's motion.

         On May 11, 2017, Defendant filed the instant motion for reargument of the Court's May 4th decision denying Defendant's request to exclude all untimely provided evidence. On June 7, 2017, the State filed an untimely response to the motion. On June 20, 2017, the Court held a hearing on Defendant's motion, and at the conclusion thereof, reserved decision.

         PARTIES' CONTENTIONS

         Defendant contends the denial of her motion to exclude all untimely provided evidence results in manifest injustice when considered alongside recent decisions by this Court. Defendant contends the State in recent months has routinely failed to provide defense counsel with discovery in DUI cases as required by the Court's scheduling order deadlines, and, instead, provides such materials shortly before trial. While Defendant concedes discovery violations are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, Defendant contends the facts of this matter bear minimal, if any, difference to cases where the Court found the proper remedy for the State's discovery violation was the exclusion of all untimely provided evidence.

         Defendant argues the exclusion of evidence in some cases but not others, with no substantive factual disparity giving rise to the varying results, is manifestly unjust. Moreover, Defendant contends the evidence must be excluded in order to serve as a deterrent to the State for disregarding the Court's imposed discovery deadlines in the future. Furthermore, it is the Defendant's position that if the Court is not willing to enforce its own scheduling orders, then the DUI case review process serves no legitimate purpose and, in fact, hinders the efficient administration of justice.

         The State maintains the Defendant is unable to demonstrate that there is newly discovered evidence, a change in law, or manifest injustice sufficient to warrant a reargument of Defendant's motion to dismiss or exclude all untimely provided evidence. The State concedes it failed to provide discovery on or before March 1, 2017; however, it is the State's position that this failure was merely negligent, and not willful or wanton. While trial courts have broad discretion to determine appropriate sanctions for discovery violations, the State contends the suppression of all evidence is appropriate only when the State has engaged in willful or egregious misconduct resulting in substantial prejudice to the defendant. Based on the individual facts and circumstances of this case, the State argues the Court acted within its discretion in shaping an appropriate remedy for the State's discovery violation, i.e. excluding all evidence related to Defendant's blood draw and the chemical analysis of Defendant's blood. As of ...


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