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State v. Simpson

Superior Court of Delaware

August 21, 2017

State
v.
Tyrell Simpson

          Michael W. Modica, Esq.

          Phillip M. Casale, Esq.

          Vivian L. Medinilla Judge.

         Dear Counsel:

         This is the Court's decision on Tyrell Simpson ("Defendant")'s Motion for Reargument, filed on July 28, 2017. For the reasons stated below, Defendant's Motion for Reargument is GRANTED, in part; DENIED, in part. Further, after a reconsideration of Defendant's Amended Motion to Suppress in light of this Court's decision on Defendant's Motion for Reargument, for the reasons stated below, Defendant's Amended Motion to Suppress is DENIED.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         The facts underlying Defendant's Motion for Reargument and Amended Motion to Suppress have been previously described by this Court in its July 20, 2017 Letter Opinion denying Defendant's Motion to Suppress. The Court incorporates that Opinion here and writes to supplement it as relevant to the Court's analysis on the pending Motion for Reargument.

         After the Court issued its Letter Opinion in this case, the State sought clarification of the Court's analysis of the only search warrant submitted for review. Defendant then filed a Motion for Reargument. The State filed a response to the Motion for Reargument on July 31, 2017. Meanwhile, upon request of the Court, Defendant filed an Amended Motion to Suppress on August 8, 2017, attaching the proper search warrant for the Court's consideration. A hearing on the Motion for Reargument was held on August 14, 2017.

         Standard of Review

         Delaware Superior Court Criminal Rule 57(d) states: "In all cases not provided for by rule or administrative order, the court shall regulate its practice in accordance with the applicable Superior Court civil rule"[1]"Superior Court Civil Rule 59[] is made applicable to criminal cases by Superior Court Criminal Rule 57(d)."[2]

         Civil Rule 59(e) permits the Court to reconsider "its findings of fact, conclusions of law, or judgment. . . ."[3] "Delaware law places a heavy burden on a [party] seeking relief pursuant to Rule 59."[4] To prevail on a motion for reargument, the movant must demonstrate that "the Court has overlooked a controlling precedent or legal principle[], or the Court has misapprehended the law or facts such as would have changed the outcome of the underlying decision."[5] Further, "[a] motion for reargument is not a device for raising new arguments, "[6] nor is it "intended to rehash the arguments already decided by the court."[7] Such tactics frustrate the interests of judicial efficiency and the orderly process of reaching finality on the issues.[8] The moving party has the burden of demonstrating "newly discovered evidence, a change of law, or manifest injustice."[9]

         Discussion

         I. Motion for Reargument

         The Court begins with a discussion of Defendant's Motion for Reargument.

         At the hearing on this Motion, Defendant made three arguments: (1) the Court's earlier decision rested on a supposed "hospital policy" exception to the Fourth Amendment with respect to the seizure of the vehicle; (2) the Court failed to consider whether Defendant was "arrested" rather than "detained;" and (3) the search of the car was tainted by the initial illegal seizure of the vehicle.[10] Each of these will be addressed in turn to assess whether Defendant has met his burden under Rule 59.

         A. Detention of the Vehicle

         First, the Court did not rest its earlier decision on a "hospital policy" exception to the Fourth Amendment. The Court found that the vehicle and, later in the encounter, Defendant himself, were reasonably detained under 11 Del. C. §§ 1902(a), 1910 and Harris v. State[11] This finding was based on an examination of "the totality of the circumstances surrounding the situation 'as viewed through the eyes of a reasonable, trained [peace] officer in the same or similar circumstances, combining objective facts with such an officer's subjective interpretation of those facts.'"[12]

         Specifically, the Court found that Constable Richardson, prior to the detention of the vehicle: (1) observed the vehicle arrive at the hospital; (2) noted that Defendant was the sole occupant of the vehicle; (3) observed bullet holes in the frame of the vehicle; (4) noted the presence of broken windows on the driver's side of the vehicle; (5) heard from Defendant that he had been shot; and (6) observed blood on Defendant's shirt and arm. Moreover, Constable Richardson had on prior occasions encountered people involved in shootings entering the hospital to seek medical treatment. Additionally, Constable Richardson knew ...


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