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Fields v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

October 12, 2017

ISAIAH FIELDS, Defendant Below, Appellant,
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff Below, Appellee.

          Submitted: July 20, 2017

         Court Below-Superior Court of the State of Delaware Cr. ID No. 1506013874 (S)

          Before VAUGHN, SEITZ, and TRAYNOR, Justices.


          Collins J. Seitz, Jr. Justice

         This 12th day of October 2017, upon careful consideration of the appellant's opening brief, the appellee's motion to affirm, and the Superior Court record, it appears to the Court that:

         (1) The appellant, Isaiah Fields, filed this appeal from the Superior Court's May 18, 2017 opinion summarily dismissing his motion for postconviction relief and denying his request for the appointment of counsel. The State of Delaware has filed a motion to affirm the Superior Court's judgment on the ground that it is manifest on the face of Fields' opening brief that the appeal is without merit. We agree and affirm.

          (2) The record reflects that, during the course of a narcotics investigation conducted by the Governor's Task Force in 2015, the Delaware State Police received information that Fields, a Level II probationer, was transporting heroin in and around the Millsboro area. On June 17, 2015, the police observed Fields driving a green minivan in Millsboro, and knowing that Fields had a suspended driver's license, the police stopped the minivan. The police found $800 in Fields' pocket and a cell phone between the front seats of the vehicle. On the back seat, the police found a black bag containing more than six grams of a substance that field-tested positive for heroin. Later that day, when Fields admitted to the police during an interview that he had more heroin at his residence, police and probation officers conducted an administrative search of the residence and found another eight grams of the suspected heroin, which brought the total amount of drugs seized to more than fourteen grams.

         (3) Fields was charged by Information with Aggravated Possession of Heroin, Drug Dealing in Heroin-both class B felonies[1]-Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and Driving while Suspended or Revoked. Each of the class B felonies exposed Fields to a minimum of two years and up to twenty-five years in prison.[2] Also, because he had prior convictions for at least two violent felonies, [3] if Fields was convicted of either of the class B felonies charged in the Information, he faced the possibility of having the State move to declare him a habitual offender and, if granted, the imposition of a life sentence.[4]

         (4) On October 19, 2015, with the assistance of appointed counsel, Fields entered into a plea agreement with the State. In exchange for Fields' guilty plea to the Drug Dealing in Heroin offense, the State agreed to dismiss the other charges in the Information and to recommend that Fields be sentenced to no more than six years of unsuspended Level V incarceration.

         (5) Before accepting the guilty plea, the Superior Court engaged Fields in a colloquy to ensure that he was entering the plea fully aware of the nature of the charges against him and the consequences of entering the plea. After the colloquy, the Superior Court accepted the plea as knowing, intelligent, and voluntary and sentenced Fields to twenty-five years of Level V imprisonment suspended after six years for probation.

         (6) Fields did not file a direct appeal from the guilty plea and sentence. He did, however, file a motion seeking to reduce the agreed-upon six-year term of unsuspended incarceration. By order dated February 1, 2016, the Superior Court denied the motion on the basis that the six-year term was appropriate and was part of the parties' plea agreement.

         (7) On October 25, 2016, Fields filed a timely motion for postconviction relief under Superior Court Criminal Rule 61.[5] Fields filed amendments to the motion on December 8, 2016 and February 9, 2017, and in the February 9 amendment, he requested the appointment of counsel.

         (8) Fields' postconviction motion as amended (hereinafter "the Motion") raised overlapping claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, prosecutorial misconduct, illegal search and seizure, inadequate Miranda warnings, and involuntary and defective guilty plea. After preliminary consideration of the Motion and the record, the Superior Court denied Fields' request for the appointment of counsel and dismissed the Motion.[6] This appeal followed.

         (9) This Court reviews the Superior Court's denial of a motion for postconviction relief under Rule 61 for an abuse of discretion.[7] When deciding legal or constitutional ...

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