Submitted: December 18, 2017
Barzilai K. Axelrod, Esq., Deputy Attorney General.
C. Gill, Esq., Attorney for Defendants George Atsidis, Robert
L. Sanger, and Sean M. Stitz.
G. Mooney, Esq., Attorney for Defendants Gary G. Busacca,
Edgar Chabla-Acevedo, Emily A. Ellinger, Zachary L. Gonzalez,
Zandra J. Sauers, and Kristen M. Wyatt.
DECISION ON DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO
HONORABLE ROSEMARY BETTS BEAUREGARD JUDGE.
2017, Delaware's 149th General Assembly passed House Bill
("HB") 207. Prior to June 30, 2017, the effective date
of HB 207, the Justice of the Peace Court had concurrent
jurisdiction with the Court of Common Pleas to try first and
second offense violations of 21 Del. C. §
4177(a), Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and/or Drugs
("DUI"). HB 207 divested the Justice of the Peace
Court of jurisdiction to try first and second offense DUIs,
while maintaining the Justice of the Peace Court's
jurisdiction to accept first and second offense DUI guilty
pleas and § 4177B first offense elections.
after HB 207 became effective, the Justice of the Peace Court
sua sponte began transferring DUI cases pending
before it to the Court of Common Pleas. The affected
defendants include George Atsidis, Gary G. Busacca, Edgar
Chabla-Acevedo, Emily A. Ellinger, Zachary L. Gonzalez,
Robert L. Sanger, Zandra J. Sauers, Sean M. Stitz, and
Kristen M. Wyatt ("Defendants").
Defendants move to dismiss their charges, arguing that the
Justice of the Peace Court improperly transferred their
cases, and as a result, Defendants have been prejudiced and
their speedy trial rights violated. For the reasons discussed
below, Defendants' Motions to Dismiss are
and Procedural History
to 21 Del. C. § 4l77(d)(l3), as amended by HB
207, the Justice of the Peace Court has jurisdiction "to
accept pleas of guilt [for first and second offense DUIs] . .
. and to enter conditional adjudications of guilt requiring
or permitting a person to enter a first offender election
pursuant to § 4177B, " but the Justice of the Peace
Court "shall not have jurisdiction to try any [DUI]
to June 30, 2017, Defendants Atsidis, Chabla-Acevedo,
Ellinger, Gonzalez, Sauers, Stitz, and Wyatt were all
arrested, brought before the Justice of the Peace Court, pled
not guilty, asked for and were scheduled for trial. Thus, as
of June 30, 2017, these Defendants were awaiting trial in a
court without jurisdiction to try their cases.
remaining Defendants, Busacca and Sanger, were arrested prior
to June 30, 2017, with arraignment scheduled for July 7,
2017. Both Defendants Busacca and Sanger filed an arraignment
by pleading form, pleading not guilty and demanding trial,
prior to arraignment.
3, 2017, the Justice of the Peace Court sent notices to
Defendants Atsidis, Chabla-Acevedo, Ellinger, Gonzalez,
Sauers, Stitz, and Wyatt, stating only that their cases had
been transferred "at your request, the request of your
attorney, the Department of Justice, the Public Defender or
the Court." The notice did not cite any authority
supporting the transfers. On July 6, 2017, the Justice of the
Peace Court sent the same notice to Defendants Busacca and
failing to identify the Justice of the Peace Court's own
interpretation of the effect of HB 207 as the reason for the
transfer, the Justice of the Peace Court caused Defendants,
the State, and this Court wholly avoidable confusion and
turmoil. Nevertheless, once this Court accepted
Defendants' cases, the State promptly filed informations,
and Defendants filed arraignment by pleading forms pursuant
to Court of Common Pleas Criminal Rule 10(c), pled not
guilty, demanded trial, and filed motions to dismiss.
The Justice of the Peace Court's Transfer of
and the State make various arguments regarding the propriety
of the Justice of the Peace Court's sua sponte
transfer of Defendants' cases and the prejudice
Defendants have allegedly suffered as a result. Underpinning all
of these arguments is a basic ...