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State v. Coleman

Superior Court of Delaware

March 13, 2018


          Submitted: February 5, 2018


          Kelly H. Sheridan, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for the State.

          Jamir Coleman, Howard R. Young Correctional Center, Wilmington, Delaware, pro se.

          KATHARINE L. MAYER, Commissioner

          This 13th day of March, 2018, upon consideration of Defendant's Motion for Postconviction Relief and the record in this matter, the following is my Report and Recommendation.


         On October 29, 2016, Defendant was indicted on five charges including Burglary Second Degree, Offensive Touching (two counts), Non-Compliance with Bond Conditions and Endangering the Welfare of a Child (hereinafter the "First S.C. Case").[1] The charges related to an incident that occurred at Defendant's ex-girlfriend's residence whereby he obtained access and assaulted her and her daughter. At the time of the offense there was a no-contact order in place that had been issued by the Court of Common Pleas (the "CCP Case").[2] When Defendant was charged on the First S.C. Case, the Superior Court also issued a no-contact order with respect to the then alleged victim, the ex-girlfriend. While these matters were pending before the Court, Defendant was indicted on one count of Non-Compliance with Conditions of Bond (the "Second S.C. Case"). Specifically, it was alleged that in December of 2016 Defendant knowingly breached a material condition of release by having contact with his ex-girlfriend after a no-contact order had been entered.[3]

         In April 2017, Defendant entered into a Plea Agreement and agreed to plead guilty to the charges of Burglary Second Degree, Offensive Touching, and two counts of Non Compliance with Conditions of Bond. The Agreement was intended to resolve the three aforementioned cases then pending against Defendant. The Plea Agreement also included a no-contact provision as well as other terms.

         Defendant was sentenced on June 2, 2017, to a total of three (3) years at Level V followed by decreasing levels of supervision. The Sentencing Order included the charges from the First S.C. Case and the Second S.C. Case and acknowledged that the remaining charges in the CCP Case were to be nolle prosequi and dismissed.

         On August 29, 2017, Defendant filed a pro se Motion for Postconviction Relief captioned with Case No. 1701000036 (the Second S.C. Case). Although the Motion addresses his entire sentence/conviction, the only charge relating to the Second S.C. Case was a charge of Non-Compliance with Conditions of Bond, to which Defendant was sentenced to five (5) years at Level V, suspended after 18 months for 1 year at Level III TASC.

         Defendant's Motion argues three grounds for relief: (1) a claim that his attorney informed him that the State was only asking for 1 year, but the State asked for 3 years; (2) his belief that counsel advised him his case would be heard in Mental Health Court, but it was not; and (3) he was forced to take a plea because his counsel would not "go to trial and fight for [him]". The record was enlarged and a briefing schedule was issued. Defendant's trial counsel submitted an Affidavit in response to the allegations in the Motion, [4] and the State filed a Response.[5] The record is now complete and the following is my Report and Recommendation that Defendant's Motion should be DENIED.


         Before considering the merits of the claims, the Court must first determine whether there are any procedural bars to the motion.[6] This is Defendant's first motion for postconviction relief and it was timely filed pursuant to Superior Court Criminal Rule 61.

         In order to prevail on an ineffective assistance of counsel claim, a defendant must show that his counsel's representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness and the deficiencies in counsel's representation caused the defendant actual prejudice.[7] When a defendant has pleaded guilty, he must show that counsel's actions were so prejudicial that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's errors, the defendant would not have pleaded guilty and would have insisted on going to trial.[8] Defendant must also overcome a strong presumption that counsel's conduct was reasonably professional under the circumstances.[9] Mere allegations of ineffectiveness will not suffice, rather, a defendant must make and substantiate concrete ...

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