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State v. Harris

Superior Court of Delaware

June 11, 2018

STATE OF DELAWARE,
v.
SAMUEL L. HARRIS, Defendant.

          Submitted: June 8, 2018

         Cr. A. No. IS98-02-0142

         Upon Defendant's Request for a Certificate of Eligibility to File Under 11 Del. C. § 4214(f) and Del. Super. Ct. Spec. R. 2017-1(d), GRANTED.

          Robert H. Robinson, Jr., Esquire David Hume, IV, Chief Prosecutor, Sussex County Gregory E. Smith, Deputy Attorney General.

          ORDER

          Paul R. Wallace, Judge.

         This 11th day of June, 2018, upon consideration of the Defendant Samuel L. Harris's Request for a Certificate of Eligibility (D.I. 71), the Attorney General's response thereto (D.I. 72) and the record in this matter, it appears to the Court that:

         (1) On November 12, 1998, following a one-day trial, a Superior Court jury convicted the Defendant Samuel L. Harris of Escape After Conviction.[1] He was resentenced on September 27, 1999, [2] after the State's habitual criminal petition was granted.[3] This Court then imposed the minimum required: eight years at Level V to be served under the provisions of the then-extant Habitual Criminal Act.[4]

         (2) Harris has requested a certificate of eligibility to file a petition seeking exercise of the Court's jurisdiction to modify his escape sentence under recently enacted 11 Del. C. § 4214(f).[5] The Attorney General has responded[6] and been provided an opportunity to be heard.[7] The Court has carefully considered the parties' positions as to whether Harris may be granted a certificate of eligibility in the peculiar circumstance and procedural posture presented.[8] He may.

         (3) Harris meets the type-of-sentence eligibility requirement set forth in 11 Del. C. § 4214(f).[9] Harris also meets the time-served eligibility requirements set forth in 11 Del. C. § 4214(f).[10] Lastly, the Attorney General has not, "by specific averment, " demonstrated "that there is a good faith basis to believe that ... a petition [by Harris] . . . may not be heard because the felony establishing [Harris] as a habitual offender is one for which review is [not now]-permitted as provided for in 11 Del. C. § 4214(f) and [Del. Super. Ct. Spec. R. 2017-1](d)(11)."[11] Instead, the Attorney General has agreed the Court should grant Harris a certificate of eligibility.[12] It does appear from a review of the Court's docket, however, that there are current "petitions filed pursuant to [11 Del. C. § 4214(f)] where the felony establishing an inmate as a habitual offender was a Title 16 offense" and that those petitions must be "heard first, " i.e., before Harris's, under the applicable statutes and this Court's rules.[13]

         (4) NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED that Harris's Request for a Certificate of Eligibility is GRANTED and he may file a petition seeking exercise of this Court's jurisdiction to modify his sentence under 11 Del. C. § 4214(f) and Del. Super. Ct. Spec. R. 2017-1(d). Any such petition should be addressed to the undersigned judge. Upon a determination that all petitions that must be "heard first, " have been, [14] the Court will schedule further proceedings in this matter. This grant of a certificate of eligibility to seek relief is not a ruling on whether Harris's sentence will be modified. That judgment will be left to the sole discretion of the Court.[15] And nothing in amended Section 4214 or the Court's rules shall require the Court to grant Harris a sentence modification.[16]

         (5) IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Department of Correction and the Department of Justice shall, consistent with a memorandum of understanding entered (or other protocols devised) for the express purpose of facilitating the lawful and efficient transfer of materials and information required for consideration of a petition under 11 Del. C. § 4214(f) and Del. Super. Ct. Spec. R. 2017-1(d), provide to Harris's attorney of record, or his designee, access to such materials and information without undue delay.[17]

         Original to Prothonotary - Sussex County

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