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State v. Hubbard

Superior Court of Delaware

June 26, 2018

STATE OF DELAWARE,
v.
JALEN L. HUBBARD, Defendant.

          Date Submitted: April 5, 2018

          On Defendant Jalen L. Hubbard's Motion for Postconviction Relief: DENIED. Counsel's Motion to Withdraw: GRANTED

          ORDER

          CALVIN L. SCOTT, JUDGE.

         On May 30, 2012 Jalen Hubbard (Defendant) was arrested by the Delaware State Police. Defendant was indicted on several charges of Robbery First Degree, Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony (PFDCF), Wearing a Disguise During the Commission of a Felony, Conspiracy Second Degree, Theft of a Firearm, Possession of Burglary Tools, and Burglary Third Degree. On November 29, 2012 at his final case review Defendant pleaded guilty to two counts of Robbery First Degree, three counts of Robbery Second Degree, and PFDCF, and the State entered a nolle prosequi on the forty-three remaining charges.

         The Court conducted a colloquy with Defendant confirming Defendant and his counsel had reviewed the plea agreement, that Defendant understood the Constitutional rights he would be waiving, that he was not being forced to enter into the agreement, and that Defendant was not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol. Finding Defendant's plea to be knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily entered this Court accepted the guilty plea. Defendant was sentenced on March 13, 2013 to a total of 19 years at Level V effective May 31, 2012, suspended after 13 years for decreasing levels of supervision. Defendant has not filed a direct appeal of his conviction and sentencing to the Supreme Court.

         Defendant filed a pro se motion for Correction or Modification of his Sentence in April 2013. That motion was denied as the sentence was consistent with the plea agreement entered into. This pro se Motion for Postconviction relief was filed in March 2014. Saagar B. Shah, Esquire was subsequently appointed to represent Defendant for this Motion. Mr. Shah filed a motion to withdraw as counsel stating Defendant's claims were without merit.

         Defendant's Assertions

         Defendant raises three grounds for relief in his motion; that the search of his home and vehicle were conducted at night without the requisite statutory findings, that his detention for greater than two hours without being formally charged was statutorily impermissible, and ineffective assistance of counsel.

         Discussion

         The Court must address Defendant's motion in regard to Rule 61 (i) procedural bars to relief before assessing the merits of his motion.[1] The State has conceded and the Court agrees that Defendant's motion is not time barred or repetitive. Rule 6l(i)(3) bars relief if the motion includes claims not asserted in the proceedings leading to the final judgment.[2] This bar is not applicable as to Defendant's claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, which cannot be raised in a direct appeal.[3]However, Superior Court Criminal Rule 6l(i)(3) bars any claims for relief not asserted in the proceedings leading to a judgement of conviction as required by the rules of this Court, unless Defendant can show "cause" for relief and "actual prejudice" from violation of his rights.[4]

         Defendant's first two claims for relief appear to fall within the scope of his ineffective assistance of counsel claim. Defendant claims challenges to the search of his home and his detention prior to charging were not pursued because he never received any paperwork from his trial counsel that would have allowed him to "effectively work on his case."[5] Defendant notes he was "influenced" by counsel not to pursue these challenges for the reason that Defendant provided a detailed post-Miranda confession to several robberies.[6]

         Delaware adopted the two-prong test proffered in Strickland v. Washington to evaluate ineffective assistance of counsel claims.[7] To succeed on an ineffective assistance of counsel claim, a petitioner must demonstrate that "counsel's representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness, and that there is a reasonable probability that but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different."[8]

         To avoid the "distorting effects of hindsight," counsel's actions are afforded a strong presumption of reasonableness.[9] The "benchmark for judging any claim of ineffectiveness [is to] be whether counsel's conduct so undermined the proper functioning of the adversarial process that the trial cannot be relied on as having produced a just result."[10] The Court's objective in evaluating counsel's conduct is to "reconstruct the circumstances of counsel's challenged conduct, and to evaluate the conduct from the counsel's perspective at the time." [[1]]

         If Defendant can demonstrate that counsel's conduct failed to meet an objective standard of reasonableness the second prong of the Strickland analysis requires the Court to determine what, if any, effect counsel's ineffectiveness had on the outcome of Defendant's trial.[12] "[The Court] will not set aside the judgment in a criminal proceeding if the error had no effect on the outcome."[13] Defendant must show that but for counsel's ...


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