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State v. Hainey

Superior Court of Delaware

July 13, 2018

STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff,
v.
JASON A. HAINEY, Defendant.

          Submitted: July 3, 2018

          Joe Grubb, Esquire, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorneys for the State of Delaware.

          Jason A. Hainey, pro se

          COMMISSIONER'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION THAT DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR POSTCONVICTION RELIEF SHOULD BE SUMMARILY DISMISSED

          KATHARINE L. MAYER, COMMISSIONER

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

         BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On February 12, 2004, a jury convicted Defendant, Jason Hainey, of First Degree Murder, First Degree Felony Murder, Attempted Robbery First Degree, and two counts of Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony. The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the conviction on appeal.[1] The facts underlying the conviction were set forth at length in the Supreme Court's opinion. Briefly, in August of 2001, Defendant went to the house of Michael Mercer intending to rob him and shot him six times. Sometime later, law enforcement located the gun and the State was able to connect the gun and the murder to Defendant through witness testimony. On appeal, the Supreme Court found that there was sufficient evidence to find Defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

         On June 15, 2006, Defendant filed a pro se Motion for Postconviction Relief (the "First Motion"). After full briefing, the Superior Court denied Defendant's First Motion (the "PCR Order"). Amongst the fourteen (14) arguments presented, the court found no merit to the claims (1) challenging the suppression testimony of the ballistics expert; or (2) that counsel was ineffective because he failed to move for a judgment of acquittal. On March 31, 2008, the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the PCR Order.[2]

         Defendant also filed a Petition for a writ of hapeas corpus with the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. On July 12, 2011, the District Court issued a Memorandum Opinion dismissing the application.[3] Through his petition, Defendant asserted four grounds for relief including:

(1) there was insufficient evidence to support the jury's verdict, thereby depriving him of due process; (2) the Superior Court deprived him of due process by erroneously admitting a gun into evidence; (3) defense counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to argue or object that the 'prosecution used misleading/perjured testimony and.. .misrepresented evidence to convict'; by failing to subpoena a key witness; and by failing to file a motion for judgment of acquittal; and (4) appellate counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to appeal the aforementioned claims.[4]

         The District Court held that: (1) the Delaware Supreme Court did not unreasonably decide there was sufficient evidence to support the convictions;[5] (2) claim two was barred by the Delaware state court decisions and the denial of his ineffective assistance of counsel claim was not contrary to law;[6] and (3) the Delaware Supreme Court's denial of claim three was not contrary to law or unreasonable.[7] Defendant appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. At that time, he again argued that the trial court violated his constitutional rights by allowing the gun into evidence. The Third Circuit denied his certificate of appealability and his request for a rehearing.[8]

         On June 29, 2018, Defendant filed his Second Motion for Postconviction Relief (the "Second Motion"). The Second Motion presents three claims: (1) counsel was ineffective for failing to file a Rule 29 motion during trial; (2) the judge erred and trial counsel was ineffective for allowing evidence of the weapon at trial; and (3) trial counsel was ineffective for not challenging the ATF testimony/ballistics evidence at trial or on appeal. For the reasons set forth below, I recommend that the Second Motion be summarily dismissed.

         LEGAL ANALYSIS

         The Court must first determine whether there are any procedural bars to the motion before considering the merits of the claims.[9] Pursuant to Superior Court Criminal Rule 61(d)(2), a second or subsequent postconviction motion must be summarily dismissed unless the movant was convicted after a trial and the defendant either (i) pleads with particularity that new evidence exists creating a strong inference that he is actually innocent of the acts underlying the charges of conviction; or (ii) pleads with particularity a claim that a new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review, applies to the case and renders the conviction invalid. In addition, several procedural bars may apply to prohibit further relief. Specifically, (i) any motion for postconviction relief must be filed within one year after the judgment of conviction is final; (ii) any second or subsequent pleading must satisfy the requirements of Rule 61(d)(2); (iii) any ground for relief that was not asserted in the proceedings leading to the judgment of conviction is barred unless the movant establishes cause and prejudice; and (iv) any ground for ...


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