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Scott v. State
Supreme Court of Delaware
July 19, 2018
CHARLES L. SCOTT, Defendant Below, Appellant,
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff Below, Appellee.
Submitted: May 25, 2018
Below: Superior Court of the State of Delaware Cr. ID No.
VAUGHN, SEITZ, and TRAYNOR, Justices.
COLLINS J. SEITZ, JR. JUSTICE.
19th day of July 2018, upon consideration of the
appellant's brief under Supreme Court Rule 26(c), his
attorney's motion to withdraw, and the State's
response, it appears to the Court that:
(1) Charles L. Scott was convicted in 1992 of first-degree
murder and was sentenced to life in prison without
parole. Scott was eighteen years old when he
committed the offense.
(2) On March 22, 2013, Scott filed a pro se motion
for postconviction relief under Superior Court Criminal Rule
61 (hereinafter "pro se motion"). Scott
alleged that his lawyers were ineffective at trial and on
direct appeal and that he was denied a fair trial.
(3) The Superior Court appointed counsel to assist Scott in
the postconviction proceeding. Scott's postconviction
counsel filed an amended motion for postconviction relief
(hereinafter "Amended Motion") arguing that
Scott's age should have been part of his defense at trial
and taken into account when he was convicted of first-degree
murder and sentenced to life in prison.
(4) At the direction of the Superior Court, Scott's
former trial counsel filed affidavits responding to the
Amended Motion, and the State filed a response to both the
Amended Motion and the pro se motion. After that,
the case was referred to a Superior Court Commissioner for
proposed findings and recommendations.
(5) On October 30, 2017, the Commissioner issued a report
recommending that the Amended Motion and the pro se
motion should be denied. Applying the version of Rule 61 in
effect in 2013 when the pro se motion was filed, the
Commissioner concluded that the motions were procedurally
barred under Rule 61(i) and that neither motion advanced a
claim warranting review under the exceptions to the
procedural bar. Also, the Commissioner found that the claims
of ineffective counsel were without merit.
(6) By order dated January 30, 2018, the Superior Court
adopted the Commissioner's Report and Recommendation and
denied the motions for postconviction relief. This appeal
followed. On appeal, we review the Superior Court's
denial of postconviction relief for abuse of discretion and
questions of law de novo.
(7) Scott's postconviction counsel has filed a no-merit
brief and a motion to withdraw under Rule 26(c).
Postconviction counsel acknowledges the futility of
continuing to press Scott's age-based claim on appeal in
view of the Court's recent decisions in cases such as
Flonnory v. State. Scott, however, has a different
view and has submitted written points for the Court's
consideration. Scott's points reiterate all of the claims
raised in the pro se motion, plus a new claim,
i.e., that postconviction counsel was ineffective.
The State has filed a response to the pro se
(8) Generally, this Court will not consider a claim for
postconviction relief that was not considered by the Superior
Court in the first instance. In this case, because the
Superior Court did not consider Scott's ineffective
assistance of postconviction counsel claim in the first
instance, we have not considered the claim on appeal.
(9) When considering a brief and a motion to withdraw under
Rule 26(c), we must be satisfied that the appellant's
counsel made a conscientious examination of the record and
the law for arguable claims and also conduct our own review
of the record to determine whether the appeal is so devoid of
appealable issues that it can be decided without an adversary
presentation. In this case, having carefully considered
the parties' submissions on appeal and reviewed the
record, we conclude that the Superior Court's order
denying Scott's motions for postconviction relief should
be affirmed on the basis of, and for the reasons provided in,
the Commissioner's well-reasoned Report and
Recommendation. We are ...
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