Submitted: August 15, 2018
Below: Superior Court of the State of Delaware ID. No.
STRINE, Chief Justice; VALIHURA and VAUGHN, Justices.
T. Vaughn, Jr. Justice.
24th day of September 2018, upon consideration of
the parties' briefs and the record on appeal, it appears
Appellant, Robert Moody, appeals from a Superior Court order
which denied his motion for postconviction relief. He asserts
three claims. He contends that: (1) the Superior Court erred
by ruling he was not prejudiced by his trial counsel's
failure to move to sever a person prohibited charge and
counsel's stipulation to his person prohibited status;
(2) the Superior Court erred by ruling that his trial counsel
was not ineffective in failing to move to suppress evidence
of a firearm and ammunition that formed the basis for the
charges against him; and (3) the Superior Court abused its
discretion by not allowing an expansion of the record during
the postconviction proceedings. We find no merit to
Moody's claims and affirm.
Around midnight on July 25, 2013, Wilmington Police Officer
Matthew Geiser was patrolling a high crime
neighborhood. He observed Moody riding his bicycle with
a noticeable bulge around his right rear waistline. Based on
Officer Geiser's training and experience, he believed
Moody was armed. He sounded his vehicle's air horn and
ordered Moody to stop. Moody looked at the officer and
performed a "security check" of his right rear
waistline with his hand. Then, Moody sped up on his bicycle
and turned down an alleyway behind the vacant Walt's
Flavor Crisp store.
Officer Geiser crossed paths with Moody at the other end of
the alley. He ordered Moody to get off his bicycle and
noticed Moody no longer had a bulge in his right rear
waistline. Along with other officers, Officer Geiser searched
the area and arrested Moody after discovering a .357 Magnum
on the roof of one the buildings adjacent to the ally. The
gun was loaded with three rounds of ammunition.
March 22, 2014, a jury convicted Moody of possession of a
firearm by a person prohibited, carrying a concealed deadly
weapon, and possession of ammunition by a person prohibited.
Moody was sentenced to a total of 21 years at level V,
suspended after 5 years for decreasing levels of probation.
Moody filed a direct appeal to this Court. We affirmed his
conviction.Moody then filed a timely Motion for
Postconviction Relief. The Superior Court denied his motion.
This appeal followed.
Superior Court's denial of a Rule 61 Motion for
Postconviction relief is reviewed for an abuse of
discretion. Questions of law are reviewed de
two-pronged test for claims of ineffective assistance of
counsel was established by the United States Supreme Court in
Strickland v. Washington. First, a defendant must show
that his "counsel's representation fell below an
objective standard of reasonableness." "Second, the
defendant must show that the deficient performance prejudiced
Trial counsel's actions "are afforded a strong
presumption of reasonableness" because of the
"distorting effects of hindsight." The conduct being
challenged must be evaluated "from the counsel's
perspective at that time."
a defendant is able to demonstrate "that his
counsel's conduct fell below an objective standard of
reasonableness," he must then demonstrate counsel's
error was "so serious as to deprive the defendant of a
fair trial, a trial whose result is
reliable." "Defendant must establish 'that
there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's
unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would
have been different.'"
Moody first contends that the Superior Court erred by ruling
that his trial counsel was not ineffective by failing to move
to sever the person prohibited charge. His theory is that he
suffered prejudice because trying the person prohibited
charge together with the other two charges allowed the jury
to infer that he had a motive for disposing of the firearm.
It allowed the jury to infer, the reasoning goes, that he
threw the weapon on the roof because he knew that he was a
person prohibited and could not be caught with a firearm in
his possession. This inference, he contends, enabled the
State to prove that he was carrying a concealed deadly weapon
with ammunition when he was first ...