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State v. Law

Superior Court of Delaware

October 24, 2018

STATE OF DELAWARE
v.
VINCENT R. LAW, Defendant.

          Submitted: October 16, 2018

         Upon Consideration of Defendant's Motion for Reargument, DENIED.

          William L. Raisis, Esquire, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorney for the State.

          Joe Hurley, Esquire, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorney for the Defendant.

          ORDER

          VIVIAN L. MADINILLA JUDGE.

         AND NOW TO WIT, this 24th day of October, 2018, upon consideration of the Defendant's Motion for Reargument and the record in this case, it appears to the Court that:

         1. After the Court issued its Opinion and denied suppression in favor of the State, Defendant filed a timely Motion for Reargument on October 15, 2018. The State filed a response on October 16, 2018.

         2. The facts underlying Defendant's Motion for Reargument have been described by this Court in its October 11, 2018 Order denying Defendant's Motion to Suppress.[1]

         3. Defendant argues that this Court applied the incorrect legal standard when it denied Defendant's Motion to Suppress and failed to conduct a de novo review, [2] and misapprehended facts in the ruling. Specifically, Defendant argues that the Court relied solely on Officer Diaz's undergraduate degree in criminal justice in support of the ruling.[3] Defendant also perseverates on the nature and causation of the accident as a relevant factor in the probable cause analysis.[4] Defendant further argues the Court was incorrect to include the characterization of "a strong odor of alcohol" as a factor in the probable cause analysis.[5] Defendant argues no reasonable inference can be drawn from the facts regarding the timeframe of when Defendant was alleged to have been drinking.[6] Lastly, Defendant seeks the photographs of Defendant's vehicle be considered to justify a different conclusion.[7] In sum, Defendant asks the Court to conduct a de novo review and reconsider the Court's ruling.

         Standard of Review

         4. Pursuant to Delaware Superior Court Criminal Rule 57(d), "[i]n all cases not provided for by rule or administrative order, the court shall regulate its practice in accordance with the applicable Superior Court civil rule.. .."[8] "Superior Court Civil Rule 59[ ] is made applicable to criminal cases by Superior Court Criminal Rule 57(d)."[9] This means "a motion for reargument in a criminal case is governed by Superior Court Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e)."[10]

         5. Civil Rule 59(e) allows the Court to reconsider "its findings of fact, conclusions of law, or judgment. . . ."[11] "Delaware law places a heavy burden on a [party] seeking relief pursuant to Rule 59."[12] In order to prevail on a motion for reargument, the movant must demonstrate that "the Court has overlooked a controlling precedent or legal principle, or the Court has misapprehended the law or facts such as would have changed the outcome of the underlying decision."[13] Additionally, "[a] motion for reargument is not a device for raising new arguments, "[14] nor is it "intended to rehash the arguments already decided by the court."[15] Tactics like these frustrate the "efficient use of judicial resources" and the orderly process of reaching finality on the issues.[16] The burden is on the moving party to demonstrate "newly discovered evidence, a change of law, or manifest injustice."[17]

         Discussion

         6. Defendant takes issue with Court's application of a standard that gives "great deference" to the magistrate and did not apply a de novo review.[18] In support, Defendant relies on Stafford v. State[19] Flowers v. State, [20] and State v. Iyer[21] to suggest that the Court should have conducted a de novo review.[22] The cases submitted are inapplicable as they were considered in the context of an appellate review of the denial or granting of a motion to suppress from a lower court.[23] The standard of review on appeal is different than in the present case.[24]

         7. Here, this Court was not asked to conduct an appellate review but to consider a four-corner analysis on a motion to suppress. Following Holden, and as stated in this Court's original Order, the magistrate's determination is reviewed with great deference and a de novo review is not applied.[25] Thus, the Court determined that the magistrate had a substantial basis for finding that probable cause existed. Defendant fails to demonstrate that this Court misapprehended the law.

         8. As to the facts, any mention in the Court's Order regarding the officer's undergraduate degree was merely to highlight Defendant's underlying argument about the affidavit's deficiencies regarding the officer's skill and experience. The facts contained in the affidavit included that the officer was a graduate of the Delaware State Police Academy and was currently assigned as an officer ...


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