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Garvey v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

December 26, 2018

ROBERT GARVEY, Defendant Below, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff Below, Appellee.

          Submitted: December 7, 2018

          Court Below-Superior Court of the State of Delaware Cr. ID No. 0107010230.

          Before STRINE, Chief Justice; VALIHURA and TRAYNOR, Justices.

          ORDER

          Karen L. Valihura Justice.

         After consideration of the appellant's opening brief, the State's motion to affirm, and the record on appeal, it appears to the Court that:

         (1) The appellant, Robert Garvey, appeals from the Superior Court's order dated March 29, 2018, denying his sixth motion for postconviction relief under Superior Court Criminal Rule 61.[1] The State has filed a motion to affirm the Superior Court's judgment on the ground that it is manifest on the face of Garvey's opening brief that the appeal is without merit. We agree and affirm.

         (2) In 2003, a Superior Court jury convicted Garvey of Murder in the First Degree, Robbery in the First Degree, Attempted Robbery in the First Degree, four related weapons offenses, and Conspiracy in the Second Degree. On December 17, 2003, the Superior Court sentenced Garvey to life in prison without the possibility of probation or parole. On direct appeal, this Court affirmed Garvey's convictions and sentence.[2] Between 2007 and 2016, this Court affirmed the Superior Court's denials of Garvey's five previous motions for postconviction relief.[3]

         (3) Garvey filed his sixth motion for postconviction relief on December 13, 2017. In the motion, Garvey argued, among other things, that his conviction and sentence are invalid because the death penalty statute in effect at the time of Garvey's trial and sentencing was constitutionally infirm, as Garvey argued before trial, and as this Court decided in Rauf v. State[4] and Powell v. State.[5] The Superior Court denied the motion on March 29, 2018. The Superior Court held that the motion was not procedurally barred by Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 because the Court determined that Garvey had asserted "a retroactively applicable right that is newly recognized after the judgment of conviction is final."[6] But the Court held that Garvey's claims lacked merit and therefore denied the motion for postconviction relief. Garvey now appeals to this Court.

         (4) We conclude that Garvey's motion was procedurally barred by Superior Court Criminal Rule 61.[7] Rule 61(d)(2) provides that a second or subsequent motion for postconviction relief shall be summarily dismissed unless the movant was convicted after trial and the motion either:

(i) pleads with particularity that new evidence exists that creates a strong inference that the movant is actually innocent in fact of the acts underlying the charges of which he was convicted; or
(ii) pleads with particularity a claim that a new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the United States Supreme Court or the Delaware Supreme Court, applies to the movant's case and renders the conviction or death sentence invalid.[8]

         (5) Garvey argues that Rauf and Powell set forth new rules of constitutional law that overcome the procedural bars of Rule 61. Garvey's argument is unavailing because, although Rauf and Powell set forth a new rule of constitutional law, those decisions do not apply to invalidate Garvey's conviction or sentence. As we have held many times, Rauf did not strike down the entirety of the first-degree murder statute-it struck down only the death penalty portion.[9] Because Garvey was not sentenced to death, but received a sentence of life imprisonment, Rauf and Powell do not apply to Garvey's case.[10] For the same reason, Garvey's contention that he previously challenged the constitutionality of the death penalty statute-which challenge was rejected in Brice v. State, [11] which was later overruled by Rauf-also is unavailing.

         NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED that the motion to affirm is GRANTED, and the judgment ...


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