JAMES A. WILSON, Defendant Below, Appellant,
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff Below, Appellee.
Submitted: November 2, 2018
Below: Superior Court of the State of Delaware Cr. ID No.
VALIHURA, SEITZ, and TRAYNOR, Justices.
F. TRAYNOR, JUSTICE
appellant, James A. Wilson, filed this appeal from the
Superior Court's order of June 19, 2018, denying his
motion for postconviction relief under Superior Court
Criminal Rule 61,  and the court's order of June 28,
2017 denying his related motion for appointment of counsel.
We affirm the Superior Court's judgment.
March 2016, a Superior Court jury convicted Wilson of Assault
in the Second Degree and other offenses stemming from a motor
vehicle collision caused as he was fleeing from two Dover
police officers who were attempting to execute a search
warrant as part of a drug trafficking investigation. On
direct appeal, we affirmed the Superior Court's judgment
under Supreme Court Rule 26(c).
June 2017, Wilson filed a motion for postconviction relief
with supporting memorandum and a supplement to the motion
(collectively, the "Postconviction Motion"). In the
Postconviction Motion, Wilson claimed that he was improperly
indicted for the assault charge and that his trial and
appellate counsel were ineffective when they failed to raise
the defective indictment claim at trial and on direct appeal.
After denying Wilson's motion for appointment of counsel,
the Superior Court referred the Postconviction Motion to a
Commissioner for proposed findings and recommendations. At
the direction of the Commissioner, Wilson's former trial
counsel filed an affidavit responding to the allegations of
ineffective assistance of counsel, the State filed a response
to the Postconviction Motion, and Wilson filed a reply.
February 14, 2018, the Commissioner issued a report
recommending that Wilson's Postconviction Motion be
denied. The Commissioner concluded that the
defective indictment claim was barred under Rule 61(i)(4)
because the claim was formerly adjudicated and
reconsideration was not warranted in the interest of
justice. The Commissioner concluded that the
ineffective assistance of counsel claims were without merit
because Wilson did not establish any deficiencies in his
counsel's representation or any prejudice from the
Wilson filed an appeal from the Commissioner's report and
recommendation. After considering the appeal, the State's
response, and reviewing the record de novo, the
Superior Court issued its order adopting the
Commissioner's report and recommendation and denying the
Postconviction Motion. Having carefully considered the
parties' briefs and the Superior Court record, we can
discern no error of law or abuse of discretion in the
Superior Court's denial of the Postconviction
appeal, Wilson contends that the Superior Court's denial
of the Postconviction Motion was an abuse of discretion
because neither the Commissioner nor the Superior Court Judge
addressed a number of his ineffective assistance of counsel
claims. In particular, Wilson complains that the Commissioner
and the Superior Court failed to address a claim that his
former trial counsel was ineffective when he failed to
challenge the validity of the search warrant.
Rule 61 requires a movant to specify all available grounds
for relief in the motion for postconviction
relief. The movant may amend the initial
postconviction motion at any time before a response is filed,
but after that, the movant may amend the motion only upon
leave of the court. The Superior Court is not required to
address a claim for relief that is not fairly presented for
this case, the record reflects that the Commissioner and the
Superior Court addressed the ineffective assistance of
counsel claim that was fairly presented in the Postconviction
Motion. To the extent Wilson raised additional allegations of
ineffective assistance of counsel in his later-filed
submissions-such as in his reply to the State's response
to the Postconviction Motion (which is where he argued his
trial counsel's failure to challenge the validity of the
search warrant) and in his appeal of the Commissioner's
report and recommendation-those allegations were not fairly
presented to the Superior Court for decision. Because the
claims were not fairly presented, the Superior Court was not
required to consider them.
the absence of plain error, we will not consider claims that
were not fairly presented to and considered by the Superior
Court. Plain error is error so clearly
prejudicial to substantial rights as to jeopardize the
fairness and integrity of the proceedings. We find
no plain error here. Wilson cannot establish that he was
prejudiced by his former trial counsel's failure to
challenge the validity of the search warrant in the drug
investigation. Any illegality in the search warrant was
immaterial in Wilson's ...