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State v. Lewis

Superior Court of Delaware

February 1, 2019

NA-QUAN LEWIS, Defendant.

          Submitted: January 24, 2019

         Upon Defendant's Third Motion for Post conviction Relief SUMMARILY DISMISSED.

         Upon Defendant's Motion for Appointment of Counsel DENIED.

         Upon Defendant's Motion for Transcripts DENIED.

          Na-Quan Lewis, pro se, Smyrna, DE.

          Albert J. Roop, IV, Esquire, State Prosecutor, Cynthia F. Hurlock, Esquire, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, 820 N. French St., Wilmington, Delaware, Attorneys for the State.


          WHARTON, J.

         This 1st day of February, 2019 upon consideration of Defendant's third Motion for Postconviction Relief[1] and the record in this matter, it appears to the Court that:

         1. Defendant Na-Quan Lewis ("Lewis") was originally indicted by the Grand Jury on July 5, 2016.[2] He was re-indicted on September 12, 2016 on the charges of Gang Participation, Conspiracy Second Degree, Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony ("PFDCF") (two counts), and Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited ("PFBPP") (two counts).[3] In all, 28 defendants were charged in the Re-Indictment.[4] On July, 6, 2017, Lewis pled guilty to one count of PFDCF.[5] He also admitted to violating his probation. He was sentenced immediately to the three year minimum mandatory period of incarceration at Level 5 on the PFDCF charge with no probation to follow.[6] In exchange, State dropped the Gang Participation and Conspiracy charges, the other PFDCF charge, and two PFBPP charges. The PFBPP charges carried minimum mandatory sentences due to a prior robbery second degree conviction.[7] Lewis did not appeal his conviction and sentence to the Delaware Supreme Court.

         2. On May 14, 2018, Lewis filed his first Motion for Postconviction Relief ("First Motion"), alleging ineffective assistance of counsel.[8] He did not request appointment of counsel. Lewis alleged three grounds for relief in the First Motion: 1) "Ineffective assistance of trial counsel Re: Invalid plea agreement;" 2) "Ineffective assistance of counsel Re: Abuse of discretion;" and 3) "Denial of the right of Effective [sic] assistance of counsel."[9] On May 23, Lewis filed a Motion to Amend the original Rule 61 Motion.[10] That motion merely sought to amend the Motion by adding a Memorandum of Law in Support of Rule 61 Postconviction Relief Motion ("Memorandum of Law") to the original Motion.[11] On June 1, 2018, the Court received a second Motion to Amend. This second Motion to Amend sought to add an additional argument to Lewis' Memorandum of Law claiming a violation of his right to a speedy trial.[12] Apparently Lewis had a change of heart, or perhaps he forgot that he wrote the Court a letter, postmarked July 5, 2017, the day before he entered his plea, and received by the Court on July 10th, stating in its entirety, "I would like

          Natalie Woloshin to represent me again please."[13] The Court considered all of Lewis' filings in connection with his First Motion, including his Memorandum of Law, and his Amended Memorandum of Law. The Court summarily dismissed the First Motion.[14] Lewis appealed and the Supreme Court affirmed this Court's summary dismissal.[15]

         3. Lewis has again moved for post-conviction relief.[16] He also seeks appointment of counsel[17] as well as transcripts.[18] In this motion ("Third Motion") Lewis repeats a number of the claims he raised in his First Motion. He gain complains of ineffective assistance of counsel and repeats issues that were previously litigated regarding his speedy trial rights.[19] He accuses the Court of misconduct because it never ordered a mental health evaluation before accepting his request to represent himself.[20] In a ground captioned "New Evidence" he claims that previous counsel failed to provide him with full Rule 16 discovery preventing him from preparing for trial causing him to enter the plea under false pretenses.[21] Finally he alleges judicial misconduct when the Court allowed him to represent himself and enter his plea without ordering a mental health evaluation.[22]

         4. Before addressing the merits of a defendant's motion for post conviction relief, the Court must first apply the procedural bars of Superior Court Criminal Rule 6l(i).[23] If a procedural bar exists, then the Court will not consider the merits of the post conviction claim.[24]

         5. Under Delaware Superior Court Rules of Criminal Procedure, a motion for post-conviction relief can be barred, inter alia, for time limitations or procedural default. A motion exceeds time limitations if it is filed more than one year after the conviction becomes final or, if it asserts a retroactively applicable right that is newly recognized after the judgment of conviction is final, more than one year after the right was first recognized by the Supreme Court of Delaware or the United States Supreme Court.[25] A second or subsequent motion is considered successive and therefore barred and subject to summary dismissal unless the movant was convicted after a trial and "pleads with particularity that new evidence exists that the movant is actually innocent" or "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 ... invalid."[26] Grounds for relief "not asserted in the proceedings leading to the judgment of conviction" are barred as procedurally defaulted unless the movant can show "cause for relief and "prejudice from [the] violation."[27] Grounds for relief formerly adjudicated in the case, including "proceedings leading to the judgment of conviction, in an appeal, in a post-conviction proceeding, or in a federal habeas corpus hearing" are barred.[28]

         6. The bars to relief do not apply either to a claim that the court lacked jurisdiction or to a claim that pleads with particularity that new evidence exists that creates a strong inference of actual innocence[29] or that a new retroactively applied rule of constitutional law renders the conviction invalid.[30] The bars remain applicable because the Defendant has neither claimed ...

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