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State v. Stanford

Superior Court of Delaware

March 8, 2019

STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff,
v.
SHAMAR T. STANFORD, Defendant.

          Submitted: December 20, 2018

          Zachary D. Rosen, Esquire, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for the State.

          Shamar T. Stanford, Howard R. Young Correctional Institution, Wilmington, Delaware, pro se.

         COMMISSIONER'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION THAT DEFENDANT'S SECOND MOTION FOR POSTCONVICTION RELIEF SHOULD BE SUMMARILY DISMISSED AND MOTION FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL SHOULD BE DENIED AND MOTION FOR TRANSCRIPTS AND MOTION TO COMPEL SHOULD BE DENIED

          LYNNE M. PARKER, COMMISSIONER

         This 8th day of March 2019, upon consideration of Defendant's Second Motion for Postconviction Relief, and related motions, it appears to the Court that:

         BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         1. In January 2016, Defendant Shamar T. Stanford was indicted for Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited ("PFBPP"), Endangering the Welfare of a Child, and three drug offenses. During pre-trial proceedings, Stanford's trial counsel filed a motion to suppress, which was denied on December 2, 2016.

         2. On December 12, 2016, Stanford pled guilty to two charges in the indictment- PFBPP and Endangering the Welfare of a Child. Stanford was sentenced to a total of sixteen years of Level V incarceration, suspended after serving the five-year minimum mandatory term, followed by probation. In exchange for the guilty plea, the State agreed to dismiss the other charges in the indictment.

         3. Stanford did not file a timely direct appeal from the guilty plea or sentence. In 2018, Stanford filed an untimely notice to appeal, and after he failed to respond to the notice to show cause why his appeal should not be dismissed, Stanford's appeal was dismissed by the Delaware Supreme Court on May 16, 2018.[1]

         4. Stanford filed a series of letters and motions, including a motion for postconviction relief, attacking the validity of his guilty plea and sentence, the effectiveness of his trial counsel and the Superior Court's denial of his pre-trial suppression motion.

         5. Stanford's first postconviction relief motion was filed on January 18, 2017, amended on April 6, 2017, and amended again on May 17, 2017. By Order dated June 7, 2017, the Superior Court denied Stanford's first postconviction relief motion, as amended on April 6, 2017.[2] The case was remanded to the Superior Court by the Delaware Supreme Court for the Superior Court to address the outstanding claims raised in Stanford's second amended motion, his May 17, 2017 amended motion for postconviction relief.[3]

         6. The Superior Court issued its Supplemental Order on August 28, 2017, addressing Stanford's second amended motion for postconviction relief filed on May 17, 2017.

         7. In his first postconviction relief motion, Stanford sought to set aside his guilty plea on a number of grounds. Stanford claimed that the police lacked probable cause to search the residence in which he was arrested, that the search was unreasonable in that the officers lacked cause to conduct the search, that police officers committed perjury, that his counsel was ineffective at the suppression hearing and during his guilty plea, that his plea agreement was entered under duress, and that his sentence was improper.

         8. The Superior Court conducted a full, thorough and detailed review of Stanford's claims, which included an expansion of the record and Stanford's former trial counsel provided an affidavit in response to the allegations of ineffectiveness. Following that careful review, the Superior Court found Stanford's claims raised in his first Rule 61 motion were procedurally barred and without merit and denied his motion for postconviction relief.[4] The Superior Court held that Stanford's challenges to the guilty plea, sentence, and pre-trial suppression ruling were procedurally barred and his challenges to his counsel's effectiveness were without merit.[5]

         9. By Order dated May 15, 2018, the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Superior Court finding Stanford's claims raised in his first motion for postconviction relief, as amended, to be lacking in merit, procedurally barred and otherwise properly denied.[6]

         10. Stanford requested the appointment of counsel on his first Rule 61 motion. That motion was denied by the Superior Court[7] and that denial was affirmed by the Delaware Supreme Court on appeal.[8]

         11. Stanford requested the preparation of a transcript of the December 2, 2016, suppression hearing at the State's expense. The Superior Court denied the request on February 6, 2017[9] and denied another request for the preparation of the same transcript on March 2, 2017.[10] Stanford did not raise the denial of his transcript requests or argue that the transcripts were necessary to his postconviction motion on appeal.[11]

         12. On July 12, 2018, Stanford again filed a motion for transcripts. This time Stanford sought the transcription of his suppression hearing of December 2, 2016, and his plea and sentencing of December 12, 2016.[12] The Superior Court denied Stanford's request on July 16, 2018.[13]

         13. Stanford filed a petition for a writ of mandamus seeking an Order directing the Superior Court to prepare transcripts for him at the State's expense. The Delaware Supreme Court dismissed Stanford's petition for the issuance of a writ of mandamus.[14]

         14. For the sake of completeness, Stanford also filed a motion to "Appeal Guilty Plea" and a motion for modification of sentence. These motions were both denied by the Superior Court on March 27, 2017.[15]

         15. In addition, Stanford filed a motion for a second suppression hearing which was denied by the Superior Court on March 1, 2017.[16] The Superior Court explained that on December 12, 2016, Stanford entered a guilty plea and was sentenced. It is well-settled that a knowing and voluntary guilty plea waives a defendant's right to challenge any errors occurring before the entry of the plea. By pleading guilty, Stanford waived his right to further challenge the legality of the search conducted in his case. His request for a second suppression hearing was denied.[17]

         STANFORD'S SECOND RULE 61 MOTION

         16. On October 1, 2018, Stanford filed the subject Rule 61 motion. Stanford also filed a motion for the appointment of counsel, a motion for transcripts at the State's expense, and a motion to compel ...


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