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State v. Martin

Superior Court of Delaware

March 12, 2019

STATE OF DELAWARE,
v.
DARNELL D. MARTIN, Defendant.

          Submitted: March 5, 2019

         Cr. A. Nos. IN17-02-1754 & 55.

          Timothy G. Maguire, Deputy Attorney General Patrick J. Collins, Esquire Mr. Darnell Martin, pro se

          ORDER DENYING MOTION TO REDUCE SENTENCE

          PAUL R. WALLACE, JUDGE.

         This 12th day of March, 2019, upon consideration of the Defendant Darnell D. Martin's pro se Motion for Sentence Reduction (D.I. 46) and the record in this matter, it appears to the Court that:

         (1) On January 9, 2018, following a bench trial, Darnell Martin was convicted of drug dealing and another related charge. He was immediately sentenced to serve, inter alia, a 25-year term of imprisonment suspended after two years for 18 months of supervised probation. The two years of unsuspended imprisonment comprise a minimum term of incarceration that must be imposed and cannot be suspended.[1]

         (2) Martin filed a direct appeal to the Delaware Supreme Court. His convictions and sentence were recently affirmed.[2] And so, now Martin is pursuing postconviction relief via a separate application.[3]

         (3) Martin has filed the present motion under Superior Court Criminal Rule 35(b) requesting reduction of the incarcerative term of his sentence for the drug dealing charge.[4] In short, Martin requests that six months be cleaved from the end of his two-year imprisonment term and that the Court substitute house arrest for that period of imprisonment.[5] This relief is appropriate, he claims, because if released he can: (1) if he finds work, help his family financially; (2) "better prepare himself for postconviction"; (3) and "begin putting his life back together, be productive in society as a tax paying citizen instead of putting a burden on the states [sic] alread[y] packed Department of Corrections [sic]."[6]

         (4) The Court may consider Martin's motion "without presentation, hearing or argument."[7] The Court will decide his motion on the papers filed and the complete sentencing record in Martin's case.

         (5) When considering a Rule 35(b) motion, this Court must address any applicable procedural bars before turning to its merits.[8]

         (6) Rule 35(b) requires that a motion to reduce imprisonment be filed promptly-that is, within 90 days of the sentence's imposition- "otherwise, the Court loses jurisdiction" to act thereon.[9] An exception to this bar exists: to overcome the 90-day time limitation, an inmate seeking to reduce a sentence of imprisonment on his or her own motion must demonstrate "extraordinary circumstances."[10] The term "extraordinary circumstances" is generally defined as "[a] highly unusual set of facts that are not commonly associated with a particular thing or event."[11]' And in the Rule 35(b) context, "extraordinary circumstances" are those which "specifically justify the delay;" are "entirely beyond a petitioner's control;" and "have prevented the applicant from seeking the remedy on a timely basis."[12] A heavy burden is placed on the inmate to establish "extraordinary circumstances" in order to "uphold the finality of sentences."[13]

         (7) Martin overlooks this requirement and his burden to demonstrate that it is met. But the Court cannot.[14] And the Court does not find that Martin has demonstrated the existence of any potential "extraordinary circumstance" as that has been defined or recognized by Delaware's courts.[15]

         (8) Even if Martin's application were not procedurally barred, it still could not be granted. Because, even when the Court has wide discretion to reduce a sentence (i.e., upon a timely Rule 35 application[16]), the Court has no authority to reduce or suspend the mandatory portion of any substantive statutory minimum sentence.[17]

         (9) As noted above, the two years of imprisonment for Martin's drug dealing conviction (INI 7-02-1754), because that offense is a class B felony, is a minimum term of incarceration that must be imposed and cannot be suspended or reduced.[18] Martin's requested reduction would plainly violate the two-year minimum required by 11 Del. ...


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