Submitted: February 5, 2019
Commissioner's Report and Recommendation That
Defendant's Motion for Postconviction Relief Should Be
HONORABLE MARY M. JOHNSTON JUDGE.
3rd day of April 2019, the Court has considered
the Commissioner's Report and Recommendation,
Defendant's Motion for Postconviction Relief, and the
relevant proceedings below.
11, 2018, Defendant Anthony J. Stanley filed a Motion for
Postconviction Relief; on September 17, 2018, Defendant's
Counsel submitted an Affidavit in response to Defendant's
Motion for Postconviction Relief; on October 1, 2018,
Defendant filed a Response to Counsel's Affidavit; and on
October 16, the State filed a Response to Defendant's
Motion for Postconviction Relief. The motion was referred to
a Superior Court Commissioner in accordance with 10 Del.
C. § 512(b) and Superior Court Criminal Rule 62 for
proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law. The
Commissioner issued the Report and Recommendation on January
22, 2019. The Commissioner recommended that Defendant's
Motion for Postconviction Relief be denied.
raises two claims in his Motion. First, Defendant claims
Counsel was ineffective in handling the plea and the
sentencing. Second, Defendant claims that there was no
physical evidence to convict him of the PFDCF charge and that
no weapon was found. Defendant's second claim is
procedurally barred, both of his claims were waived, and both
are without merit.
to addressing the substantive merits of any claim for
postconviction relief, the Court must first determine whether
Defendant has met the procedural requirements of Superior
Court Criminal Rule 61. If a procedural bar exists, then the
claim is barred, and the Court should not consider the merits
of the postconviction claim.
Court Criminal Rule 6l(i)(3) requires that Stanley raise his
claims, with the exception of his ineffective assistance of
counsel claims, on direct appeal.Stanley's ineffective
assistance of counsel claim is not procedurally barred by
Rule 6l(i)(3) because a Rule 61 motion is the appropriate
vehicle for raising these claims. Defendant's claim that
there was no physical evidence to convict Defendant of the
PFDCF charge and the claim that no weapon was found are
procedurally barred for failing to raise these claims on
order to prevail on an ineffective assistance of counsel
claim, a defendant must show that his counsel's
representation fell below an objective standard of
reasonableness and that the deficiencies in counsel's
representation caused the defendant actual
prejudice. When a defendant has pled guilty, he must
show that counsel's actions were so prejudicial that
there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's
errors, the defendant would not have pled guilty and would
have insisted on going to trial. Mere allegations of
ineffectiveness will not suffice. A defendant must make and
substantiate concrete allegations of actual
prejudice. Great weight and deference are given to
tactical decisions by the trial attorney and counsel cannot
be deemed ineffective for failing to pursue motions that lack
contention that he had not adequately discussed this case
with Counsel prior to taking the plea is contrary to the
representations Defendant made to the Court at the time he
accepted his plea. Prior to accepting his plea,
Defendant's counsel represented to the Court that they
had fully discussed the nature of the charges, possible
defenses, and the potential sentences that Defendant was
facing. In Counsel's Affidavit in response to
Defendant's Motion, Counsel reiterates that he discussed
the pending matters with Defendant on multiple occasions and
that they had spoken at length about the plea offer and the
pending charges. At the time of his plea, Defendant
represented to the Court that he was voluntarily entering
into his plea, that he was fully advised of his rights, and
that he was satisfied with Counsel's representation.
has not presented any clear, contrary evidence to call into
question his prior testimony at the plea colloquy or answers
on the Truth-in-Sentencing Guilty Plea Form. Defendant has
not sustained his burden of demonstrating that his counsel
rendered ineffective assistance in regards to the plea
agreement. Defendant's claim that he never adequately
discussed his plea with Counsel is without merit.
claim that Counsel was ineffective as to Defendant'
sentencing is also without merit. Defendant claims that he
was promised his sentence would not exceed three years.
However, Defendant knew at the time he entered into his plea
that he was facing a sentence range of 3-44 years and that
the State would be recommending a five-year prison sentence.
At the time of his plea, Defendant represented to the Court
that no one had made any promises as to what his sentence
would be. Defendant's present contention that he was
promised a three-year prison term is contrary to his prior
representations at the plea colloquy and is without merit.
Defendant's argument that he would not have accepted the
plea if he knew he would receive a four-year prison term is
similarly unsupported by the record and is without merit.
contends that had he obtained a mitigation report, he would
have been able to better assist Defendant. While
Counsel's practice may be to obtain a mitigation expert
report, there is no such requirement that a mitigation
specialist be retained in serious non-capital cases as an
invariable requirement of effective
representation. Counsel was not deficient for not having
provided a mitigation expert report, and there has been no
showing of any actual prejudice as a result thereof. Neither
Counsel nor Defendant have asserted any additional
information that was not already contained in the presentence
report. Counsel successfully persuaded the Court to depart
from the State's sentencing recommendation. Counsel
presented mitigating evidence on Defendant's behalf and
Defendant provided an allocution statement. Defendant
expressed his remorse, apologized, and accepted
responsibility for his actions.
has not established that Counsel's performance fell below
an objective standard of reasonableness or that he was
prejudiced in any way by ...