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Salih v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

June 19, 2019

SALIH, f.k.a. CECIL L. HALL, Defendant Below, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff Below, Appellee.

          Submitted: May 7, 2019

          Court Below-Superior Court of the State of Delaware Cr. ID No. 0506014139 (N)

          Before STRINE, Chief Justice; VALIHURA and TRAYNOR, Justices.

          ORDER

          LEO E. STRINE, JR. CHIEF JUSTICE.

         After consideration of the appellant's opening brief, the State's motion to affirm, and the record on appeal, it appears to the Court that:

(1) The appellant, Salih, [1] appeals from the Superior Court's denial of his "Motion for Relief from Judgment Pursuant to Superior Court Rules." The State has filed a motion to affirm the Superior Court's judgment on the ground that it is manifest on the face of Salih's opening brief that the appeal is without merit. We agree and affirm.
(2) In 2006, Salih pleaded guilty to two counts of Burglary Third Degree, in exchange for which the State dismissed multiple additional charges arising from break-ins at a retail store in 2005. On December 1, 2006, the Superior Court sentenced Salih as a habitual offender to a total of twelve years' imprisonment, suspended after ten years for decreasing levels of supervision. Salih filed a direct appeal, [2] a motion for postconviction relief, [3] and multiple motions seeking correction or modification of his sentence.[4]
(3) On February 6, 2019, after Salih had been released from prison and successfully discharged from probation, he filed a "Motion for Relief from Judgment Pursuant to Superior Court Rules." Invoking Superior Court Criminal Rule 57(d) and Superior Court Civil Rule 60(b)(5), he asked the court to find that "it is no longer equitable that the judgment should have prospective application" and to set aside the judgment and expunge his record, so that he would no longer be disenfranchised from society as a result of his convictions. The Superior Court denied the motion, stating that "Rule 60 of [the] Superior Court Civil Rules is not an available remedy in a criminal postconviction motion."
(4) Salih then sought reconsideration, arguing that the Superior Court had failed to understand that his motion sought to invoke the Superior Court's "equitable jurisdiction to determine whether the damaging effect of a criminal conviction, after complete satisfaction of its sanction, should continue to have prospective application." Salih further argued that he had "no remedy at law to review the harm he continues to suffer on the basis of the presence of the judgment of conviction." The Superior Court denied the motion for reconsideration, concluding that "the Court did not overlook a controlling precedent or legal opinion as the authority relied upon by [Salih] utilizes the Delaware Court of Chancery's exclusive equitable jurisdiction and not the legal jurisdiction used by the Court." Salih has appealed to this Court.
(5) We affirm the Superior Court's judgment. "Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 provides the exclusive remedy for setting aside a final criminal conviction," and "Superior Court Civil Rule 60(b) cannot be used to collaterally attack a criminal conviction."[5] Salih can no longer challenge his convictions under Criminal Rule 61, because he is no longer in custody.[6]
(6) Moreover, the Superior Court correctly rejected Salih's attempt to invoke the "equitable jurisdiction" of the Superior Court. Section 542 of Title 10 of the Delaware Code does not confer equitable jurisdiction on the Superior Court, but rather authorizes that court to "exercise its powers 'according to law and equity'" as to matters that are within its jurisdiction.[7] Finally, to the extent that Salih's record prevents him from engaging in particular professions or chills his ability to secure employment, he must seek a pardon or legislative action.

         NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED that the motion to affirm is GRANTED and the judgment of the Superior Court is AFFIRMED.

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