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Longford-Myers v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

June 27, 2019

JERRY LONGFORD-MYERS, Defendant Below, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff Below, Appellee.

          Submitted: April 10, 2019

          Court Below: Superior Court of the State of Delaware Cr. IDs: 1008015710 1104021979 1205003223

         Upon appeal from the Superior Court. VACATED in part and REMANDED.

          Benjamin S. Gifford IV, Esquire, Wilmington, Delaware for Appellant Jerry Longford-Myers.

          Martin B. O'Connor, Esquire, Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware for Appellee State of Delaware.

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

          TRAYNOR, JUSTICE:.

         This case has a complicated history but presents a relatively simple issue: When a Superior Court sentence order contains sentences for multiple convictions, one of which is subject to modification under Superior Court Rule 35(a) because it is illegal, may the court also modify other lawful sentences within the order when it corrects the illegal sentence? We conclude that the Superior Court may not. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the Superior Court and remand with instructions.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Jerry Longford-Myers has had his share of encounters with the law. The portions of those encounters relevant to this case begin on August 10, 2011. On that date, Longford-Myers pleaded guilty to one count of maintaining a dwelling for keeping controlled substances, [1] and the Superior Court sentenced him to two years' imprisonment suspended for one year of probation. The remainder of this opinion refers to this case as the "2011 Maintaining Case."

         Next, in a case unrelated to the 2011 Maintaining Case just mentioned, Longford-Myers pleaded guilty on November 7, 2012 to possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony[2] ("PFDCF") and drug dealing.[3] The Superior Court sentenced Longford-Myers to eight years' imprisonment suspended after three years for 18 months' probation for the PFDCF charge and 8 years' imprisonment suspended for 18 months' probation for the drug dealing charge. The remainder of this opinion refers to this case as the "2012 Firearm/Drug Dealing Case."

         Then, on January 30, 2018, Longford-Myers pleaded guilty to second-degree assault. The conviction that resulted from this plea was a violation of the terms of Longford-Myers' probation sentences in the 2011 Maintaining Case and the 2012 Firearm/Drug Dealing Case.

         Because of those probation violations, the Superior Court resentenced Longford-Myers on February 6, 2018. In the 2011 Maintaining Case, the Superior Court resentenced Longford-Myers to two years' imprisonment suspended after one year. In the 2012 Firearm/Drug Dealing case, the Superior Court resentenced Longford-Myers to four years' imprisonment suspended after one year for the PFDCF charge and five years' imprisonment suspended after one year for the drug dealing charge. In all, Longford-Myers received three years of non-suspended prison time at his resentencing.

         On April 19, 2018, Longford-Myers moved under Superior Court Criminal Rule 35 to correct a portion of that resentencing. In particular, Longford-Myers alleged that his resentencing in the 2011 Maintaining Case was illegal because he had served all of the prison time for that conviction.

         The State filed a response on June 1, 2018, agreeing with Longford-Myers that the resentencing in the 2011 Maintaining Case was illegal. The State separately asserted that Longford-Myers' original PFDCF sentence imposed on November 7, 2012 in the 2012 Firearm/Drug Dealing Case was also illegal because it included a suspended portion in violation of 11 Del. C. ...


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