Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Phillips

Superior Court of Delaware

October 1, 2019

STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff,
v.
OTIS PHILLIPS Defendant.

          Submitted: August 29, 2019

          Andrew J. Vella, Esquire, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for the State of Delaware.

          Benjamin S. Gifford IV, Esquire, Wilmington, Delaware, counsel for Otis Phillips.

          COMMISSIONER'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION THAT DEFENDANT'S AMENDED MOTION FOR POSTCONVICTION RELIEF SHOULD BE DENIED

          Katharine L Mayer Commissioner

         This 1st day of October, 2019, upon consideration of Defendant's Amended Motion for Postconviction Relief, and the record in this matter, the following is my Report and Recommendation:

         BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         In November of 2014, after a joint capital trial with his co-defendant, Otis Phillips ("Defendant") was found guilty of Murder in the First Degree, Murder in the Second Degree, Manslaughter, Gang Participation, Conspiracy in the First Degree, five (5) counts of Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony, Assault Third Degree, Assault Second Degree and Reckless Endangering.[1]Subsequently, the Court conducted a four-day penalty hearing with the same jury presiding. Defendant appealed his conviction and on January 17, 2017, the Supreme Court issued a decision affirming the conviction but remanding the matter for Defendant to be re-sentenced to life imprisonment in lieu of capital punishment.[2]

         On March 6, 2017, Defendant filed his first Motion for Postconviction Relief.[3]The Court appointed counsel to represent Defendant and an Amended Motion for Postconviction Relief (the "Motion") was filed.[4] The Court now has before it an Affidavit from Trial Counsel, the State's Response in opposition, and Defendant's Reply.[5] Briefing is complete and for the reasons that follow, I recommend that the Motion be denied.

         SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT

         Although the Motion presents a singular claim for relief, Defendant's . argument includes multiple layers of alleged constitutional violations. In basic terms, Defendant argues trial counsel were ineffective for failing to request a mistrial after certain juror actions, with the result being that Defendant was deprived of the opportunity to have his case effectively tried by a jury of twelve. The bases for the claims pre-supposes the lack of a twelve person jury as a result of two juror notes submitted to the Court.

         The first note was from Juror Number 10 asking "to be removed from this process which I do not interpret as facilitating justice" (the "First Note"). The Court conferred with trial counsel about the First Note but ultimately elected not to talk to Juror Number 10 or the jury about the note.

         The second note arrived an hour later from the jury and read;

We are not able to productively discuss the case due to the fact that one juror... claims to have not collected any of the evidence presented from day 1. She was told not to form an "opinion" from the start and has interpreted that to mean that she should not be taking in information, putting it in perspective, and apply deductive reasoning to determine whether the events occurred as the State presents.
She is upsetting all of the other jurors.

         (hereinafter the "Second Note" and collectively with the First Note, the "Notes").

         The Court again conferred with trial counsel regarding the Second Note. Leaving any speculation aside, the record reflects that neither the Court, nor counsel, fully understood the meaning of the Second Note. After hearing from the parties, the Court responded to the jury as follows:

Good Morning, Ladies and Gentlemen. In response to the note I received, please refer to the jury instructions on how to conduct deliberations. Delaware law does not permit the substitution of ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.