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State v. Sudler

Superior Court of Delaware, Kent

October 18, 2019

STATE OF DELAWARE
v.
CHRISTOPHER SUDLER, Defendant.

         RK17-08-0085-01 DDeal AF (F)

         Upon Defendant's Motion for Postconviction Relief Pursuant to Superior Court Criminal Rule 61

          Jason C. Cohee, Esq., Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, for the State of Delaware.

          Christopher Sudler, Pro se.

          COMMISSIONER'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          ANDREA M. FREUD COMMISSIONER

         The defendant, Christopher Sudler ("Sudler"), pled guilty on April 27, 2018 on the day his matter was set for a suppression hearing and trial to one count of Drug Dealing with an Aggravating Factor, 16 Del. C. § 4753(2). He also faced one count of Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony, one count of Possession of Ammunition by a Person Prohibited, one count of Possession of a Deadly Weapon and Illegal Drug, one count of Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited, one count of Gang Participation, one count of Resisting Arrest, one count of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and one count of Possession of Marijuana which were nolle prossedby the State in exchange for Sudler's plea. As part of the plea deal the State agreed to drop all of Sudler's pending Violation of Probation allegations in Kent and/or New Castle County. The State and Defense recommended a sentence of fifteen years incarceration, suspended after serving six years, followed by probation. The Court agreed with the sentence recommendation and sentenced Sudler accordingly. Had Sudler gone to trial and been found guilty as charged he faced substantial time in prison. Sudler did not appeal his conviction or sentence to the State Supreme Court. Instead, Sudler's counsel filed a Motion for Correction of Sentence on May 14, 2018 which this Court granted on June 11, 2018 and reset the effective date of the sentence.[1] Next, Sudler filed apro se Motion for Reduction of Sentence on January 31, 2019 which the Court denied as untimely on February 7, 2019.[2] Sudler then filed the pending Motion for Postconviction Relief pursuant to Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 on March 6, 2019, in which he alleges, in part, ineffective assistance of counsel.

         FACTS

         According to the Affidavit of Probable Cause and the transcript of the Preliminary Hearing, the police suspected Sudler of drug dealing and accordingly set up surveillance of the Hardees parking lot, 519 S. Bay Road, Dover, Delaware awaiting Sudler's arrival. The police then attempted to apprehend Sudler and he resisted arrest forcibly and had to ultimately be pulled from his vehicle. A loaded hand gun and various amounts of drugs packaged for sale were located in the vehicle. Sudler was the sole occupant of the car. After his arrest Defense Counsel filed a Motion to Suppress evidence which was scheduled on the morning of Sudler's trial. The motion did not go forward as Sudler chose to plead guilty to one count of Drug Dealing in exchange for the State dropping the remaining charges and the linked violation of probation allegations. Sudler was also facing substantial time in prison had he been found guilty of violating his probation as a result of the new charges.

         SUDLER'S CONTENTIONS

         Next, Sudler filed the instant Motion for Postconviction Relief pursuant to Superior Court Rule 61. In his motion, he raises the following grounds for relief:

Ground one: Illegal Search and Seizure.
The Dover Police and State police had an anonymous tip that the Defendants brother Anthony Sudler was going to respond to Hardees restaurant to deliver a quantity of heroin. When police approached the Hardees parking lot it is alleged that the defendant put his vehicle in reverse to exit parking lot. There is no dashboard cam footage to corroborate any of the officers actions. There was no probable cause to warrant this illegal stop, detention, or seizure. The officers arrested Mr. Sudler without probable cause nor did they have reasonable suspicion that the defendant was armed and dangerous. That the defendant had committed, was committing, or was about to commit a crime.
An anonymous tip or information is not a factual foundation that warrants probable cause.
Ground two: Suppression of Favorable Evidence.
My lawyer said suppression hearing is good for us because they were looking for my brother Anthony Sudler, didn't have probable cause to arrest me. I did nothing wrong by sitting in the Hardees parking lot. I never sold a drug to anyone. There was never an exchange or an agreed upon prize (sic). I was suppose (sic) to meet up with two girls to have sex with. I was only out past curfew because I just got off ...

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