State v. Ferguson, 100317 DESUP, 1602017642

Docket Nº:1602017642, 1603014983
Opinion Judge:WHARTON, J.
Attorney:Timothy Maguire, Esquire, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, Attorney for the State. Jermaine Ferguson, Howard R. Young Correctional Institution
Case Date:October 03, 2017
Court:Superior Court of Delaware




Nos. 1602017642, 1603014983

Superior Court of Delaware

October 3, 2017

Submitted: August 18, 2017

Upon Defendant's Motion for Postconviction Relief, DENIED.

Timothy Maguire, Esquire, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, Attorney for the State.

Jermaine Ferguson, Howard R. Young Correctional Institution



This 3rd day of October, 2017, upon consideration of Defendant Jermaine Ferguson's ("Ferguson") timely pro se Motion for Postconviction Relief ("Motion"), 1 Affidavit of John S. Malik, Esquire, 2 the State's Response3 and the record in this matter, it appears to the Court that:

1. Ferguson was indicted by the Grand Jury in two indictments on various drug and other charges. On October 13, 2016, Ferguson pled guilty to two separate counts of Drug Dealing and a single count of Conspiracy Second Degree.[4] All other charges against him in both indictments were dropped. On December 16, 2016, the Court sentenced him to five years of incarceration as a habitual offender under 11 Del. C. § 4214(a) on one count of Drug Dealing, and a total of 11 years of incarceration, suspended for decreasing levels of supervision on the other charges.5Ferguson did not appeal his convictions or sentences to the Delaware Supreme Court. This Motion pursuant to Superior Court Criminal Rule 61, his first, was filed timely on January 18, 2017.[6] Ferguson did not request appointment of counsel. A subsequent Motion for Reduction of sentence was denied on March 20, 2017. At the Court's direction, trial/plea counsel John S. Malik, Esquire submitted his affidavit in response to the Motion.7 On May 24, 2017, the State submitted its response.8 The Court ordered a transcript of Ferguson's plea colloquy which was filed on August 18, 2017.

2. In his PCR Motion, Ferguson raises three claims of ineffective assistance of counsel: 1) counsel failed to move to suppress unspecified "key" evidence which would have "brought to light" violations of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights; 2) counsel failed to provide him with discovery and Brady material thereby denying him an opportunity to prepare for trial and denying him his Sixth Amendment rights; and 3) counsel manipulated him into pleading guilty to a charge for which he was not indicted by telling him that he was going to retain a "sentence mediator" to "mediate the process" and move for "the judge to read the contents of the case since the part [Ferguson] played was mediocre."[9]

3. Before addressing the merits of a defendant's motion for postconviction relief, the Court must first apply the procedural bars of Superior Court Criminal Rule 61(i).10 If a procedural bar exists, then the Court will not consider the merits of the postconviction claim.11

4. Under Delaware Superior Court Rules of Criminal Procedure, a motion for post-conviction relief can be barred for time limitations, successive motions, procedural defaults, and former adjudications. A motion exceeds time limitations if it is filed more than one year after the conviction becomes final or if it asserts a newly recognized, retroactively applied right more than one year after it was first recognized.12 A second or subsequent motion is considered successive and therefore barred and subject to summary dismissal unless the movant was convicted after a trial and "pleads with particularity that new evidence exists that the movant is actually innocent" or "pleads with particularity a claim that a new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the United States Supreme Court or the Delaware Supreme Court, applies to the movant's case and renders the conviction ... invalid."13 Grounds for relief "not asserted in the proceedings leading to the judgment of conviction" are barred as procedurally defaulted unless the movant can show "cause for relief and "prejudice from [the] violation."[14] Grounds for relief formerly adjudicated in the case, including "proceedings leading to the judgment of conviction, in an appeal, in a postconviction proceeding, or in a federal habeas corpus hearing" are barred.[15] These bars to relief may be overcome, however, if the claim is jurisdictional or if it pleads with particularity a claim of a strong inference of actual innocence based on new evidence or a new retroactive rule of constitutional law applying to the movant's case that renders the conviction invalid.16

5. This Motion is a timely first motion for postconviction relief, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. Accordingly, the Court will consider the motion on its merits.

6. To successfully bring an ineffective assistance of counsel claim, a claimant must demonstrate: 1) that counsel's performance ws deficient; and 2) that the deficiencies prejudiced the claimant by depriving him or her of a fair trial with reliable results.17 To prove counsel's deficiency, a defendant must show that counsel's representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness.18Moreover, a defendant must make concrete allegations of actual prejudice and substantiate them or risk summary dismissal.19 "[A] court must indulge in a strong presumption that counsel's conduct falls within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance."20 A successful Sixth Amendment claim of ineffective assistance of counsel requires a showing "that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different."[21] When addressing the prejudice prong of the ineffective assistance of counsel test in the context of a challenged guilty plea, an inmate must show "that there is a reasonable probability that...

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