State v. Hobbs, I.D. 75060892DI

CourtSuperior Court of Delaware
Writing for the CourtFerris W. Wharton, J.
Docket NumberI.D. 75060892DI
Decision Date28 October 2022



I.D. No. 75060892DI

Superior Court of Delaware

October 28, 2022

Date Submitted October 12, 2022

Date Corrected: November 18, 2022 [*]

Upon Defendant's Motion for Transcripts in Capital Case DENIED.

Sterling Hobbs, a/k/a Amir Fatir, Smyrna, Delaware, Defendant, pro se.

Sean P. Lugg, Esquire, Deputy Attorney General, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, attorney for State of Delaware.

Kevin J. O'Connell, Esquire, Chief Defender, OFFICE OF DEFENSE SERVICES,


Ferris W. Wharton, J.


This 18th day of November, 2022, upon consideration of the Motion for Transcripts in a Capital Case, [1] filed by Sterling Hobbs a/k/a Amir Fatir ("Defendant"), and the record in this case, it appears to the Court that:

1. The Defendant seeks the transcripts of his 1976 capital murder trial. That trial result in the Defendant being convicted of first degree murder and other charges and sentenced to death.[2] The defendant's death sentence was vacated, along with that of all those of capital murder defendants, by order of the Delaware Supreme Court on October 22, 1976.[3] The Defendant was represented in that effort by counsel.[4] A sentence of life imprisonment without benefit of parole ultimately was imposed on the murder charge.[5] Following trial, transcripts were prepared of the Superior Court proceedings for purposes of appeal.[6] The Defendant's direct appeal, along with the direct appeals of his co-defendants, was unsuccessful.[7] He was represented on direct appeal by F.L. Peter Stone, Esquire of the firm of Connolly, Bove & Lodge.[8] With the assistance of the Public Defender's Office, he unsuccessfully sought postconviction relief in the Superior Court in 1987.[9] His appeal of that Superior Court decision, in which he also was represented by an


assistant public defender, likewise was unsuccessful.[10] Since then, the Defendant has pursued a stream of mostly unsuccessful pro se litigation.

2. In this motion, the Defendant states that he has made several requests for the transcripts from the Court, the Office of the Public Defender, and the Attorney General without success.[11] In support of his request for his trial transcripts, he quotes Griffin v. Illinois, "Indigent defendants sentenced to death are provided with a free transcript at the expense of the county where convicted,"[12] and the 1975 version of Delaware Supreme Court Rule 10A, "In any appeal from a conviction of crime by an indigent defendant, if indigency is evidenced by appointment of counsel by the Superior Court in the trial below, or by the filing of a pauper's oath in this Court, payment of the docket fee provided by Rule 24(1) shall be waived."[13] The Motion also includes the following quotation without attribution: "In any such case the appellant, if he requests it, shall be furnished without charge with a copy of the transcript of the testimony..."[14] (emphasis in Motion.)

3. The short answer, of course, is that the Defendant's case is not a capital case and was not a capital case even before his direct appeal was resolved.[15] A longer


answer is that the cited quote from Griffin was not its holding, but merely a statement of Illinois law. [16] The United States Supreme Court held that Griffin, who was indigent, but not under a death sentence, could not be denied adequate appellate review solely because he was unable to afford transcripts of his trial.[17] Here, the Defendant has been afforded not only adequate direct appellate review with the assistance of counsel, but adequate postconviction review and postconviction appellate review also with the assistance of counsel. In each instance, his counsel had the benefit of the trial transcripts. As a result, the Defendant's rights to adequate appellate review, insured by Griffin and former Rule 10A, have been fully respected.

4. The Defendant also alleges that he did not authorize any of the attorneys who represented him in Spence or in his direct appeal to enter their appearances on his behalf.[18] In fact, he contends that he opposed representation by the Public Defender because...

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