Flonnory v. Delaware

Defendant-appellant Freddie Flonnory appealed his conviction for felony Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol (DUI). Specifically, Flonnory challenged the Superior Court's denial of his motion to suppress the results of a blood draw, arguing: (1) that the trial court erred in holding that Delaware's implied consent statute exempted the blood draw from the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement; and (2) that there was no voluntary consent, and that the trial court erred when it did not perform a Fourth Amendment totality of the circumstances analysis to determine whether Flonnory had in fact consented to the blood draw. The Supreme Court found that a totality of the circumstances analysis applied. Such analysis was not applied in this case by the Superior Court. Accordingly, the Court remanded this matter for further proceedings. View "Flonnory v. Delaware" on Justia Law

Sells v. Delaware

Defendant-appellant William S. Sells, III appealed a Superior Court judgment where the jury found Sells guilty of Robbery in the First Degree, Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony, Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited, Wearing a Disguise During the Commission of a Felony, six counts of Aggravated Menacing, and five counts of Reckless Endangering in the Second Degree. Sells raised two arguments on appeal: (1) the Superior Court erred when it denied his motion to sever his trial from his co-defendant's, Russell Grimes; and (2) the Superior Court erred in finding one of his peremptory challenges of a white juror violated the United States Constitution, and that it erred in upholding the State's Batson challenge. After review, the Supreme Court agreed with Sells' as to his second claim and, therefore, did not reach the first claim. Accordingly, Sells' conviction was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Sells v. Delaware" on Justia Law

Moses v. Drake

Plaintiff-appellant Tricia Moses was involved in a rear-end motor vehicle collision where defendant-appellee Aaron Drake's vehicle struck Moses' vehicle. Drake pled guilty to a citation for following a motor vehicle too closely. At the time of the incident, Moses was 26 weeks pregnant. Due to her past medical history, Moses was in a program for high-risk pregnancies. After the collision, Moses delivered her child prematurely at 31 weeks. While Moses' complaint contained allegations of trauma-induced premature birth and trauma-induced mental and physical difficulties relating to the child, Moses did not oppose dismissal of all claims pertaining to the child. Due to the severe nature of the claimed injuries in Moses' complaint, it appeared initially that Drake needed multiple experts to address the various claims. Drake's counsel requested at least six months to prepare expert reports after Moses' expert reports were due. After Moses failed to meet a deadline, Drake filed a motion to dismiss. In response, Moses' counsel contacted Drake's counsel, and the parties agreed to a stipulation modifying the scheduling order and extending the expert disclosure deadlines. The stipulation was then approved by the Superior Court. When a new deadline was set, Moses produced a one-paragraph opinion from her treating physician, Dr. Stephen Ogden. Drake filed a motion to dismiss on the basis that Dr. Ogden's opinion was legally insufficient because he used the word "feasible." Drake argued that "feasible" did not meet the standard for reasonable medical probability because the dictionary definition is synonymous with "possible." On appeal of the district court's grant of summary judgment to Drake, Moses argued: (1) Dr. Odgen's medical opinion was sufficient to deny Drake's motion for summary judgment on the claim that the medical opinion was legally deficient; and (2) in the alternative, that the denial of her motion to reargue was improper given Dr. Ogden's "clarifications" of his opinion. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment. View "Moses v. Drake" on Justia Law

Textron v. Acument Global Technologies, Inc.

Textron, Inc. appealed a Superior Court judgment which held that the company was not entitled to reimbursement from its former fastening manufacturing business, now known as Acument Global Technologies, Inc. for paying certain pre-closing contingent liabilities in the United States. The Superior Court's opinion centered on the meaning of a "tax benefit offset" provision in the parties' Purchase Agreement under which Acument was required to reimburse Textron if Acument received a "tax benefit" related to the contingent liabilities. Textron argued that even if the tax benefit had to be actual rather than merely hypothetical, the Superior Court erred by not finding that Acument actually enjoyed the right to tax benefits. Textron contended that its payment of the pre-closing liabilities constituted a tax benefit because the payments automatically increase Acument's tax basis under U.S. tax law. The Supreme Court disagreed after its review of the appeal: the Agreement, taken as a whole, guaranteed that Acument would not receive a net tax benefit simply because Textron made a required indemnification payment. Accordingly, Textron's argument that Acument has received a tax benefit triggering Textron's right to reimbursement was without merit, as the total effect of Textron's payments is tax-neutral. Similarly, Textron's second and related claim that the Superior Court erred in "redefining" the required tax benefit to mean only a "deduction" rather than any "reduction" was meritless. The therefore affirmed the Superior Court's judgment. View "Textron v. Acument Global Technologies, Inc." on Justia Law

Brown v. Delaware

Defendant-appellant Ira Brown appealed a Superior Court order denying his first motion for post-conviction relief under Superior Court Criminal Rule 61. Brown raised two issues on appeal: (1) he was entitled to a new trial based on newly discovered evidence of misconduct at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (although Brown did not raise this claim in his Rule 61 motion because problems at the Examiner's Office did not come to light until almost a year after Brown filed his Rule 61 motion), the Delaware Supreme Court nonetheless considered this issue on appeal in the interests of justice); and (2) Brown argued the Superior Court erred in its 2012 denial of both his oral motion and his written motion to withdraw his guilty plea. The Supreme Court found that Brown's first claim had no merit. Further, Brown could have raised his second argument in his Rule 61 motion (or in a timely direct appeal) but did not. That argument was therefore waived and procedurally barred. The Court therefore affirmed the Superior Court's denial of post-conviction relief. View "Brown v. Delaware" on Justia Law

McCoy v. Delaware

Isaiah McCoy was tried by jury and ultimately sentenced to death. Seven counts were submitted for the jury to decide; McCoy was found guilty as to all but Count 7. Following his convictions for first degree murder, the trial court held a capital murder penalty hearing, after which, the jury found several aggravating circumstances. On appeal, McCoy raised five grounds on which his convictions should have been reversed. After review of all five, the Supreme Court concluded: (1) the trial court committed reversible error when it improperly denied McCoy's right to exercise a peremptory challenge to strike a potential juror; (2) it was reversible error when the prosecutor improperly vouched for the credibility of a key witness for the State; and (3) the pervasive unprofessional conduct of the prosecutor that permeated the proceedings compromised McCoy's right of self-representation. The Court found the other two issues McCoy raised on appeal were without merit. The case was reversed and the matter remanded for a new trial. View "McCoy v. Delaware" on Justia Law

Crosby v. Delaware

Derrick Crosby was convicted by a jury of second degree robbery and second degree conspiracy. He was arrested within minutes of the alleged crime, because the robbery was committed against a police informant who had arranged to purchase a gun from co-defendant Rakim Huggins as part of a police sting operation. Crosby argued that the Superior Court erred by sustaining an objection by the State to any argument that Crosby could have obtained the informant’s cell phone from Huggins’ accomplice. The Superior Court reasoned that there was no evidence in the record that supported a rational inference that, in the limited time between when the informant was robbed and when Crosby was arrested, Huggins’ accomplice turned over the cell phone to Crosby and then left the scene. But the Superior Court did allow Crosby’s attorney to argue that “there’s a fair inference that someone other than Mr. Crosby committed this robbery and that there were ways in which [Crosby] came into possession of the cell phone after the incident.” Finding no reversible error, the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed Crosby's convictions. View "Crosby v. Delaware" on Justia Law

United Technologies Corp. v. Treppel

United Technologies Corp. appealed a Court of Chancery judgment holding that the court did not have the authority to impose a specific condition on a books and records inspection under section 220(c) of the Delaware General Corporation Law (DGCL). United Technologies had sought to restrict the use of any information garnered from an inspection by a shareholder, Lawrence Treppel, to legal action in a Delaware court. The Court of Chancery denied the corporation's request, determining that such a limitation “is not the type of restriction that 220(c) seeks to impose.” On appeal, United Technologies argued that the court did have the authority, under the statute itself and the line of cases interpreting it, to impose the requested limitation, and the court erred by not doing so in this case. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, finding that the plain text of section 220 provided broad power to the Court of Chancery to condition a books and records inspection. The court erred in determining that it lacked authority under the statute to impose the requested restriction. The Supreme Court remanded the case so that the Court of Chancery could consider in the first instance whether, in its discretion, it should impose such a restriction based on the specific facts in this case. View "United Technologies Corp. v. Treppel" on Justia Law

Helm v. 206 Massachusetts Avenue,LLC

Gail and Scott Helm filed a personal injury action against Gallo Realty, Inc., one of its real estate agents, and 206 Massachusetts Ave, LLC (owner of the property). The Helms rented a beach house at 206 Massachusetts Avenue in Lewes for a week in 2010. As Gail descended the stairs, she fell and sustained injuries. Gail sought to recover damages based on claims of negligence and breach of contract; Scott claimed loss of consortium. The Superior Court granted defendants' motions for summary judgment, dismissing the Helms' claims. The Helms appealed, arguing: (1) the Superior Court erred in granting defendants' motion for summary judgment on the issue of primary risk assumption and comparative negligence as a matter of law; (2) the Superior Court erred in holding that an indemnification clause provision in the lease protected defendants from liability; and (3) the Superior Court erred in granting summary judgment on the contract claims. After review, the Supreme Court concluded the Superior Court applied both the doctrine of primary assumption of risk and the doctrine of comparative negligence incorrectly. The record reflected that the Superior Court never specifically based its decision on the indemnification clause. The Superior Court's initial ruling in favor of defendants was only on the negligence claims. Furthermore, the Supreme Court found that the record reflected that the Superior Court's dismissive rulings on the Helms' contract claim was "cursory and inextricably intertwined" with its erroneous rulings on the negligence claims. As such, the Supreme Court reversed the Superior Court and remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Helm v. 206 Massachusetts Avenue,LLC" on Justia Law

McKinney v. Delaware

Defendant-appellant Bernardo McKinney appealed a superior court judgment convicting him for possessing a firearm by a person prohibited (PFBPP). On appeal, he argued the trial court erred when it denied his motion to suppress evidence, because the affidavit in support of the search of his residence lacked probable cause. The warrant issued on a confidential informant's statement to police that the informant purchased marijuana from a white woman with blue eyes, and previously purchased from a black man, both of whom lived at McKinney's apartment. The police determined that McKinney's girlfriend was a white woman with blue eyes, and McKinney was a black man. The warrant was found to have no discussion of the informant's reliability, and had no police corroboration of criminal activity at the apartment. The Supreme Court concluded that these missing statements were fatal to the search warrant. Finding merit to McKinney's argument on appeal, the Supreme Court reversed the superior court and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "McKinney v. Delaware" on Justia Law