Delaware Supreme Court

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware's Senate has confirmed Democratic Gov. John Carney's nominees to serve as chief justice and associate justice on the state Supreme Court.

The Senate voted unanimously Thursday to confirm Associate Justice Collins Seitz Jr. as the successor to retiring Chief Justice Leo Strine Jr.

Seitz was appointed an associate justice in 2015 after a law career in private practice. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware and Villanova University law school.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - An alleged gang member has agreed to enter a guilty plea after Delaware's Supreme Court reversed a ruling dismissing a murder indictment against him.

Jacquez Robinson entered the guilty plea after confidential attorney-client communications were seized by prosecutors from his prison cell shortly before a scheduled trial.

Wednesday's Superior Court calendar includes a plea hearing for the 24-year-old.

Robinson was indicted in 2015 for separate shootings in November 2014 that wounded two people and killed 18-year-old Malik Watson.

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Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice Leo Strine is stepping down from the bench half way through his term.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that Strine handed his resignation letter to Governor John Carney on Monday with his retirement to take place in the fall.

A spokesman for the chief justice told the paper that Strine is on vacation apparently not available for comment.

But in his letter the chief justice said he expected to serve the people of Delaware in even more effective ways.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware's Supreme Court has rejected an appeal in a lawsuit stemming from a 2012 airplane crash in the Congo that claimed the life of the chief adviser to that country's president and left his finance minister seriously injured.

The companies that purchased, owned and managed the jet sued aircraft manufacturer Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, claiming the crash, which also killed four others, was caused by failure of the jet's braking system.

delaware state court website

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware's Supreme Court has reversed a judge's ruling dismissing a murder indictment against an alleged gang member after prosecutors violated his constitutional rights by seizing confidential attorney-client communications from his prison cell days before his trial was to start.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware's Supreme Court has rejected the appeal of a man who sued state police after being shot inside his home by a trooper investigating a hit-and-run incident involving a parked car.

Michael Rogers was shot five times after fighting with trooper Matthew Morgan in 2013. His lawsuit alleged invasion of privacy, excessive force and other claims.

After a judge granted summary judgment for state police on most counts, a jury rejected Rogers' excessive force and negligence claims.

delaware state courts website

DOVER, Del. (AP) - The Delaware Supreme Court has ruled that a man serving life without parole for the rape and murder of a 68-year-old woman has failed to offer any new evidence to prove his innocence.

The Delaware State News reports that the court ruled against Ambrose Sykes's motion for post-conviction relief.

Sykes, now in his 40s, was sentenced to death for the 2004 rape and strangulation of retired teacher Virginia Trimnell. Delaware abolished its death penalty in 2016, a decision that applied retroactively.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - A Delaware judge has struck down certain regulations on carrying guns in state parks and on state forest land, saying they are unconstitutional.

The judge ruled Thursday that state officials cannot prohibit visitors from carrying guns in camping areas and lodges

He also said a law enforcement official cannot stop a person carrying a gun and demand that he or she provide identification so authorities can conduct a background check, unless the official has reasonable suspicion that the visitor is engaged in criminal conduct.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware's Supreme Court is being asked to overturn a judge's decision terminating the disability benefits of a woman who is in the country illegally and was injured at work.

Justices are to hear arguments Wednesday regarding the judge's ruling, which upheld a decision by the state Industrial Accident Board.

Magdalena Guardado's attorneys say the board erred in terminating her total disability benefits, and that the judge erred in upholding that decision.


DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware's Supreme Court has upheld the conspiracy conviction of a teenage girl in a school bathroom attack that left a 16-year-old classmate dead.

The court on Tuesday rejected the girl's arguments that there was insufficient evidence to convict her in the April 2016 attack that left Amy Joyner Francis dead.

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The Delaware State Supreme Court has overturned the conviction of Trinity Carr for criminally negligent homicide in the beating death of fellow student Amy Joyner-Francis at a Wilmington high school in April of 2016.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that Carr who was 17 at the time had been found guilty by a Family Court judge of criminally negligent homicide and third-degree criminal conspiracy last year.

Joyner-Francis was 16 year-old when she was attacked by Carr and two others at Howard High School of Technology.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Two men are still on death row in Delaware despite the state Supreme Court ruling the state's death penalty unconstitutional more than a year ago.

The News Journal of Wilmington reports Michael R. Manley and David D. Stevenson have been fighting their first-degree murder conviction for decades, and those appeals are keeping the two on death row.

The newspaper reports that when the state or U.S. Supreme Court declares a law unconstitutional, cases pending appeals will be modified next time in court.


DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware's Supreme Court has denied an appeal by a convicted killer serving life in prison for fatally shooting a police officer.

In a ruling dated Friday, a three-judge panel upheld the conviction of Derrick Powell, who initially was sentenced to death for the 2009 killing of Georgetown police officer Chad Spicer. Powell was resentenced to life in prison after the state Supreme Court declared Delaware's death penalty unconstitutional last year.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware's Supreme Court has rejected the latest appeal from a double murderer who narrowly avoided the death penalty for crimes he committed as a juvenile.

In a one-page order dated Tuesday, the court upheld a judge's summary dismissal last year of an appeal by Michael Jones. Jones argued, among other things, that his lawyers were ineffective and his life sentence was unfair.

The 35-year-old Jones was convicted of the drug-related killings of Cedric Reinford and Maneeka Plant. Plant's late grandparents were state representatives Al and Hazel Plant.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - A state commission has found that Delaware's civil court system is unfair to people living in poverty.

The Wilmington News Journal reported the commission's findings on Monday. The commission said that most poor people can't afford a lawyer to help with evictions, bankruptcies or domestic abuse.   

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Gov. John Carney announced he has nominated Gray F. Traynor to the Delaware Supreme Court.
Media outlets report Gov. John Carney announced Monday that Traynor will replace Justice Randy Holland, who is retiring after 31 years on the bench.
Gov. Carney says Traynor has the judgment and thoughtfulness necessary to serve on the court, and he looks forward to the Delaware Senate considering his nomination.

DOVER, Del. (AP) - House lawmakers have voted to reinstate Delaware's death penalty.

Tuesday's 24-to-16 vote came amid public outcry over the killing of a correctional officer during a prison riot and hostage-taking in February, and the fatal shooting of a state trooper two weeks ago.

The bill now goes to the Senate.

Under the bill, jurors would have to find unanimously and beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant should be executed.

Delaware Judiciary

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Justice Randy Holland, the longest-serving Supreme Court justice in Delaware history, is retiring from the bench.

Seventy-year-old Holland, who joined the court in 1986, says he's retiring at the end of March.

Holland, the youngest person appointed to the Delaware Supreme Court, became the longest serving justice in 2009.  In 2011, he was reappointed to an unprecedented third 12-year term.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - A judge is holding a hearing on a motion to suppress evidence in the prosecution of a former death-row inmate for a drug-related killing.

Monday's suppression hearing involves Isaiah McCoy, who was convicted in the 2010 death of 30-year-old James Mumford in Dover.

Delaware's Supreme Court last year ordered a new trial for McCoy because of errors by the judge and prosecutor at his first trial.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware's Supreme Court is hearing arguments on whether its ruling declaring the state's death penalty law unconstitutional can be applied retroactively to a dozen men already sentenced to death.

Wednesday's oral arguments come in an appeal filed by Derrick Powell, who was sentenced to death in 2011 for killing Georgetown police officer Chad Spicer in 2009.

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This week the Delaware Supreme Court will take up whether its decision that the state death penalty is unconstitutional should be applied retroactively for 12 men who are currently on death row.

The high court is set to hear arguments in Dover on December 7th.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that prosecutors will argue that doing so would violate precedent after a criminal case has been finished.

The case involves 29 year-old Derrick Powell who was sentenced to death for killing Georgetown police officer Chad Spicer.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - The Delaware Supreme Court is hearing arguments in the case of a killer released from prison after a judge modified her sentence.

Wednesday's arguments involve Catherine Culp, who was released from prison and began serving probation earlier this year after a Superior Court judge concluded that her model conduct and extensive rehabilitation efforts as an inmate demonstrated "extraordinary circumstances" justifying a modification of her sentence.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware's Supreme Court is hearing an appeal from one of two gang members convicted of murder in a 2012 soccer tournament shooting in Wilmington that left three people dead.

Attorneys for Jeffrey Phillips, who is serving life in prison, say a judge erred in not declaring a mistrial after a key prosecution witness testified that he was in witness protection.

They also are challenging protective orders that prevented Phillips and his attorneys from discussing statements made by co-defendants before trial.

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Those who live in manufactured homes got a major break from Delaware’s Supreme Court yesterday.

The justices ruled that a landlords cannot hike their rents by because of other rent increases in the area.

Chief Justice Leo Strine said that the landowners must prove that the rent increases above inflation are directly connected to the maintenance or upgrading the community.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that the court said that the landlord must show that the increase compensates for a rise in costs diminishing financial return.

delaware state court website

DOVER, Del. (AP) - The Delaware Supreme Court is hearing arguments over a company's efforts to terminate benefits for a worker who was injured on the job and now faces hardships finding another job because she is in the country illegally.

Roos Foods, a now-defunct cheese company, sought to terminate Magdalena Guardado's benefits in 2014, saying she was physically able to return to work.

The Industrial Accident Board denied the company's petition, saying Guardado was a "displaced worker," and that the company had not shown there was work available for her.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - After their argument was rejected by the state's court system, public defenders are now pushing for the federal court to vacate the guilty pleas of scores of drug defendants in Kent and Sussex counties because of an evidence-tampering scandal at the state drug-testing lab.

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware's Supreme Court says the state's death penalty law is unconstitutional in light of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this year.

In a 148-page opinion Tuesday, a majority of the justices said Delaware's law violates the U.S. Constitution because it allows a judge to sentence a person to death independently of a jury's recommendation.

The court also said the law is unconstitutional because it does not require jurors to be unanimous in finding that aggravating circumstances that weigh in favor of the death penalty.

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A Delaware Supreme Court decision finds former death row inmate Isaiah McCoy back in solitary confinement at the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution.

The high court ruled that a lower court judge had erred when he ordered prison officials to move him out of solitary confinement.

His attorney had argued that the 5 years in solitary confinement had affected his mental state and was hindering his participation in preparing for his upcoming retrial.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware's Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments on the constitutionality of the state's death penalty.

The court agreed in January to answer questions from Delaware's Superior Court to determine whether the state's death penalty law meets constitutional muster. Meanwhile, all death penalty trials in Delaware are on hold.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - A judge is mulling whether to hold a bail hearing for a man who was released from prison after more than two decades on Delaware's death row and is now to be retried in a 1991 slaying.

Jermaine Wright was taken back into custody earlier this year after the Delaware Supreme Court said a judge erred in declaring that Wright's 1991 confession was inadmissible, and that the confession could be used at his retrial.

The decision cleared the way for prosecutors to refile charges against Wright, who was convicted of killing a liquor store clerk.