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Superior Court of Delaware, Kent CountyApr 12, 2001
IK86-12-0024R2, IK87-01-0841R2, IK87-01-0843R2, IK8701845R2 (Del. Super. Ct. Apr. 12, 2001)

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IK86-12-0024R2, IK87-01-0841R2, IK87-01-0843R2, IK8701845R2

Submitted: April 11, 2001

Decided: April 12, 2001

Upon Defendant's Motion For Postconviction Relief Pursuant To Superior Court Criminal Rule 61.


Loren C. Meyers, Esq., Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware, for the State of Delaware.

Kevin J. O'Connell, Esq., Wilmington, Delaware, for the defendant.


This 12th day of April. 2001, upon consideration of the defendant's Motion for Postconviction Relief Pursuant to Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 and the record in this case, it appears that:

(1) Defendant David F. Dawson ("Dawson") stands convicted of four counts of Murder in the First Degree, 11 Del. C. § 636. The Court has re-sentenced Dawson to be executed by lethal injection on April 26, 2001. This execution date was set after a federal stay of execution was vacated on March 2, 2001. Given these circumstances, the Court has expedited consideration of Dawson's present motion.

(2) Dawson's motion is his second motion for postconviction relief under Superior Court Criminal Rule 61. Among the claims in Dawson's first motion for postconviction relief was the inapplicability of a 1991 amendment of the death penalty statute to his case because of the ex post facto clause of the U.S. Constitution. He now contends that the General Assembly did not intend the death penalty statute as amended in 1991 to apply to his case. He argues that the sentencing procedures in effect at the time his convictions were obtained should have been applied to his case instead. Dawson seeks postconviction relief by way of a new penalty hearing.

(3) Under Delaware law, the Court must first determine whether Dawson has met the procedural requirements of Superior Court Criminal Rule 61(i) before it may consider the merits of his postconviction relief claims. Under Rule 61, postconviction claims for relief must be brought within three years of the conviction becoming final unless Dawson asserts a retroactively applicable right that is newly recognized after the judgment of conviction or that there was a miscarriage of justice because of a constitutional violation. Dawson's conviction became final in 1994 when the Delaware Supreme Court issued its mandate affirming the judgment and sentence of this Court. From the face of Dawson's motion it is apparent that his challenge is not based upon a newly recognized retroactively applicable right. Rather, he has challenged in different terms the application of the 1991 amendment to his case as he did before. Now, instead of using an ex post facto argument his argument is based upon statutory construction. Dawson's claim that the 1991 amendment could not apply to his case was rejected by this Court, the Delaware Supreme Court, and the federal courts. "[J]ustice does not require that an issue that has been previously considered and rejected be revisited simply because the claim is refined or restated." To the extent Dawson's claim is arguably different from his prior argument, it is procedurally barred under Rule 61(i)(2) which prevents consideration of any claim not previously asserted in a postconviction motion. Dawson's motion is also procedurally barred under Rule 61(i)(4) because reconsideration of the claim that he should have been sentenced under the prior law is not warranted in the interest of justice. The interest of justice has been narrowly defined to require the movant to show that the trial court lacked the authority to convict or punish him. No such showing has been made.

Riley v. State, Del. Supr., 585 A.2d 719, 721 (1990).

Flamer v. State Del. Supr., 585 A.2d 736, 746 (1990).

NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED that Dawson's Motion for Postconviction Relief Pursuant to Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 is summarily dismissed because it is procedurally barred.