Drug-related conviction upheld by Supreme Court

Darrell Law

DOVER — A Harrington area traffic stop and ensuing drug-related conviction were upheld in Delaware Supreme Court Monday after a justice deemed an appeal “wholly without merit and devoid of any arguably appealable issue.”

Darrell Law, of Wilmington, contested his guilty finding that brought a five-year prison sentence, probation and a suspended fine, by claiming heroin evidence should have been suppressed and his right to represent himself was infringed upon.

He argued that the traffic stop on Nov. 6, 2016, on U.S. 13 at approximately 1:40 p.m. was “a pretext to conduct an illegal search for drugs based on racial discrimination,” according to an eight-page order issued by Justice Gary F. Traynor.

A Delaware State Police trooper had probable cause to stop the car after it was supposedly tracked going 71 mph in a 55 mph speed zone, the Supreme Court maintained. A trooper who claimed to detect an odor of marijuana had sufficient cause to search the vehicle, according to the opinion.

Asking Law for his identification and running a background check was permissible for a traffic stop, the justice noted. The query found that Law was wanted on two outstanding arrest capiases, according to documents.

Regarding pro se self-representation, the Supreme Court found “[t]he record does not support Law’s claim that the Superior Court infringed upon his right to represent himself.

“A defendant may, as Law did here, waive his right to self-representation after asserting it. The record shows that Law initially exercised his constitutional right to represent himself, but then chose to exercise his constitutional right to counsel at trial.”

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