Case Caption: Mario Gumbs v. People of the Virgin IslandsCase Number: S. Ct. Crim. No. 2014-0069Date: 04/26/2016Author: Swan, Ive Arlington Citation: Summary:

Defendant's convictions for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute in violation of 19 V.I.C. § 604(a)(1) and simple possession of marijuana in violation of 19 V.I.C. § 607(a) are affirmed. There was substantial and sufficient evidence from which a rational jury could reasonably conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was guilty of knowingly and intentionally possessing marijuana. The form and amount of the crack cocaine confiscated from the defendant are themselves evidence of intent to distribute that material, and the People's evidence regarding the chain of custody was sufficient for the jury to reasonably conclude that the contraband used in the prosecution was the same as that confiscated from the defendant. Where items have been in official custody and there is no affirmative evidence of tampering, there is a presumption that public officers have discharged their duties properly to preserve the items' original condition. The defendant's Sixth Amendment rights were not violated when the his counsel's motion to withdraw was denied. Defendant failed to provide sufficient evidence to support his claim that acts or omission of his counsel fell below an objective standard of reasonableness and that counsel's performance prejudiced him resulting in an unreliable or fundamentally unfair outcome in the proceeding. The Sixth Amendment does not guarantee a meaningful relationship between an accused and his counsel, only that the attorney will be effective and free of any actual conflicts-which occurs when an attorney represents a directly conflicting interest. Nor were the defendant's Fourth Amendment rights violated, and the Superior Court was correct in finding that a valid Terry stop was conducted to ensure that the defendant had no weapons on his person. The Superior Court did not err in admitting certain chemical analyses concerning the material seized. While the People were obligated to disclose the chemical analysis during discovery under Rule 16(a)(1)(F), under Rule 16(d) the Superior Court has discretion to fashion an appropriate remedy if required information is not timely produced. Here, the Superior Court found that the analysis by the DEA lab was a confirmation of the field test that was done on St. Thomas, which was initially provided to the defendant in discovery. The Superior Court was correct in granting a continuance of the trial, and did not abuse its discretion in admitting the evidence after opposing counsel was given adequate time to review the issue. The judgment and commitment of October 29, 2014 is affirmed.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion