Urquhart v. DelawareAnnotate this Case
A grand jury indicted Everett Urquhart for the armed robbery of a corner grocery store in Wilmington, Delaware. Urquhart needed a public defender. In the five months before trial, three different public defenders represented Urquhart at preliminary court hearings. A fourth public defender served as trial counsel, assigned to defend Urquhart against charges carrying a lengthy minimum prison sentence. The morning of trial was the first time trial counsel met with and showed Urquhart the State’s key evidence against him. Before jury selection, Urquhart expressed frustration and confusion to the court about seeing his trial counsel for essentially the first time the morning of trial and seeing the State’s evidence against him. Trial went ahead, and a Superior Court jury convicted Urquhart of all charges. The judge sentenced him to fifteen years in prison. The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the convictions on direct appeal. Urquhart moved for post-conviction relief, and claimed that his trial counsel’s absence before trial denied him his Sixth Amendment right to the assistance of counsel. The Superior Court denied the motion. The Delaware Supreme Court concluded a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to the assistance of counsel in a serious felony trial requires more than the mere presence of a defense attorney the day of trial. Urquhart’s conviction was reversed, and the matter remanded for a new trial.