DOVER, Del. — Delaware’s Supreme Court has reversed a judge’s decision to dismiss a murder indictment against an alleged gang member whose confidential attorney-client communications were seized by prosecutors from his cell just days before his scheduled trial.

Tuesday’s 3-2 ruling came with the court’s stark condemnation of prosecutors’ behavior in the case against Jacquez Robinson, who was charged with killing Malik Watson, 18, in 2014. In a dissenting opinion, Chief Justice Leo Strine described the prosecutorial misconduct, and subsequent attempts by the state to minimize it, as “disturbing and inexcusable.” Justice Gary Traynor joined Strine in his dissent.

Despite agreeing that Robinson’s constitutional rights were violated, however, a majority of the court ruled that Superior Court Judge Andrea Rocanelli went too far in dismissing the indictment last year.

“To be clear, we do not condone the state’s misconduct. But given that we must carefully balance the competing interests of protecting the constitutional rights of defendants against the competing interests of all Delaware citizens ... in the administration of criminal justice, we conclude that the most extreme remedy possible, namely, dismissal, was unwarranted,” wrote Justice Karen Valihura.

Defense attorney Natalie Woloshin said Robinson was very disappointed by the ruling.

“He was upset and sobbing,” she said.

While the procedural path to a possible trial for Robinson is unclear at this point, Valihura said the Supreme Court will require the disqualification of all prosecutors and investigators who have previously worked on the case, along with anyone else exposed to Robinson’s privileged materials. The justices also ordered the destruction of all trial preparation materials prosecutors have developed to date.

Robinson, 23, was indicted in March 2015 for his alleged involvement in separate shooting incidents on Nov. 25 and 26, 2014, which left two people injured and Watson dead. Watson was shot just weeks after Robinson had been arrested in connection with yet another shooting that had left a 19-year-old Wilmington man wounded.

Robinson is also among 13 alleged members of a Wilmington criminal organization called the Touch Money Gang who were indicted in September 2015 on 91 counts, including gang participation, murder, robbery, assault and conspiracy.

Woloshin represented Robinson in both the murder case and gang case. A protective order in the gang case prohibited her from giving Robinson certain documents but did allow her to discuss the content of those documents with him.

After receiving a tip from another inmate in 2017, prosecutors in the murder case purportedly became concerned that Woloshin may have violated the protective order. With no notice, warrant or court approval, authorities raided Robinson’s cell. They seized and reviewed all of his documents, including communications with Woloshin and personal notes containing trial strategy. Even after the search and seizure, prosecutors failed to notify the judge or Woloshin. After finding out from Robinson what happened, Woloshin filed a motion to dismiss the indictment.

Rocanelli granted the motion last year, saying the state’s misconduct required “a significant consequence.”

“The state has ignored the fundamental importance of the Sixth Amendment right to the assistance of counsel and the attorney-client privilege, has demonstrated a disregard for defendant’s constitutional rights, and has exhibited a cavalier approach to the proceedings addressing its conduct,” Rocanelli wrote.

In his dissent, Strine backed Rocanelli. Strine maintained that dismissal of the indictment was appropriate, especially in light of court records indicating it was not the first time prosecutors had engaged in such behavior. Strine also noted that prosecutors initially failed to produce to all relevant documents regarding the incident despite an order from the trial court to do so.

“This is a case where the state gained access to the defendant’s trial strategy, did so secretly, did not come clean when caught, did not exclude a key professional from the trial team until over a week after the violation, and when called to account by the Superior Court, responded in a seemingly guileful and inept manner,” Strine wrote.

A spokesman for the attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

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