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Pinkston v. Delaware Department of Correction

Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle

December 4, 2013

JESUS L. PINKSTON, Petitioner,
v.
DELAWARE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION, JAMES T. VAUGHN CORRECTIONAL CENTER, COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTION CARL C. DANBERG, and WARDEN PERRY PHELPS, Respondents.

Submitted: September 3, 2013

On Respondents' Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Superior Court Civil Rule 12(b)(6).

Jesus L. Pinkston, Petitioner, Pro Se.

Stuart B. Drowos, Esquire, Department of Justice, Attorney for Respondents.

OPINION

Honorable Mary M. Johnston, J.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Petitioner Jesus L. Pinkston is a sentenced inmate incarcerated at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center ("JTVCC") in Smyrna, Delaware. Pinkston filed a "Petition for Writ of Mandamus" on May 21, 2013. Pinkston was granted in forma pauperis status on May 28, 2013. Pinkston alleges Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment Due Process violations and Eighth Amendment cruel and unusual punishment violations. Pinkston's allegations arise out of being reassigned to the Security Housing Unit after an institutional infraction that occurred on November 22, 2012. At the time of the institutional infraction, Pinkston was housed in a medium security unit.

Pinkston alleges in his Petition that: (1) his classification was not in accordance with 11 Del. C. § 6530, the Delaware Department of Corrections ("DOC") Procedures, and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; (2) the DOC has improperly classified him by failing to comply with the Delaware Superior Court's Criminal Sentencing Order indicating that Petitioner should receive a mental health evaluation and treatment as a condition of his confinement; and (3) he has a liberty interest in avoiding segregation to earn good-time credits pursuant to 11 Del. C. §§ 4371-4372. Pinkston moves the Court to direct Respondents to: (1) ascertain his mental health history and file it on record with the DOC; (2) consider his mental health history in his reclassification and subsequent classifications; (3) reclassify Pinkston to a lower security status and assign him to a treatment program.

STANDARD OF REVIEW Motion to Dismiss

Respondents filed a 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted on July 11, 2013. The Court must determine if Pinkston has a viable cause of action.[1] Pinkston's claim may not be dismissed "unless it appears to a certainty that under no set of facts which could be proved to support the claim asserted would the [petitioner] be entitled to relief."[2] When applying this standard, the Court will accept all well-pleaded allegations as true.[3]The Court will draw reasonable inferences in a light most favorable to the non-moving party.[4] If Pinkston may recover, the Court must deny the Motion to Dismiss.[5]

Writ of Mandamus

"In Delaware the law as to mandamus is well settled. The writ is extraordinary and appropriate only when a plaintiff is able to establish a clear legal right to the performance of a non-discretionary duty."[6] It is a remedial writ, designed to enforce the performance of legal duties.[7] The remedy is extraordinary.[8] If the right is doubtful, or the duty discretionary, or the power to perform the duty wanting or inadequate, or if there is any other specific and adequate legal remedy, the petitioner is not entitled to a writ of mandamus.[9] The petitioner must establish a clear right to the requested relief.[10] It is within the Court's discretion whether the issuance of such a writ is justifiable.[11]

ANALYSIS

Classification Claim


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