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Johnson v. Coupe

Superior Court of Delaware

January 26, 2017

JAMES JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERT COUPE, et al. Defendants.

          Submitted: December 1, 2016

         Upon Defendants' Motion to Dismiss- GRANTED.

          ORDER

          THE HONORABLE ANDREA L. ROCANELLI JUDGE.

         Upon consideration of the complaint filed by Plaintiff James Johnson ("Plaintiff"); the Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendants; the facts, arguments, and legal authorities set forth by the parties; the Superior Court Civil Rules; statutory and decisional precedent; and the entire record in this case, the Court hereby finds as follows:

         1. Plaintiff is a former inmate at Sussex Correctional Institution.

         2. On January 9, 1986, Plaintiff was indicted for Possession with Intent to Deliver Cocaine and Possession of Cocaine. On April 2, 1986, Plaintiff was indicted for additional charges of Robbery in the First Degree; Conspiracy in the Second Degree; Kidnapping in the Second Degree; Possession of a Deadly Weapon During Commission of a Felony; and Possession of a Deadly Weapon by a Person Prohibited. Finally, on September 30, 1987, Plaintiff was indicted on charges of Burglary in the Third Degree; Conspiracy in the Second Degree; Felony Theft; and Criminal Mischief.

         3. On November 2, 1987, Plaintiff pleaded guilty to Robbery in the First Degree, Possession with Intent to Deliver Cocaine, and Burglary in the Third Degree. In exchange for Plaintiff's guilty plea, the State dismissed the remaining charges against Plaintiff in all three indictments. Plaintiff was sentenced to 10 years at Level V for Robbery in the First Degree, 2 years at Level V for Possession with Intent to Deliver Cocaine, and 3 years at Level V for Burglary in the Third Degree. On January 15, 1993, Plaintiff was released from prison and placed on parole.

         4. On September 30, 1993, Plaintiff was arrested on new felony charges. Following trial, a jury found Plaintiff guilty of Robbery in the First Degree; Possession of a Deadly Weapon During Commission of a Felony; Conspiracy in the Second Degree; and Possession of a Deadly Weapon by a Person Prohibited. Plaintiff was sentenced to a total of 24 years at Level V, suspended after 20 years at Level V for decreasing levels of supervision. By Order dated February 9, 1996, the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed Plaintiff's convictions.[1]

         5. On December 24, 1997, the Board of Parole revoked Plaintiff's parole due to Plaintiff's new convictions. The Board of Parole re-imposed the remainder of Plaintiff's previous sentence-7 years, 1 month, and 3 days at Level V-to be served consecutively to the sentence for Plaintiff's new convictions.

         6. Over the next several years, Plaintiff filed numerous motions for reduction of sentence. The Court denied Plaintiff's motions.

         7. On April 4, 2012, the Department of Correction submitted an application for modification of Plaintiff's sentence. By Order dated May 16, 2012, the Court granted the application for modification and issued a modified sentencing order that suspended Plaintiff's remaining Level V time.

         8. By Order dated August 22, 2012, the Court vacated the May 16, 2012 modified sentencing order and reinstated Plaintiff's Level V incarceration. By letter to Plaintiff dated February 21, 2013, the Court explained that the Court vacated Plaintiff's modified sentence after discovering that Plaintiff had additional convictions and sentences that the Board of Parole did not address in its modification request.

         9. Thereafter, Plaintiff filed numerous petitions for habeas corpus, sentence reduction, and post-conviction relief. The Court denied Plaintiff's applications and the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed.[2]

         10. On April 29, 2016, Plaintiff filed a civil complaint against Defendants in this Court. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants, in their capacity as employees for the Department of Correction, knowingly caused Plaintiff to remain wrongfully incarcerated for 18 months longer than required under Plaintiff's sentence. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated Plaintiff's ...


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