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Price v. Coupe

Superior Court of Delaware, Sussex

June 14, 2017

Millard E. Price
v.
Robert Coupe

          DATE SUBMITTED: April 20, 2017

          RICHARD F. STOKES, JUDGE

         Dear Parties:

         Before the Court is Respondent Robert Coupe, Commissioner Department of Correction's ("Respondent") Motion to Dismiss. This Motion seeks to Dismiss Petitioner Millard E. Price's ("Petitioner") application for a writ of mandamus to be issued to the Department of Correction ("DOC") regarding his meritorious credit time. Before the Court is also Petitioner's Motion for Discovery and Inspection. Respondent's Motion to Dismiss is DENIED and Petitioner's Motion for Discovery and Inspection is GRANTED in part, I. BACKGROUND

         Petitioner alleges that DOC has failed to grant all of the meritorious credit time he is due. Therefore, Petitioner filed an application for a writ of mandamus to order DOC to correct this error and adjust his release date accordingly. He alleges he worked at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center ("JTVCC") from June 2008 to March 2010 while he was on pretrial detention; a period of 21 months. 11 Del. C. § 4381(d) allows for an award of up to five days of credit time per month for time worked.[1] Therefore, Petitioner claims he is entitled to 105 days of credit time. Further, Petitioner states that he has requested information from JTVCC regarding this issue, but has received an inadequate response. He argues that JTVCC is the sole custodian of the records that document his work during the time period in question; thus, in Petitioner's view, Respondent must provide him with the necessary records.

         After reviewing the Petitioner's application for a writ of mandamus, this Court, hoping for an early and easy resolution of the meritorious credit time issue, sent Respondent a letter requiring DOC to submit an affidavit from the appropriate person addressing whether Petitioner has received meritorious credit time for work performed from June 2008 to March 2010; if not, why not; and if so, what amount he has received and why.

         Linda Martin ("Martin"), an Information Resource Manager of Central Offender Records, filed an affidavit. Therein, she stated:

4. .. .Upon further research in communicating with the facility (JTVCC); [sic] it was discovered that there were an additional 53 days earned that were not previously reported between the timeframe [sic] of August 2008 to August 2009.
5. The total credits that have been reported and deducted from his release date is 397 days; these credits were earned between a timeframe [sic] of August 2008 through December 2016.[2]

         The affidavit did not provide any support for the calculations.

         Respondent now has filed a Motion to Dismiss Petitioner's application for a writ of mandamus. Respondent's Motion states the following:

4. .. .The DOC has awarded Price with meritorious goodtime credits for the months of August 2008, September 2008, and December 2008. No records indicate that Price earned any credits during the months of June, July, October, and November 2008. The DOC has awarded Price with meritorious goodtime credits for all of the months in 2009. The DOC has also awarded Price with meritorious goodtime credits from January, February, August, September, October, November, and December 2010. The DOC has done so despite the absence of records indicating the Price earned any credits during the months of March, April, May, June, and July 2010.[3]

         The Motion also explains that DOC reached out to JTVCC's Business Office to obtain any documentation of Petitioner's work as an inmate. The Business Office supplied his inmate statements, which showed when Petitioner had worked. According to DOC, "Central Offender Records then posted those credits earned, August 2008 through February 2010 based on the information supplied to JTVCC."[4] Petitioner also was awarded meritorious credits for work he performed in February 2016.

         In total, according to Respondent's Motion, Petitioner has been awarded 402 days of meritorious credit time, which Respondent believes is the maximum that is statutorily permitted. In sum, Respondent argues that it has taken the necessary action to ensure Petitioner has been awarded all due meritorious credit time. Further, Respondent takes issue with Petitioner's failure to submit any documentation to support his contention.[5] Therefore, Respondent moved for dismissal.

         In response to the Motion to Dismiss, Petitioner submitted an affidavit. The affidavit stated that Petitioner possessed account statements provided by the JTVCC Business Office for June 2008 to January 2011. These statements show 1099 payments for employment during the said timeframe, which demonstrate a 21 month period of continued employment. Further, the affidavit stated that in December 2016 Counselor Kemp, a counselor at the prison, discussed with Petitioner that DOC records were not showing meritorious credit time that had been awarded from June 2008 to February 2010. Rather, the earliest credits shown were given in March 2010. Finally, Petitioner asserted in his affidavit that he was a hostage in the recent hostage episode at JTVCC, and that, due to his ...


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