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Croll v. Metzger
Supreme Court of Delaware
June 5, 2019
PATRICK F. CROLL, Petitioner Below, Appellant,
WARDEN DANA METZGER, Respondent Below, Appellee.
Submitted: March 29, 2019
Below-Superior Court of the State of Delaware C.A. No.
VAUGHN, SEITZ, and TRAYNOR, Justices.
Collins J. Seitz, Jr. Justice.
consideration of the parties' briefs and the record
below, it appears to the Court that:
(1) The appellant, Patrick F. Croll, filed this appeal from
the Superior Court's dismissal of his petition of a writ
of mandamus. Having carefully considered the positions of the
parties, we conclude that the Superior Court's judgment
should be affirmed.
(2) On September 19, 2018, Croll filed a petition for a writ
of mandamus in the Superior Court. He sought a writ of
mandamus compelling the Department of Correction to change
its policy against making applications for sentence
modification under 11 Del. C. § 4217 for those
convicted of sexual offenses like himself and to give him the
opportunity for sentence modification under § 4217.
Warden Metzger filed a motion to dismiss. The Superior Court
granted the motion to dismiss. This appeal followed.
(3) On appeal, Croll argues, as he did below, that the
Department of Correction will not recommend sentence
modification under § 4217 for those convicted of sexual
offenses like himself in violation of the Fourteenth
Amendment's equal protection clause. Under § 4217, a
court may modify an inmate's sentence when the Department
of Correction files an application "for good cause shown
which certifies that the release of the defendant shall not
constitute a substantial risk to the community or the
defendant's own self." Warden Metzger argues that the
Department of Correction's recommendations for sentence
modification under § 4217 are discretionary, Croll did
not establish a clear legal right, and there is no equal
(4) "A writ of mandamus is a command that may be issued
by the Superior Court to an inferior court, public official,
or agency to compel the performance of a duty to which the
petitioner has established a clear legal
right." As a condition precedent to the issuance
of the writ, the petitioner must demonstrate that: (i) he has
a clear right to the performance of a duty; (ii) no other
adequate remedy is available; and (iii) the agency has
arbitrarily failed or refused to perform its
duty. A writ of mandamus will not issue to
compel a discretionary act.
(5) Having reviewed the record in this case in light of the
above legal principles, we conclude that the Superior Court
did not err in dismissing Croll's petition for a writ of
mandamus. As the Superior Court recognized, the Department of
Correction does not have a non-discretionary duty to apply
for modification of Croll's (or any other inmate's)
sentence under § 4217. Croll did not show a clear right
to performance of a duty. As to his equal protection
argument, Croll has not shown that the Department of
Correction lacked a rational basis for treating inmates
convicted of sexual offenses differently than inmates who
were not convicted of sexual offenses for purposes of §
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED that the judgment of the Superior
Court is AFFIRMED.
 11 Del. C. §
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