October 21, 2019.
Closed December 19, 2019.
Below— Superior Court of the State of Delaware. Cr. ID
No. 1808013518 (N).
VALIHURA, VAUGHN, and TRAYNOR, Justices.
L. Valihura, Justice.
consideration of the brief and motion to withdraw filed by
the appellant's counsel under Supreme Court Rule
26(c), the State's response, and the record on
appeal, it appears to the Court that:
The appellant, Joshua Stephenson, appeals from his
convictions and sentencing for charges of criminal mischief
and disorderly conduct, following a bench trial. The evidence
at trial reflected that on July 4, 2018, staff at the James
T. Vaughn Correctional Center, where Stephenson was an
inmate, received notification that a fire-suppression
sprinkler in Stephenson's cell had " popped,"
and water was flooding the cell and nearby cells. The
sprinklers in the prison have a tamper-resistant, recessed
design and are located approximately seven and a half feet
from the floor. " Popping" refers to releasing the
sprinkler head by prying it out of its recessed position.
When sprinklers are popped, the water supply to the building
must be turned off until maintenance staff can replace the
sprinkler; while the water supply is turned off, the
fire-suppression system is nonfunctional and no running water
flows to the toilets and sinks in the cells. Stephenson was
the only person in the cell when the sprinkler was popped.
After the July 4, 2018 incident, Stephenson was moved to a
different cell. On July 13, 2018, the sprinkler in
Stephenson's new cell was popped, causing another flood.
Again, Stephenson was the only person in the cell at the
time. Stephenson was moved to a different cell and, later
that day, the sprinkler in that third cell was popped.
After a bench trial, the Superior Court found Stephenson
guilty of three counts of criminal mischief and two counts of
disorderly conduct. The court sentenced him to two years'
incarceration, suspended after thirty days, for each of the
counts of criminal mischief and to thirty days'
incarceration for each of the counts of disorderly conduct.
This is Stephenson's direct appeal. Stephenson proceeded
pro se at trial; his standby counsel filed the
notice of appeal. Stephenson's counsel then filed a
motion to stay the proceedings until a competency evaluation
ordered by the Superior Court in an unrelated proceeding
could be completed and the Superior Court could determine
whether Stephenson wished to proceed pro se on
appeal. The motion further requested that this case be
remanded for those purposes. The Court granted the motion. On
remand, the Superior Court found that Stephenson is competent
but does not have the educational background or the knowledge
of the rules of procedure, substantive law, or rules of
evidence to proceed without the assistance of counsel. The
Superior Court found that Stephenson had stated that he did
not want to proceed with the appeal pro se, and
therefore concluded that counsel should prosecute this
appeal. After the case returned from remand, this Court
ordered that Stephenson's counsel would continue to
represent Stephenson on appeal, in accordance with
Supreme Court Rule 26 .
Stephenson's counsel has filed a brief and a motion to
withdraw under Supreme Court Rule 26(c) .
Stephenson's counsel asserts that, based upon a
conscientious review of the record and the law, the appeal is
wholly without merit. In his statement filed under Rule
26(c), counsel indicates that he informed Stephenson of the
provisions of Rule 26(c) and provided him with a copy of the
motion to withdraw and the accompanying brief. Counsel also
informed Stephenson of his right to submit points he wanted
this Court to consider on appeal. Stephenson has not
submitted any points for the Court's consideration. The
State has responded to the Rule 26(c) brief and argues that
the Superior Court's judgment should be affirmed.
When reviewing a motion to withdraw and an accompanying brief
under Rule 26(c), this Court must be satisfied that the
appellant's counsel has made a conscientious examination
of the record and the law for arguable claims. This Court
must also conduct its own review of the record and determine
whether " the appeal is indeed so frivolous that it may
be decided without an adversary presentation."
The Court has reviewed the record carefully and concluded
that the appeal is wholly without merit and devoid of any
arguably appealable issue. We also are satisfied that counsel
made a conscientious effort to examine the record and the law