Submitted: October 21, 2019
Below-Superior Court of the State of Delaware Cr. ID No.
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:
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
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 and
properly determined that Stephenson could not raise a
meritorious claim on appeal.
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED that the judgment of the Superior
Court is ...