Court rules against Vaughn prisoner in water heating device case

DOVER — A prisoner’s continuing attempt to contest violations resulting from his homemade water heating device was dismissed in the Delaware Supreme Court on Sept. 13 following a monthlong review.

Agreeing with an earlier Superior Court ruling in a five-page order, Chief Justice Leo E. Strine Jr. noted the finding that inmate Devin Coleman “possessed a jerry-rigged device that could function improperly and that could be considered a dangerous tool or material,” based on cited case law.

Incarcerated at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna since 2013, Coleman didn’t believe his device was dangerous contraband, comparing it to the immersion heaters sold in the Delaware Department of Correction Commissary, according to the discussion.

“In making this argument, Coleman ignores the fact that he did not possess a device sold by the Department of Correction Commissary,” the Court said.

While Coleman alleged that he received a disciplinary report of violations on Dec. 3, 2017 and hearing the next day, “he failed to allege how much notice he received or how he was prejudiced by receiving less than 24 hours’ notice,” the order read.

In a previous appeal, Coleman said “that his witness would have testified that the stinger did not work,” according to the order. “Coleman did not include this allegation in the complaint. We will not consider it for the first time on appeal.”

Justices Karen L. Valihura and Gary F. Traynor also considered the issue submitted on July 13.

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