Delaware v. McCoyAnnotate this Case
Defendant-appellee Isaiah McCoy was a pretrial detainee awaiting trial on capital murder and related charges. In May 2010, McCoy was arrested and charged with the murder of James Munford in Dover. He was convicted and sentenced to death at his first trial in June 2012. In January 2015, the Supreme Court reversed his conviction and remanded the case for a new trial. Using a points-based, objective risk assessment tool, the Department of Correction classified him to be held in the maximum security Secured Housing Unit (“SHU”) at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center (“JTVCC”). McCoy filed a motion in the criminal case requesting that he be transferred from the SHU to the prison’s general population on the ground that detention at the SHU was interfering with his Sixth Amendment right to assistance of counsel. The Superior Court, over the State’s objection, granted McCoy’s motion, and McCoy was, in fact, transferred to general population. While McCoy had some complaints about the adequacy of the attorney visitation rooms in the SHU and access to the library, the Superior Court based its order in significant part upon its perception of “the emotional and physical impact that prolonged, solitary placement has had on [McCoy’s] Sixth Amendment right to assistance of counsel . . . .” The Superior Court found there that it had such jurisdiction under 10 Del. C. sec. 542, 11 Del. C. sec. 6504, and several other cases, to order the transfer of a detainee from maximum security to the general population. The State renewed its jurisdictional argument in this case. After review, the Delaware Supreme Court concluded that neither the Sixth Amendment right to assistance of counsel nor the statutes and cases relied upon by the Superior Court granted it the authority to transfer a detainee from one housing unit to another in a criminal case. The order of the Superior Court was, therefore, vacated.