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Negron v. New Jersey Department of Corrections

Decided: July 29, 1987.

JULIO NEGRON, APPELLANT,
v.
NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, ET AL, RESPONDENTS



On appeal from a final administrative decision of the Superintendent of Trenton State Prison.

Deighan and Havey. The opinion of the court was delivered by Deighan, J.A.D.

Deighan

Petitioner Julio Negron, an inmate in the Trenton State Prison, appeals from an adjudication finding him guilty of offering an official or a staff member a bribe or anything of value in violation of N.J.A.C. 10A:4-4.1(a).751. Specifically, petitioner was charged with participation in a drug-trafficking operation within the prison. His sanction was a 15-day detention with credit for time already served in pre-hearing detention, 365 days in administrative segregation, 270 days loss of commutation time and the matter was referred to the prosecutor. On an administrative appeal, an assistant Superintendent upheld the hearing officer's decision, determined that the hearing officer complied with the Department of Corrections (DOC) standards and found that the decision was based upon substantial evidence.

On this appeal Negron presents the following issues:

POINT I Mr. Negron Was Denied All Procedural Due Process Protections In The Disposition Of His Charge By The Agency Involved.

POINT II The Level Of Evidence Produced At The Hearing Did Not Support The Conclusion Reached -- And Was Not In Conformity With The Applicable Law. (Latter Part Not Raised Below)

The following facts are the basis of the disciplinary action. On February 21, 1986, during a joint investigation by the State Police and Corrections Department, a prison staff member, Charles Feggans, confessed to his involvement in a prison-wide drug trafficking operation. Feggans confessed that while using the alias of Harry Hunt or Charlie Wilson, he received funds from various inmates for the purpose of merchandising drugs within the prison. Feggans named appellant as one of the inmates. The law enforcement officials continued the investigation. A search of Feggans' residence produced a list of inmates

who owed Feggans money. Negron's name appeared on that list as owing $200.

The investigation was completed on May 9, 1986. On May 10, 1986, appellant was charged and on the same date he denied the charge before an investigating officer who, at the same time, granted appellant's request for substitute counsel to assist him at the hearing. Lloyd Johnson, an inmate, thereafter assisted appellant as substitute counsel.

On May 12, 1986, within 72 hours of his placement in prehearing detention, the hearing officer commenced the hearing, but then postponed it so he could examine all the evidence. The hearing recommenced on May 16 after which Negron was found guilty of the charge against him.

I

Both parties acknowledge that prison disciplinary hearings are not part of a criminal prosecution, and therefore the full panoply of rights due a criminal defendant does not apply to disciplinary hearings. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 556, 94 S. Ct. 2963, 2974, 41 L. Ed. 2d 935 (1974); Avant v. Clifford, 67 N.J. 496, 522 (1975).

Under Point I, Negron sets forth a variety of procedural rights under the general heading that he "was denied all procedural due process protections." Under this broad contention we have attempted to segregate and analyze his ...


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