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ARTWAY v. SCHEIDEMANTEL

October 27, 1987

Alexander Artway, Plaintiff
v.
Sally Scheidemantel, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: COWEN

 BACKGROUND

 On September 30, 1986, Alexander Artway, an inmate in the New Jersey state prison system, was transferred to the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center ("ADTC"), a New Jersey facility for the treatment of convicted sex offenders. On October 2, Artway destroyed a sink located in his cell. A toilet located in the cell was also destroyed at about the same time, although it has never been established that Artway was responsible for the destruction of the toilet.

 Prison officials investigated the October 2 incident, and Artway was afforded a disciplinary hearing on October 6, 1986, for which he was offered the assistance of counsel substitute. As a result of the hearing, Artway was found guilty of violating D.O.C. Standard # 251.4.152 - "Destroying, altering, or damaging government property, or the property of another person." He was ordered to make restitution for the damage to the cell.

 Although Artway failed to pursue an administrative appeal of this finding, the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division reviewed the legitimacy of this finding in connection with an appeal by Artway which challenged the Correction Commissioner's decision to transfer Artway to ADTC. The Appellate Division ruled on March 27, 1987 that Artway had been afforded due process with regard to this infraction, and that the finding of guilt and the sanction imposed was equitable and justified. *fn1" Artway v. Com'r, N.J. Dept. of Corr., 216 N.J. Super. 213, 218, 523 A.2d 275 (App. Div. 1987).

 Artway was transferred to Leesburg State Prison in November of 1986, and due to administrative oversight, no action was taken by prison officials to actually impose the restitution penalty until April 8, 1987. On that date, the prison's Classification Committee met and administratively confirmed the sanction. Senior Classification Officer Zorsky then wrote to Artway and advised him of the confirmation. Defendant's Brief, Appendix at 52-53.

 After receiving the decision of the Classification Committee, defendant Scheidemantel forwarded the appropriate paperwork to ADTC Business Manager Richard Lettiere, and directed that Lettiere compute the amount of restitution owed by Artway. Finally, on May 13, 1987, in response to a query from Artway, Scheidemantel advised Artway that restitution in the amount of $ 734.00 would be deducted from his prison account. Defendant's Brief, Appendix at 58. Artway, by letter dated May 18, 1987, objected to the amount of restitution, and Scheidemantel responded by memorandum, with a breakdown of costs, dated May 22, 1987. Defendant's Brief, Appendix at 61-62. The memorandum broke down the $ 734.00 restitution figure as follows: Water Closet $ 275.00 Lavatory 209.00 Labor 250.00 $ 734.00

 No immediate action was taken by prison officials to deduct the restitution from Artway's prison account.

 Artway filed a complaint in this action on June 5, 1987. He alleged that the amount of restitution imposed on him, and the manner in which the decision as to this amount was determined violated various of his constitutional rights. He names as defendant Sally Scheidemantel, Superintendent of the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center. In July of 1987, defendant Scheidemantel reviewed Artway's file and determined that he had not been found guilty of damaging the toilet in his cell, and that the $ 734.00 restitution figure was too high. On July 20, 1987, Scheidemantel advised Artway of this error, and notified him that his account would now be charged $ 334.00, not $ 734.00. Scheidemantel's revised breakdown was: Lavatory $ 209.00 Labor 125.00 $ 334.00

 Scheidemantel also directed that the prison officials at Rahway State Prison, where Artway had since been transferred, effectuate the restitution.

 Artway claims that the defendant's actions violated his constitutional rights to due process and equal protection, access to the courts, and to a jury trial. He also contends that he was deprived of his right, under the New Jersey Constitution, to a jury trial.

 The defendant now moves for summary judgment. The defendant's motion was originally scheduled for September 9, 1987. However, after the Court had an opportunity to review the submissions of the parties, it requested that the parties submit additional briefs and supporting information regarding the plaintiff's claims that his constitutional rights to due process and equal protection had been violated by the actions of the defendant. Having received and considered those additional submissions, the Court now issues this opinion.

 DISCUSSION

 The defendant, in this case, has demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Court that she followed the procedures mandated by these regulations, or that any deviation from these regulations was inadvertent and did not result in any injury to the plaintiff. *fn2"

 It also appears, although the Court does not now find, that the amount of restitution charged Artway was correctly calculated under the Regulation. The defendant has presented the affidavit of Harold Aragon, Engineer in Charge of Maintenance at ADTC, who states that the replacement cost of the lavatory was approximately $ 209.00. This figure is substantiated by an invoice attached as part of the appendix to defendant's brief, for the purchase of "Lavatory (prison) American Standard # 0421 026" at $ 209.25 each. Defendant's Brief, Appendix at 66. Aragon's affidavit also states that plumber Leslie Tutics and several inmate workers spent 1 1/4 days installing the new sink.

 As the defendant charged Artway for labor at rate of $ 100.00 per day, it appears that the prison properly arrived at the amount of $ 334.00. *fn3" The Court notes, however, that the defendant has presented no evidence on the issue of how she arrived at the $ 100.00 per day labor rate, or whether this rate accurately reflects the cost of the labor utilized.

 Given these conclusions, the Court must now consider the defendant's motion for summary judgment, in light of Artway's claims that the amount of restitution, and the manner in which it was determined, violated Artway's constitutional rights to due ...


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