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DeCamp v. New Jersey Dep't of Corrections

July 27, 2006

MICHAEL DECAMP, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, RESPONDENT-RESPONDENT.



On appeal from a Final Agency Decision of the Department of Corrections.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Fuentes, J.A.D.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

APPROVED FOR PUBLICATION

Submitted March 22, 2006

Before Judges Wecker, Fuentes and Graves.

This appeal requires us to determine whether a hearing officer in a prison disciplinary proceeding must consider a claim of self-defense, as a defense to the charge of fighting with another person, *.004. Petitioner Michael DeCamp, an inmate currently incarcerated at South Woods State Prison, appeals from a final administrative decision rendered by the New Jersey Department of Corrections ("DOC"), imposing disciplinary sanctions upon him for committing prohibited act *.004,*fn1 fighting with another person. Petitioner is serving a four-year sentence with a mandatory 85% NERA parole ineligibility term, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2, in connection with his conviction for third-degree aggravated assault.

In this appeal, petitioner raised the following issues:

POINT I

APPELLANT BRINGS THIS CAUSE OF ACTION AS PURSUANT TO N.J.A.C. 10A:4.

POINT II

THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRRECTION[S] ERRED WHEN IT CHAR[G]ED AND FOUND THE APPELLANT GUILTY OF DISCIPLINARY INFRACTION *.004 FIGHTING WITH ANOTHER PERSON WHEN THERE EXISTED NO SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE TO SUBSTANTIATE SUCH A DISCIPLINARY CHARGE WHEN IN FACT HE WAS SEXUALLY ASSAULTED BY INMATE WALTER KERESTY.

In a reply brief, petitioner raised the following points:

POINT I

THE FINAL DECISION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS WAS NOT BASED UPON FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW AND ALSO LACKS THE NECESSARY ELEMENTS TO SUSTAIN GUILT BASED UPON SUBSTANTIAL CREDIBLE & RELIABLE EVIDENCE IN THE RECORD AS A WHOLE.

POINT II

DeCAMP HAD A RIGHT UNDER NEW JERSEY LAW TO DEFEND AND PROTECT HIMSELF WITH THE APPLICATION OF REASONABLE FORCE IN THE PRESERVANCE OF LIFE AND LIBERTY ...


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