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Ruffin v. Dep't of Corrections

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


June 12, 2007

TYSHON RUFFIN, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, RESPONDENT-RESPONDENT.

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

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted May 14, 2007

Before Judges Lintner and C.L. Miniman.

Inmate Tyshon Ruffin was charged with two counts of prohibited act *.002, assaults on two corrections officers, while he was incarcerated at Bayside State Prison, and one count of prohibited act *.005, threatening bodily harm to corrections officers, while incarcerated at Southern State Correctional Facility. N.J.A.C. 10A:4-4.1(a). The inmate was given timely written notice of the charges prior to a hearing. See Avant v. Clifford, 67 N.J. 496, 525 (1975). Two hearings were timely conducted respecting all three charges at which the inmate was provided a counsel substitute, as suggested by Avant. See Id. at 528-29. The inmate did not request to testify on his own behalf, to call any witnesses, or to confront the witnesses against him. See Id. at 529-30. Neither did he present any documentary evidence or ask for any testing to be done. See Id. at 529. Each hearing officer concluded that the inmate was guilty of the prohibited act or acts that were the subject of the hearing conducted before that officer and sanctions were imposed.

The inmate filed administrative appeals from the determinations made following the two hearings. Assistant Superintendent Donna Klipper upheld the guilty findings with respect to the assaults on November 22, 2005, and Associate Administrator Greg Bartkowski upheld the guilty finding respecting the threats on November 21, 2005.

This appeal followed and the inmate raises the following issues for our consideration:

POINT I -- THE DEFENDANT CONTENDS THAT THE DISCIPLINARY HEARING OFFICER VIOLATED HIS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS WHEN HE WAS DEPRIVED OF HIS RIGHT TO CALL WITNESSES OR HIS ACCUSERS.

POINT II -- THE DEFENDANT CONTENDS THAT HE WAS DENIED THE RIGHTS TO A POLYGRAPH TEST WHICH WOULD HAVE DETERMINED THE DEFENDANT'S GUILT OR INNOCENCE.

After carefully reviewing the record in the light of the written arguments advanced by the parties, we conclude that the inmate's arguments "are without sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion." R. 2:11-3(e)(2).

"It is a well-settled principle that our appellate courts will decline to consider questions or issues not properly presented [at the hearing or trial level] when an opportunity for such a presentation is available 'unless the questions so raised on appeal go to the jurisdiction of the trial court or concern matters of great public interest.'" Nieder v. Royal Indemn. Ins. Co., 62 N.J. 229, 234 (1973) (quoting Reynolds Offset Co., Inc. v. Summer, 58 N.J. Super. 542, 548 (App. Div. 1959), certif. denied, 31 N.J. 554 (1960)).

None of the inmate's issues was raised in the administrative proceedings. None of the issues goes to the jurisdiction of the administrative agency or this court. None concerns a matter of great public interest.

Affirmed.

20070612

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