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Robles v. Albino

November 29, 2007

RAMON ROBLES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MR. L. ALBINO AND B. MAKARSKI, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Jerome B. Simandle

MEMORANDUM OPINION

In this action, pro se plaintiff Ramon Robles ("Plaintiff")*fn1 seeks recovery under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for the violation of his civil rights, claiming that he was denied his Fourteenth Amendment right to Due Process of law when he was found guilty of committing two disciplinary infractions at the Garden State Youth Correctional Facility ("GSYCF") and placed in Administrative Segregation based on insufficient evidence. Specifically, he claims that he did not engage in the challenged conduct and further avers that the videotape relied upon by the prison officials as evidence of his guilt was exculpatory. This matter comes before the Court upon the motion for summary judgment of Defendants Charles E. Albino*fn2 and Robert Makarski (hereafter "Defendants") pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c) [Docket Item No. 14]. Plaintiff failed to oppose the Defendants' motion, which will be granted for the following reasons: THE COURT FINDS as follows:

1. On August 11, 2005, while Plaintiff was incarcerated at GSYCF, he was charged pursuant to N.J.A.C. 10A:4-4.1 with committing prohibited act *.306, "conduct which disrupts or interferes with the security or orderly running of the institution," and prohibited act *.010, "participating in an activity related to a security threat group." (Viera Decl. Ex. A at 1, 6.)

2. On August 18, 2005, a hearing was held before defendant Makarski, a Disciplinary Hearing Officer, who adjudicated Plaintiff guilty of committing prohibited acts *.010 and *.306. (Viera Decl. Ex. A at 5, 10.)

3. Among the evidence that defendant Makarski relied upon in finding Plaintiff guilty of committing prohibited acts *.010 and *.306 was a videotape of Plaintiff participating in an assault by the prison gang known as the "Bloods" against another prison gang known as the "Muslims." (Viera Decl. Ex. A at 8-10.)

4. According to Makarski's reports from Plaintiff's hearings, the videotape shows Plaintiff standing on the top of the hill in the prison yard, and then, after receiving a signal, racing down the hill with other inmates towards the basketball courts. Although the camera is not focused on Plaintiff for the entire event, Makarski reports that Plaintiff is seen in the tape with clenched fists and "taking a fight stance." Plaintiff was also seen "as part of a large group/gang/mob running around people of the smaller group allowing others to attack them." Plaintiff's housing officer reviewed the tape and reported that Plaintiff took part in the disruption. (Viera Decl. Ex. A-23.)

5. Plaintiff was not permitted to view the videotape at the August 18, 2005 hearing, because defendant Makarski deemed that it was confidential in that it would allow Plaintiff and his counsel substitute ("c/s") to discover camera angles, locations or blind spots in the prison yard security system. (Viera Decl. Ex. A-21.)

6. Upon finding Plaintiff guilty of committing the two disciplinary infractions, defendant Makarski combined the sanctions for the two charges and recommended that Robles receive 15 days in Detention (with credit for time served), 365 days' Administrative Segregation, 365 days' loss of commutation time and 180 days' loss of recreation privileges. (Viera Decl. Ex. A at 5, 10.)

7. On August 18, 2005, Plaintiff administratively appealed the charges to the prison Administrator. (Compl. Ex. A-1.)

8. On August 22, 2005 GSYCF Assistant Superintendent L. Wallace upheld the guilty findings and the resulting sanctions. (Compl. Ex. A-2.)

9. Plaintiff filed an appeal of the Department's guilty findings and resulting sanctions to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey, which was docketed as Ramon Robles v. New Jersey Department of Corrections, docket no. A-2564-05T3. (Compl. Ex. A-3.)

10. On November 6, 2006, the Appellate Division issued a published opinion in Ramon Robles v. New Jersey Department of Corrections, wherein the court held that the Department of Corrections's justification for its decision to designate the videotape as confidential, and thereby preclude Plaintiff from seeing the video, lacked sufficient evidence in the record. (Compl. Ex. A-4.)

11. The Appellate Division remanded Ramon Robles v. New Jersey Department of Corrections, so that the Department of Corrections could provide Robles with a rehearing of the *.010 and *.306 charges, at which time the Department had to either provide a stronger justification for keeping the videotape confidential, or permit Plaintiff to view the videotape. (Compl. Ex. A-4.)

12. On December 29, 2006, pursuant to the Appellate Divisions's remand, the re-hearing of disciplinary infractions was scheduled, but was postponed because Disciplinary Hearing Officer Osvart needed to obtain a ...


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