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Murphy v. New Jersey Dep't of Corrections

April 9, 2008

DARIUS MURPHY, APPELLANT,
v.
NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, RESPONDENT.



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

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted March 12, 2008

Before Judges Parker and Lyons.

Darius Murphy (Murphy), an inmate at New Jersey State Prison in Trenton, appeals from a final decision issued by the Department of Corrections (DOC) imposing prison discipline.

After consideration of his contentions raised in this appeal, we affirm.

The relevant facts are as follows. The DOC Special Investigations Division (Division) had conducted an investigation regarding a conspiracy to obtain contraband, particularly drugs and cellular telephones, in the prison by inmates through compromised prison staff. The Division's report provides details concerning this conspiracy. The Division's information concerning this conspiracy was gathered through confidential informants, videotaped interviews, and recorded telephone conversations. These sources revealed that Murphy and other inmates solicited family members, friends, and other members of the public to obtain cellular telephones and drugs for delivery into the prison. Murphy was reported to have made telephone calls that detailed the operation, including one conversation with another inmate during which time they discussed the purchase and delivery of drugs and cellular telephones into the prison by compromised prison staff.

Based upon this investigation, Murphy was charged on June 1, 2007, with the following disciplinary infractions: conduct which disrupts or interferes with the security or orderly running of the correctional facility in violation of N.J.A.C. 10A:4-4.1 *.306; attempting to commit a violation of N.J.A.C. 10A:4-4.1 *.009, the misuse, possession, distribution, sale, or intent to distribute or sell, an electronic communication device in violation of N.J.A.C. 10A:4-4.1 *.803; and attempting to commit a violation of N.J.A.C. 10A:4-4.1 *.215, possession with intent to distribute or sell prohibited substances such as drugs, intoxicants, or related paraphernalia in violation of N.J.A.C. 10A:4-4.1 *803.*fn1

On June 4, 2007, the hearing officer postponed the adjudication hearing in order to obtain additional confidential evidence from the Division. On June 6, the hearing officer again adjourned the hearing because he had not received the confidential information to review. On June 8, the hearing was adjourned so that the hearing officer could review the videotaped interviews. And, on June 11, the hearing was postponed so the hearing officer could review the recorded telephone conversations. The hearing was held on June 13, 2007.

Murphy was represented at the hearing by a counsel substitute. He pled not guilty to all the charges. Murphy did not testify and deferred to his counsel substitute. With respect to the *.306 charge, counsel substitute stated that the record did not support a finding that the inmate disrupted the facility. As to the other two charges, counsel substitute stated that "there is insufficient evidence to support a finding of guilt." No witnesses were called by Murphy, and he declined an offer to have witness statements collected on his behalf. He also declined to confront any adverse witnesses.

The hearing officer relied on the statements and reports of representatives of the Division, as well as summaries of the confidential information, the video summaries, and telephone recordings in arriving at his determination. The hearing officer found Murphy guilty of all charges. The sanctions for the *.306 and *.803/*.009 charges were combined to fifteen days detention, with credit for time served, 365 days administrative segregation, 365 days loss of commutation time, permanent loss of contact visits, and 365 days loss of telephone privileges. On the *.803/*.215 charge, Murphy received sanctions of fifteen days detention, with credit for time served, 365 days administrative segregation, 365 days loss of commutation time, 365 days loss of telephone privileges, and a referral to a drug treatment program. All of the sanctions are to be served consecutively. Following the assistant superintendent of the prison's affirmance of the hearing officer's decision, this appeal ensued.

On appeal, Murphy raises the following arguments for our consideration:

POINT I

APPELLANT DENIED DUE PROCESS REQUIRED BY NEW JERSEY ...


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