June 25, 2008
KEITH BOWMAN, APPELLANT,
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, RESPONDENT.
On appeal from the Department of Corrections.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted June 4, 2008
Before Judges Simonelli and King.
This is an appeal from the final decision of the Department of Corrections continuing appellant's placement in the Management Control Unit (MCU). His assignment to the MCU stemmed from his participation in a violent attack on staff members at the State Prison in 1990 and his alleged involvement with a "terrorist" group known as Afriken National Ujamaa.
The Department's decision to continue Bowman in the MCU stemmed from its evaluation of his disciplinary history, which included refusing to obey orders, assault, and possession of a weapon. The Department also considered Bowman's various housing, work, and program assignments, which it deemed do not support his placement in the general population in view of his proven violent propensity.
We conclude that there is sufficient credible evidence in the record to support the Department's decision. In reviewing the documents submitted by the Department, we observe that Bowman first was placed in administrative segregation on July 13, 1988. He was released on July 21, 1990 and then participated in the assault of a staff member on August 30, 1990 barely thirty days after his release from administrative segregation. Whatever his involvement in any "terroristic" group, Bowman took part in a serious assault once he was released into the general population. This alone could justify keeping him in the MCU and out of general population.
We reverse only where an agency's decision is arbitrary, capricious, or unsupported by credible evidence in the record. Henry v. Rahway State Prison, 81 N.J. 571, 579 (1980). Unless we find that the agency's action was arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable, the agency's ruling should not be disturbed. In re Taylor, 158 N.J. 644, 657 (1999); Barone v. Dep't of Human Serv., 210 N.J. Super. 276, 285 (App. Div. 1986), aff'd, 107 N.J. 355 (1987).
As we explained in In re Application of Hackensack Water Co., 41 N.J. Super. 408, 418 (App. Div. 1956), substantial evidence is "such evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." See also In re Public Serv. Elec. & Gas, 35 N.J. 358, 376 (1961); Mead Johnson & Co. v. Borough of South Plainfield, 95 N.J. Super. 455, 466 (App. Div. 1967). The substantial evidence standard permits an agency to apply its expertise where the evidence supports more than one conclusion. "Where there is substantial evidence in the record to support more than one regulatory conclusion, 'it is the agency's choice which governs.'" In re Vineland Chemical Co., 243 N.J. Super. 285, 307 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 127 N.J. 323 (1990) (quoting De Vitis v. New Jersey Racing Comm'n, 202 N.J. Super. 484, 491 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 102 N.J. 337 (1985)). In this case there was substantial, credible evidence to support the agency's restricted housing conclusion on grounds of institutional security.
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