On appeal from a Final Administrative Decision of the New Jersey Department of Corrections.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted August 26, 2008
Before Judges Messano and Chambers.
Terrence Singleton appeals from the administrative determination that he committed the disciplinary infraction of threatening a corrections officer in violation of N.J.A.C. 10A:4-4.1(a) *.005.
Corrections Officer Robert Maretz contends that on May 7, 2007, he observed Singleton, an inmate at the East Jersey State Prison, leaving the prison dining hall early. When he attempted to ask Singleton why he left the dining hall early, Singleton started to walk away. When Maretz called Singleton back and told him to remain in his work area, he contends that Singleton approached him "with a clenched fist and threatening manner and stated 'fuck that, you don't tell me shit!'"
Singleton explains that he was excused early from his work area and was returning to his housing unit carrying eggs and juice when he was confronted by Maretz. He denies saying anything to the Officer and he denies clenching his fist. He attributes the wrongful charge to retaliation by Maretz for civil litigation Singleton had brought against Maretz and others arising out of disciplinary incidents in 2005.
The incident was observed by Corrections Officer R. Williams, who reported that he saw Maretz attempt to question Singleton and then saw Singleton walk away. At that point, he saw Singleton turn and walk toward Maretz saying something, although he could not hear what was being said. He was about fifteen feet from the confrontation and did not see whether or not Singleton had a closed fist.
Singleton was charged with committing a prohibited act in violation of N.J.A.C. 10A:4-4.1(a) *.005; namely, "threatening another person with bodily harm or any offense against his or her person or his or her property." He was also charged with the prohibited act of being in an unauthorized area in violation of N.J.A.C. 10A:4-4.1(a) .402, but this charge was later dismissed.
Apparently, at the hearing, Singleton argued that he could not have made a fist since he was holding juice and a bowl of eggs from the kitchen. The hearing officer's decision states that Maretz demonstrated how Singleton could carry both items and have one hand free. Singleton maintains that the items should have been provided at the hearing so that the hearing officer could have better evaluated his ability to hold both items and clench his fist.
After the hearing was held on May 14, 2007, the hearing officer found that Singleton had made a threatening gesture with a closed fist to the officer, and found him guilty of the *.005 offense of threatening a person. Singleton was sanctioned ten days in detention, 120 days in administrative segregation, and ninety days of loss of commutation time. On appeal to the associate administrator, the decision was affirmed on May 18, 2007.
In this appeal, Singleton raises the following issues:
THE FINAL DECISION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS WAS NOT BASED UPON FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW BUT ALSO LACKS THE NECESSARY ELEMENTS TO SUSTAIN GUILT BASED UPON SUBSTANTIAL ...