On appeal from a Final Agency Decision of the New Jersey Department of Corrections.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted September 9, 2008
Before Judges Wefing and Parker.
Petitioner Frederick Hedgespeth appeals from a final decision by the Department of Corrections (DOC) imposing sanctions on him for committing prohibited act .256, N.J.A.C. 10A:4-4.1 (.256), refusing to obey an order by a staff member.
The charge arose out of an incident on June 25, 2007 when a corrections officer (CO) instructed petitioner to take a food cart to the mess hall. Petitioner refused to take the cart and the CO ordered him into the chapel area where he was strip searched because of his suspicious behavior. After he refused a second order to take the food cart to the mess hall, claiming it wasn't his job, he was then placed in pre-hearing detention.
When the matter was investigated, petitioner stated that he had volunteered to push the cart but after he was strip searched, the cart was gone and when the CO told him to push another cart he refused because someone else was pushing it.
Counsel substitute was provided and a hearing was held on June 27, 2007. Petitioner pled not guilty and was offered the opportunity to confront witnesses, but he declined. He made no statement at the hearing and counsel substitute merely requested leniency. At the close of the hearing, counsel substitute acknowledged the accuracy of the hearing record.
Petitioner administratively appealed on the ground that the decision was not based on substantial credible evidence, that he was subject to a strip search in violation of DOC standards and that the written charge was incorrect. The DOC affirmed the hearing officer's decision on July 2, 2007.
In this appeal, petitioner argues:
THE FINAL ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION MUST BE REVERSED AND VACATED BECAUSE IT IS GROUNDED UPON A PLAIN VIOLATION OF THE APPELLANT'S STATE AND FEDERAL CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS BY RESPONDENTS COMPELLING A RETALIATORY AND/OR PUNITIVE STRIP SEARCH OF THE APPELLANT. U.S. CONST. AMEND. I, IV, VII, XIV; N.J.A.C. § 10A:3-5.7(b)7; N.J.S. 2C:30-2
THE FINAL ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION SHOULD BE REVERSED AND VACATED BECAUSE THE DOC HAS REFUSED TO ADOPT A POLICY OF PRESERVING VIDEOTAPES OF ALL PROHIBITED ACTS ALLEGED TO HAVE OCCURRED IN THE WEST COMPOUND ROTUNDA OF NEW JERSEY STATE PRISON, THEREBY ARBITRARILY DENYING INMATES ACCESS TO MATERIAL EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT A DEFENSE, AND THEREBY DENYING A FAIR HEARING. N.J. CONST. (1947) Art. 1, Par. 1; N.J. CONST. ...