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Sinnhoff v. Dep't of Corrections

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


July 24, 2009

MICHAEL SINNHOFF, APPELLANT,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, RESPONDENT.

On appeal from a final decision of the Department of Corrections.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted July 7, 2009

Before Judges Fisher and Gilroy.

Appellant Michael Sinnhoff is an inmate of South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton. On February 27, 2008, a corrections officer observed Sinnhoff in a cell other than his own.

Sinnhoff was charged and found by the hearing officer to have committed prohibited act .402, N.J.A.C. 10A:4-4.1(a). Following an administrative appeal, Sinnhoff filed an appeal with this court. He argues:

I. THE DISCIPLINARY CHARGE IS DEFECTIVE.

II. THE DISCIPLINARY HEARING WAS DEFICIENT AS THE INFORMATION PRESENTED WAS CONTRARY TO THE STANDARDS SET BY THE NEW JERSEY ADMINISTRATIVE CODE (N.J.A.C.).

III. THE INSTITUTIONAL CLASSIFICATION COMMITTEE ISSUED FURTHER PUNISHMENT AFTER THE COURTLINE HEARING OFFICER ISSUED A FINAL SANCTION, THEREFORE EXPOSING APPELLANT TO DOUBLE JEOPARDY IN VIOLATION OF THE FIFTH AND FOURTE[E]NTH AMENDMENTS.

IV. THE ON-THE-SPOT FORM IS IN ITSELF INDECIPHERABLE AND OBSTRUCTS DUE PROCESS RIGHTS AND IS IN VIOLATION OF THE FIRST, FIFTH AND FOURTEENTH CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS.

We find insufficient merit in these arguments to warrant discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(D). We add only the following brief comments.

Sinnhoff does not dispute he engaged in the conduct charged but instead argues he entered the unauthorized area to assist another inmate with a legal problem. Sinnhoff argues that, at the time of the infraction, budget cuts had caused a diminution of inmates' ability to access the prison law library, thus necessitating his approach of the inmate by entering an unauthorized area. In short, Sinnhoff argues that the limited access to the law library served as justification for his misconduct or, at least, as a factor in mitigation of the sanctions imposed. We reject this. Sinnhoff should have sought relief regarding the alleged limited availability of the prison law library in a fashion other than through a violation of the rules and regulations governing the conduct of inmates in this State's correctional facilities.

Affirmed.

20090724

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