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McDaniels v. Dep't of Corrections

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


August 7, 2009

MICHAEL PAUL MCDANIELS APPELLANT,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, RESPONDENT.

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

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted July 22, 2009

Before Judges Reisner and Sapp-Peterson.

Michael McDaniels*fn1, an inmate at East Jersey State Prison, appeals from a June 26, 2008 final decision of the Department of Corrections (DOC) finding him guilty of disciplinary infractions .705 (operating a business for profit without approval); *.708 (refusal to submit to a search); and *.803/*205 (attempt to misuse authorized medications),*fn2 for which he was sanctioned with a total of 25 days of detention, 180 days administrative segregation, and 90 days loss of commutation time. See N.J.A.C. 10A:4-4.1 (listing prohibited acts).

I.

McDaniels was charged on May 26, 2008 with refusing an order to leave his cell so that it could be searched. After the search was conducted, McDaniels was also charged with running a business by charging other inmates to type their legal papers for them, and with attempting to sell his medication. The charges were based on a typed note which Officer Rokeach found in McDaniels' cell on May 26, 2008. In the note, which was introduced in evidence at McDaniels' disciplinary hearing, McDaniels advised another inmate that he was a "business man," that he typed documents and performed other legal work for money, and that he would sell certain medications for a set price or in exchange for food or clothing.

A hearing was held on the refusal to consent to search charge on June 6, 2008. McDaniels claimed that Officer David Rokeach had filed the charge in retaliation for McDaniels' previous support of fellow inmates against charges Rokeach had filed against them. McDaniels, however, admitted that "at first" he did refuse to leave his cell. He declined the opportunity to confront the witnesses against him. Hearing Officer Nolley upheld the charge and sanctioned him with 15 days detention, 185 days administrative segregation, and 185 days loss of commutation credit.*fn3

A separate hearing was held on the .705 charge (operating a business) and the *.803/*.205 charge (misuse of medication), on June 19, 2008. McDaniels again contended that Rokeach fabricated the charges against him. McDaniels requested a polygraph examination, which was denied, but he was granted confrontation with Rokeach. Hearing officer Meehan found Rokeach credible and found that the typed note supported the charges. He imposed the following sanctions: on the .705 charge, 10 days detention; on the *.803/*.205 charge, 15 days detention, 180 days administrative segregation, and 90 days loss of commutation credit. McDaniels appealed Meehan's decision to the prison administrator, who upheld the charges in a final written determination dated June 26, 2008.

II.

On this appeal, McDaniels contends:

Appellant's Finding of Guilt Was NOT in Accordance With Law, NJDOC Policy, Standards, Rules or Regulations, And Revoking Typewriter Privileges Were [sic] Not in Accordance With Administrative Procedure, Et. Seq. [sic]

McDaniels' arguments about the confiscation of his typewriter concern a decision memorialized in a July 29, 2008 memorandum from the prison's assistant superintendent. That decision indicated that "as a result of being found guilty of the .705 charge dated 26 May 2008, your privileges to have a typewriter are rescinded. You may reapply for these privileges in February 2010." The July 29, 2008 decision was not the subject of McDaniels' notice of appeal, and we will not address it here. Should the DOC refuse a future request to return the typewriter, McDaniels may file a separate appeal from that decision.

With respect to the remaining issues on appeal, our review of the agency's decisions is limited. We must affirm the agency's determinations so long as they are supported by substantial credible evidence and are consistent with applicable law. In re Taylor, 158 N.J. 644, 656-58 (1999); Henry v. Rahway State Prison, 81 N.J. 571, 579-80 (1980). Having reviewed the entire record in light of that standard, we find no basis to disturb the DOC's determinations here.

McDaniels admitted that he refused to come out of his cell until a supervisor was called. His refusal was witnessed by Officers Rokeach and Viruet. Once McDaniels' cell was searched, Officer Rokeach found an incriminating document in which McDaniels clearly admitted that he was running a business for money, and in which he offered to sell his medication to another inmate. We find no basis to interfere with the hearing officer's decision to credit Rokeach's testimony, which was corroborated by this document. McDaniels' remaining appellate contentions are without sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E).

Affirmed.


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