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Pressley v. New Jersey Dep't of Corrections

April 28, 2010

DALLAS PRESSLEY #235543/682028B, APPELLANT,
v.
NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, RESPONDENT.



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

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted April 12, 2010

Before Judges Yannotti and Chambers.

Dallas Pressley, an inmate who is incarcerated in the State's Bayside State Prison, appeals from a final determination of the Department of Corrections (DOC), finding that he committed prohibited act *.202, possession or introduction of a weapon, in violation of N.J.A.C. 10A:4-4.1(a). We affirm.

The following facts bear upon our decision. On October 14, 2008, senior corrections officers Kowalski and Faircloth undertook a random search of Pressley's cell and noticed that the pillow on his bed was opened at the seam. Kowalski pulled from the pillow a piece of metal, approximately seven inches long, with cloth wrapped around one end. Pressley was charged with prohibited act *.202, possession or introduction of a weapon, and removed to a holding cell.

The charge was investigated by Sergeant Kenney, who noted in his investigative report that the piece of metal found in Pressley's pillow was "wrapped in cloth like a handle" and its end appeared to have been sharpened to a point. Kenney wrote that the metal object could "clearly cause severe injury or death." The matter was referred for a hearing.

Pressley made two requests for a polygraph exam. Those requests were denied. At the hearing, Pressley pled not guilty to the charge. He requested and was granted the assistance of counsel substitute. Pressley denied that he possessed any weapon. He asserted that he did not know how the weapon got into the pillow on his bed. Pressley's counsel substitute argued that Pressley should have been given a polygraph examination because it was "possible" that another inmate had "planted" the weapon in Pressley's cell. Pressley did not request any witnesses at the hearing. He was afforded the opportunity to confront adverse witnesses.

The hearing officer found Pressley guilty of the charge and imposed the following sanctions: fifteen days of detention, with credit for time served; 365 days of administrative segregation; and the loss of 365 days of commutation time. Pressley filed an administrative appeal from the hearing officer's decision. On November 17, 2008, the assistant superintendent of the prison upheld the hearing officer's decision. This appeal followed.

Pressley raises the following issues for our consideration:

POINT I

APPELLANT SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED THE POLYGRAPH TO DISPUTE THE TWO SEASONING [SIC] OFFICERS['] CREDIBILITY THAT'S HIGHLY SUSPECT, CONTRADICTING AND CONFLICTING, AS THE ADMINISTRATIVE HEARING OFFICER SHOULD HAVE REQUESTED THAT [THE] SAME BE GRANTED, TOO. THUS, APPELLANT WAS UN-FAIRLY DENIED THE FULL PANOPLY OF DUE PROCESS AND EQUAL PROTECTION RIGHTS AFFORDED IN THE U.S. CONST. 14TH AMEND.

POINT II

RESPONDENT'S AGREEMENT THAT A GROSS VIOLATION WAS IN PLACE AND A RE-HEARING IS IN ORDER MUST BE DENIED BECAUSE THE MERITORIOUS LEGAL CLAIMS ARTICULATED HEREIN WARRANTS FOR THE PUBLIC INTEREST TO CONTINUE TO HOLD CONFIDENCE IN THE JURISPRUDENCE [SIC] SYSTEM TO ADDRESS THE DOC['S] ONGOING ILLEGAL POLICY, REGULATION AND PROCEDURE AT WILL THAT'S CONTRARY TO WELL ESTABLISHED ADMINISTRATIVE LAW ...


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