August 2, 2010
ROBERT R. RELDAN, APPELLANT,
NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, RESPONDENT.
On appeal from a Final Decision of the Department of Corrections.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted July 6, 2010
Before Judges Stern and Wefing.
Robert Reldan is an inmate in the custody of the Department of Corrections. He appeals from a Final Decision of the Department, finding him guilty of two disciplinary infractions:.652, tattooing or self-mutilation, and.254, refusing to accept a housing assignment. N.J.A.C. 10A:4-4.1. After reviewing the record in light of the contentions advanced on appeal, we affirm.
The charges arose following an incident which occurred in July 2009. Reldan had spent almost seven years in a Special Needs Unit at New Jersey State Prison when he was notified he was being transferred abruptly into the general prison population. Reldan alleges he did not wish to make this transfer because there had been wide-spread publicity that as the result of the death of a relative, he was about to inherit a large sum of money; he said he feared he would be subject to extortion. To prevent his immediate transfer, he took a paper clip, straightened it, and used it to cut his arms to the point of their bleeding.
When the disciplinary hearing finally occurred, Reldan was represented by counsel substitute. He was found guilty and sentenced to fifteen days detention, ninety days in administrative segregation and sixty days loss of commutation time. That latter sanction was later suspended. According to the record, Reldan was ultimately placed in protective custody. On appeal, Reldan makes the following contentions:
ACCORDING TO DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS (DOC) RULES AND REGULATIONS A FINDING OF GUILT IN A DISCIPLINARY HEARING "SHALL BE BASED ON 'SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE'. IN THE PRESENT INSTANCE THE 'EVIDENCE' WAS CONTRADICTORY AT BEST AND 'HEARSAY' AT WORST BRINGING IT WELL BELOW THE STANDARD OF "SUBSTANTIAL[.]"
THE DISCIPLINARY HEARING WAS PERFUNCTORY AND IN NO WAY "FAIR AND IMPARTIAL" AS REQUIRED BY DOC STANDARDS AND SERIOUS EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES WERE NOT ALLOWED TO BE PRESENTED OR EVEN CONSIDERED.
THE SANCTIONS IMPOSED WERE MANIFESTLY EXCESSIVE AND VIOLATIVE OF DOC STANDARDS IN LIGHT OF THE DE MINIMIS NATURE OF THE CHARGES, THE PROOFS PRESENTED, THE UNCONSIDERED EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES, AND APPELLANT'S ALMOST PRISTINE 9 YEAR DISCIPLINARY HISTORY.
We note that Reldan does not dispute that he committed the acts for which he was charged. He argues, in essence, that they were justified. In light of the limited scope of our review in such matters, In re Taylor, 158 N.J. 644, 656-58 (1999); Henry v. Rahway State Prison, 81 N.J. 571, 579-80 (1980), we perceive no basis to interfere with this administrative determination.
We are unable to characterize the sanctions imposed for the admitted conduct (one of which was later suspended) to be arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable.
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