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Bolling v. New Jersey Dep't of Corrections

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


November 5, 2010

STEVEN G. BOLLING, APPELLANT,
v.
NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, RESPONDENT.

On appeal from the Department of Corrections.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted October 27, 2010

Before Judges Cuff and Fisher.

Appellant Steven G. Bolling is a prison inmate serving a life sentence. While incarcerated at New Jersey State Prison, Bolling was found to have committing prohibited act *.202, possession or introduction of a weapon, N.J.A.C. 10A:4-4.1(a). The hearing officer imposed fifteen days' detention, with credit for time served, 180 days' of administrative segregation, and 180 days' loss of commutation credit. The assistant superintendent upheld the findings as well as the sanctions imposed.

Bolling thereafter filed this appeal, arguing that the final agency decision was not based upon substantial evidence and that the delay in the adjudication constituted a denial of due process. We find insufficient merit in these arguments to warrant discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E). We add only the following brief comments.

Bolling's contention that there was a lack of substantial evidence of his violation of *.202 is based on his contention that the item in question was not a weapon but "a cardboard paint spreader" used for art projects. The hearing officer, however, examined the object and found it to be made of "composite material, approx[imately] 91/2 inches in length, sharpened at one end." He also found that "[a]lthough the item is flexible to a degree[,] it is fashioned in a manner that is consistent with that of a homemade weapon."

Our review of this finding is limited. We will reverse an agency's decision only if it is arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable, or when it is not supported by substantial credible evidence in the record as a whole. Henry v. Rahway State Prison, 81 N.J. 571, 579-80 (1980); Ramirez v. Dep't of Corr., 382 N.J. Super. 18, 23 (App. Div. 2005). This standard precludes our own weighing of the evidence, De Vitis v. N. J. Racing Comm'n, 202 N.J. Super. 484, 489-90 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 102 N.J. 337 (1985), and requires our deference to decisions that fall within the agency's expertise, Matter of Vineland Chem. Co., 243 N.J. Super. 285, 309 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 127 N.J. 323 (1990). The hearing officer's finding, which was adopted by the assistant superintendent, that the item constituted a weapon is entitled to our deference because it was based on substantial evidence. And what constitutes a weapon within the scope of *.202 is a matter that falls well within the agency's expertise.

Affirmed.

20101105

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