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Tyshon Grant v. New Jersey Department of Corrections

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


December 15, 2010

TYSHON GRANT, APPELLANT,
v.
NEW JERSEY 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NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION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 October 26, 2010 Decided Before Judges Wefing and Payne.

Tyshon Grant, an inmate in the custody of the Department of Corrections, appeals from a Final Decision of the Department finding him guilty of the following offenses: .152, destroying, altering or damaging government property; *.202, possession of a weapon; and *.306, conduct that disrupts. For the weapons offense, his sanction was 15 days in detention, the loss of 210 days of commutation credits and 210 days in administrative segregation. For disruptive conduct, his sanction was 15 days in detention, the loss of 210 days of commutation credit and 210 days in administrative segregation, to be served consecutively to the weapons sanction. For destruction of property, his sanction was the loss of 30 days of commutation credit and 90 days in administrative segregation, again to be served consecutively. After reviewing the record in light of the contentions made on appeal, we affirm.

At the time charges were filed against Grant, he was an inmate at Bayside State Prison and occupied the bottom bunk in a two-bunk cell. On July 3, 2009, corrections officers, in the course of conducting a routine cell search, found a hole in one of the cement blocks above the top bunk. Within the hole they discovered tissue paper, sheets that had been shredded and made into a line and a piece of wire attached to a razor handle with an exposed blade. Based upon that discovery, these disciplinary charges were filed against Grant. There is no indication in the record before us whether charges were also presented against Grant's cell mate.

At a disciplinary hearing at which Grant received the assistance of counsel substitute, he denied any knowledge of the hole or its contents. He declined the opportunity to cross-examine any witnesses. The hearing officer both reviewed pictures and physically inspected the site. This physical inspection led him to conclude "the physical evidence shows holes in the wall that a reasonable person would conclude were contributed to by both occupants of the cell." This inspection also led him to conclude that either occupant of the cell would have had easy access to the hidden weapon.

Grant raises the following arguments on appeal:

POINT I The decision below must be reversed since the finding of guilt was not based upon substantial evidence in the record [, and] Appellant's Procedural Due Process Rights were violated POINT II The finding of guilt must be reversed because the hearing officer failed to document Appellant's request for a copy of the cell inspection sheet.

Grant's first point rests upon his contention that the hearing officer made the comment that he considered corrections officers more credible than inmates because the officers never lied. The record contains no support for this assertion. In addition, Grant did not make that contention during the course of his administrative appeal; he may not raise it for the first time on appeal to this court.

With respect to his second point, Grant has not demonstrated how the failure to give him a copy of the cell inspection sheet, if such omission in fact occurred, bears upon the determination that he was guilty of these offenses.

In addition, our review is governed by well-established principles. Only where a final administrative determination is arbitrary, capricious, or not supported by credible evidence in the record may we reverse. In re Taylor, 158 N.J. 644, 657 (1999); Henry v. Rahway State Prison, 81 N.J. 571, 579-80 (1980). Further, Grant received all the procedural due protections to which he was entitled. McDonald v. Pinchak, 139 N.J. 188 (1995); Avant v. Clifford, 67 N.J. 496 (1975).

Governed by these principles, we are satisfied the Final Decision of the Department should be affirmed.

Affirmed.

20101215

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