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Calvin Thomas v. New Jersey Department of Corrections

December 1, 2011

CALVIN THOMAS, APPELLANT,
v.
NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, RESPONDENT.



On appeal from the New Jersey Department of Corrections.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted November 16, 2011

Before Judges Waugh and St. John.

Appellant Calvin Thomas appeals from the final administrative decision of the Department of Corrections (DOC) imposing discipline for possession of a mobile phone. We affirm.

Thomas is an inmate confined at Northern State Prison in Newark. On August 26, 2010, during a routine search, a corrections officer found a mobile phone under a prayer rug on the top bunk of Thomas's cell. The top bunk was the one used by Thomas. He was charged with disciplinary infraction *.009, N.J.A.C. 10A:4-4.1(a), which includes possession of an unauthorized communications device.

During the ensuing investigation, Thomas asked that a witness statement be taken from his cellmate. The cellmate's statement at that time reflects that he had no knowledge of the mobile phone, although he changed his position after Thomas's administrative appeal was denied.

The disciplinary hearing was held on August 30, 2010. The hearing officer found Thomas guilty and imposed sanctions, consisting of detention for fifteen days, with credit for time served, 365 days of administrative segregation, loss of 365 days of commutation credit, loss of phone privileges for 365 days, and permanent loss of contact visits.

Thomas filed an administrative appeal, and the prison administrator upheld the decision of the hearing officer on September 2, 2010. This appeal followed.

Thomas raises the following issues on appeal:

POINT I: THE HEARING OFFICER'S FINDING OF GUILT WAS CONTRARY TO THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS POLICIES WHEN IT COMES TO CONTRABAND FOUND IN A MULTI-LOCK CELL.

POINT II: THE DOC'S UPHOLDING THE DISCIPLINARY HEARING OFFICER'S FINDING OF GUILT WAS NOT BASED UPON SUBSTANTIAL CREDIBLE EVIDENCE IN THE RECORD AS A WHOLE THAT I COMMITTED N.J. ADMIN. CODE TITLE 10A:4-4-1(A) PROHIBITED ACT *.009 POSSESSION OF ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT (CELLULAR TELEPHONE).

Our role in reviewing the decision of an administrative agency is limited. In re Taylor, 158 N.J. 644, 656 (1999); Brady v. Bd. of Review, 152 N.J. 197, 210 (1997). We will not upset the determination of an administrative agency absent a showing that it was arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable; that there was a lack of fair support in the evidence; or that the decision violated legislative policies. In re Musick, 143 N.J. 206, 216 (1996); Henry v. Rahway State Prison, 81 N.J. 571, 579-80 (1980); Campbell v. Dep't of Civil Serv., 39 N.J. 556, 562 (1963). Further, decisions of administrative agencies carry with them a presumption of reasonableness. City of Newark v. Natural Res. Council, 82 N.J. 530, 539, cert. denied, 449 U.S. 983, 101 S. Ct. 400, 66 L. Ed. 2d 245 (1980). We may not vacate an agency's determination because of doubts as to its wisdom or because the record may support more than one result. De Vitis v. N.J. Racing Comm'n, 202 N.J. Super. 484, 489-90 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 102 N.J. 337 (1985).

We have considered Thomas's arguments in light of the record and applicable law. We conclude his arguments are without sufficient merit to warrant extended discussion in a written ...


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