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James K. Caines v. New Jersey Department of Corrections

April 20, 2012

JAMES K. CAINES, 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NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION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 March 27, 2012

Before Judges Nugent and Carchman.

Appellant James K. Caines, an inmate at New Jersey State Prison in Trenton, appeals from a final decision of the Department of Corrections finding him guilty of violating .256, "refusing to obey an order of any staff member." N.J.A.C. 10A:4-4.1. As a result of the violation, appellant received a sanction of ninety days' loss of television privileges, which was suspended in part, as well as ninety days' loss of recreation privileges. We affirm.

These are the relevant facts. On October 14, 2010, at 11:00 a.m., Senior Corrections Officer Pagan was stationed in a cage about twenty feet from the recreation yard, quad two. At the completion of recreation time, Pagan ordered inmates in the yard, including appellant, to exit the yard and return indoors. Pagan issued this order five times, and appellant refused to obey each time. Pagan responded to appellant's conduct by notifying a sergeant, and yard movements were stopped to attend to this problem.

Pagan charged appellant with a .256 violation for "refusing to obey an order of any staff member." On October 15, 2010, Sergeant Poretti served the charge on appellant, conducted an investigation, and referred the charge to a hearing officer for further action.

A disciplinary hearing took place on October 18, 2010. During the hearing, appellant did not request counsel substitute, and he pleaded not guilty. The hearing officer played a video recording of the events of October 14, 2010 in the recreation yard. Appellant testified that when the recreation yard gate opened that day, he left. He claimed that he could not tell what was going on in the video. The hearing officer gave appellant the opportunity to name witnesses, and appellant declined. The hearing officer also gave appellant the opportunity to confront adverse witnesses, and again, appellant declined. After reviewing the evidence and hearing all the testimony, the hearing officer found appellant guilty of the .256 charge.

On October 19, 2010, appellant filed an administrative appeal of the hearing officer's decision. The administrator upheld the decision of the hearing officer. This appeal followed.

On appeal, appellant raises the following issues:

POINT I

THE DECISION OF THE HEARING OFFICER WAS NOT BASED UPON SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE, IN VIOLATION OF THE CODE.

POINT II

THE IMPOSED SANCTION WAS EXCESSIVE, IN ...


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