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White v. Department of Corrections

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

July 10, 2013

KASHIEF WHITE, Appellant,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Respondent.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted May 7, 2013

On appeal from the New Jersey Department of Corrections.

Kashief White, appellant pro se.

Jeffrey S. Chiesa, Attorney General, attorney for respondent (Melissa H. Raksa, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel;Shirley P. Dickstein, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).

Before Judges Fisher and Alvarez.

PER CURIAM

Kashief White, an inmate currently confined at Bayside State Prison, appeals from the March 1, 2012 final determination of the Department of Corrections (DOC) after administrative proceedings during which he was found guilty of prohibited act .257, violation of a condition of community release program, N.J.A.C. 10A:4-4.1(a). He also appeals from the sanctions imposed: fifteen days detention, ninety days administrative segregation, and sixty days loss of commutation time.

The charges resulted from White being observed on February 18, 2012, coming out of a shower stall with another inmate who was in possession of alcohol. White was fully dressed.

At his request, White was assigned a counsel substitute, and entered a not guilty plea to the charges. He had initially also been charged with *.203, possession of a prohibited substance, N.J.A.C. 10A:4-4.1(a), but was found not guilty of that violation. In adjudicating the disciplinary charge, the hearing officer relied upon the report of the officer who encountered White coming out of the shower stall. He found that a "reasonable person would know [inmates] are not . . . permitted in shower stall [with] another" inmate consuming alcohol. White did not testify or present witnesses.

White administratively appealed the decision and the sanctions, which appeal was denied. This appeal followed.

White raises the following issues for our consideration:

POINT I
THE DECISION OF THE HEARING OFFICER VIOLATES DUE PROCESS AND THEREFORE, SHOULD BE VACATED.
(a)
The Decision of the Hearing Officer Should be Vacated Because the Determination was not Based on Substantial Evidence That Appellant Violated a Condition of the Community Release Program.
(b)
The Decision Should Also be Vacated Because the Hearing Officer Failed to Provide a Summary of Evidence Relied on Which Supported the Finding, and Merely Catalog[u]ed the Alleged Evidence Without Offering any Specific Facts Regarding it.

White's argument is essentially this: hearing officers routinely believe prison guards without question, and he was unaware of any program policy prohibiting two inmates from occupying a shower together. This argument has no basis in the record, however, particularly since the gravamen of the offense was not White's presence in the stall with another inmate, but White's presence while fully dressed with another who possessed alcohol.

Our role in reviewing the decision of an administrative agency, such as the prison administrator in this case, is limited. In re Taylor, 158 N.J. 644, 656 (1999); Brady v. Bd. of Review, 152 N.J. 197, 210 (1997). We affirm an administrative agency decision unless we conclude it was arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable; that it lacked fair support in the evidence; or that it violated legislative policies. See 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). Indeed, such decisions carry 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)

Furthermore White has not directed our attention to anything in the record that establishes that his adjudication of guilt on 257 violated the procedural requirements of Avant v Clifford 67 N.J. 496 528-32 (1975) as subsequently codified in NJAC 10A:4-91 to -928 Nor has he identified any law which supports his argument that the hearing in this case violated his due process right.

Hence we are satisfied that the DOC's ultimate determination in this matter was sufficiently grounded in substantial credible evidence Henry supra 81 N.J. at 579-80 and that the administrative adjudication was completed with all requisite procedural due process see Jacobs v Stephens 139 N.J. 212 (1995); McDonald v Pinchak 139 N.J. 188 (1995)

Affirmed.


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