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Riddick v. New Jersey Department of Corrections

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

July 24, 2013

JOHN A. RIDDICK, Appellant,
v.
NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Respondent.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted July 16, 2013

On appeal from New Jersey Department of Corrections.

John A. Riddick, appellant pro se.

John J. Hoffman, Acting Attorney General, attorney for respondent (Lewis A. Scheindlin, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Roshan D. Shah, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).

Before Judges Ashrafi and St. John.

PER CURIAM

Appellant John A. Riddick appeals from a December 6, 2011, final agency decision of the New Jersey Department of Corrections (DOC). We affirm.

We briefly summarize the relevant procedural history and the facts based on the record before us.

Riddick was incarcerated in Bayside State Prison. On December 3, 2011, at approximately 12:40 a.m., two senior corrections officers were conducting tours of the prison's housing facility. Looking through a bathroom window, they noticed Riddick behaving suspiciously and he appeared startled to see them. The officers entered the bathroom and blocked Riddick from exiting.

Riddick turned and started running toward the toilet despite the officers' commands to stop. He pushed away one of the officers and flushed a cell phone down the toilet. The phone was ultimately retrieved from the sewer trap. Riddick was handcuffed and charged with assault, in violation of *002, possession of a cell phone, in violation of *.009, and conduct which disrupts or interferes with the security or orderly running of the correctional facility, in violation of *.306.

The department conducted a disciplinary hearing and Riddick pleaded not guilty to the assault charge and "no plea" to the possession charge. He claimed that the officers had confused him with a different inmate and that he had not flushed anything down the toilet. He was represented by counsel-substitute but he called no witnesses and did not cross-examine the officers.

The hearing officer found Riddick guilty of assault and possession of a cell phone, but not guilty of disrupting the orderly running of the facility. Riddick was sanctioned with thirty days detention, 365 days administrative segregation, and 365 days loss of commutation credits. Riddick administratively appealed. He did not challenge the hearing officer's findings or the sufficiency of the evidence. Nor did he raise any due process concerns. Rather, he requested leniency in the imposition of sanctions. The DOC administrator issued a final agency decision affirming the determination of the hearing officer and denying Riddick's request for leniency. It is from that decision that Riddick appeals.

On appeal, Riddick raises the following issues for our consideration: that the hearing officer failed to state why she believed that the cell phone retrieved from the sewer trap was the one the officers had observed in the toilet; that the hearing officer failed to state precisely what evidence was relied upon; that he was denied the opportunity to ...


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