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Arno v. New Jersey Department of Corrections

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

August 30, 2013

CRAIG ARNO, Appellant,
v.
NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Respondent.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted May 1, 2013

On appeal from the New Jersey Department of Corrections.

Craig Arno, appellant pro se.

Jeffrey S. Chiesa, Attorney General, attorney for respondent (Lewis A. Scheindlin, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Marvin L. Freeman, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).

Before Judges Sapp-Peterson and Haas.

PER CURIAM

Craig Arno is an inmate currently incarcerated at the New Jersey State Prison (NJSP) in Trenton. He appeals two final administrative agency decisions of the New Jersey Department of Corrections (DOC). The first decision, rendered October 25, 2011, adjudicated him guilty of disciplinary infraction *.102, attempting or planning escape; *.202, possession or introduction of a weapon; and *.213, mutilating or altering clothing issued by the government. The second decision, rendered October 27, 2011, found him guilty of a second possession or introduction of a weapon infraction.

The facts upon which the adjudications were reached occurred on October 20, 2011. At the time, Arno was awaiting disposition of pending criminal charges for murder, aggravated assault, robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, aggravated arson, terroristic threats, fabrication of evidence and weapons offenses. He was being housed at NJSP as a high risk detainee. Correctional staff searched Arno's cell and discovered that the wall area around a vent had been dug out. The senior correction officer (SCO) investigating the incident also found an altered nail clipper which, in its altered state, resembled a flathead screwdriver. Correctional staff determined that the altered nail clipper fit the security screws in Arno's cell. Additionally, during the search of Arno's property, staff recovered one State-owned mutilated sheet, one State-owned mutilated tee shirt, and one altered State-owned shirt.

Four days later, while a maintenance crew was repairing the wall in Arno's cell, SCO Wickham found a piece of metal wrapped in aluminum foil. One of the corners of the metal had been shaped into a point, facilitating its use as a weapon.

Once Arno was served with the charges, he requested and received the assistance of counsel substitute. He was also afforded the opportunity to produce witnesses but elected not to do so. He denied the allegations contained in the charges.

Based upon the investigative reports, photos of evidence, as well the hearing officer's inspection of Arno's cell, the hearing officer found sufficient evidence to support the charges. For the *.102 charge, Arno was referred to the Close Custody Unit, received fifteen days detention, a loss of recreational privileges for thirty days, and a 365-day loss of commutation time. However, as to the latter discipline, the DOC restored all commutation time taken prior to Arno's sentencing date of May 24, 2012. For the first *.202 charge, Arno received fifteen days detention, thirty days loss of recreation privileges, 365 days administrative segregation, and another 365 days loss of commutation time. For the second *.202 charge, he was referred to the Close Custody Unit and sanctioned 180 days of administrative segregation. He also received a loss of his recreational privileges for thirty days, as well as a 180-day loss of commutation time. Finally, for the *.213 charge, Arno received a third referral to the Close Custody Unit and a hold on his account for reimbursement of expenses.

Arno administratively appealed the sanctions imposed on the following infractions: (1) *.102, attempting or planning escape; (2) *.202, possession or introduction of a weapon, namely, the altered nail clippers; (3) *.202, possession or introduction of a weapon, namely, metal altered into a point, which could be used as a weapon; and (4) *.213, mutilating or altering clothing issued by the government. He requested leniency. He noted that he was not a State-sentenced inmate and stated: "I am a [C]ounty inmate. The seriousness of this incident was overstated and harmful to me. In view of the above I would request a reduction of the sanction."

Arno's appeal was considered by Assistant Superintendent William Anderson. He upheld the hearing ...


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