NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted September 23, 2013
On appeal from the New Jersey Department of Corrections.
Carl Pierce, appellant pro se.
John J. Hoffman, Acting Attorney General, attorney for respondent (Lewis A. Scheindlin, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Shirley P. Dickstein, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).
Before Judges Parrillo and Guadagno.
This is a prison disciplinary appeal. Appellant Carl Pierce, an inmate currently confined at South Woods State Prison, appeals a Department of Corrections (DOC) determination, after administrative proceedings, finding that he committed prohibited act *.551, making intoxicants, alcoholic beverages or prohibited substances, in violation of N.J.A.C. 10A:4-4.1. We affirm.
On a routine search of Pierce's cell on February 15, 2012, Senior Corrections Officer (SCO) K. Manning discovered a mayonnaise bottle filled with "liquid" in Pierce's footlocker. The bottle was cloudy and the contents smelled of alcohol. Manning reported that Pierce admitted that the bottle was his and contained "hooch, " i.e., alcohol. Subsequently, Investigator Joseph Williams examined the bottle and concluded, based on his education and experience, that its contents contained fermenting materials.
During both the investigation and the hearing, Pierce claimed the bottle was not his, but rather belonged to his cellmate, Corey Conyers, and that SCO Manning fabricated the incident in retaliation for reports by inmates that Manning had violated their rights. In an inmate statement submitted at the hearing by Pierce's cellmate, however, Conyers merely stated that he did not "know anything about Hooch."
Pierce's request for a polygraph test was denied because the disciplinary report and supplemental evidence supported the charge. He was afforded counsel substitute, who stated "inmate denies possession, requests leniency." Pierce declined the opportunity to confront adverse witnesses.
The hearing officer found Pierce guilty of *.551 and sanctioned him to fifteen days' detention, 180 days' administrative segregation, 180 days' loss of commutation time, and 180 days' urine monitoring. On administrative appeal, the associate prison administrator upheld the hearing officer's adjudication of guilt and imposition of sanctions.
On appeal, Pierce claims that the finding of guilt is not based on substantial credible evidence and that he was deprived of procedural due process by the denial of his request for polygraph and other testing to question SCO Manning's credibility. We have considered each of these issues in light of the record, the applicable law, the arguments of counsel and defendant, and the appropriate appellate standards. We are satisfied that the final agency decision should be affirmed.
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 it was arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable; that it lacked fair support in the evidence; or that it 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. N.J. 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 ...