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Administrative Law Court
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SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

McClinton Bass #213209 vs. SCDOC

South Carolina Department of Corrections

McClinton Bass #213209

South Carolina Department of Corrections





This matter is before the Administrative Law Court (ALC or Court) pursuant to the appeal of McClinton Bass, an inmate incarcerated with the Department of Corrections (Department or DOC). Bass was convicted of violating SCDC Disciplinary Code § 1.04, Threatening to Inflict Harm on an Employee and/or Member of the Public. As a result of his conviction, the Appellant lost sixty (60) days of “good-time” credit. Inmate Bass filed a grievance with the Department and received the Department’s final decision on or about May 11, 2004.[1] On September 2, 2004, Bass filed this appeal with the Court.


On April 8, 2004, Captain Sainyo, a DOC employee, was taking the names of inmates in a holding cell at Kershaw Correctional Institution. While he was taking those names, the Appellant told Sergeant Mackey that “if you ever put your motherf****ing hands on me when I get on the yard you’re a** is completely history.” Captain Sainyo then asked the Appellant if he had just threatened Sergeant Mackey and the Appellant responded, “I don’t give a motherf****ing s**t about what you hear. . . .” Appellant then stated to Captain Sainyo: “Your a** is gone. When I get on the yard, I will f*** you up.”

Following the incident, Captain Sainyo completed an Incident Report and submitted it to his supervisor, Sergeant Fleming. The Appellant was charged with violating SCDC Disciplinary Code § 1.04, Threatening to Inflict Harm on an Employee and/or Member of the Public. He received written notice of the charges on April 9, 2004.

On April 14, 2004, a Major Disciplinary Hearing was held before a DOC Disciplinary Hearing Officer (DHO) concerning the above charges. At the Appellant’s request, he was provided a counsel substitute during the hearing. Also, the Appellant requested that his accuser be present at the hearing. During the hearing, the DHO read a narrative of Captain Sainyo’s Incident Report into the Record and received testimony from the Appellant and Captain Sainyo. At the conclusion of the hearing, the DHO found the Appellant guilty of violating SCDC Disciplinary Code § 1.04, Threatening to Inflict Harm on an Employee and/or Member of the Public, and sanctioned him with the loss of sixty (60) days of good time credit. After the hearing, the DHO completed a Major Disciplinary Report and Hearing Record which documented the DHO’s findings.

The Appellant filed a grievance with the Department appealing his conviction of violating Disciplinary Code § 1.04. After reviewing his contentions, the Warden denied the Appellant’s grievance. The Appellant then appealed the Warden’s decision and the Department subsequently denied that grievance, stating that the evidence supported the conviction and that the sanction imposed was appropriate for the violation that the Appellant committed. This appeal followed.

In his Appeal Brief, the Appellant alleges that:

1. His due process rights were violated because his name was misspelled; and

2. There was not enough evidence to convict him of Threatening to Inflict Harm on an Employee and/or Member of the Public.



The Court’s jurisdiction to hear this matter is derived entirely from the decision of the South Carolina Supreme Court in Al-Shabazz v. State, 338 S.C. 354, 527 S.E.2d 742 (2000). The Court’s appellate jurisdiction in inmate appeals is limited to state created liberty interests typically involving: (1) cases in which an inmate contends that prison officials have erroneously calculated his sentence, sentence-related credits, or custody status; and (2) cases in which an inmate has received punishment in a major disciplinary hearing as a result of a serious rule violation. Id.[2]

When reviewing the Department’s decisions in inmate grievance matters, the Court sits in an appellate capacity. Id. at 756. Consequently, the review in these inmate grievance cases is limited to the Record presented. An Administrative Law Judge may not substitute his judgment for that of an agency “as to the weight of the evidence on questions of fact.” S.C. Code Ann. § 1‑23‑380(A)(6) (Supp. 2003). Furthermore, an Administrative Law Judge may not reverse or modify an agency’s decision unless substantial rights of the Appellant have been prejudiced because the decision is clearly erroneous in view of the substantial evidence on the whole Record, arbitrary or affected by an error of law. See Section 1-23-380(A)(6); See also Marietta Garage, Inc. v. South Carolina Dept. of Public Safety, 337 S.C. 133, 522 S.E.2d 605 (Ct. App. 1999); South Carolina Dept. of Labor, Licensing and Regulation v. Girgis, 332 S.C. 162, 503 S.E.2d 490 (Ct. App. 1998). “‘Substantial evidence’ is not a mere scintilla of evidence nor the evidence viewed blindly from one side of the case, but is evidence which, considering the Record as a whole, would allow reasonable minds to reach the conclusion that the administrative agency reached or must have reached in order to justify its action.” Lark v. Bi‑Lo, 276 S.C. 130, 135, 276 S.E.2d 304, 306 (1981). Accordingly, the possibility of drawing two inconsistent conclusions from the evidence does not prevent an administrative agency’s finding from being supported by substantial evidence. Grant v. South Carolina Coastal Council, 319 S.C. 348, 461 S.E.2d 388 (1995).

Additionally, in Superintendent, Massachusetts Correctional Institution, Walpole v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 456, 105 S.Ct. 2768 (1985), the U.S. Supreme Court held that “the relevant question is whether there is any evidence in the record that could support the conclusion reached by the disciplinary board.” Moreover, in Al-Shabazz, the Court underscored that since prison officials are in the best position to decide inmate disciplinary matters, the Courts and therefore this tribunal adhere to a “hands off” approach to internal prison disciplinary policies and procedures when reviewing inmate appeals under the APA. Al-Shabazz at 757; See also Pruitt v. State, 274 S.C. 565, 266 S.E.2d 779 (1980) (stating the traditional “hands off” approach of South Carolina courts regarding internal prison discipline and policy).

In this case, the Appellant alleges that the Department should not have revoked his sixty (60) days of accrued good time. Inmates have a protected liberty interest in their earned statutory good-time credits under the Fourteenth Amendment. Therefore, when, as here, the Department revokes an inmate’s good-time credits as punishment in a “major disciplinary hearing” involving “more serious rule violations,” prison officials must provide that inmate with “minimal due process.” Al-Shabazz at 750. Consequently, specific administrative procedures must be followed before depriving an inmate of statutorily granted earned credit, including adequate advance notice of the charges, adequate opportunity for a hearing in which the inmate can present witnesses and documentary evidence, and an impartial hearing officer who prepares a written statement of all the evidence presented and the reasons for his decision. Id. at 751 (citing Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 563-72, 94 S.Ct. 2963, 2978-82 (1974)).


Appellant argues that his due process rights were violated because his name was misspelled. The Appellant’s due process rights in this proceeding are summarized in Al-Shabazz, supra. I find that the Appellant was afforded all process due him pursuant to Al-Shabazz. The Record indicates that the Appellant received written notice of the charges against him in excess of twenty-four (24) hours prior to a hearing that was held before an impartial Disciplinary Hearing Officer. At the hearing, the Appellant was given the opportunity to offer evidence, call witnesses, and confront his accuser. In addition, although not constitutionally required, the Appellant was afforded a counsel substitute who assisted him in his defense. After the DHO determined that the Appellant was guilty of the charged offense, he prepared a written report detailing the evidence he relied upon and the penalty assessed in finding the Appellant guilty of the disciplinary infraction. The Appellant was also permitted to appeal the DHO’s decision through the inmate grievance process. Finally, the Appellant did not establish that he was adversely affected by the Department’s incorrect spelling of his name.

I also find that there is substantial evidence to support the Appellant's conviction of violating SCDC Disciplinary Code § 1.04, Threatening to Inflict Harm on an Employee and/or Member of the Public. A Code 1.04 violation is:

Communication, verbal or written, by an inmate to an individual that s/he intends to injure that person or commit a violent or unlawful act dangerous to human life, presently or in the future; or one who commits a physical act of a threatening nature, and the probable result of such threats or action is to place the individual in fear of bodily injury; or one who causes evacuation of a building; or one who creates serious disruption or alarm. Any unauthorized body contact of an employee or member of the public which creates serious alarm, but does not result in bodily injury.

Appellant’s defense was primarily that he didn’t “recall” what he said to the officers but that he did not threaten them. Nevertheless, the Record clearly supports the facts recited in the “Background” portion of this Order. Those facts establish substantial evidence that the Appellant acting in a threatening manner.


IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the appeal of the Appellant is DISMISSED and the Final Decision of the Department is AFFIRMED;




Ralph K. Anderson, III

Administrative Law Judge


March 23, 2005

Columbia, South Carolina

Brown Bldg.






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