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SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

Harrison Moore, #88674 vs. SCDOC

South Carolina Department of Corrections

Harrison Moore, #88674

South Carolina Department of Corrections





This matter is before the Administrative Law Judge Division ("Division") pursuant to the appeal of Harrison Moore, an inmate incarcerated with the Department of Corrections ("Department") since 1980. On February 17, 2000, Inmate Moore was convicted of Fighting Without A Weapon after he was observed exchanging blows with another inmate on February 13, 2000. As a result of his conviction, Inmate Moore received canteen and telephone restrictions for 45 days. Inmate Moore filed a grievance with the Department on February 18, 2000, and received a final decision from the Department on March 28, 2000. On April 21, 2000, Inmate Moore filed this appeal with the Division. On June 15, 2000, Inmate Moore filed a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Temporary Rule 65, ALJDRP.


On February 13, 2000, a Department corrections officer, Rickina Bannerman, observed Inmate Moore grab another inmate, James Wesley, and place him in a headlock. Officer Bannerman ordered the two to stop fighting, but both inmates refused. Blows were exchanged between the inmates before the corrections officers were able to separate them. Immediately after the incident, Inmate Moore was placed in Pre-Hearing Detention. In addition, Officer Bannerman completed a Disciplinary Offense Report, charging Inmate Moore with Fighting Without A Weapon and Refusing to Obey Orders. The charge of Fighting Without a Weapon is a Level 2 offense, which can carry the penalty of the loss of good-time credit, loss of privileges, cell restriction, and/or extra duty. The Report was then forwarded to Officer Bannerman's supervisor, who determined that a "major" disciplinary hearing would be held. Inmate Moore received written notice of the charges two days before his hearing, which was held on February 17, 2000, before a Disciplinary Hearing Officer ("DHO"). At the hearing, Inmate Moore was represented by counsel substitute, who was present by speaker phone. In addition, Officer Bannerman testified and was cross-examined by counsel substitute regarding the incident. Once the hearing was concluded, the DHO completed a Major Disciplinary Report and Hearing Record, indicating that Inmate Moore was found guilty of Fighting Without A Weapon. The second charge, Refusing to Obey Orders, was made a lesser included charge. Noting that the punishment levied was the only option available to him, the DHO then sentenced Inmate Moore to 45 days' canteen and telephone restrictions, .

On May 23, 2000, after Inmate Moore filed this appeal with the Division, I issued an Order Governing Procedure, in which I ordered the Department to file and serve the Record in this case no later than July 17, 2000. On June 15, 2000, Inmate Moore filed his Motion to Dismiss, alleging that the Department had failed to respond to his Notice of Appeal in a timely fashion. The Department filed the Record on July 12, 2000.


The Division'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). In Al- Shabazz, the Supreme Court created a new avenue by which inmates could seek review of final decisions of the Department of Corrections in "non-collateral" matters, i.e., matters in which an inmate does not challenge the validity of a conviction or sentence, by appealing those decisions to the Division and ultimately to the circuit court pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act. 338 S.C. at 373, 376, 527 S.E.2d at 752, 754. In its appellate capacity, the Division is primarily concerned with ensuring that the appellants receive all procedural process they are due.

As in all cases subject to appellate review by the Division, the standard of 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 unless the agency's determination is affected by error of law or is clearly erroneous in view of the reliable, probative, and substantial evidence in the whole record. S.C. Code Ann. § 1-23-380(A)(6) (Supp. 1999); Al-Shabazz, 338 S.C. at 380, 527 S.E.2d at 756; Lark v. Bi-Lo, Inc., 276 S.C. 130, 276 S.E.2d 304 (1981). Moreover, to afford "meaningful judicial review," the Administrative Law Judge must "adequately explain" his decision by "documenting the findings of fact" and basing his decision on "reliable, probative, and substantial evidence on the whole record." Al-Shabazz, 338 S.C. at 380, 527 S.E.2d at 756.

The Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of procedural due process applies only to the deprivation of a life, liberty, or property interest. Board of Regents of State College v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564, 569, 92 S. Ct. 2701, 2705 (1972). The statutory right to sentence-related credits is a protected liberty interest under the Fourteenth Amendment. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 94 S. Ct. 2963 (1974); Al-Shabazz v. State, 338 S.C. at 369-370, 527 S.E.2d at 750. An inmate facing the loss of sentence-related credits is entitled to minimal due process to ensure that the state-created right is not arbitrarily abrogated. Al-Shabazz v. State, 338 S.C. at 370, 527 S.E.2d at 750. While due process is "flexible and calls for such procedural protections as the particular situation demands, Stono River Envtl. Protection Ass'n v. S.C. Dept. Of Health and Envtl. Control, 305 S.C. 90, 94, 406 S.E.2d 30, 341 (1991), certain elements must be satisfied in order for procedural due process requirements to be met, 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. Al-Shabazz, 338 S.C. 371, 527 S.E.2d at 751, citing Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 563-72, 94 S. Ct. 2963, 2978-82 (1974).

However, no liberty interest is implicated when an inmate is faced with lesser penalties such as the loss of television, canteen, or telephone privileges. Al-Shabazz v. State, 338 S.C. at 372, 527 S.E.2d at 751, fn.8. Therefore, an inmate facing a disciplinary proceeding in which he stands to lose only canteen and telephone privileges is not entitled to an Al-Shabazz-type hearing. See Al-Shabazz, 338 S.C. at 372, 527 S.E.2d at 751, citing Wolff, 418 U.S. at 571 ("We do not suggest, however, that the procedures required by today's decision for the deprivation of good time credits would also be required for the imposition of lesser penalties.").

In the instant case, Inmate Moore did not face the "potential loss of sentence-related credits." Although Inmate Moore was charged with an offense that carried a possible penalty of loss of good time credits, the Record shows that the only punishment that the DHO could levy on Inmate Moore was the loss of canteen and telephone privileges. (1) Because Inmate Moore has no liberty interest in such privileges, he was not entitled to any due process before the Department took those privileges away as punishment for a disciplinary infraction. Accordingly, the Department's Final Decision is affirmed.

Moreover, because the Department filed the Record five days earlier than required by the Order Governing Procedure issued on May 23, 2000, Inmate Moore's Motion to Dismiss is denied.


IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Inmate Moore's Appeal is denied, and the Final Decision of the Department is hereby AFFIRMED.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Inmate Moore's Motion to Dismiss is DENIED.





October 30, 2000

Columbia, South Carolina

1. Whether Inmate Moore is ineligible to earn good-time credits is not clear from the Record; however, for purposes of this appeal, it is not necessary to know why Inmate Moore could not lose good-time credits so long as there is uncontroverted evidence in the Record that Inmate Moore could not indeed lose good-time credits.

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