South Carolina              
Administrative Law Court
Edgar A. Brown building 1205 Pendleton St., Suite 224 Columbia, SC 29201 Voice: (803) 734-0550

SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

Timothy Wright, #229042 vs. SCDOC

South Carolina Department of Corrections

Timothy Wright, #229042

South Carolina Department of Corrections





This matter comes before the Administrative Law Judge Division (Division) pursuant to the appeal of Timothy Wright, an inmate incarcerated with the Department of Corrections (Department) since June 29, 1995. At McCormick Correctional Institution (McCormick), on December 30, 1999, Wright was convicted of Use or Possession of Narcotics, Marijuana, or Unauthorized Drugs after he refused to submit to a drug test. As a result of his conviction, Wright lost 240 days of good time credit. Wright filed a grievance with the Department on January 13, 2000, and received the Department's final decision on June 8, 2000. On June 15, 2000, Wright filed this appeal.

In his Brief, Wright challenges the written transcript of his disciplinary proceeding as being incomplete, and leaving out important portions of the hearing. In addition, Wright alleges that the hearing officer denied him the opportunity to call a critical witness. In reviewing the transcript of Wright's disciplinary hearing, it is apparent that it is of little use in determining whether Wright was afforded all process due. The hearing tape appeared to be of such poor quality that much of the testimony was completely lost. In addition, it appears that Wright and another inmate, Burton, both appeared before the DHO in the same hearing. As a result, it is seldom clear which inmate is speaking or to whom the DHO is referring.


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). On September 5, 2001, the Division issued an En Banc Order in McNeil v. South Carolina Department of Corrections, 00-ALJ-04-00336-AP (September 5, 2001), interpreting the breadth of its jurisdiction pursuant to Al-Shabazz. The decision holds that the Division's appellate jurisdiction in inmate appeals is limited to two types of cases: (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 the Department has taken an inmate's created liberty interest as punishment in a major disciplinary hearing.

Wright lost 240 days of good time after he was convicted of the prison disciplinary infraction. As such, I find that this tribunal has jurisdiction to hear Wright's appeal.

The statutory right to sentence-related credits is a protected liberty interest under the Fourteenth Amendment. Al-Shabazz, 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. Id. 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, 527 S.E.2d at 751, citing Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 563-72, 94 S. Ct. 2963, 2978-82 (1974).

In this case, there is insufficient evidence upon which this tribunal can rely to find that Wright was afforded due process before the Department sanctioned him with the loss of 240 days of good time. Accordingly, this case is REMANDED to the Department to conduct a contested case hearing pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act, in which the Department shall provide Wright with at least 24 hours' notice of the charges against him; shall afford Wright counsel substitute if necessary; shall afford Wright the opportunity to present witnesses and evidence on his own behalf; and shall prepare a written record of the hearing detailing the charges, the evidence the hearing officer relied upon in making a decision, and the imposed sanction and its justification.


IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the Department must conduct a contested case hearing on the charge of Use or Possession of Narcotics, Marijuana, or Unauthorized Drugs pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act as outlined above so that a reviewable record may be created.





November 8, 2001

Columbia, South Carolina

Brown Bldg.






Copyright © 2022 South Carolina Administrative Law Court