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SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

Calvin Hankins, #241248 vs. SCDOC

South Carolina Department of Corrections

Calvin Hankins, #241248

South Carolina Department of Corrections



ORDER (On appeal from Contested Case Order)
Grievance No. ACI-0490-00


This matter is before the Administrative Law Judge Division ("Division") pursuant to the Notice of Appeal filed on September 29, 2000 by Calvin Hankins ("Appellant"), an inmate incarcerated with the South Carolina Department of Corrections ("Department") since September 7, 1994. On May 17, 2000 Appellant was convicted of Striking an Inmate with/without a Weapon, SCDC Disciplinary Code 1.05, after an incident involving another inmate on May 11, 2000. As a result of his conviction, the Designated Hearing Officer ("DHO") reprimanded Appellant by taking away 180 days of good-time credit and by imposing restitution for any possible medical costs incurred as a result of the incident. Appellant appealed the decision of the DHO through the Department's grievance procedure. The final agency decision of the Department, which upheld the decision of the DHO, was issued on September 2, 2000.

After the appeal was filed with the Division, the Department filed the Record on Appeal together with its Brief on November 2, 2000. Appellant filed a Brief on November 8, 2000. Further, on December 18, 2001 Appellant filed a Motion for Default Judgment based upon ALJD Rule 23 and Rules 54 and 55 SCRCP, alleging that the Department had not filed a reply brief to Appellant's brief within twenty (20) days as required by ALJDTR 63 (now ALJD Rule 60). This Motion is hereby denied.


On the evening of May 11, 2000 at the Allendale Correctional Institution, Officer L. Laurel ("Officer Laurel") escorted Appellant and inmate Eddie Fields (" inmate Fields") downstairs to get their hair cut. At approximately 7:35 p.m. on that same date, while Officer Laurel was escorting Appellant and inmate Fields back upstairs to their cells, Appellant began swinging his right fist at inmate Fields and hit him in the facial area with his right hand. Officer Stephen Reed ("Officer Reed") came to the assistance of Officer Laurel and applied a short burst of chemical munition to the face of Appellant. Both inmates were thereafter taken to their cells.

Nurse James, LPN, ("nurse") was called to the location. Appellant refused to allow the nurse to examine him. He did not want to incur any medical costs because he did not want to have to pay for such. The nurse did approach the cell window of inmate Fields and talked with him. Inmate Fields told her that he did not need to be examined and that he was okay.

After the incident, Officer Laurel prepared an Incident Report. The incident report notes that Captain Deloache, the supervisor, charged Appellant with a violation of "1.5," noting that "it was not determined how inmate Hankins came out of his Restraints." Further, it was written in the Incident Report that the nurse saw both inmates and there were "no visible or noted injuries" to either.

A Supplemental Report was prepared by Officer Reed on May 11, 2000 in which he stated he had noticed "that inmate Hankins was punching inmate Fields in the facial area with his right hand." This supplemental report was reviewed by the supervisor, Captain DeLoach.

The violation charge was given to Appellant at 2:30 a.m. on May 13, 2000. Appellant requested that his accuser be present at the hearing. Also, Appellant requested that "Ofc Reid, Cpl. Smoke, Nurse James, Cpt. Deloach, and Prisoner Deer, aka Lamont Jarret" be present at the hearing.

The hearing was conducted by Disciplinary Hearing Officer Captain Albritton, at 5:35 a.m. on May 17, 2000. Appellant was charged with a violation of "1.05 Striking an Inmate With a Weapon." See Transcript, p. 1. Appellant was represented at the hearing by Counsel Substitute ("C/S"), Ms. Thomas. Appellant offered testimony at the hearing, as did Officer Laurel, Officer Smoke, inmate Deer, inmate Lamont Jarrett, and Captain Deloach.

Appellant argued at the hearing that the charge should be dismissed because he never used a handcuff and that inmate Fields did not suffer any injury. See Transcript, p. 9. Appellant argued that the violation charge was incorrect (striking with a weapon).

Officer Laurel testified that Appellant hit inmate Fields in the facial area with his fist only and that no weapon or handcuff was involved in the incident. See Transcript, pp. 4, 5 and 6. The DHO refused to entertain Appellant's argument, stating that it is "a technical because the citation in and of itself is 1.05 Striking an Inmate With or Without a Weapon." See Transcript p. 7. Appellant testified at the hearing that he did not strike inmate Fields with a handcuff. However, he never responded to questions whether he hit inmate Fields solely with his fist. See Transcript, pp. 4-7.

Officer Smoke testified that Appellant refused to let the nurse examine him because he "wasn't going to pay $50 bucks just for the nurse to look at him." See Transcript, p. 10. He testified that the nurse did look at inmate Fields who told her that "he didn't need to be examined. He said he was ok. She did go to the window and talk to him." See Transcript, p. 10.

Inmate Deer, who was in his cell at the time of the incident, testified that he saw "two inmates swinging" and that he "saw officers separating them." See Transcript, p. 13.



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.

Sentence-related Credits

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.

Due Process Requirements

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. Dep't 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 (1974).

Standard of Review

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. 2000); 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.

Issues Raised by Appellant

Appellant contends that he was denied due process and that there was insufficient evidence upon which to support his conviction. With respect to the first issue, the record reflects that Appellant was afforded all process due him pursuant to Al-Shabazz. Appellant received written notice of the charge in excess of twenty-four hours prior to his hearing. He further requested various witnesses to be present at the hearing, and those witnesses were present and offered testimony. The hearing was held before an impartial hearing officer and Appellant was afforded the opportunity, through his counsel substitute, to offer evidence. After his conviction, Appellant filed a grievance and received a prompt response from his warden, which Appellant then appealed through the Department's grievance process. In its denial of his appeal, the Department informed Appellant that he had the right to appeal the Department's final decision under the Administrative Procedures Act. Clearly, with respect to Appellant's conviction, the Department provided all due process contemplated by both the United States Supreme Court in Wolff and the South Carolina Supreme Court in Al-Shabazz.

The question which this court must determine, after a thorough examination of the Record, is whether there is substantial evidence to support the Appellant's conviction of "Striking an Inmate With/Without a Weapon." SCDC Policy/Procedure No. OP-22.14, Appendix A, subsection 3(a)(5) defines "Striking an Inmate With/Without a Weapon" as "[t]he willful causing of bodily injury to another inmate with or without a weapon." (Emphasis added). Here, the evidence is overwhelming that Appellant struck the person of inmate Fields. However, the record is totally lacking in any evidence to show that the striking of inmate Fields by Appellant caused any bodily injury to inmate Fields. When inmate Fields was visited by the nurse, he told her that he was okay and that he did not need to be examined or treated. Further, the nurse observed no injury nor did she see the need for inmate Fields to be treated for any injury either in his cell or at the infirmary. Appellant did strike the person of inmate Fields but he did not cause any bodily injury to inmate Fields. Both elements must be proved to establish a conviction of SCDC 1.05, "Striking an Inmate with/ Without a Weapon." Therefore, the conviction by the Department must be reversed in that there is no showing of substantial evidence sufficient to support the conviction.


Accordingly, it is hereby

ORDERED that the final agency decision by the Department is reversed; and it is further

ORDERED that the Department shall immediately restore the lost good time credits to Appellant and reflect in Appellant's disciplinary record that the conviction was reversed and the charge was found meritless;




Chief Administrative Law Judge

July 1, 2002

Columbia, South Carolina

Brown Bldg.






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