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SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

William Heyward, Sr., #215441 vs. SCDOC

South Carolina Department of Corrections

William Heyward, Sr., #215441

South Carolina Department of Corrections



Grievance No. Ker-0584-00


This matter is before the Administrative Law Judge Division ("Division") pursuant to the Notice of Appeal filed on November 16, 2000 by William Heyward, Sr. ("Appellant"), an inmate incarcerated since May 30, 1994 with the South Carolina Department of Corrections ("Department") for two counts of first degree burglary and two counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct

The instant matter concerns a conviction of Appellant on June 22, 2000 by the Department for a violation of South Carolina Disciplinary Code 2.10, "Fighting without a Weapon." The violation resulted from an incident involving Appellant and inmate Leslie Grant (#199353) at 2:45 p.m. on June 13, 2000. After finding Appellant guilty, Captain Murray, the Disciplinary Hearing Officer ("DHO"), reprimanded Appellant by taking away 60 days of good-time credit and imposing 15 days of canteen restriction. Appellant appealed the decision of the DHO within the Department. The final agency decision of the Department was issued on October 2, 2000, which decision upheld the decision of the DHO.

Subsequent to the filing of the appeal with the Division, the Department filed the Record on Appeal together with its brief on February 2, 2001. Appellant filed a reply brief on March 5, 2001.


On June 13, 2000 Appellant was assigned to the A-wing in Hickory at the Kershaw Correctional Institution. The Incident Report (SCDC form 19-29) reflects that at approximately 2:45 p.m. on that date, Sgt. Hickmon observed Appellant fighting with inmate Leslie Grant in the recreation yard. Sgt. Hickmon observed Appellant wrap the cord of a hair clipper around his hand and run towards inmate Grant after inmate Grant had cursed Appellant. Sgt. Hickmon told both Appellant and inmate Grant to stop and, when Appellant refused to obey his command, Sgt. Hickmon approached both inmates. He sprayed Appellant with several bursts of gas, again ordered both inmates to stop fighting and then sprayed both with the gas. Sgt. Lee then came to the assistance of Sgt. Hickmon. Both inmates were escorted to medical where they were examined by the medical staff at the Kershaw Correctional Institution. Subsequently they were placed on Prehearing Detention ("PHD") in their cells since no cells were available in the Special Management Unit ("SMU"). Appellant was on PHD from June 14, 2000 through June 20, 2000.

The Incident Report was prepared by Sgt. Hickmon. The on-duty major classified the violation as "major" on June 14, 2000.

The violation charge was given to Appellant at 12:57 p.m. on June 16, 2000 by Lt. DuBose. Appellant requested that his accuser not be present at the hearing; however, he requested that a Counsel Substitute ("CS") assist him.

The hearing was conducted by Disciplinary Hearing Officer ("DHO"), Captain Robert Murray, beginning at 12:35 p.m. on June 22, 2000. The hearing was held more than 24 hours after the notice of the date and time of the hearing was given to Appellant. Appellant was charged with a violation of "2.10" or "Fighting without a Weapon." See Transcript, p. 1. Appellant was represented at the hearing by Counsel Substitute ("C/S"), Mr. Armstrong. Appellant offered testimony at the hearing and admitted that he was involved in a physical alteration with inmate Leslie Grant.

Notwithstanding, Appellant argued at the hearing that the charge should be dismissed because the Department failed to provide to him a copy of the disciplinary offense report which notified him that he was being placed on PHD. The DHO informed Appellant that form 19-66 was no longer used by the Department; it had been replaced by form 19-67.

The DHO did make inquiry during the hearing of any time Appellant had served on PHD. After reviewing the evidence, the DHO found Appellant guilty of the violation. However, in reprimanding Appellant, the DHO acknowledged Appellant's honesty and gave only 60 days of good time loss and 15 days of canteen restriction.


Inmate Disciplinary System.

The Director of the South Carolina Department of Corrections is responsible by statute for promoting the order and maintaining the security and safety of the Department and its institutions. OP-22.14, as amended from time to time, sets forth the policies and procedures mandated by the Director for the punishment of inmates for violations of various rules.


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 of the U. S. Constitution. Al-Shabazz, 338 S.C. at 369-370, 527 S.E.2d at 750. That amendment provides that no state shall "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." An inmate facing the loss of sentence-related credits, which can shorten his sentence and time of incarceration, is entitled to minimal due process to ensure that this state-created right is not arbitrarily abrogated. Id.

Due Process Requirements.

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). However, 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. The record reflects that Appellant was afforded all process due him pursuant to Al-Shabazz. Inmate Heyward received written notice of the charge more than twenty-four hours prior to his hearing. Appellant was provided a hearing. The hearing was held before an impartial hearing officer who presented the Incident Report. Also, Appellant was provided with the services of counsel substitute, and was afforded the opportunity, with his counsel substitute, to offer evidence and to confront witnesses. After his conviction, Appellant filed a grievance and received a prompt response from his warden, which Appellant then appealed through the grievance process. In its denial of his appeal, the Department informed Appellant that he had the right to appeal the Department's final decision pursuant to the provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act. Clearly, in this case the Department provided to Appellant 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 the factual findings of the Department in its final decision are clearly erroneous in view of the reliable, probative, and substantial evidence on the whole record. Brown v. Ryder Truck Rental, 300 S.C. 530, 389 S.E.2d 161 (Ct. App. 1990); Adams v. Texfi Industries, ___ S.C. ___, 535 S.E.2d 124 (2000). This body may reverse the decision if it is affected by an error of law. S.C. Code Ann. § 1-23-380 (B) (Supp. 2001). See also Smith v. Union Bleacher/ Cone Mills, 276 S.C. 454, 280 S.E.2d 52 (1981) (court may reverse or modify agency's decision if "substantial rights of the appellant have been prejudiced because the administrative findings, inferences, conclusions or decisions are... affected by other error of law").

"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., Inc., 276 S.C. 130, 276 S.E.2d 304 (1981); Miller v. State Roofing Co., 312 S.C. 452, 441 S.E.2d 323 (1994). The substantial evidence test "need not and must not be either judicial fact-finding or a substitution of judicial judgment for agency judgment." Id. at 307.

The evidence is overwhelming that Appellant was involved in an altercation with inmate Leslie Grant. In fact, Appellant admitted such at the hearing. Thus, the DHO was correct in finding that Appellant was guilty of the violation.

Although the Department failed to provide a copy of the PHD confinement to Appellant, the court finds that there was substantial compliance with OP-22.14 and with the agency rules. There is substantial evidence to support the guilty conviction and further, this court finds that the sentence imposed by the DHO was proportionate to the violation. Thus, the conviction is affirmed.


After a review of the entire file and all applicable law, it is hereby:

ORDERED that the final agency decision by the Department is affirmed.




Chief Administrative Law Judge

August 30, 2002

Columbia, South Carolina

Brown Bldg.






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