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SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

Billy Teague #125775 vs. SCDOC

South Carolina Department of Corrections

Billy Teague #125775

South Carolina Department of Corrections





This matter comes before the Administrative Law Judge Division (ALJD or Division) pursuant to the decision of the South Carolina Supreme Court in Al-Shabazz v. State, 338 S.C. 354, 527 S.E.2d 742 (2000). Appellant Billy Teague appeals the decision of the South Carolina Department of Corrections (DOC or Department) to revoke 180 days of his "good-time" credit as punishment for the possession of marijuana in violation of DOC Disciplinary Code § 1.10. Having reviewed the record, applicable law, and the briefs filed by the parties in this matter, I conclude that the decision of the Department must be affirmed.


On December 15, 2001, Lieutenant Edward Mobley and Lieutenant David Parks conducted a strip search of Appellant inside of his assigned room. During the search, the officers found 87 sacks of a green, leafy substance later determined to be 7.7 grams of marijuana on Appellant's person. As a result of this incident, Appellant was charged with violating DOC Disciplinary Code § 1.10, Use or Possession of Narcotics, Marijuana or Unauthorized Drugs, Including Prescription Drugs.

A hearing of this charge was held before a DOC Disciplinary Hearing Officer (DHO) on December 27, 2001. At the hearing, Appellant pleaded guilty to the charge, stating "I know I done wrong and [I'm] trying to accept whatever punishment." (Hr'g Tr. at 3.) As a result of the officers' incident report and Appellant's guilty plea, the DHO found Appellant guilty of the charge against him and revoked 180 days of his good-time credit as punishment for the offense. Appellant appealed his disciplinary conviction to the Department and then to this tribunal. On appeal, Appellant argues that his disciplinary conviction violates his due process rights and his protection against double jeopardy because his conviction for possessing marijuana and a previous conviction for using marijuana arose out of the same stash of marijuana.


In Al-Shabazz, the South Carolina Supreme Court held that inmates may seek review of final decisions of the Department in certain "non-collateral" or administrative matters (i.e., those matters in which an inmate does not challenge the validity of a conviction or sentence) by appealing those decisions to the ALJD pursuant to the South Carolina Administrative Procedures Act (APA). Al-Shabazz, 338 S.C. at 376, 527 S.E.2d at 754. In McNeil v. South Carolina Department of Corrections, a majority of the judges of the ALJD, sitting en banc, held that this tribunal's jurisdiction to hear inmate appeals under Al-Shabazz is limited to: (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. McNeil v. S.C. Dep't of Corrections, No. 00-ALJ-04-00336-AP, slip op. at 4-5 (S.C. Admin. Law Judge. Div. Sept. 5, 2001) (en banc). In the case at hand, Appellant contends that the Department improperly revoked 180 days of his good-time credit as punishment in a major disciplinary hearing; accordingly, this tribunal has jurisdiction over this matter.

When reviewing the Department's decisions in inmate grievance matters, the ALJD sits in an appellate capacity. Al-Shabazz, 338 S.C. at 377, 527 S.E.2d at 754. Consequently, this tribunal's review of inmate appeals is confined to the record presented, id., and its inquiry into these matters is primarily concerned with ensuring that the Department has granted aggrieved inmates the process they are due when their constitutional rights are implicated. Id. at 369, 527 S.E.2d at 750; McNeil, No. 00-ALJ-04-00336-AP, at 5 ("[O]ur review is limited solely to the determination of whether the Department granted 'minimal due process' in reaching [its] decisions . . . ."). Further, recognizing that prison officials are in the best position to decide inmate disciplinary matters, this tribunal will adhere to the traditional "hands off" approach to internal prison disciplinary policies and procedures when reviewing inmate appeals under the APA. Al-Shabazz, 338 S.C. at 382, 527 S.E.2d 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). However, notwithstanding this deferential standard of review, this tribunal must conduct meaningful review of the Department's actions to ensure that inmate grievances are addressed in a fair, reasonable, and efficient manner. Al-Shabazz, 338 S.C. at 383, 527 S.E.2d at 757.

In the present case, Appellant contends that the Department's decision to revoke his good-time credit was made in violation of his due process rights. However, an inmate may waive his right to due process by knowingly and voluntarily pleading guilty to a disciplinary charge. See Tiemens v. United States, 724 F.2d 928, 929 (11th Cir. 1984) ("It has thus been held that a guilty plea waives all non-jurisdictional defects occurring prior to the time of the plea, including violations of the defendant's right[] to . . . due process."); see also Tollett v. Henderson, 411 U.S. 258, 267 (1973) (holding that, once a defendant has pleaded guilty to a charge, "he may not thereafter raise independent claims relating to the deprivation of constitutional rights that occurred prior to the entry of the guilty plea"); Pittman v. State, 337 S.C. 597, 599, 524 S.E.2d 623, 624 (1999) (noting that "[e]ntering a guilty plea results in a waiver of several constitutional rights"). Here, Appellant knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently pleaded guilty to the charge brought against him, and thus waived his right to raise due process and double jeopardy challenges to his disciplinary conviction. Moreover, it is clear that, in the disciplinary proceedings underlying the instant appeal, Appellant was afforded all the process due him pursuant to Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539 (1974), and Al-Shabazz.

Appellant has, by his guilty plea, waived his due process and double jeopardy objections to his disciplinary conviction, and, in any event, the Department provided Appellant with the due process required by the Fourteenth Amendment before revoking his sentence-related credits as punishment in a disciplinary proceeding.

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the Department's denial of Appellant's grievance is AFFIRMED.



Administrative Law Judge

November 21, 2002

Columbia, South Carolina

Brown Bldg.






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