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Administrative Law Court
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SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

Alphonso Mack, #273575 vs. DOC

South Carolina Department of Corrections

Alphonso Mack, #273575

South Carolina Department of Corrections




This matter comes before the Administrative Law Judge Division (“ALJD”) pursuant to the appeal of Alphonso Mack, an inmate incarcerated with the Department of Corrections (“Department”). On March 27, 2003, Mack filed a Step 1 Grievance complaining that the Department was wrongfully requiring him to serve 85% of his sentence. In his response, the warden informed Mack that he is classified as a violent offender because his “dominant”conviction is Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor. Mack then filed a Step 2 Grievance. In its final agency decision of April 29, 2003, Deputy Director Ken McKellar informed Mack that his concerns had been addressed appropriately. Mack then field this appeal.

On August 21, 2003, the Department filed a motion to dismiss, stating that it has withdrawn its final agency decision of April 29, 2003 and has issued a different final agency decision responsive to Mack’s concerns, rendering the appeal by Mack in this Docket moot.

The ALJD’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). This tribunal sits in an appellate capacity to review decisions from the Department. S.C. Code Ann. § 1-23-380(A)(5) (Supp. 2000); Al-Shabazz v. State, 338 S.C. at 377, 527 S.E.2d at 754.

The standard an administrative body must satisfy in issuing its decision is now well established. “An administrative body must make findings which are sufficiently detailed to enable this [tribunal] to determine whether the findings are supported by the evidence and whether the law has been applied properly to those findings.” Porter v. S.C. Public Serv. Comm’n, 333 S.C. 12, 21, 507 S.E.2d 328, 332 (1998). This tribunal will not accept an administrative agency’s decision at face value without requiring the agency to explain its reasoning. Id.

Under this standard, an administrative decision is unacceptable if it states the outcome without adequately and correctly explaining the reasoning that leads to the outcome. Ruggero J. Aldisert, The Judicial Process 626-57 (1976). In this case, the administrative decision before this tribunal, that is, the April 29, 2003 final decision of the Department, is, according to the Department’s motion, based on “an error of reasoning.” A review of the April 29, 2003 final decision reveals that the Department failed to set forth how it applied the law to the facts in order to reach the conclusion that it did. Therefore, the Department’s final decision fails to meet the standard set forth herein and is not reviewable by this tribunal.

The Department has attempted to correct its “error of reasoning” by withdrawing the April 29, 2003 final agency decision and issuing a new final agency decision on August 21, 2003. However, I find the attempt to withdraw the final agency decision of April 29, 2003 and to issue a new final decision on August 21, 2003 to be void because the April 29, 2003 final agency decision and the grievance of Mack were out of the jurisdiction of the Department and within the jurisdiction of this tribunal by virtue of Mack’s timely appeal of the Department’s final decision to the ALJD. Once a notice of appeal is filed, the appellate tribunal has exclusive jurisdiction over the appeal. Bunkum v. Manor Props., 321 S.C. 95, 467 S.E.2d 758 (Ct. App. 1996). Accordingly, this tribunal finds that jurisdiction in this case was vested in the ALJD at the time of the August 21, 2003 final agency decision and the withdrawing of the April 29, 2003 decision and is appellate in nature. S.C. Code Ann. § 1-23-380(A)(5) (Supp. 2002); Al-Shabazz v. State, 338 S.C. at 377, 527 S.E.2d at 754. I find the action of the Department void as it did not have jurisdiction over the grievance since it had been appealed to this tribunal.

Therefore, I find that the Department’s Motion to Dismiss must be denied. Further, since the final agency decision before this tribunal fails to meet the standard set forth herein, I find that this matter should be remanded to the Department thereby restoring jurisdiction in the Department to issue a final decision which complies with the standard set forth herein.

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that this matter is remanded to the Department of Corrections for the issuance of a final agency decision containing detailed findings of fact and conclusions of law in conformance with the principles set forth herein on or before September 8, 2003.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that this Docket is closed, and that if Appellant is not satisfied with the Department’s final agency decision made pursuant to this Order, a new appeal must be filed.





August 25, 2003

Columbia, South Carolina

Brown Bldg.






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