South Carolina              
Administrative Law Court
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SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

Russell Hall, #263231 vs. DOC

South Carolina Department of Corrections

Russell Hall, #263231

South Carolina Department of Corrections




This matter is before the Administrative Law Court (“ALC”) pursuant to the appeal of Russell Hall (“Appellant”), an inmate incarcerated with the Department of Corrections (“Department” or “Respondent”). In his appeal, Appellant challenges his November 7, 2003 conviction of violating DOC Rule 2.4, Possession of Contraband. As a result of his conviction, Appellant received a reprimand and lost 30 days of good-time credit. Footnote

On April 26, 2004, the Department filed the Record on Appeal in this matter along with a Motion to Dismiss. In its Motion, the Department alleged that the Appellant failed to perfect his appeal by virtue of his failure to serve a copy of the Notice of Appeal on the Department within 30 days of his receipt of the final decision. On May 6, 2004, Appellant filed a Response to the Department’s Motion, along with a supporting Affidavit, attesting that Appellant served a copy of the Notice of Appeal on the Department on February 27, 2004, by depositing a copy of it in the mail. Appellant simultaneously filed his Appellant’s Brief in this matter. On the basis of Appellant’s Response and supporting Affidavit, this tribunal issued an Order Denying the Motion to Dismiss on May 13, 2004.

Pursuant to ALC Rule 60(A), the Department was required to file a brief in response to the Appellant’s Brief in this matter within eighty-five (85) days after the date of assignment. The date of assignment of this case was March 10, 2004. To date, although more than eighty-five (85) days have elapsed, the ALC has not received the Respondent’s Brief; nor has the ALC received any communication from the Respondent requesting an extension of time to file its Brief in this case. ALC Rule 62, entitled “Dismissal of Appeal,” provides in pertinent part:

Upon motion of any party, or on its own motion, an Administrative Law Judge may dismiss an appeal for failure to comply with any of the rules of procedure for appeals, including the failure to comply with any of the time limits provided by this section (V) . . . .

A hyper-literal reading of this rule calls for a dismissal of the appellant’s appeal even when the appellant is in compliance so long as the respondent is not in compliance. Such a meaning cannot be employed since the literal reading creates an absurd result in that a lawful party (an inmate in compliance) will be penalized for the misdeeds of the non-complying party (Department’s failure to file its Respondent’s Brief). See Focus on Beaufort v. Beaufort County 318 S.C.227, 456 S.E.2d 910 (1995) (“Courts will reject a meaning when to accept it would lead to a result so plainly absurd that it could not possibly have been intended by the legislature or would defeat the plain legislative intent.”). Accordingly, a proper reading of ALC Rule 62 is that the Administrative Law Judge may dismiss the position of the non-complying respondent as opposed to dismissing the position established in the appellant’s appeal.

In this case, not only did the Department fail to file its Respondent’s Brief, the Department failed to include in the Record on Appeal filed April 26, 2004 a copy of the transcript of the hearing on the charge or a copy of the relevant policies and procedures the Appellant alleges were violated. Thus, the Record on Appeal is incomplete, making it virtually impossible for this tribunal to conduct a proper review and reach a decision on the merits regarding this appeal even had the Department filed a Respondent’s Brief. Because it is imperative that all parties to appeals abide by the time frames set forth in the Administrative Law Court’s Rules and Orders, Footnote I am constrained to find the Department is in default and that the relief requested by the Appellant must be granted.

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the action of the Department in the instant case is reversed; the Department shall overturn Appellant’s November 7, 2003, conviction of violating DOC Rule 2.4, Possession of Contraband, and restore the 30 days of good-time credit that he lost as a result of the conviction.





June 9, 2004

Columbia, South Carolina

Brown Bldg.






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