South Carolina              
Administrative Law Court
Edgar A. Brown building 1205 Pendleton St., Suite 224 Columbia, SC 29201 Voice: (803) 734-0550

SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

CAPTION:
Larry Hendricks, #254256 vs. DOC

AGENCY:
South Carolina Department of Corrections

PARTIES:
Appellant:
Larry Hendricks, #254256

Respondent:
South Carolina Department of Corrections
 
DOCKET NUMBER:
04-ALJ-04-00170-AP

APPEARANCES:
n/a
 

ORDERS:

ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS

This matter comes before the Administrative Law Court (“ALC”) pursuant to the appeal of Larry Hendricks, an inmate incarcerated with the Department of Corrections (“Department”). In his appeal, Hendricks alleges that the Department has deprived him of a state-created liberty interest by failing to comply with a departmental policy setting forth a list of reference books to be maintained in the prison library. The Department has filed a Motion to Dismiss Hendricks’s appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

The ALC’s jurisdiction to review final decisions of the Department is derived from the decision of the South Carolina Supreme Court in Al-Shabazz v. State, 338 S.C. 354, 527 S.E.2d 742 (2000), which created a new avenue by which inmates could seek review of final decisions of the Department in non-collateral matters under the Administrative Procedures Act, “ensur[ing] that an inmate receives due process.” Id. at 369, 527 S.E.2d at 750. In Al-Shabazz, the Court recognized that the administrative matters entitled to review by the ALC “typically arise in two ways: (1) when an inmate is disciplined and punishment is imposed and (2) when an inmate believes prison officials have erroneously calculated his sentence, sentence-related credits, or custody status.” Id. Subsequently, in Sullivan v. South Carolina Department of Corrections, 355 S.C. 437, 586 S.E.2d 124 (2003), the Court clarified the ALC’s jurisdiction over inmate cases, holding that for the ALC to have jurisdiction over an inmate’s claim, it must implicate a state-created liberty interest.

Hendricks’s grievance does not arise in any of the typical ways enumerated in Al-Shabazz; it is neither the result of a disciplinary proceeding in which he received a punishment nor a challenge to his sentence calculation, sentence-related credits, or custody status. To determine whether Hendricks’s grievance is entitled to review before the ALC, the ALC must decide whether it in some other way implicates a state-created liberty interest. Sullivan, 355 S.C. 437, 586 S.E.2d at 127.

The lack of a certain number of reference books in the prison library is not a loss of sentence-related credits, which would be protected by minimal due process requirements. See Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 557 (1974); Al-Shabazz, 338 S.C. at 369-70, 527 S.E.2d at 750. Nor does the lack of a certain number of reference books in the prison library result in the kind of “atypical, significant hardship on [Hendricks] in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life” which would implicate a state-created liberty interest pursuant to Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484 (1995). See Sullivan, 355 S.C. 437, 586 S.E.2d at 128 (quoting Sandin). Further, although Hendricks claims that the Department has failed to comply with its own policy regarding the number of reference books to be available in prison libraries, well-established law explains that an agency’s failure to follow its own procedural rules and regulations does not violate an aggrieved party’s constitutional due process rights since no such constitutional right exists. See Bd. of Curators v. Horowitz, 435 U.S. 78, 92 (1978); Hernandez v. Estelle, 788 F.2d 1154, 1158 (5th Cir.1986); Ogburn-Matthews v. Loblolly Partners (Ricefields Subdivision), 332 S.C. 551, 562, 505 S.E.2d 598, 603 (Ct.App. 1998), overruled on other grounds by Brown v. S. C. Dep’t of Health and Envtl. Control, 348 S.C. 507, 560 S.E.2d 410 (2002).

Because the subject of this appeal does not implicate a state-created liberty interest, I find that Hendricks’s grievance is not entitled to review by the ALC.

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Hendricks’s appeal is dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction;

AND IT IS SO ORDERED.

______________________________

C. DUKES SCOTT

ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE

June 23, 2004

Columbia, South Carolina


Brown Bldg.

 

 

 

 

 

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