Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Mears

Supreme Court of New York, Third Department

May 18, 2017

In the Matter of STEVEN MEARS, Petitioner,
v.
DONALD VENETTOZZI, as Acting Director of Special Housing and Inmate Disciplinary Programs, Respondent.

          Calendar Date: April 4, 2017

          Steven Mears, Malone, petitioner pro se.

          Eric T. Schneiderman, Attorney General, Albany (Peter H. Schiff of counsel), for respondent.

          Before: Peters, P.J., McCarthy, Egan Jr., Mulvey and Aarons, JJ.

          MEMORANDUM AND JUDGMENT

         Proceeding pursuant to CPLR article 78 (transferred to this Court by order of the Supreme Court, entered in Albany County) to review a determination of the Commissioner of Corrections and Community Supervision which found petitioner guilty of violating certain prison disciplinary rules.

         During an investigation of an altercation that took place in a facility bathroom, the sergeant investigating the incident learned from a confidential source, who had witnessed the incident, that petitioner had punched another inmate. Upon being questioned, petitioner informed the sergeant that he had no involvement in the incident. Thereafter, petitioner was charged in a misbehavior report with fighting, violent conduct and providing false or misleading information or a statement.

         Following a tier III disciplinary hearing, petitioner was found guilty of the charges. That determination was affirmed on administrative review, with a reduced penalty. Petitioner then commenced this CPLR article 78 proceeding challenging the determination.

         Initially, respondent concedes and we agree that substantial evidence does not support that part of the determination finding petitioner guilty of fighting (cf. Matter of Parker v Fischer, 106 A.D.3d 1305, 1305 [2013]; Matter of Ross v Prack, 95 A.D.3d 1579, 1580 [2012]). Accordingly, we annul that part of the determination. Inasmuch as the penalty imposed included a loss of good time, the matter must be remitted for a redetermination of the penalty (see Matter of Girard v Annucci, 141 A.D.3d 1065, 1066 [2016], appeal dismissed, lv denied 29 N.Y.3d 929');">29 N.Y.3d 929 [2017]; Matter of Tafari v Annucci, 137 A.D.3d 1356, 1357 [2016]). With regard to the remaining charges, however, the misbehavior report and the hearing testimony, together with the confidential testimony submitted for in camera review, provide substantial evidence supporting petitioner's guilt (see Matter of Acosta v Fischer, 98 A.D.3d 1170, 1171 [2012]; Matter of Partee v Bezio, 67 A.D.3d 1224, 1224 [2009], lv denied 14 N.Y.3d 702');">14 N.Y.3d 702 [2010]). Contrary to petitioner's contention, it was not necessary for the author of the misbehavior report to actually witness the altercation, as it was sufficient that he "ascertained the facts of the incident" through his investigation and discussions with confidential sources who had witnessed the incident (7 NYCRR 251-3.1 [b]; see Matter of Cornelius v Fischer, 98 A.D.3d 779, 780 [2012]; Matter of Haynes v Andrews, 283 A.D.2d 746, 747 [2001]).

         Turning to the balance of petitioner's claims, we are not persuaded by petitioner's contention that he was denied the right to call two inmate witnesses. There is no indication in the record that either inmate had previously agreed to testify, and each of these inmates signed witness refusal forms, one indicating that he did not want to be involved and the other stating that he did not see anything and did not know anything about the incident (see Matter of Allah v Venettozzi, 147 A.D.3d 1133, 1133 [2017]; Matter of Gaston v Annucci, 147 A.D.3d 1131, 1132 [2017]). There is also no indication that the hearing transcript was intentionally altered or contains significant missing or inaudible portions that preclude meaningful review (see Matter of Smith v Venettozzi, 142 A.D.3d 1201, 1202 [2016]; Matter of Allen v Venettozzi, 139 A.D.3d 1208, 1208-1209 [2016], lv denied 28 N.Y.3d 903 [2016]). Nor is there any basis in the record upon which to conclude that the Hearing Officer was biased or that the determination flowed from any alleged bias (see Matter of Wilson v Annucci, 138 A.D.3d 1335, 1335 [2016]; Matter of Giano v Prack, 138 A.D.3d 1285, 1286 [2016], lv denied 27 N.Y.3d 912');">27 N.Y.3d 912 [2016]). Petitioner's remaining contentions, to the extent that they are properly before us, have been considered and are lacking in merit.

          Peters, P.J., McCarthy, Egan Jr., Mulvey and Aarons, JJ., concur.

         ADJUDGED that the determination is modified, without costs, by annulling so much thereof as found petitioner guilty of fighting and imposed a penalty; petition granted to that extent, the Commissioner of Corrections and Community Supervision is directed to expunge all references to this charge from petitioner's institutional record and matter remitted to the Commissioner for an ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.