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In re Robinson

Supreme Court of New York, Third Department

November 2, 2017

In the Matter of PARIS ROBINSON, Petitioner,
v.
WILLIAM LEE, as Superintendent of Eastern N.Y. Correctional Facility, et al., Respondents.

          Calendar Date: September 19, 2017

          Paris Robinson, Napanoch, petitioner pro se.

          Eric T. Schneiderman, Attorney General, Albany (Marcus J. Mastracco of counsel), for respondents.

          Before: McCarthy, J.P., Lynch, Devine, Aarons and Pritzker, JJ.

          MEMORANDUM AND JUDGMENT

         Proceeding pursuant to CPLR article 78 (transferred to this Court by order of the Supreme Court, entered in Ulster County) to review a determination of respondent Superintendent of Eastern N.Y. Correctional Facility finding petitioner guilty of violating certain prison disciplinary rules.

         Petitioner, a prison inmate who worked in the facility's mattress shop, was charged in a misbehavior report with refusing a direct order, participating in a work stoppage and unauthorized assembly. The charges arose after petitioner and a number of other inmates stopped working and stood in line for the inmate bathroom - apparently to protest the shop's newly implemented bathroom pass policy. Following a tier II disciplinary hearing, petitioner was found guilty of participating in a work stoppage and disobeying a direct order and not guilty of unauthorized assembly. Petitioner's administrative appeal was unsuccessful, and this CPLR article 78 proceeding ensued.

         We confirm. The misbehavior report and the testimony of its author provide substantial evidence to support the determination (see Matter of Harris v Goord, 284 A.D.2d 841, 841 [2001]; cf. Matter of Lewis v Goord, 3 A.D.3d 681, 682 [2004]; see generally Matter of Legeros v Annucci, 147 A.D.3d 1175, 1175-1176 [2017]). The author of the misbehavior report identified petitioner as one of the inmates standing in line at the time of the incident and testified that the inmates refused "several orders to disperse." Additionally, petitioner was interviewed by a correction lieutenant following the incident, who testified that petitioner admitted that he stood in line with the other inmates, at least for a short period of time. Petitioner's exculpatory explanations presented a credibility issue for the Hearing Officer to resolve (see Matter of Legeros v Annucci, 147 A.D.3d at 1176; Matter of Perea v Fischer, 107 A.D.3d 1253, 1253 [2013]), and his objections to the shop's bathroom policy - regardless of whether they are valid - do not excuse his failure to comply with institutional rules and orders, which implicates facility safety and security (see Matter of Hudyih v Smith, 129 A.D.3d 1435, 1435-1436 [2015], lv denied 26 N.Y.3d 909');">26 N.Y.3d 909 [2015]).

         Petitioner's procedural claims are equally unavailing. The misbehavior report, which sets forth the particulars of the incident, as well as the time, date and location where it occurred, was sufficiently specific to both provide petitioner with notice of the charges against him and enable him to discern his role in the incident, thereby affording him an opportunity to prepare a meaningful defense (see 7 NYCRR 251-3.1 [c]; Matter of Pagan v Venettozzi, 151 A.D.3d 1508, 1509 [2017]; Matter of Caraway v Annucci, 144 A.D.3d 1296, 1297 [2016], lv denied 29 N.Y.3d 903');">29 N.Y.3d 903 [2017]). To the extent that petitioner's challenge to the timeliness of the hearing is preserved for our review, we find it to be lacking in merit, as the hearing was completed within the time period authorized by and set forth in the valid extensions that were obtained (see Matter of Wigfall v Department of Corr. & Community Supervision, 153 A.D.3d 1464, 1465 [2017]; Matter of Jackson v Annucci, 144 A.D.3d 1285, 1286 [2016], lv denied 29 N.Y.3d 907');">29 N.Y.3d 907 [2017]). "In any event, the regulatory time limits are directory, rather than mandatory, and petitioner has failed to show that he suffered prejudice as a result of the... delay" (Matter of Blocker v Fischer, 100 A.D.3d 1118, 1119 [2012] [citation omitted], lv denied 21 N.Y.3d 857');">21 N.Y.3d 857 [2013]). Further, while there indeed are some inaudible gaps in the hearing transcript, we do not find them to be "so significant as to preclude meaningful review" (Matter of Heyliger v Kirkpatrick, 153 A.D.3d 989, 990 [2017]; see Matter of Grate v Annucci, 152 A.D.3d 1127, 1128 [2017]). Finally, "the record does not disclose that the Hearing Officer was biased or that the determination flowed from any alleged bias" (Matter of Lyons v Annucci, 152 A.D.3d 1099, 1100 [2017]; see Matter of Freeman v Annucci, 151 A.D.3d 1509, 1511 [2017]). Petitioner's remaining arguments, to the extent not specifically addressed, have been examined and found to be lacking in merit.

          McCarthy, J.P., Lynch, Devine, Aarons and Pritzker, JJ., concur.

         ADJUDGED that the determination is confirmed, without costs, ...


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