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KIRK LAWSON v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (03/24/88)

decided: March 24, 1988.

KIRK LAWSON, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS ET AL., RESPONDENTS



Original Jurisdiction in case of Kirk Lawson v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Corrections et al.

COUNSEL

Kirk Lawson, petitioner, for himself.

Theodore G. Otto, III, Chief Counsel, for respondents.

Judges MacPhail and Barry, and Senior Judge Narick, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.

Author: Macphail

[ 114 Pa. Commw. Page 575]

On April 8, 1987, Kirk Lawson (Petitioner) petitioned for our review of a decision of Glen R. Jeffes, Acting Commissioner (Commissioner) of the Department of Corrections (Department) denying Petitioner's grievance concerning his misconduct hearing.*fn1

On approximately December 22, 1986, Petitioner, who had been granted pre-release status, was transferred from a state correctional institution to a community service center in Philadelphia. On December 29, 1986, a urine sample was taken from Petitioner for routine drug screening, and on December 31, 1986, a lab report was obtained indicating a positive result for marijuana. On January 5, 1987, Petitioner was notified that a misconduct charge had been filed against him alleging that he had made unauthorized use of a controlled substance. Following a hearing conducted on January 8, 1987, Petitioner was found guilty of the misconduct charge and his pre-release status was revoked.

In his petition for review, Petitioner argues that his pre-release status was revoked without due process of law in that he was not permitted to confront or cross-examine anyone with respect to the lab report upon which the Department relied to find him guilty of the misconduct charge.

Petitioner subsequently filed a motion for summary relief, and the Department filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. In his answer to the Department's motion to dismiss, Petitioner asserted that the Department's final letter denying his grievance was an adjudication subject to our appellate review because it was a

[ 114 Pa. Commw. Page 576]

    final order of an agency and it affected a "personal right," specifically his interest in pre-release status.*fn2 Petitioner argues in the alternative that if this Court determines that the Department's decision is not a final adjudication of an administrative agency subject to our appellate review, then the petition for review should be construed as being within our original jurisdiction.

We turn now to Petitioner's argument that the Department's final letter denying his grievance constitutes an adjudication subject to our appellate review. In Robson v. Biester, 53 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 587, 420 A.2d 9 (1980), we held that "[a] decision by an intraprison disciplinary tribunal is not a final adjudication by an administrative agency within this Court's appellate jurisdiction." Id. at 591, 420 A.2d at 12.

We further refined our holding in Robson in Al Samad v. Bureau of Corrections, 93 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 146, 500 A.2d 1242 (1985), where an inmate (Williams) advanced an argument similar to that made here by Petitioner. In Al Samad, Williams' grievance that delays in the commencement of his visits caused his visitation periods to be less than one hour was rejected by the Bureau (now Department) of Corrections (Bureau) Commissioner. On appeal to this Court, the Bureau argued that the Commissioner's decision was not an adjudication and was therefore not subject to our appellate review. We agreed but went on to explain that the reason ...


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