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LAMONT RICKETTS v. CENTRAL OFFICE REVIEW COMMITTEE DEPARTMENT CORRECTIONS (05/09/89)

decided: May 9, 1989.

LAMONT RICKETTS, PETITIONER
v.
CENTRAL OFFICE REVIEW COMMITTEE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, RESPONDENT



Original jurisdiction in the case of Lamont Ricketts v. Central Office Review Committee of the Department of Corrections.

COUNSEL

Lamont Ricketts, petitioner, for himself.

David B. Farney, Assistant Counsel, for respondent.

Judges Craig and Palladino, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Barbieri. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Craig.

Author: Barbieri

[ 125 Pa. Commw. Page 671]

Before the Court is the motion of the Department of Corrections (Department) seeking to quash the appeal of Lamont Ricketts (Petitioner) from a decision of a prison misconduct hearing committee confining Petitioner to a prison Restricted Housing Unit (RHU). Because we conclude that a decision by a prison misconduct hearing committee does not constitute a final adjudication by an administrative agency within this Court's appellate jurisdiction, we grant the Department's motion to quash.

In May, 1987, Petitioner, who was incarcerated at SCI-Huntingdon, was charged with bringing contraband (marijuana) into the prison. The Department's Bureau of

[ 125 Pa. Commw. Page 672]

Corrections-Administrative Directive 801 (BC-ADM 801) sets up an intra-prison disciplinary review tribunal and appeals process to administer prison discipline. Punishment for serious misconduct, such as bringing contraband into the prison, may be imposed by transferring an inmate from the general population to the RHU. The RHU is an area or group of cells used for the purposes of inmates assigned to administrative and disciplinary custody and for the temporary housing of inmates awaiting classification or available cell space.

Under BC-ADM 801, a prisoner charged with misconduct first receives a written notice of the charges and then a hearing before a hearing examiner. Decisions of the hearing examiner may be appealed first to a program review committee (PRC) consisting of three Department employees, then to the Superintendent of the prison, and finally to the Central Office of Review Committee (CORC) pursuant to Bureau of Corrections-Administrative Directive 804. CORC is a review panel within the Department's Office of Chief Counsel which conducts the final review of the prison misconduct charge.

Petitioner was originally sentenced to 360 days in the RHU for bringing marijuana into the prison. Petitioner appealed this decision first to the PRC, then to the Superintendent and finally to the CORC. By letter dated August 28, 1987, the CORC vacated the misconduct charge without prejudice. The letter stated, "The misconduct may, at the discretion of the charging officer, be rewritten." The misconduct charge was then rewritten and the parties proceeded anew. Petitioner received a second hearing in August of 1987 before a fresh hearing examiner, and once again was sentenced to 360 days in the RHU. Petitioner once again went through the same appeals process culminating in the CORC. This time the CORC reduced Petitioner's time in the RHU to 270 days, with credit for 120 days already served. Petitioner's visiting

[ 125 Pa. Commw. Page 673]

    privileges were reduced from a suspension of 360 days to 180 days on the grounds that a one year suspension was excessive. Petitioner has now appealed this second decision to this Court asserting that re-writing the misconduct charge and proceeding to a second hearing violates his due process rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth ...


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