Supreme Court Seal
South Carolina
JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT
Site Map | Feedback
2010-UP-093 - Douglas Gilbert v. SC Dept of Corrections

THIS OPINION HAS NO PRECEDENTIAL VALUE. IT SHOULD NOT BE CITED OR RELIED ON AS PRECEDENT IN ANY PROCEEDING EXCEPT AS PROVIDED BY RULE 268(d)(2), SCACR.

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Court of Appeals

Douglas Gilbert, #300160, Respondent,

v.

South Carolina Department of Corrections, Appellant.


Appeal From Richland County
Paige J. Gossett, Administrative Law Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2010-UP-093
Submitted February 1, 2010 – Filed February 3, 2010   


AFFIRMED


Robert Wesley Jacobs, of Columbia, for Appellant.

Douglas Gilbert, pro se, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM:  The South Carolina Department of Corrections (the Department) appeals the Administrative Law Court's (ALC) reversal of Gilbert's disciplinary conviction. The Department contends the ALC erred because substantial evidence establishes Gilbert intentionally destroyed prison property.  We affirm.[1]          

FACTS

The Department charged Gilbert with violating an internal prison policy for damaging or destroying prison property after an exit sign above a library door fell to the ground.  At the disciplinary hearing, Gilbert testified he went to the prison library to return two books, but the prison officer in the library did not allow him to enter.  Gilbert explained the prison officer wanted him to place the books inside the library box.  Gilbert denied banging or kicking the library door, but admitted he saw the sign above the library door fall to the ground as he was speaking with the prison officer. 

Prison Officer Patricia Cooks testified she heard Gilbert yelling outside of the library door, requesting to come in.  Cooks stated Gilbert started to kick and bang on the library door "so hard that the exit sign above the door fell off and landed on the floor."  Cooks explained Gilbert was the only inmate outside the library door at the time of the incidentCooks testified she radioed another prison officer, Officer Chris Hicks, after the sign fell because she "wanted him to witness the sign on the floor and [she] didn't want Gilbert to hurt [her] or anything."  Officer Hicks testified when he arrived, the sign was already on the floor and Gilbert was the only inmate outside of the library door, but he did not observe Gilbert kicking the door. 

The Department convicted Gilbert of damaging or destroying prison property, and Gilbert appealed the decision to the ALC, contending the conviction should be overturned because the prison officer was lying about what he saw on the surveillance video.  The ALC reversed Gilbert's conviction: 

Considering the testimony and report, there was insufficient evidence to allow the Department reasonably to reach the conclusion that Gilbert is guilty of [damaging or destroying prison property] when there was no evidence of Gilbert's intent to destroy or damage the exit sign.  Moreover, [the Department] did not make any specific findings of Gilbert's intent.  See Al Shabazz, 338 S.C. at 372, 527 S.E.2d at 752 ("When an inmate is found guilty, the officer must prepare a written report containing, among other things, the evidence presented and considered, the reasons for a determination of guilt . . . . ").  Nor did the Department provide any evidence that it determined that Gilbert had intended to bang on a library door in order to make the exit sign fall and become damaged.  See Am. Jur. Torts § 18 ("A willful act is one done intentionally, or on purpose, and not accidentally.  An injury is willful where the act that produced it was intended to have that effect.").  In short, the Department failed to establish with sufficient evidence that Gilbert intentionally damaged or destroyed the exit sign.

This appeal followed.

LAW/ANALYSIS

The ALC did not err in reversing Gilbert's conviction for damaging or destroying prison property.  Under the ALC's definition of intent as "one done intentionally, or on purpose, and not accidentally  . . . where the act that produced it was intended to have that effect," substantial evidence supports the ALC's ruling.  While Cook's testimony at the disciplinary hearing establishes Gilbert intentionally attempted to damage the door when Cook forbade him from entering the library, it does not demonstrate Gilbert intentionally destroyed the exit sign above the door when he when he banged and kicked the library door.  Additionally, Hicks's testimony only establishes Gilbert's presence in front of the library door after the exit sign fell, but not whether Gilbert actually directed his actions towards damaging the sign.  Accordingly, the ALC correctly reversed Gilbert's conviction because insufficient evidence existed showing Gilbert intended to destroy the exit sign.  See S.C. Code Ann. § 1-23-610(B) (Supp. 2009); S.C. Dep't of Corrs. v. Mitchell, 377 S.C. 256, 659 S.E.2d 233 (Ct. App. 2008) (stating this court may reverse or modify the ALC's ruling only if the substantive rights of the appellant have been prejudiced because the decision is clearly erroneous in light of the reliable and substantial evidence on the whole record, arbitrary, characterized by an abuse of discretion, or affected by other error of law).           

AFFIRMED.

HUFF, THOMAS, and KONDUROS. JJ., concur.


[1]  We decide this case without oral argument pursuant to Rule 215, SCACR.