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2010-UP-411 - Moragne v. SC Department 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

Antonio Moragne, Appellant,

v.

South Carolina Department of Corrections, Respondent.


Appeal From the Administrative Law Court
 Marvin F. Kittrell, Administrative Law Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2010-UP-411
Submitted September 1, 2010 – Filed September 20, 2010   


AFFIRMED


Antonio Moragne, pro se, for Appellant. 

Christopher D. Florian, of Columbia, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM:  After a hearing, the South Carolina Department of Corrections (the Department) entered a disciplinary conviction against Antonio Moragne for violating Rule 806 of the Department's disciplinary code by blackmailing other inmates.  The Administrative Law Court (ALC) affirmed.  Moragne appeals, arguing (1) he was denied minimal and substantive due process by refusing to permit him to call witnesses in his behalf; (2) he was denied minimal due process by suppressing exculpatory evidence; (3) he was denied minimal due process by not being given adequate assistance in preparing his defense before and during the hearing; (4) the ALC erred in allowing a state prison guard to vouch for the veracity of the inmate accuser's hearsay statement; and (5) the ALC erred in excluding Moragne from a critical segment of his hearing, thereby denying him the right to confront and question his accuser.  We affirm[1] pursuant to Rule 220(b)(1), SCACR, and the following authorities: 

1.  As to our standard of review for these issues:  S.C. Code Ann. § 1-23-610(B) (Supp. 2009) (confining review of a decision by the ALC to the record and permitting this court to reverse or modify the ALC's ruling if the appellant suffers prejudice to his substantive rights because the ALC's decision violates constitutional or statutory provisions, exceeds the statutory authority of the agency, is made upon unlawful procedure, suffers from another error of law, is clearly erroneous in view of the whole record, or is arbitrary or capricious or displays an abuse of discretion); Slezak v. S.C. Dep't of Corr., 361 S.C. 327, 331, 605 S.E.2d 506, 507 (2004) (recognizing the ALC has subject matter jurisdiction to review inmate grievances that have received a final decision by the Department); Kearse v. State Health & Human Servs. Fin. Comm'n, 318 S.C. 198, 200, 456 S.E.2d 892, 893 (1995) ("The findings of the agency are presumed correct and will be set aside only if unsupported by substantial evidence."); Lark v. Bi-Lo, Inc., 276 S.C. 130, 135, 276 S.E.2d 304, 306 (1981) (finding "substantial evidence" not to be "a mere scintilla of evidence nor the evidence viewed blindly from one side of the case, but . . . evidence which, considering the record as a whole, would allow reasonable minds to reach the conclusion that the administrative agency reached or must have reached in order to justify its action"); Corbin v. Kohler Co., 351 S.C. 613, 618, 571 S.E.2d 92, 95 (Ct. App. 2002) ("'[T]he possibility of drawing two inconsistent conclusions from the evidence does not prevent an administrative agency's findings from being supported by substantial evidence.'" (quoting Muir v. C.R. Bard, Inc., 336 S.C. 266, 282, 519 S.E.2d 583, 591 (Ct. App. 1999))). 

2.  As to the denial of minimal substantive due process by refusing to permit Moragne to call witnesses in his behalf:  Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 556 (1974) (holding due process invoked by a disciplinary charge endangering an inmate's sentence-related or "good time" credits is restricted due to incarceration but must accommodate both the inmate's Constitutional rights and the needs and objectives of the penal institution); Al-Shabazz v. State, 338 S.C. 354, 371-73, 527 S.E.2d 742, 751-52 (2000) (finding the Department's procedures for conducting major disciplinary hearings, in which an inmate's liberty interest is at stake, comport with the due process requirements articulated in Wolff; recognizing an inmate's right to present a defense at a disciplinary hearing, including documentary evidence and witness testimony; but observing Department procedures require that disciplinary hearing officer (DHO) preside over disciplinary hearing and record and justify his rulings); State v. Blick, 325 S.C. 636, 642, 481 S.E.2d 452, 455 (Ct. App. 1997) ("The purpose of a prison disciplinary proceeding is to maintain institutional order rather than to prosecute criminal conduct."). 

3.  As to the denial of Moragne's right to confront and question his accuser:  Wolff, 418 U.S. at 556 ("Prison disciplinary proceedings are not part of a criminal prosecution, and the full panoply of rights due a defendant in such proceedings does not apply."); Al-Shabazz, 338 S.C. at 371-73, 527 S.E.2d at 751-52 (finding the Department's procedure that permits the DHO to exclude the inmate from portions of the disciplinary hearing for security reasons is constitutional and complies with Wolff). 

4.  As to the suppression of exculpatory evidence, the adequate assistance of counsel, and the state prison guard's vouching for the confidential informant:  State v. Powers, 331 S.C. 37, 43, 501 S.E.2d 116, 118 (1998) (finding constitutional arguments are no exception to the rules of preservation, and if not raised at the trial level are deemed waived on appeal); Young v. S.C. Dep't of Health & Envtl. Control, 383 S.C. 452, 458, 680 S.E.2d 784, 787 (Ct. App. 2009) ("A court has a limited scope of review of the final decisions of administrative agencies and cannot ordinarily consider issues that were not raised to and ruled on by the agency from which an appeal is taken."). 

AFFIRMED. 

WILLIAMS, PIEPER, and KONDUROS, JJ., concur.


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