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2011-UP-029 - Govan v. SCDC

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

Randy Govan, Appellant,

v.

South Carolina Department of Corrections, Respondent.


Appeal from the Administrative Law Court
 John D. McLeod, Administrative Law Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2011-UP-029  
Submitted January 1, 2011 – Filed January 26, 2011


AFFIRMED


Randy Govan, pro se, for Appellant.

Christopher D. Florian, of Columbia, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM: Randy Govan appeals the Administrative Law Court's (ALC) order dismissing his inmate grievance appeal.  Govan argues the ALC erred in determining (1) he was afforded minimal due process in his prison disciplinary action and (2) the Department of Corrections's (the Department) decision was supported by substantial evidence.  We affirm.[1]

1.  We hold the ALC correctly dismissed Govan's appeal regarding his denial of due process claim.  First, minimal due process in the prison disciplinary context does not require the Department to provide a written statement explaining why the hearing officer did not find specific evidence credible.  See Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 564 (1974) (requiring only a "'written statement by the factfinders as to the evidence relied on and reasons' for the disciplinary action" (citation omitted)).  The record of Govan's hearing, in which the hearing officer acknowledges the evidence presented by Govan, serves as an adequate written statement. 

Second, Govan's allegation that the hearing officer was biased lacks merit.  An adjudicator in an administrative proceeding is entitled to a "presumption of honesty and integrity."  Withrow v. Larkin, 421 U.S. 35, 47 (1975).  Furthermore, the Fourth Circuit has held "actual bias or a high probability of bias must be present before due process concerns are raised."  Marshall v. Cuomo, 192 F.3d 473, 484 (4th Cir. 1999).  Here, the hearing officer was one of many defendants in a federal civil rights action, and Govan fails to explain what his claim was and specifically why the hearing officer's alleged bias would violate the minimal due process required in the prison disciplinary context.  Minimal due process tolerates these facts in light of the Department's institutional needs.

2.  We hold the ALC properly found substantial evidence existed for the hearing officer to find Govan guilty of threatening a prison officer.  The only fact disputed at the hearing was what Govan said to the prison officer, and the hearing officer relied on the prison officer's account.  See S.C. Code Ann. § 1-23-610(B)(e) (Supp. 2009) (requiring the reviewing court to affirm if the finding is "clearly erroneous in view of the reliable, probative, and substantial evidence on the whole record"); Al-Shabazz v. State, 338 S.C. 354, 380, 527 S.E.2d 742, 756 (2000) ("Substantial evidence is relevant evidence that, considering the record as a whole, a reasonable mind would accept to support an administrative agency's action.").

AFFIRMED.

FEW, C.J., SHORT and WILLIAMS, JJ., concur.


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