State Supreme Court denies inmate’s attempt to revive complaint

DOVER — An inmate’s quest to revive a complaint against Delaware Department of Correction staff members regarding a disciplinary hearing was denied by the Delaware Supreme Court on Monday.

While John Miller maintained Superior Court erred on material fact and law interpretations when considering his claims, the court reasoned that he had been given due process in the matter and upheld the lower court’s dismissal of the action.

Mr. Miller disputed a disciplinary hearing at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna in May 2013, saying it violated his rights; the action was summarily dismissed in Superior Court.

The disciplinary hearing stemmed from an accusation that Mr. Miller engaged in a monetary agreement with another inmate to look out for him, which violated multiple DOC rules. According to the court in papers, such an agreement violated rules including “extortion, blackmail, or protection” and “bartering.”

Mr. Miller pleaded not guilty to the accusations against him, and acknowledged that a hearing would be held, the court said in documents. After a guilty finding, a sanction of the loss of 365 days of good time served resulted.

On Nov. 18, 2015, Superior Court Miller’s denied a motion for reargument, papers said.

When issuing its order, the court detailed its belief that Miller had been provided certain minimal procedures, the case against him was not arbitrary, ”and that the ultimate decision is supported by ‘some evidence in the record. ‘ “

Earlier, Mr. Miller had received a $6,540 default judgment against another inmate who eventually wrote him a $3,200 settlement check, according to court documents.

Since he was in prison, Mr. Miller couldn’t take the check with him; the check was subsequently mailed to the prison warden. Upon receiving the check, the DOC then began to investigate the details of the judgment, the Court said.

After receiving a transcript of the judgment hearing on April 17, 2013, the DOC then filed incident and disciplinary reports citing the inmates’ actions, the court said.

The appeal was submitted to the Supreme Court on March 4.

Justice Karen Valihura wrote the opinion for the matter, also reviewed by Justice Randy Holland and Justice James T. Vaughn Jr.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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