OF JUDGMENT: 07/29/2016
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, HON. CAROL L. WHITE-RICHARD.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: ANTHONY L. SCHMIDT JR.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: ROY STAFFORD (PRO SE)
GRIFFIS, P.J., BARNES AND FAIR, JJ.
The Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) appeals the
judgment of the circuit court, which found that the MDOC
violated an inmate's due-process rights when it failed to
give timely notice of a disciplinary hearing. Upon review, we
find the MDOC's actions were not arbitrary or capricious
and did not violate the inmate's constitutional or
statutory due-process rights. We therefore reverse and
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Roy Stafford is an inmate in the custody of the MDOC. In
1988, Stafford was convicted of murder and aggravated assault
and sentenced to life and ten years, respectively. He is
currently housed at Parchman.
On September 23, 2015, rule violation report (RVR) No.
01293491 was issued against Stafford. The RVR alleged that
Stafford made a threatening statement to another
inmate.On September 28, 2015, Stafford received
notice that a disciplinary hearing would be held September
29, 2015. However, due to "case overload, "
Stafford's disciplinary hearing was not held until
November 21, 2015. No further notice of the hearing was
provided to Stafford.
At the disciplinary hearing, Stafford admitted the allegation
and rule violation and was found guilty by the hearing
officer. Stafford received a thirty-day loss of visitation,
phone, and canteen privileges.
Stafford appealed the hearing officer's decision through
the MDOC's administrative- remedy program. Stafford
claimed a violation of due process as a result of the
MDOC's failure to provide him at least twenty-four
hours' notice of the November disciplinary hearing. The
MDOC found Stafford received proper notice and denied his
Stafford subsequently filed a petition for judicial review in
the Circuit Court of Sunflower County pursuant to Mississippi
Code Annotated section 47-5-807 (Rev. 2015). In his petition,
Stafford claimed the MDOC violated its disciplinary
procedures by failing to provide him timely notice of the
hearing, and thereby denied him due process. Stafford asked
the circuit court to: (1) order the MDOC to expunge the RVR
from his record, (2) issue a declaratory judgment finding
certain MDOC officials individually liable because they acted
outside of their job descriptions, (3) order the MDOC to pay
all filing fees and court costs, and (4) order the MDOC not
to retaliate against him.
By order entered July 29, 2016, the circuit court found
Stafford's requests for a declaratory judgment and
payment of court costs and fees were meritless and noted that
prison officials by law cannot retaliate ...