Jordan Zantiz VS James M. Leblanc, Secretary, Department of Public Safety & Corrections and Robert C. Tanner, Warden, Rayburn Correctional Center

Download as PDF NOT DESIGNATED FOR PUBLICATION STATE OF LOUISIANA COURT OF APPEAL FIRST CIRCUIT 2011 CA 1788 JORDAN D ZANTIZ VERSUS LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND CORRECTIONS On Appeal from the 19th Judicial District Court Parish of East Baton Rouge Louisiana Docket No 599 Section 24 381 Honorable R Michael Caldwell Judge Presiding Jordan D Zantiz Angie LA William L Kline Baton Rouge LA Plaintiff Appellant In Proper Person Attorney for Defendant Appellee Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections BEFORE CARTER C PARRO AND HIGGINBOTHAM JJ J Judgment rendered JUN 2012 1 PARRO J Jordan D Zantiz an inmate in the custody of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections DPSC appeals a screening judgment that dismissed his petition for judicial review and imposed a strike on him For the following reasons we affirm the judgment DISCUSSION On November 9 2010 while incarcerated at Rayburn Correctional Center Zantiz was charged with fighting and failure to cooperate with an investigation The charges were based on an incident report in which a corrections officer stated that while supervising the unit he heard what appeared to be a locker falling on the floor in one of the cells and then heard a locker moving around as he approached that cell When he got to the cell he saw the two occupants standing facing each other and Zantiz s cellmate was bleeding from the mouth The officer reported that both inmates appeared to have been fighting He took photographs of them and of the condition of the cell and attached those to his report Both inmates were restrained without incident and placed in administrative segregation pending a disciplinary hearing During the investigation and the disciplinary hearing Zantiz invoked his rights against self incrimination and refused to answer any questions concerning the incident except to deny any involvement His requests to speak with a substitute counsel to contact a private attorney and to present evidence were denied Based on the officer s testimony and the photographs Zantiz was found guilty of both violations He was sentenced to ten days of isolation and a custody change to extended lockdown for the fighting violation and ten days of isolation and four weeks of room confinement for failing to cooperate with the investigation He appealed the disciplinary action to the Warden in Disciplinary Board Appeal Number RCC 2010405 his first step appeal was denied He then appealed to the Secretary of DPSC who affirmed the guilty finding and 1 A related appeal by way of an administrative remedy proceeding ARP No RCC2010551 which was based on the same incident was also denied 2 the disciplinary action taken The Secretary reasons stated in pertinent part s Upon review we find the disciplinary report to be clear concise and to provide convincing evidence of the violation as charged The offender has not provided any evidence within this appeal to refute the charge The s officer eyewitness account of the incident which included several pictures of the injured offender provides sufficient evidence for the finding of guilt The offender was provided with a full hearing and was afforded due process in both the hearing and the sentencing phases of the proceeding Based on the seriousness of the offense the sanctions given were appropriate Zantiz filed a petition for judicial review with the Nineteenth Judicial District Court pursuant to LSAR 15 claiming that his constitutional rights not to S 1177 incriminate himself and to due process were infringed resulting in disciplinary measures which he believes are excessive The Commissioner who screened his petition pursuant to LSAR 15 and 1188 determined that the complaint did not state a S 1178 cause of action because there was no violation of a substantial right Under LSA R S 9 A 1177 15 the court could not reverse or modify a decision unless substantial rights of the inmate had been prejudiced Because the changes in custody conditions that were imposed on Zantiz did not rise to the level of a violation of substantial rights the court could not entertain the appeal Based on the Commissioner recommendation s and a de novo review of the record the judge signed a judgment on June 17 2011 dismissing Zantiz petition for judicial review with prejudice at his cost for failure to s raise a substantial right violation and failing to state a cognizable claim or cause of action In addition pursuant to LSA R 15 the judgment imposed a strike S 1187 against Zantiz On appeal to this court Zantiz raises the constitutional rights resulting in excessive punishment same issues of violations of We have reviewed the entire record and agree with the judgment of the district court There was no violation of his constitutional rights in the conduct of the disciplinary hearing 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 Wolff v McDonnell 418 U 539 556 S 94 S 2963 2975 41 L 935 1974 Ct 2d Ed 3 In a disciplinary proceeding when no liberty interest is involved due process for an inmate does not require that he be allowed to present evidence cross examine witnesses or have counsel Id at 56670 It is clear from the Warden and the Secretary reports as well as Zantiz own s s s arguments that he refused to answer any questions concerning the incident When given the opportunity to provide his version of the incident he denied involvement but would not explain how his cellmate mouth was injured s If indeed he was not involved in a fight his answers to the questions would not have incriminated him Thus his rights against self incrimination were not violated His refusal to explain the incident precluded a finding in his favor because DPSC had presented the officer s testimony and photographs documenting the incident Since Zantiz refused to answer any questions there was no evidence to counter the officer report Ultimately as the s judge found the disciplinary action imposed did not rise to the level of a violation of a substantial right Therefore the court could not reverse or modify the decision CONCLUSION Based on the foregoing we affirm the judgment of the district court All costs of this appeal are assessed to Zantiz AFFIRMED L