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Acting pro se, a New Jersey prison inmate successfully challenged imposition of discipline on the ground that corrections officials violated due process by giving him inadequate notice of the charges against him. Appellate Division Judges Arthur Lesemann, John Wallace and Mary Cuff agreed, saying that the inadequate notice curtailed his “right to a fair hearing far beyond any restriction required by his prison environment and obviated one of the most basic aspects of any system of due process and fair treatment: a clear statement of the offense with which the accused is charged.” Daley v. Department of Corrections, A-0636-98T5. Andrew Daley, incarcerated at East Jersey State Prison in Rahway, was charged with planning an assault on a corrections officer and told that the charge was based on words overheard by a confidential informant. However, the informant had overheard the words in question being uttered by another inmate also charged with planning the assault. The different words attributed to Daley by the informant were far more ambiguous, and Daley was not told that these words were the basis of the disciplinary action. Not only did the agency fail to provide Daley with a clear statement of the charge, the court said, but the “broad allegation in conclusory language” provided “misled and misinformed [him] and may well have made it impossible for him to defend the charge against him.” Daley had a great deal at stake in the appeal. He faced 15 days’ detention, 365 days’ administrative segregation and 365 days of lost commutation time. Deputy Attorney General Diane Marotti, who heads the corrections and state police section of the Division of Criminal Justice, says no decision has been made whether to appeal the holding, which she describes as “fact-sensitive.”

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