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Sylvia v. Maine Department of Corrections

Superior Court of Maine, Kennebec

December 20, 2017

MANNY SYLVIA, Petitioner
v.
MAINE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Respondent.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          William R. Stokes, Justice Maine Superior Court

          INTRODUCTION

         The matter before the Court is an appeal by Manny Sylvia, an inmate at the Maine State Prison, from a disciplinary proceeding that resulted in the imposition of sanctions against him for the offense of "trafficking, " a Class A violation. This appeal has been brought in accordance with 5 M.R.S. §§11001-11008 (Administrative Procedure Act) and M.R. Civ. P. 8OC.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         As set out in the Disciplinary Hearing Report dated March 21, 2017 and authored by Lt. Lidia Burnham, the facts are as follows:[1]

          Between January 12 and February 2, fellow inmate Felix Gracia had multiple phone conversations with his sister, Carmen, regarding a transaction with "Ramon's nephew" where Carmen was to buy "50 chickens for $600" from Ramon's nephew. Lt. Burnham parenthetically interprets "50 chickens for $600" to mean 50 strips of Suboxone for $600. Fellow inmate Jose Ramon Quinones was also in phone contact with his nephew during this time, discussing a package and a woman in Connecticut, who Lt. Burnham parenthetically notes as Carmen.

         At one point, Gracia spoke with Carmen and told her to call the "guy" and tell him to remove the tinfoil. According to Lt. Burhnam's report, Suboxone comes in individual packages with tinfoil on the inside.

         The package arrived to Carmen on January 26, and the same day, Gracia called Jose Santiago and discussed arrangements to pick "it" up. Gracia also asked Carmen to open the packages and count "them." She said she only received 45, and Gracia was upset because he paid $600 for 50. She told Gracia on February 2 that when the "guy, " parenthetically noted as Santiago, showed up at her house, she gave him 50.

         On February 4, Petitioner spoke with Santiago and asked if "he still has it" or if it "is gone already." Santiago said that he still had them.

         On February 6, Gracia called Santiago, who told him that Petitioner was concerned about "the other guy." In response, Gracia said that "Sylvia is just sleeping and expecting everything to get to him without paying attention."[2] Santiago said he would speak with Petitioner. On February 8, Gracia spoke with Santiago, who gave him a new phone number just for him and Petitioner.

         No Suboxone had arrived at the prison by the time Lt. Burnham's report was submitted on March 21.

         On March 21, Lt. Burnham's report was approved and forwarded for investigation. (C.R. 4). An investigation was opened on March 22, 2017. (C.R. 4). Petitioner was read the report and charged with a trafficking violation. (C.R. 3, 4). Petitioner did not make a statement in regards to the opening of the investigation. (C.R. 4). On March 27, Petitioner received notice of the hearing scheduled for March 30 and indicated that he did not wish to call witnesses at the hearing. (C.R.1).

         Petitioner's appeal to MDOC states that he requested telephonic, forensic, and physical evidence but the hearing officer (Capt. Abbott) failed to acknowledge the request. (C.R. 10). Respondent claims that no forensic or physical evidence exists. (Resp.'s Br. 8). Since the request was not acknowledged, no reason was given for the denial of the phone records.

         In the Summary of Hearing, the space under the heading "name of any witnesses and summary of testimony and any exhibits ...


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