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Quinones v. Maine Department of Corrections

Superior Court of Maine, Kennebec

December 20, 2017

JOSE QUINONES, Petitioner
v.
MAINE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Respondent.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          William R. Stokes, Justice

          INTRODUCTION

         The matter before the Court is an appeal by Jose Quinones, 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. 80C.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

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

          On January 12, fellow inmate Felix Gracia gave his sister, Carmen, a phone number for "Ramon's nephew" and told her to give him $600 and that "they are 50."

         Between January 12 and January 16, Petitioner (whose full name is Jose Ramon Natal Quinones) called his nephew to tell him that a woman from Connecticut, who Lt. Burnham parenthetically states is Carmen, was going to give him $600 and that her brother, parenthetically noted as Gracia, was going to buy "50 chickens for $600". Lt. Burnham parenthetically interprets "50 chickens for $600" to mean 50 strips of Suboxone for $600.

         Four days later, on January 16, 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.

         On January 18, Petitioner called Carmen, who said his nephew had not called. He gave her his nephew's phone number and told her to text him. On Friday January 20, Petitioner called his nephew, who said that the package would arrive Tuesday or Wednesday.

         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.

         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. An investigation was opened on March 22. (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 did not indicate whether he wished to call witnesses at the hearing. (C.R. 1).

         Petitioner requested access to phone recordings, forensic and physical evidence, and all investigative reports. (C.R. 7). Respondent claims that no forensic or physical evidence exists. (Resp.'s Br. 10, n.3). Petitioner was denied access to the S.I.I. (Security and Interior Invecgations) reports because they are confidential. He was also told that he was not allowed to access the phone recordings "for security reasons." (C.R. 9).

         In the Summary of Hearing, the space under the heading "name of any witnesses and summary of testimony and any exhibits presented" is blank. (C.R. 9). This would appear to indicate that no evidence was presented at the hearing. Based on the findings of the Hearing Officer (Capt. Abbott), however, it is ...


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