This case stems from a prison disciplinary action resulting from a riot at the New Lisbon Correctional Institute (NLCI) on Nov. 11, 2004.
Some background: Darnell Jackson was found guilty of inciting the riot, which resulted in injuries to several correctional staff members.
According to written statements provided by two confidential informants, the informants saw Jackson huddle with three inmates in a hallway at the NLCI. One of the informants stated that Jackson told the other three inmates that they knew what needed to be done. Jackson was allegedly a high-ranking member of the Vice Lords gang and was instructing other gang members to assault security officers in retaliation for a beating that those officers had inflicted on another gang member.
Shortly after Jackson was seen huddling with the other inmates, those inmates were seen attacking four security officers near their desk in the relevant unit of the prison. Jackson was not alleged to have participated directly in the riot as he went back into the prison barber shop where he was giving someone a haircut. Prison officials lodged a conduct report against Jackson, charging him with inciting a riot, contrary to Wis. Admin. Code § DOC 303.18, and group resistance and petitions, contrary to Wis. Admin. Code § DOC 303.20. Jackson contended that he never met with or directed the individuals who participated in the riot.
Among the evidence that was provided to the disciplinary committee were statements by various inmates, statements given by the two confidential informants, a conduct report by a Department of Corrections (DOC) officer assigned to gang activity, and other incident reports. Although the disciplinary committee's decision initially indicated that it had also reviewed and relied on videotape evidence, the reference to videotapes was subsequently removed after Jackson appealed.
On certiorari review in the circuit court, Jackson argued that prison officials should have produced a surveillance videotape of the area where he had allegedly met with the other inmates prior to the riot. The circuit court rejected as moot Jackson's arguments concerning the suppression of the videotape because the record then reflected that the disciplinary committee had not considered any videotape. The circuit court also rejected Jackson's claim that a lieutenant involved in the investigation should have been barred from serving on the disciplinary committee.
The Court of Appeals determined that there was no attempt by Jackson to argue the lieutenant’s involvement in the investigation had been substantial and that Jackson had not proven that he was legally entitled to obtain videotape evidence from prison officials.
The Supreme Court has been asked to review several issues:
Did the inclusion on a prison disciplinary committee of a prison official who briefly interviewed Jackson regarding the riot violate Jackson's right to a fair and impartial decision maker?
Did Jackson exhaust his administrative remedies regarding the production of a surveillance videotape, and may the Supreme Court review the issue even if he failed to exhaust his administrative remedies?
Does the obligation of governmental authorities to produce exculpatory information under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), apply to prison disciplinary proceedings? If so, what should be the process to determine if the information is exculpatory and what should be the remedy for failure to produce it?
Was there sufficient evidence to support Jackson's violation of a prison regulation?
From Dane County.
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