Assigned on Briefs January 4, 2017
from the Chancery Court for Hickman County No. 16-CV-5701
Joseph Woodruff, Judge
an inmate in the custody of the Tennessee Department of
Correction, appeals the trial court's dismissal of his
petition for a writ of certiorari. Inmate alleges that the
Disciplinary Board violated several policies in finding him
guilty of the charge of drug possession. The trial court
granted the writ of certiorari and, upon review of the
record, granted TDOC's motion to dismiss. Inmate appeals.
Discerning no error, we affirm.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery
Court Affirmed and Remanded
Burgess, Only, Tennessee, Pro Se.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter, and
Charlotte Montiel Davis, Assistant Attorney General, for the
appellees, Turney Center Disciplinary Board, Darrell Murphy,
Tennessee Department of Correction, and Commissioner,
Tennessee Department of Correction.
B. Goldin, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which
Frank G. Clement, Jr., P.J., M.S, and John W. McClarty, J.,
B. GOLDIN, JUDGE
Carter Burgess is an inmate in the custody of the Tennessee
Department of Correction ("TDOC"). On November 4,
2015, Mr. Burgess went before the Turney Center Disciplinary
Board (the "Board, " and together with TDOC,
Hearing Officer Darrell Murphy, and the Commissioner of TDOC,
"Appellees"). Mr. Burgess was charged with one
count of drug possession. The charge stemmed from an incident
that occurred on November 2, 2015, when Corporal Nicky
Herndon was conducting a "fence check." According
to the disciplinary report, Corporal Herndon observed Mr.
Burgess "hand inmate Christopher Gregory something and
inmate Christopher Gregory tucked the item into his
pants." Following his observation, Corporal Herndon
radioed another guard, and the two performed a search of Mr.
Gregory's person. The search revealed "four (4)
Suboxone strips inside the zipper part of [Mr.
Gregory's] pants." All of the inmates involved were
charged with drug possession.
November 4, 2015 hearing before the Board, Mr. Burgess
testified that he handed Mr. Gregory two loose razor blades
wrapped in a piece of white paper. Mr. Gregory provided a
written statement that the Suboxone strips were not given to
him by Mr. Burgess. Levi Burnam, another inmate, corroborated
Mr. Burgess's statement that he had given Mr. Gregory
razor blades. Corporal Herndon testified that he saw Mr.
Burgess hand Mr. Gregory something in a clear cellophane
packet. After witnessing this exchange, Corporal Herndon
called Officer Chris Hammond, who assisted Corporal Herndon
in performing a search. The search revealed the Suboxone
strips. Corporal Herndon stated that he "didn't let
Burgess out of [his] sight until C/O Hammond got there."
Officer Hammond testified that he followed Mr. Gregory after
the drug exchange, and no one else gave Mr. Gregory anything
prior to the search. Both TDOC employees denied finding any
razor blades in Mr. Gregory's possession. After weighing
the evidence, the Board found Mr. Burgess guilty of drug
possession. Mr. Burgess filed an appeal of the Board's
decision to the Warden and the Commissioner, both of whom
denied the appeal and affirmed the Board's finding of
February 10, 2016, Mr. Burgess filed a petition for common
law writ of certiorari in the Chancery Court of Hickman
County ("trial court"). In his petition, Mr.
Burgess asserted that the Board acted illegally or
arbitrarily in three instances: (1) the Board did not satisfy
TDOC Policy 502.05(VI)(A)(19); (2) the Board violated TDOC
Policy 502.01(VI)(L)(4)(c)(6) concerning witnesses; and (3)
the Board did not satisfy the preponderance of the evidence
standard in violation of TDOC Policy 502.01(VI)(L)(4)(k)(1).
On April 4, 2016, Appellees filed a notice of no opposition
to the grant of the petition for writ of certiorari, and the
trial court granted Mr. Burgess's petition by order of
April 11, 2016. By order of August 15, 2016, the trial court
dismissed Mr. Burgess's petition on its finding that the
Board had not acted arbitrarily or illegally and had not
violated TDOC policy in its proceedings. Mr. Burgess filed a
timely notice of appeal to this Court.
sole issue for review is whether the trial court properly
dismissed Mr. Burgess's petition ...