The Third Department annulled the determination because no effort was made to determine why petitioner's cellmate refused to testify at the hearing:
Petitioner contends, among other things, that he was improperly denied the right to have his cellmate, who allegedly overheard the correction officer threaten him, testify at the hearing. Petitioner requested the cellmate as a witness at the hearing. A correction officer approached the cellmate about testifying, but he apparently refused and would neither sign a refusal form nor state the reason for his refusal. It does not appear that the Hearing Officer communicated directly with the cellmate, but rather related this information to petitioner based upon the contents of the refusal form. Notably, the correction officer who completed the refusal form did not testify at the hearing.
This Court has acknowledged that “[a] deprivation of the inmate's right to present witnesses will be found when there has been no inquiry at all into the reason for the witness's refusal, without regard to whether the inmate previously agreed to testify” … . No such inquiry was made by the Hearing Officer here, and respondent has essentially conceded this much. Thus, while respondent maintains that this is a regulatory violation for which remittal is appropriate, we find that the circumstances presented give rise to a constitutional violation for which expungement is the proper remedy … . Matter of Tevault v Prack, 2016 NY Slip Op 01533, 3rd Dept 3-3-16
DISCIPLINARY HEARINGS (INMATES) (NO EFFORT MADE TO DETERMINED WHY PETITIONER'S WITNESS WOULD NOT TESTIFY, DETERMINATION ANNULLED)