The Third Department annulled one misbehavior determination and expunged another because petitioner was denied his right to call witnesses:
… [The Hearing Officer improperly denied petitioner’s request to call as a witness one of the correction officers who was present during the search of petitioner’s cell and endorsed the second misbehavior report (see 7 NYCRR 254.5). Given the passage of time, respondent does not seek a rehearing and requests that the determination in relation to the second misbehavior report be annulled.
… [T]he determination in relation to the first misbehavior report must also be annulled on the ground that petitioner was improperly denied his right to call a witness. The record reflects that petitioner, who denied the assault and claimed he was being set up, requested to call as a witness the alleged victim of the assault. Although there was a discussion at the hearing that the alleged victim would have to agree to testify, there is no indication that the alleged victim refused to testify or that the Hearing Officer made any effort to procure him as a witness. “[W]here the record does not reflect any reason for the witness’ refusal to testify, or that any inquiry was made of him [or her] as to why he [or she] refused or that the [H]earing [O]fficer communicated with the witness to verify his [or her] refusal to testify, there has been a denial of the [incarcerated individual’s] right to call witnesses as provided in the regulations” (… see 7 NYCRR 254.5). As we view the unexplained outright denial of a witness commensurate to the denial of petitioner’s constitutional right to call witnesses, expungement rather than remittal for a new hearing is the appropriate remedy … . Matter of Diaz v Annucci, 2023 NY Slip Op 06187, Third Dept 11-30-23
Practice Point: In prison misbehavior proceedings the erroneous or unexplained denial of an inmate’s right to call witnesses is reversible error.