December 9, 2016 | Supreme Court Reviews

Vermont Supreme Court Upholds Inmate’s Disciplinary Conviction

In Barron v. Menard, 2016 VT 123 (Dec. 9 2016), the Supreme Court affirmed the superior court’s summary judgment upholding an inmate’s prison disciplinary conviction for threatening another person. 

Issue: Petitioner, an inmate, was being taken to the prison kitchen with a group of inmates.  A correctional officer appeared, and petitioner said to kitchen supervisor, “you have to make sure [the correctional officer] is never around me.  I will beat him up,” with an aggressive look on his face and clenched fists.  In a Department of Corrections hearing, petitioner was found guilty of violating a DOC rule against making verbal threats when able to carry out the threat.

Holding: The Supreme Court upheld the superior court’s summary dismissal of petitioner’s appeal.  It applied a “some evidence”standard, inquiring if the was any evidence in the record that could support the conclusion by the disciplinary board.  The Court held the DOC did not have to present evidence regarding the physical context of the threat, e.g., the distance between the men.  The kitchen supervisor’s statement that he looked like he would assault the CO at any moment was “some evidence”—and enough.