By Chris Zoukis

On Sept. 22, 2016 the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York upheld the conviction of state prisoner Jason Gano for violating prison rules.

Gano allegedly set off a metal detector in the prison, prompting a pat-down search which revealed razor blades hidden in his coat. Gano was charged with possessing a weapon, possessing an altered item and smuggling. After a “tier III” disciplinary hearing, Gano was found guilty of the offense.

Pursuant to New York Civil Practice Law and Rules article 78, Gano appealed the ruling to the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division. He sued Donald Venettozzi, Acting Director of Special Housing and Inmate Disciplinary Programs, alleging that he did not know that the razors were in the hem of his jacket, and so another inmate must have planted them there. The court ruled that this was a credibility question best resolved by the Hearing Officer, who did not believe Gano.

Gano also claimed that “the incident would not have happened if prison staff had better secured the razors and searched the facility upon discovering that they were missing.” The court found no merit in this assertion.

Finally, the court dismissed Gano’s claim that he was improperly denied the right to call witnesses, as the record reflected that none of the witnesses agreed to testify and had instead signed witness refusal forms indicating plausible reasons for not testifying.

This article recently appeared in Prison Legal News in November 2016.

About Christopher Zoukis, MBA

Christopher Zoukis, MBA, is the Managing Director of the Zoukis Consulting Group, a federal prison consultancy that assists attorneys, federal criminal defendants, and federal prisoners with prison preparation, in-prison matters, and reentry. His books include Directory of Federal Prisons (Middle Street Publishing, 2020), Federal Prison Handbook (Middle Street Publishing, 2017), Prison Education Guide (PLN Publishing, 2016), and College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in American Prisons (McFarland & Company, 2014).