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Welton v. State, Department of Corrections

Supreme Court of Alaska

January 3, 2014

Suzette WELTON, Appellant,
v.
STATE of Alaska, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Appellee.

Suzette Welton, pro se, Eagle River, Appellant.

Matthias Cicotte, Assistant Attorney General, and Michael C. Geraghty, Attorney General, Juneau, for Appellee.

Before: FABE, Chief Justice, WINFREE, STOWERS, MAASSEN, and BOLGER, Justices.

OPINION

BOLGER, Justice.

I. INTRODUCTION

A Hiland Mountain Correctional Center (Hiland) inmate, Doctor Suzette Welton, has filed three appeals to this court arguing that the dismissal of her administrative appeals

Page 1197

for lack of subject matter jurisdiction was error. In all three cases, Welton appealed to the superior court from decisions in Department of Corrections (DOC) grievance proceedings. In order to qualify for the administrative appeal procedure, Welton had to show that (1) she was alleging a violation of her constitutional rights, and that (2) the proceeding was adjudicative in nature and (3) produced a record capable of appellate review.[1] We agree with the superior courts that the underlying DOC grievance proceedings are not adjudicative proceedings, and they do not produce a record that is capable of appellate review.

II. FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

A. Case 14827

Welton legally changed her name in December 2008 from " Suzette Mishell Welton" to " Doctor Suzette Mishell Welton" and subsequently " requested that the DOC change[ ] all her documentation and communication to reflect the addition of Doctor." In November 2011, Welton filed a Prisoner Grievance regarding the name correction issue, to which it appears she received no response. She next filed a grievance appeal, which was denied. Welton appealed to the superior court in December 2011, which dismissed her case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on the grounds that the DOC grievance procedure was not sufficiently adjudicatory and the record produced by that procedure was not susceptible to review in an administrative appeal.

B. Case 14924

Welton filed a Prisoner Grievance in September 2011, because she was not allowed to use a CD-ROM on DOC computers for purposes of a correspondence course. When the grievance was unsuccessful, Welton filed a grievance appeal. In February 2012, Hiland denied the appeal. Welton appealed to the superior court in March 2012. The superior court dismissed Welton's case for lack of ...


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