from the Superior Court of the State of Alaska, Third
Judicial District No. 3AN-15-05765 CI, Anchorage, Eric A.
Buchholdt, Buchholdt Law Offices, Anchorage, for Appellant.
K. Bodick, Assistant Attorney General, Anchorage, and Craig
W. Richards, Attorney General, Juneau, for Appellee.
Before: Stowers, Chief Justice, Maassen, and Bolger,
Justices. [Fabe and Winfree, Justices, not participating.]
prison discipline proceeding, a prisoner was found guilty of
possessing contraband. He appealed his punishment to a
discipline committee, which affirmed the decision. Then,
represented by counsel, the prisoner appealed to the superior
court, alleging that the Department of Corrections had
deprived him of due process. The court granted the
State's unopposed motion to dismiss the appeal on the
ground that the prisoner's statement of points on appeal
was deficient. When the prisoner moved for reconsideration
but made no attempt to remedy the deficiency, the superior
court denied the prisoner's motion and awarded the State
prisoner appeals the dismissal and the award of
attorney's fees. Finding no error, we affirm.
FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS
Johnson was a prisoner at the Goose Creek Correctional
Center. In December 2014 he was working at the Point
Mackenzie work farm when a corrections officer found
contraband - synthetic cannabinoids (Spice) - inside a
cabinet to which only Johnson and one other person had
access. Another officer wrote up an incident report detailing
the first officer's discovery.
officer presided over a disciplinary hearing less than two
weeks later. Johnson was found to have violated 22 Alaska
Administrative Code (AAC) 05.400(c)(7) (2016), which
prohibits the "possession, use, or introduction of
contraband . . . which directly threatens the security of
the facility, such as . . . unauthorized drugs." The
decision includes little other information, but it does
describe Johnson's statement: "Found in same spot as
other stuff . . . Did not know it was there . . . Just did
job, did not pay attention to anything else . . . No dirty UA
in 17 yrs of incarceration."
filed an internal appeal, which was denied. The decision on
appeal states simply: "Appeal denied - Concur with
guilty finding and affirm sanctions to run concurrent with
case # 14-1953."
next filed a notice of appeal to the superior court. His
statement of points on appeal read: "The Department of
Corrections violated appellant's fundamental
constitutional rights to due process in the prison
disciplinary process and the violation prejudiced
appellant's right to a fair adjudication." The State
moved to dismiss the appeal, asserting that the points on
appeal were deficient when measured against the requirements
of the Alaska Appellate Rules and AS 33.30.295(a), a statute
specifically addressing lawsuits brought by prisoners. Though
represented by counsel, Johnson did not oppose the
State's motion to dismiss. The superior court granted the
motion, citing the statute and Alaska Appellate Rule 204(e).
a month later Johnson tardily moved for reconsideration,
arguing that the assertion in his points on appeal that his
"fundamental constitutional rights to due process"
had been violated "in the prison disciplinary
process" was sufficiently specific to survive dismissal.
The superior court denied the motion, again citing the
appellate rule and statute and observing that Johnson's
"statement of points on appeal does not allege
'specific facts' that would establish a violation of
his constitutional rights." The court also rejected
Johnson's argument that dismissal of his appeal violated
his constitutional right to access the courts, noting that
Johnson had "the opportunity to seek review of his
disciplinary proceeding" in superior court but simply
"did not avail himself of this opportunity." The
court noted that Johnson "never explained [in his motion
for reconsideration] why he did not oppose" the
State's motion to dismiss and that he thereafter
"made no attempt to comply with AS 33.30.295(a) and
Appellate Rule 204(e)" even after his appeal had been
dismissed on the basis of those provisions.
State had earlier moved for an award of $225 in
attorney's fees for one hour of work. Johnson did not
oppose the motion, and the court granted it the same day it
denied Johnson's motion for reconsideration.
appeals both the superior court's dismissal of his appeal
and its award ...