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Washington Appeals Court Affirms Right to Witnesses in Pee Shy Disciplinary Case

Washington Appeals Court Affirms Right to Witnesses in Pee Shy
Disciplinary Case

The Washington Court of Appeals held that a prisoner has the right
to call witnesses at a prison disciplinary hearing to over the presumption
that he refused to give a urine sample for drug testing. Steve W. Tafoya,
a prisoner at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, filed a
personal restraining petition challenging disciplinary infractions in 1991
and 1995 for refusing to submit a urinalysis when ordered to do so by an
authorized staff member." Tafoya, proceeding pro se, argued he did not
refuse to give the requested sample because he is physically incapable of
doing so in public because he suffers from psychogenic urinary retention,
otherwise called bladder shyness.

The Court dismissed the issues related to the 1991 infraction because they
were subject to a previously denied petition, so the court lacked
jurisdiction to hear those claims. The 1995 infraction was properly
before the court. Tafoya requested that Dr. Kuzma with his medical
records and another prisoner testify at the disciplinary hearing. Kuzma
would have stated Tafoya was on medication and had a medical condition
that prevented him from urinating, and the other prisoner would have
stated that Tafoya informed guards of this condition at the time of the
alleged refusal.

Prison officials argued the reason Tafoya's witnesses were refused here
is the simple fact that Petitioner admitted his failure to provide a urine
sample and this admitted the violation. The witnesses could not excuse
that fact." The Court said this argument means Tafoya has no right to put
on a defense to the charge and the mandatory presumption of refusal cannot
be overcome by evidence. The Court held this argument is contrary to case
law and Department procedure, which provides that if a prisoner cannot
provide a urine specimen for medical reasons then a blood sample is taken.

The Court held Tafoya was denied his right to call witnesses and
ordered the disciplinary action expunged as to the result unless a new
hearing is held. The ruling is unpublished. See: In re personal
restraint petition of Steven W. Tafoya,. Washington State Court of Appeals
Division II, Case No: 21975-5-II.

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Related legal case

In re Personal Restraint Petition of Steven W. Taf