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Arkansas Supreme Court Denies Judicial Review of Prisoner’s Disciplinary Case

by Ed Lyon

Malik Muntaqim, a prisoner assigned to the Arkansas Department of Correction’s (ADC) Ouachita River Unit, was seeking a transfer to a different prison unit and experienced racial discrimination.

In his written transfer request, Muntaqim stated “something crazy will happen” if he was not transferred. After he affirmed in writing that statement on his transfer request, he was given a major level disciplinary case for “failing to obey staff orders, insolence toward staff and assault.” He was found guilty of the insolence and assault charges.

Muntaqim filed an administrative appeal, albeit untimely. He then filed several grievances challenging ADC’s disciplinary policy and alleging retaliation against him out of “racial animus.” These were denied.

He sought judicial review in the state circuit court. Judicial review was denied. The judge ruled Muntaqim “failed to state a colorable cause of action and that ADC officials were entitled to sovereign immunity.”

Review was granted by the Arkansas Supreme Court. The majority denied Muntaqim forma pauperis status to proceed, both because the lower court did not grant it and after reviewing the case also found he had no colorable cause of action. The court noted ADC prisoners have no right to judicial review in disciplinary matters unless the prisoner’s constitutional rights were violated. No constitutional violations were found by the court.

The circuit court’s denial of judicial review was affirmed on September 12, 2019. One justice dissented.

See: Muntaqim v. Kelley, et al, Case No. CV-18-488 (Ark S Ct 2019)

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Related legal case

Muntaqim v. Kelley, et al.