Adverse Inferences May Be Drawn From the Refusal of a Prison Inmate to Testify at a Disciplinary Hearing
Mills, Donald W.
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Discusses the Supreme Court case, Baxter v. Palmigiano. In Baxter an inmate of a Rhode Island Correctional Institution was charged with creating a disturbance likely to result in a riot. At a subsequent disciplinary hearing officials told Palmigiano that the offense was punishable by state law. He was also informed that the Rhode Island prison rules allowed him the right to remain silent at the disciplinary hearing, but that adverse inferences could be drawn from his silence. Palmigiano chose to remain silent, and the disciplinary board, found him guilty of prison rule infractions. Alleging the disciplinary proceedings violated his fifth amendment right to remain silent, Palmigiano filed suit for damages and injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Eventually the Supreme Court granted certiorari, reversed the court of appeals decision, and held that an inmate facing a disciplinary hearing has the right to remain silent, but that adverse inferences may be drawn from the silence.