Prisoners Rights to Call Witnesses

"In Wolff v. McDonnell (1974) 418 U.S. 539, the Court held that due process requires procedural protections before a prison inmate can be deprived of a protected liberty interest in good time credits." (Superintendent, Massachusetts Correctional Institution v. Hill (1985) 472 U.S. 445, 453 (Hill).) Wolff held that, before a state may revoke or withhold good time credits, inmates must receive three procedural protections: (1) advance written notice of the allegations against them, (2) an opportunity to call witnesses and present documentary evidence in their defense, and (3) a written statement by the factfinder of the evidence relied on and the reasons for the decision. (Wolff, supra, 418 U.S. at pp. 563-567.) Wolff acknowledged the opportunity to call witnesses was not absolute, but could be limited to those instances "when permitting him to do so will not be unduly hazardous to institutional safety or correctional goals." (Wolff, supra, 418 U.S. at p. 566.) One court, discussing the ambit of Wolff's qualified right to call witnesses, explained that "jail officials need not provide inmates an unfettered right to call witnesses, but they must make the decision whether to allow witnesses on a case-by-case basis, examining the potential hazards that may result from calling a particular person. 'A blanket denial of permission for an inmate to have witnesses physically present during disciplinary hearings is impermissible, even where jail authorities provide for interviewing of witnesses outside the disciplinary procedure.' Quoting Mitchell v. Dupnik (9th Cir. 1996) 75 F.3d 517, 525." (Serrano v. Francis (9th Cir 2003) 345 F.3d 1071, 1079.)