ALBANY, N.Y. (CN) - A cop killer failed to persuade a New York appeals court that he is being unfairly denied premium cable service at Attica Correctional Facility.
Anthony Bottom, who is serving two concurrent terms of 25 years to life, filed a grievance in 2012 objecting to the lack of premium channels at Attica.
The maximum-security prison, located about 45 minutes east of Buffalo in Wyoming County, is designated a "TV facility" by the state, one of nine that allows inmates to own personal TV sets.
Inmates vote for the designation by secret ballot. In return, they agree to a prison-wide limit on the number of outside packages they can receive from family and friends; they can get just two per calendar year, the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision says.
Inmates must buy their TV sets, with earphones, from the prison commissary.
"TV facility" prisons offer premium-cable channels if the Inmate Liaison Committee that works with prison officials determines that the prison's population wants it.
Attica's superintendent rejected Bottom's cable grievance, advising the inmate to take the issue up with the liaison group. Bottom appealed unsuccessfully to the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, and then took the complaint to Albany County Supreme Court, which dismissed it.
On appeal, Bottom argued that the court should order a referendum on Attica's "TV facility" designation, or reverse the limit on inmate packages, since there had been no inmate vote on the matter.
But the Appellate Division's Third Department in Albany found Attica's designation "undisputed" Wednesday.
"The record is bereft of any evidence indicating that such designation was not the result of a vote by the inmate population," Justice Eugene Devine wrote for the four-judge panel.
He noted that once a designation occurs, it cannot be undone, per state prison rules. A new vote is thus unnecessary.
"Petitioner has failed to establish either a clear legal right to the relief sought or that Attica's designation as a 'TV facility' and the concomitant restriction of packages was arbitrary and capricious or an abuse of discretion," the panel found.
Justices John Lahtinen, John Egan Jr. and Michael Lynch concurred.
Bottom, also known as Jalil Muntaqim, was found guilty with two co-defendants in 1975 of the shooting deaths of New York City police officers Waverly Jones and Joseph Piagentini, who were slain as they returned to their patrol car after answering a routine call in Harlem. The assailants fled.
Court records indicate Bottom and one of the other men were arrested in San Francisco three months after the 1971 shootings, following the attempted murder of a police officer there. They had one of the slain officer's service revolvers, along with the gun used in the murders.
The court records, which called the slayings "notorious," said Bottom at the time was a member of the Black Liberation Army.
Subscribe to Closing Arguments
Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.