On November 15, 2000, the following papers, numbered 1 to 4, were read on motion
by Claimant for poor person relief and the issuance of subpoenas:
1, 2 Notice of Motion, Affidavit, and Annexed Papers
Upon the foregoing, this motion is denied.
The trial of this matter was adjourned, inter alia, to allow the
Claimant to prepare witness subpoenas for the Court to review and issue, and to
make any motions related thereto, and, as Claimant indicated at trial, for poor
Among other things Claimant seeks poor person status pursuant to CPLR article
11 because he asserts that he cannot afford the wages, fees, miliage (sic) for
the witnesses. Initially I note that relative to this claim, there are no costs
necessary to prosecute a claim in the Court of Claims, and thus no privileges
are available under CPLR article 11. The recent enactment of a filing fee
requirement was not effective until December 1999, and thus has no bearing on
this claim which was filed on September 29, 1997. Article 11 of the CPLR does
not provide the type of privilege or relief Claimant seeks, to wit, the
payment of witness fees and mileage, as required by the CPLR. Accordingly, the
motion for poor person relief is denied.
With respect to the subpoenas, Claimant was directed to prepare the subpoenas
for the Court to review and issue, and at the trial herein on September 27,
2000, on the record prior to the adjournment, I advised Claimant that the Court
would ascertain the mileage and witness fees necessary to accompany each such
subpoena. Claimant has done nothing more than provide a single blank subpoena,
and a list of some 74 people, with addresses, whom he would like subpoenaed.
Included in the list are the Governor, the Attorney General, Claimant's parents,
six Assembly members, and many doctors and nurses.
Since Claimant is not an attorney, he cannot issue subpoenas on his own, and I
would have issued some of the subpoenas (CPLR 2303). The signed subpoenas would
have been forwarded under separate cover to the Claimant, with copies to the
Defendant. Claimant would have had the responsibility of serving the subpoenas
by certified mail, return receipt requested. CPLR 2303 says that subpoenas
shall be served in the same manner as a summons, but in the Court of Claims, the
functional equivalent of the summons and complaint, to wit, the claim,
must be served personally or by certified mail, return receipt requested (Court
of Claims Act §11[a]) in order to obtain personal jurisdiction over the
State. Since it is inherently obvious that an inmate is limited in his ability
to accomplish personal service, service of such subpoenas would have been
accomplished by certified mail, return receipt requested.
Had Claimant properly provided individual subpoenas for me to sign, he would
have been required, for each witness, to pay the statutory witness
attendance fee of $15.00 and travel expenses for the round trip between the
witness's address and Auburn Correctional Facility at $.23 per mile (CPLR
However, as noted above, Claimant failed to provide the blank subpoenas in
proper form for my signature, and thus his request for the issuance of some 74
subpoenas, and the motion herein, is denied in its entirety.
The parties have already been advised under separate cover that the
continuation of this trial is scheduled for November 29, 2000 at 8:30 a.m. at
the Auburn Correctional Facility.