New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

MABRY v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2001-013-514, Claim No. 97453


Synopsis


Claimant is not entitled to recover for wrongful confinement for a violation of a rule pertaining to the conduct of his disciplinary hearing which would have removed the immunity accorded to such proceedings (Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212), when Claimant has failed to prove his claim on the merits by establishing that his confinement was, in fact, wrongful.

Case Information

UID:
2001-013-514
Claimant(s):
BOBBY MABRY
Claimant short name:
MABRY
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
97453
Motion number(s):

Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
PHILIP J. PATTI
Claimant's attorney:
BOBBY MABRY, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER
Attorney General of the State of New York
BY: GREGORY P. MILLER, ESQ.Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
December 31, 2001
City:
Rochester
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

This claim arose in June 1997 at Wende Correctional Facility (Wende), when Claimant was charged with a disciplinary violation and sentenced to 90 days in keeplock. He seeks to recover money damages for the time that he was confined to his cell because, he alleges, certain witnesses who would have provided relevant testimony were not interviewed or allowed to testify at the disciplinary hearing. These witnesses were Mr. Gilmartin, of the facility's Program Committee; Superintendent Frank E. Irvin; and Acting Superintendent for Programs, Leslie Becker. Claimant's conviction was subsequently reversed on September 2, 1997 on the ground that these witnesses were not interviewed (Claim - Attachment A), and Claimant was released from keeplock at that time.

Claimant was charged with five violations: refusing a direct order, threats spoken or by gesture, conduct disturbing the order of the facility, lock-in procedures, and failure to accept a program assignment. The witnesses that he sought to have interviewed, according to Claimant, could have provided information relevant to the reasons he received a program reassignment, reasons that he contends were improper.

The judicial and quasi-judicial acts of correction employees in bringing disciplinary charges and conducting disciplinary hearings are entitled to absolute immunity (
Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212). Thus, when the only acts complained of are discretionary in nature, an inmate is not entitled to recover damages for wrongful confinements imposed as the result of a disciplinary proceeding, even when it results in a conviction that is ultimately overturned (Melette v State of New York, 163 AD2d 703). Where, however, a prison disciplinary hearing is not conducted in accordance with governing rules and regulations, liability may result (see, e.g., Kasiem v State of New York, Ct Cl, Aug. 28, 2001 [Claim No. 101387 - Motion M-63784], Lebous, J. [MacLaw No. 2001-019-561];[1] Varela v State of New York, Ct Cl, Aug. 23, 2000 [Claim No. 97607 - Motion No. M-62078], McNamara, J. [MacLaw No. 2000-011-573]). Proof of such a rule violation removes the protection of absolute immunity from the disciplinary proceeding, but the inmate must still prove his or her case on its merits (Kilpatrick v State of New York, Ct Cl, Dec. 21, 2001 [Claim No. 100462 - Motion No. 64030], Patti J. [MacLaw No. 2001-013-031]; Moreno v State of New York, Ct Cl, April 5, 2001 [Claim No. 100335], Bell, J. [MacLaw No. 2001-007-551]). Even if the investigating officer's failure to interview the named witnesses was a clear violation of a governing rule or regulation, Claimant has nevertheless failed to prove that he was, in fact, innocent of all of the charges brought against him. While he may have had valid reasons for objecting to his program assignment, failing to obey orders, making threats, disturbing the order of the facility, and refusing to lock in are nevertheless punishable offenses and might well have warranted the sentence that was imposed. Consequently, Claimant has not met his burden of proving that his confinement in keeplock was wrongful and he is not entitled to damages.
Accordingly, the Chief Clerk is directed to enter judgment dismissing the claim.

All motions not heretofore ruled upon are denied.

LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.


December 31, 2001
Rochester, New York

HON. PHILIP J. PATTI
Judge of the Court of Claims




  1. [1]This, and other Court of Claims decisions, may be found on the Court of Claims website at http://www.nyscourtofclaims.state.ny.us.