New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

TYREE v. STATE OF NEW YORK, #2001-019-524, Claim No. 101474, Motion No. M-63202


Synopsis


Claimant's motion to compel additional discovery responses is denied in part and granted in part.

Case Information

UID:
2001-019-524
Claimant(s):
GARLAND TYREE
Claimant short name:
TYREE
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
101474
Motion number(s):
M-63202
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
FERRIS D. LEBOUS
Claimant's attorney:
GARLAND TYREE, PRO SE
Defendant's attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER, ATTORNEY GENERAL
BY: Carol A. Cocchiola, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
April 19, 2001
City:
Binghamton
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

Claimant, a pro se inmate, moves to compel the defendant State of New York (hereinafter "State") to comply with his discovery demands. The State opposes the motion.


The Court has considered the following papers in connection with this motion:
  1. Claim, filed November 29, 1999.
  2. Notice of Demand for Discovery and/or Inspection, dated and sworn to January 10, 2000.
  3. Notice of Demand for Discovery and/or Inspection, dated and sworn to August 9, 2000, and filed August 14, 2000.
  4. Notice of Demand for Discovery and/or Inspection, dated and sworn to December 21, 2000, and filed January 2, 2001.
  5. Notice of Motion No. M-63202, dated February 28, 2001, and filed March 12, 2001.
  6. Affidavit of Garland Tyree, in support of motion, sworn to March 5, 2001.
  7. Claimant's Brief in support of motion, dated February 28, 2001, with attached exhibits.
  8. Affirmation of Carol A. Cocchiola, AAG, in opposition to motion, dated March 28, 2001, and filed April 2, 2001.
Claimant alleges State correction officers assaulted him on October 3, 1999 during his incarceration at Southport Correctional Facility (hereinafter "Facility"). Claimant asserts the State has inadequately responded to all three of his Demands for Discovery and Inspection dated January 10, 2000, August 9, 2000, and December 21, 2000, respectively. (Attached as Exhibits unnumbered, 6 & 8 to Claimant's Brief, respectively). More specifically, Claimant objects to the State's answers to the following demands: questions 1A, 3, 7 and 8 in his First Demand for Discovery and Inspection; questions 1, 7, 8, 9, and 12 in the Second Demand for Discovery and Inspection; and questions 3 and 4 of his Third Demand for Discovery and Inspection. (Claimant's Affidavit, ¶ ¶ 4, 9 & 11).


Initially, the Court notes that although Claimant did not submit a separate affirmation of good faith pursuant to the Uniform Rules for the Court of Claims [22 NYCRR] 206.8 (b) his supporting affidavit, memorandum of law and exhibits detail numerous attempts to discuss these discovery matters with the State. Moreover, the State's papers addressed the merits of Claimant's motion. The Court deems Claimant's papers to be in compliance with 22 NYCRR 206.8 (b) and will address the motion on the merits.




1). Addresses of State's witnesses

Claimant requested the names and addresses of fact witnesses. (Claimant's First Demand for Discovery and Inspection, question 1A). The State provided the names of approximately 10 State employees each of whom are correction officers, as well as the Facility nurse, but refused to reveal the home addresses of these individuals. (State's letter dated January 10, 2001 attached as Exhibit 9 to Claimant's Brief). The State's refusal to reveal these witnesses home addresses is proper. Claimant can use the Facility address for these witnesses for purposes of this litigation. In the event that any of these individuals leave State employment prior to trial, then the State should notify the Court and Claimant of a forwarding address. The Court finds the State's response to question 1A of Claimant's First Demand for Discovery and Inspection is proper.


2). Photographs

Claimant also requested "any and all photographs depicting the site where incident occurred." (Claimant's First Demand for Discovery and Inspection, question 3). The State's response indicated that it was "[i]n possession of 4 Polaroid photographs. Color reproductions of the photographs can be made and will be provided to the claimant at a cost of $16.00 (2 sheets at $8.00 per sheet)." (State's Response dated June 8, 2000, ¶ 3). To the extent that Claimant is objecting to the payment of photocopying costs such is a legitimate requirement from the State.[1] (Gittens v State of New York, 175 AD2d 530). Additionally, the Court notes that the State has not indicated any security objection to this inmate possessing these photographs of the site upon proper payment. The Court finds the State's response to question 3 of Claimant's First Demand for Discovery and Inspection is proper.


3). Claimant's Inmate file & DOC master index of records

Claimant's next two requests were for "Copies of Claimant's Inmate file/record" and "the DOC master index of records that are kept and maintained by this Department". (Claimant's First Demand for Discovery and Inspection, questions 7 & 8, respectively). The State's response was identical to both demands, namely that these demands were overly broad, not relevant or material, and may contain confidential or privileged information. The Court agrees and finds the States responses to questions 7 and 8 to Claimant's First Demand for Discovery and Inspection are proper.


4). Facility security camera locations & videotapes

Claimant demanded "[t]he location and amout [sic] of cameras and rather if they monitor or record of any and all cameras located in the visiting area, main corridor, and facility clinic." (Claimant's Second Demand for Discovery and Inspection, question 1). The State's refusal to disclose the location of cameras throughout the Facility for security reasons is proper. The State also indicated that it was in the possession of two videotapes showing the alleged incident which could be reproduced for Claimant at a cost of $10.00 each. The State is entitled to charge reasonable duplicating costs for these videotapes.[2] (Gittens v State of New York, supra, 175 AD2d 530). The Court notes that the State has not indicated any security objection to this inmate possessing these videotapes upon proper payment. As such, the Court finds the State's response to question 1 of Claimant's Second Demand for Discovery and Inspection is proper.


5). Facility diagrams

Next, Claimant objects to the State's refusal to provide a diagram of various areas of the Facility. Claimant asserts the requested diagram is already "posted in numerous areas of Southport Correctional Facility and do not deplict [sic] any sensitive areas". (Claimant's Brief, p 2). The State objects to producing any diagrams citing both relevancy and security concerns, although it did not respond directly to Claimant's assertion that such diagrams are already posted throughout the Facility. Nevertheless, in this Court's view, Claimant has failed to demonstrate that an official diagram of the Facility is a necessary element of his proof on this claim of assault. As such, the State's response to question 7 of Claimant's Second Demand for Discovery and Inspection is proper.


6). Grievance complaints

As originally drafted, Claimant requested any grievance complaint filed by other inmates regarding alleged inappropriate conduct by officers in the visiting area or clinic. (Claimant's Second Demand for Discovery and Inspection, question 9). The State objected to this question on the grounds of relevancy, privacy, privilege and security concerns. Clearly, a request so broad in scope is improper. However, Claimant's motion narrows this request somewhat by adding that he is only seeking other inmate's grievance complaints arising from his incident on October 3, 1999. Accordingly, the State is directed to submit to the Court for in camera inspection any inmate grievance emanating from Claimant's incident on October 3, 1999. In the event no such grievances exist, the State should submit an affidavit to that effect from someone with personal knowledge of such records. These submissions should be made as soon as practicable and upon notice to Claimant.


7). Investigative records

Claimant also demanded the production of any agency note or document relative to an investigation into this incident. (Claimant's Second Demand for Discovery and Inspection, question 12). More specifically, Claimant alleges he possesses a letter from the Office of the Inspector General confirming an open file into the October 3, 1999 incident, although this letter was not attached to Claimant's papers. (Claimant's Brief, p 3). The State indicates that a request for materials has been made to the Office of the Inspector General, but requests this Court direct an in camera inspection if any materials are located citing security concerns. In the event the State obtains materials from the Office of the Inspector General these documents should be submitted to the Court for in camera inspection upon notice to Claimant. In the event no such file is found to exist, the State should submit an affidavit to that effect from someone with personal knowledge of such records. These submissions should be made as soon as practicable and upon notice to Claimant.


8). DOCS directives

Claimant's Third Demand for Discovery and Inspection requested production of numerous Department of Correctional Services (hereinafter "DOCS") directives, but Claimant's motion papers object only to the State's failure to supply answers to demands #3 and 4 which requested directives #4900 (security in gated area) and #4091 (log books). (Claimant's Affidavit, ¶ 11). From a review of this record, it appears that the State's initial response asserted that directives #4900 and #4091 were confidential. (Exhibit 9 attached to Claimant's Brief). Additionally, Claimant argues that the State reversed its own position with respect to the disclosure of certain directives and actually returned to Claimant a check he had submitted to cover photocopying costs of certain directives. The returned check that Claimant references appears to have been for copies of directives 4008, 4943, 4944, & 4947 which are not listed as matters of concern in Claimant's motion papers. In any event, the Court notes that non-confidential directives should be available in the prison law library for Claimant's review. Upon request at trial, the Court may take judicial notice of relevant non-confidential DOCS directives. However, the State is directed to submit Directives 4900 and 4091 for in camera inspection by the Court.


Finally, since Claimant is an inmate, it merits mentioning that Claimant has the option of requesting that defendant provide him reasonable access to review documents or other items in lieu of requesting photocopies, namely the photographs and videotapes referenced hereinabove. Of course, in the event Claimant desires actual copies of such items thereafter, the State is entitled to require Claimant to advance reasonable copying costs assuming the State does not lodge any objections to the inmate's possession thereof due to security concerns. (Gittens v State of New York, supra, 175 AD2d 530).


Accordingly, for the reasons stated above, it is ORDERED that Claimant's motion to compel, Motion No. M-63202 is DENIED IN PART and GRANTED IN PART in accordance with the foregoing


April 19, 2001
Binghamton, New York

HON. FERRIS D. LEBOUS
Judge of the Court of Claims




[1]See Court's discussion relative to inspection of certain discovery items, infra, p 7.
[2]See Court's discussion relative to inspection of certain discovery items, infra, p 7.