New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

SANCHEZ v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2001-030-517, Claim No. 99161


Synopsis


Inmate's claim alleging wrongful excessive confinement dismissed. Correction officers acted consistently with regulations

Case Information

UID:
2001-030-517
Claimant(s):
ISMAEL SANCHEZ
Claimant short name:
SANCHEZ
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
99161
Motion number(s):

Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
THOMAS H. SCUCCIMARRA
Claimant's attorney:
ISMAEL SANCHEZ, PRO SE
Defendant's attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER, New York State Attorney General By: ELYSE ANGELICO, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
October 4, 2001
City:
White Plains
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

.
Decision
Ismael Sanchez, the Claimant herein, alleges in Claim number 99161 that he was wrongfully confined to his cell at Sing Sing Correctional Facility (hereafter Sing Sing) for a period of 8 days commencing September 20, 1998 and ending September 28, 1998. The trial of this matter was held at Sing Sing on August 14, 2001.

Claimant testified that on September 20, 1998 he got "written up by Officer Montalvo,"[1]
as a result of which he was "confined in ...[his] cell for 8 days without seeing a disciplinary hearing...even though the rule book requires a hearing in 7 days." He indicated that he spoke to a Sergeant, who said he would "check it out." As a result of the Sergeant's investigation, he was released on September 28, 1998. During the period of confinement he alleges he was denied access to programs, the Law Library, the General Library, the mess hall, commissary, gym, telephone calls, packages and all other activities normally enjoyed by inmates in the general population of Sing Sing.
After his release, "maybe 2 days later," he found computer printout papers purporting to be his hearing disposition in his cell. [Claimant's Exhibit "1", Disciplinary Hearing Disposition Rendered]. They were dated September 28, 1998 and contained the appeal notification language for a Tier 2 hearing indicating an appeal to the Superintendent had to be commenced within 72 hours. The charges noted for the incident date of September 20, 1998 are: "untidy cell or person...refusing direct order...property damage or loss." The penalty description is "k.i. keep locked] pre-hear. 8 days," starting from September 20, 1998 to September 28, 1998. There is also a notation that the charge was "dismissed", and that the "Report and Hearing Record sheet state inmate
was not confined. Inmate was confined on 9/20/98 for this incident. Procedural error." The hearing date and time is marked as "September 28, 1998 at 3:15 p.m."
Claimant asserted that because the printout was "thrown into his cell," he could not avail himself of the appeal procedure provided. He also indicated that the "rule book" he "had to sign," provides that for a "Tier 2 disciplinary proceeding a hearing must start and finish within 7 days." Claimant seeks damages in the amount of $300.00 per day for each day confined.

No other witnesses testified, and no other evidence was presented.

The quasi-judicial acts of correction employees taken in furtherance of authorized disciplinary measures are entitled to absolute immunity.
Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212, 219-220 (1988). The fact that charges were ultimately dismissed does not give rise to a cognizable cause of action, where there is no evidence defendant acted inconsistently with its own rules and regulations. Arteaga v State of New York, supra., Holloway v State of New York, c.f.; Gittens v State of New York, 132 Misc 2d 399.
7 NYCRR § 251-5.1(a) provides, "[w]here an inmate is confined pending a disciplinary hearing or superintendent's hearing, the hearing must be commenced as soon as is reasonably practicable following the inmate's initial confinement pending said disciplinary hearing or superintendent's hearing, but, in no event may it be commenced beyond seven days of said confinement without authorization of the commissioner or his designee." In calculating the seven day period, the date upon which the misbehavior report was written is not included (
See, Robles v Coombe, 234 AD2d 847,848.
From the limited facts presented it would appear, however tenuously, that the correction officers acted consistently with New York State Department of Correctional Services (hereafter DOCS) rules and regulations. The first seven days of Claimant's confinement were within the allowable time period. At the end of that time period, DOCS was required to either commence the hearing or release the Claimant. Claimant was duly released and is not, therefore, entitled to damages for this privileged period of confinement.
Odom v State of New York, Claim No. 91792 (unreported decision, filed December 8, 1998, Ruderman, J.).
Accordingly, defendant's motion to dismiss, upon which decision was reserved at the time of trial, is hereby granted, and Claim number 99161 is dismissed.

Let Judgment be entered accordingly.

October 4, 2001
White Plains, New York

HON. THOMAS H. SCUCCIMARRA
Judge of the Court of Claims




[1]All quotations are to trial notes or audiotapes unless otherwise indicated.