New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

TOWNES v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2002-016-115, Claim No. 104051


Case Information

Claimant short name:
Footnote (claimant name) :

Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

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

Cross-motion number(s):

Claimant's attorney:
Victor Townes
Defendant's attorney:
Eliot Spitzer, Attorney GeneralBy: Mary Kavaney, AAG
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
November 4, 2002
New York

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


This is the claim of Victor Townes, which was tried at Mid-Orange Correctional Facility, where Mr. Townes testified on his own behalf. Defendant called no witnesses. In his underlying claim, Townes asserts that he was denied parole because Department of Correctional Services ("DOCS") employees failed "to adequately maintain accurate information in [DOCS] prison files . . . [which] information [was] relied on in a parole hearing at Mid-Orange Correctional Facility on June 16, 2000; July 27 2000; August 16-17, 2000; and September 13-14, 2000 . . ." Claim, ¶2. Townes contends that his DOCS records wrongly indicated that he had been convicted of criminal possession of a weapon in the 3d degree, 2 counts" and that is why parole was denied.

A "Division of Parole - Parole Board Release Decision Notice" dated September 14, 2000 (see claimant's exhibit 3), states that such decision "is based on review of the case record as well as the interview with parole board members." As to the reasons for denial, it states:
Parole is denied for the following reasons: the instant offenses - CSCS 3rd and CPCS 3rd. Your criminal record began in 1974 and includes prior convictions of CPCS 2nd and CPW 3rd (2 counts) for which you were on parole when you committed the instant offenses. All factors considered lead the panel to conclude that you are an unacceptable candidate for early release.

(emphasis supplied). The "CPW 3rd (2 counts)" is the charge as to which Townes complains he

was not actually convicted.

Subsequent to the denial of parole, Townes filed an order to show cause, upon which the Hon. Peter C. Patsalos, J.S.C. issued a decison granting Townes a de novo parole interview before a different panel on the grounds that:

Respondent [the State Division of Parole] concedes, with commendable candor, that "the Parole Board relied upon erroneous information in denying discretionary release during petitioner's interview" and hence, "a de novo initial Parole Board interview is in order."

See claimant's exhibit 2.

Such de novo interview was held on September 24, 2001 and in a decision dated September 25, 2001, claimant was granted parole with an "earliest release date" of November 20, 2001. See claimant's exhibit 4.

According to claimant "on the 2nd dat of August, 2000 and two years prior," DOCS knew his file contained incorrect information, citing a "parole summary" he had been sent by the "parole division" of Mid-Orange Correctional facility, which apparently contained the "criminal

possession of a weapon" reference. Claimant maintains that he pointed out the error to DOCS employees and was told it would be corrected numerous times, but such was not done.
* * *
Defendant argues that Townes' claim should be dismissed because "any decision by a parole board is quasi judicial in nature," a doctrine intended to protect the integrity of the decision-making progress, citing Lublin v State of New York, 135 Misc 2d 419, 515 NYS2d 385 (Ct Cl 1987), affd 135 AD2d 1155, 523 NYS2d 21 (1st Dept 1987), appeal denied 71 NY2d 802, 527 NYS2d 768 (1988) and Semkus v State of New York, 272 AD2d 74, 708 NYS2d 288 (1st Dept 2000), lv denied 95 NY2d 261, 714 NYS2d 711 (2000). As defendant also points out, in the decision denying Mr. Townes parole, the Parole Board based its decision "on a review of the case record as well as the interview" and cited a number of factors that formed the basis for denial, including other offenses ("CSCS 3rd", "CPCS 3rd", and "CPCS 2nd"), his convictions as to which claimant does not dispute. In its decision the Parole Board did nto articulate how much weight was given to each factor.

Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that claim no. 104051 be dismissed.

November 4, 2002
New York, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims