Steve Smith, the Claimant herein, alleges he was wrongfully confined while he
was incarcerated at Sing Sing Correctional Facility (hereafter Sing Sing).
Trial of the matter was held at Sing Sing on December 20, 2001.
Claimant testified that on December 23, 1999 he was "confined to...[his] cell
by officer Hernandez for a ticket...saying that...[Claimant] was circulating
some documents saying that [he] was going to take over the jail....Officer
Hernandez locked...[him] up, and then they sent...[him] to the SHU housing
area....about 3 to 4 o'clock in the afternoon they sent...[him] to the
On December 24, 1999, he was served with a "ticket" alleging that he was
circulating some papers containing a threat of violence. The inmate
misbehavior report - the ticket - indicates in pertinent part that "information
gathered in an ongoing investigation. Confidential sources have identified this
inmate as circulating a document detrimental to the...
of the facility and conduct with the threat of violence."
[Claimant's Exhibit "2"]. The report is signed by Correction Officer Luther, and
endorsed by Correction Officer Hernandez, and indicates that the incident
occurred at "1:30 pm +-". A search of Claimant's cell found no contraband of
the kind described. [Claimant's Exhibit "1"]. Claimant testified that his
original confinement in his cell occurred "...before 1:30...I was already
confined in my cell when it says the incident occurred."
On December 27, 1999 Claimant was moved to Downstate Correctional Facility SHU.
Requests by the authorities for an extension of time within which to conduct a
hearing, based upon that transfer, were granted. [Claimant's Exhibit "4"]. On
January 3, 2000 the disciplinary hearing was commenced. It was concluded on
January 4, 2000, when the charges were dismissed, and the Claimant was released
back into general population. Claimant asserted at trial that the charges were
dismissed because Officer Hernandez was known for falsifying reports, and had
been found to have violated the rules in other instances. He stated that he was
not given a reason why the charges were dismissed, but that he suspected the
No other documents, including any facility documentation of the charge and its
dismissal, were submitted nor did any other witnesses testify.
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 NY 2d 212, 219-220 (1988). If officers
act inconsistently with their own rules and regulations, or otherwise act
outside the sphere of privileged actions, liability may attach. The fact that
charges are ultimately dismissed does not give rise to a cognizable cause of
action when 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
, 285 AD2d 765 (3d Dept. 2001);
: Gittens v State of New York
, 132 Misc 2d 399 (NY
Ct. Claims 1986).
To establish a
case of wrongful confinement, a "species" of the tort of
false imprisonment, [Gittens
., at 407], a claimant
must show "...(1) the defendant intended to confine him, (2) the...[claimant]
was conscious of the confinement, (3) the...[claimant] did not consent to the
confinement and (4) the confinement was not otherwise privileged...."
Broughton v State of New York
, 37 NY 2d 451,456 (1975).
From the limited facts presented it would appear that correction officers acted
narrowly within the bounds of New York State Department of Corrections rules
and regulations. The misbehavior report served upon Claimant, alleging violation
of "Rule 104.11 Conduct with the threat of violence", [ 7 NYCRR
§270.2-B-5], triggered the requirements of a Tier III disciplinary hearing,
in accordance with 7 NYCRR § 254.1
; as well as the "timeliness" provisions of 7 NYCRR
§251-5.1. Any hearing must be commenced within seven (7) days of the
confinement, unless delay in its commencement is "authorized" by "the
commissioner or his designee." [22 NYCRR /§ 251-5.1(a)]. Similarly, the
"...hearing must be completed within 14 days following the writing of the
misbehavior report unless otherwise authorized by the commissioner or his
designee.......[T]he record of the hearing should reflect the reasons for any
delay or adjournment, and an inmate should ordinarily be made aware of these
reasons unless to do so would jeopardize institutional safety or correctional
goal." [22 NYCRR § 251-5.1(b)].
In this case, the hearing was held eleven (11) days after the initial
confinement, and within ten (10) days of service of the misbehavior report. The
delay of the hearing was authorized because of the transfer, and the request for
an extension based upon that transfer. He was released as a result of the
hearing process. Although the Claimant appeared to be a credible witness,
without more than his bare allegations that the initial misbehavior report was a
fabrication, he has not met the threshold of establishing his claim of wrongful
Accordingly, defendant's motions to dismiss for failure to establish a
case, upon which decision was reserved at trial, is hereby
granted, and Claim number 101961 is hereby dismissed in its
Let Judgment be entered accordingly.