Upon the foregoing papers, Defendant's motion is granted and Claimant's motion
is denied. Claimant and Defendant have both moved for summary judgment. In his
underlying claim filed on August 2, 2000, Bernard Patterson alleges that, while
an inmate at Wende Correctional Facility, he was improperly confined to keeplock
pending the resolution of a disciplinary hearing. Claimant asserts that the
hearing violated the time requirements of
7 NYCRR § 251-5.1.
Specifically, on June 9, 2000, Claimant was given an inmate misbehavior report
after an incident in which he threw a metal cabinet into a window. Claimant was
confined to his cell pending his Tier III disciplinary hearing, which was
commenced on June 15, 2000. The hearing was not completed on that date, but was
adjourned to June 23, 2000. The hearing resumed on June 23, 2000 but again was
not completed. At that time, the hearing officer requested an extension of time
to complete the hearing from the office of the Commissioner of the Department of
Correctional Services in Albany. An extension was granted to June 28, 2000. On
June 28, 2000, when one of Claimant's requested witnesses was unavailable, the
hearing officer requested and received another extension of time to complete the
hearing on or before June 30, 2000. The hearing resumed on June 29, 2000, and
culminated on that date with Claimant being found guilty.
In any application for summary judgment, the moving party bears the heavy
burden of establishing that he or she is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law, tendering sufficient evidence to demonstrate the absence of any material
issues of fact (Andre v Pomeroy, 35 NY2d 361; Winegrad v New York
Univ. Med. Center, 64 NY2d 851, 853). Generally, the actions of prison
personnel involving inmate disciplinary matters are quasi-judicial and, unless
they exceed the scope of their authority or violate applicable rules, are
afforded absolute immunity (Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212;
Davis v State of New York, 262 AD2d 887, lv denied 93 NY2d 819).
When an inmate is confined during his disciplinary hearing, 7 NYCRR
§251-5.1(b) provides in relevant part that such hearing "must be completed
within 14 days following the writing of the misbehavior report unless otherwise
authorized by the commissioner or his designee." Defendant asserts that the
hearing was timely and complied with the requirements of 7 NYCRR §251-5.1.
Claimant alleges that, regardless of the fact that the commissioner's office
granted the extensions on June 23 and June 28, the hearing violated the
applicable regulations because the deadline for completing the hearing had
already passed when the first extension was granted.
There is no dispute as to the dates on which the hearing was conducted. The
problem is essentially that Claimant has miscalculated the number of days
between his initial confinement on June 9, 2000 and the initial adjourned date
of June 23, 2000. Claimant incorrectly asserts that the hearing was not
concluded in a timely manner, and that the first adjourned date, June 23, 2000,
was outside of the initial 14 day period set forth in 7 NYCRR §251-5.1(b).
However, June 23, 2000, was day 14, not day 15 as alleged by Claimant. For this
reason, no extension from the commissioner's office was necessary prior to June
On June 23, 2000, and on June 28, 2000, the hearing officer properly sought
permission from the commissioner's office to extend the hearing and each
extension request was granted. Contrary to Claimant's assertions, at no time
during the process did Defendant's time within which to conclude the hearing or
obtain an extension expire. I find that the hearing was both commenced and
concluded in a timely manner. As the requirements of 7 NYCRR §251-5.1 were
met, the immunities described in Arteaga protect the hearing process, and
the State may not be held liable in damages for the confinement of Claimant
during the pendency of his disciplinary hearing.
Based upon the foregoing it is:
ORDERED, that Defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted and the
claim is dismissed and Claimant's motion for summary judgment is denied.