New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

SLATER v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2002-032-020, Claim No. 106245, Motion No. M-65732


Synopsis


Claimant's motion for summary judgment is denied, and judgment dismissing the claim is granted to defendant. This claim is barred by collateral estoppel, as the issue it raises was previously decided in an Article 78 proceeding.

Case Information

UID:
2002-032-020
Claimant(s):
RODNEY SLATER
Claimant short name:
SLATER
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
106245
Motion number(s):
M-65732
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
JUDITH A. HARD
Claimant's attorney:
Rodney Slater, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Hon. Eliot Spitzer, NYS Attorney General
By: Saul Aronson, Esq., Assistant Attorney General,Of Counsel
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
December 18, 2002
City:
Albany
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision
Claimant alleges that he was falsely imprisoned by the New York State Department of Correctional Services ("DOCS") when it calculated a release date by considering his multiple criminal convictions to run consecutively, rather than concurrently. He now moves for summary judgment in his favor, and defendant argues that the claim is premature and/or barred by the doctrines of res judicata and collateral estoppel.

The claim was filed June 19, 2002, and the State's answer was filed July 26, 2002, thus issue has been joined (CPLR 3212). The instant motion for summary judgment was made only a month after the claim was filed, but as there do not appear to be any disputes of material fact, the Court rejects defendant's assertion that the motion is premature (Aronson affirmation, ¶7). A party that seeks additional time before being required to respond to a motion for summary judgment must "demonstrate how further discovery might reveal material facts in the movant's exclusive knowledge; * * * mere speculation will be insufficient"
(Scofield v. Trustees of Union Coll. in Town of Schenectady, 267 A.D.2d 651[citations omitted]; see CPLR 3212[f] ).
The State's chief opposition to the motion is its contention that the claim is barred by the doctrines of res judicata and collateral estoppel because it seeks to relitigate an issue that was decided in an Article 78 proceeding brought in Ulster County Supreme Court and decided in a May 30, 2000 letter-decision issued by Justice Vincent G. Bradley (Slater affidavit, Exhibit 12; Aronson affirmation, Exhibit A).

This claim, the Bradley decision, and other documents submitted on this motion establish the following sequence of relevant events:
Feb 28, 1992 Claimant sentenced to 2.5 to 7 years on Indictment No. 3242-91 (Slater affidavit, Exhibits 2, 5, 11)

July 29, 1992 Claimant placed on work release (
id, Exhibit 4)
October 5, 1992 Claimant absconded from State custody (
id)
June 1993 Claimant committed a crime and was released under an alias (Indictment No. 7533-93) (
id, Exhibit 11)
October 23, 1993 Claimant committed a crime and was released under an alias (Indictment No. 12651-93) (
id)
Dec. 8, 1993 Claimant turns himself in to work release facility (
id)
Feb 14, 1994 Claimant sentenced to 2.5 to 5 years by Kings County Supreme Court on Indictment No. 12651-93, sentence to "run concurrently with present sentence other than any parole violation, which is to run consecutive (
id; Aronson affidavivit, Exhibit B [letter from DOCS Associate Counsel])
May 29, 1994: Claimant sentenced to 3 to 6 years on Indictment No. 7533-93, sentence to "run concurrently with present sentence other than any violation of parole which is to run consecutive," by Hon. N. Coffinas, Supreme Court, Kings County

(
id)
Feb. 22, 1996 Sentenced by Supreme Court, Kings County to 1 to 3 years, to run concurrently with all prior sentences (Aronson affirmation, Exhibit B) (
id)
May 31, 1996 Paroled (
id)
Sept. 8, 1997 Declared delinquent by Division of Parole (
id)
(Late 1997 or early 1998) Claimant charged with crime in Greene County

May 26, 1998 Claimant returned to State custody as parole violator, given 254 days of jailtime credit for time spent in local custody (Bradley decision)

-same date- DOCS calculates claimant's time to serve: May 23, 1998 is conditional release date and May 23, 2000 is maximum release date (Bradley decision
)
May 29, 1998 DOCS recalculates claimant's time to serve: March 12, 2000 is conditional release date and February 7, 2001 is maximum release date (Bradley decision)

Nov. 10, 1998 Claimant sentenced to 3.5 years relating to Greene County conviction, to run consecutively (Bradley decision)

January 12, 1999 DOCS calculates claimant's time to serve: Nov. 7, 2001 is conditional release date and May 9, 2002 is maximum release date (Bradley decision)

August 19, 1999 Claimant institutes Article 78 proceeding (Index No. 5205-99) to correct DOCS' most recent computation, alleging that it would result in 14 months additional incarceration to which he was not sentenced (Slater affidavit, Exhibit 7)

(Late 1999 or early 2000) DOCS determines all prior time computations were incorrect because the two 1994 sentences had incorrectly been considered to run concurrently with the 1992 sentence (
id, Exhibit 11; Aronson affirmation, Exhibit B; Bradley decision)

In the May 2000 decision on the Article 78 proceeding, Justice Bradley held that the two 1994 sentences must be considered consecutive to, not concurrent with, the 1992 sentence because Penal Law §70.25(2-a) requires that result. Under that statute, he stated, "the 1994 sentences must be consecutive to the 1992 sentence, regardless of the terms of the sentences and orders of commitment." In effect, Justice Bradley held that the provisions of the statute controlled if its requirements conflicted with the direction of the sentencing courts. This ruling was affirmed by the Third Department (
Slater v Goord, 289 AD2d 884, lv denied 97 NY2d 612).
In the instant claim, claimant alleges that DOCS had no authority to deviate from the direction of Judge Coffinas which stated that the sentence he imposed should run concurrently with "the present sentence." This issue, however, was fully litigated and decided in the earlier Article 78 proceeding. The distinction between
res judicata and collateral estoppel is that the former bars relitigation of all issues that were actually raised or could have been raised; in the latter, only issues that were actually litigated and determined can form the basis for an estoppel. (See 5 Weinstein-Korn-Miller, N.Y. Civ. Prac. ¶ 5011.25.). For collateral estoppel, the narrow or the two doctrines, to apply, it must be established that "an issue in the present proceeding be identical to that necessarily decided in a prior proceeding, and that in the prior proceeding the party against whom preclusion is sought was accorded a full and fair opportunity to contest the issue"(Allied Chem. v. Niagara Mohawk Power Corp., 72 N Y2d 271, 276 [citations omitted] ). Those elements are present here.
Although counsel for defendant has not cross-moved for an order of dismissal, such is not necessary in this instance. When one party has moved for summary judgment in its favor, the Court may grant that relief to the opposing party without the necessity of a cross-motion (CPLR 3212[b]).

Claimant's motion is denied, and judgment in favor of defendant is granted.


The following papers were read on claimant's motion for summary judgment
1. Notice of Motion and Supporting Affidavit of Rodney Slater, pro se,, with annexed Exhibits 2. Affirmation in Opposition of Saul Aronson, AAG, with annexed Exhibits
Filed papers: Claim




December 18, 2002
Albany, New York

HON. JUDITH A. HARD
Judge of the Court of Claims