New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

SILVA v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2003-009-18, Claim No. 103100, Motion No. M-65539


Following an in camera inspection of disciplinary records concerning two inmates, the alleged assailants) against claimant, the Court directed that certain portions of the disciplinary records for those inmates be disclosed.

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:
Defendant's attorney:
Attorney General
BY: Gordon J. Cuffy, Esq.,
Assistant Attorney GeneralOf Counsel.
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
May 30, 2003

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


This Court previously granted claimant's request for an order directing an in camera inspection of documents (Silva v State of New York, Ct Cl, December 6, 2002, Midey, J., Claim No. 103100, Motion No. M-65539). Specifically, the Court directed the State to provide the disciplinary and mental hygiene records for inmate William Mejia (97 A 0062) and inmate Christopher Solis (95 A 6825), both of whom allegedly assaulted claimant in two separate incidents in January, 1999, while claimant was incarcerated at Auburn Correctional Facility. In accordance with said decision and order, the Assistant Attorney General defending the claim on behalf of the State of New York has submitted to the Court the disciplinary histories for these inmates. Defense counsel objects to the disclosure of these disciplinary histories, contending that the dates of any prior incidents set forth in the reports are too remote to be relevant, and additionally, that such incidents are not relevant since they did not involve the use of a weapon. As set forth in this Court's prior decision and order of December 6, 2002, it is well settled that evidence of an attacker's prior behavior, as well as a diagnosis of his medical condition, may often be material, relevant, and necessary in the prosecution of a claim based upon an inmate on inmate assault (Wilson v State of New York, 36 AD2d 559). The propensity of an inmate to commit a violent act, if established by his or her disciplinary history, is clearly relevant to the issue of notice to the State and therefore such history should be disclosed, unless it contains confidential or irrelevant information. The Court has reviewed the documents provided by defense counsel and has made the following decisions:
  1. Inmate William Mejia (97 A 0062)
With regard to inmate William Mejia, the State has submitted a computer generated listing of his disciplinary history from May, 1997 through February, 1999. The listing provided by the State contains information such as incident dates, hearing dates, references to the facility regulations allegedly violated, disposition, and penalty imposed, if any. There are seven incidents listed on this report, up to and including the alleged assault against claimant. The State contends that none of the six prior incidents involved violence or weapons, and therefore these incidents are irrelevant as to the issue of whether the State had notice of any vicious propensity on the part of this inmate. Although it does not appear that any of the six prior incidents involved fighting or violence, the State has not provided detailed information about these incidents. As a result, the Court cannot exclude them as irrelevant, and they must be produced. Accordingly, the Court hereby directs the State to disclose to claimant the "Inmate Disciplinary History" of inmate Mejia with respect to the six incidents which occurred prior to the date of the alleged assault against claimant on January 14, 1999.

There are no psychiatric records pertaining to this inmate.
  1. Inmate Christopher Solis (95 A 6825)
With regard to inmate Solis, the State has submitted not only a computer generated listing of his disciplinary record from December, 1995 through January, 1999, but also copies of the facility's records pertaining to each incident. There were a total of 11 incidents listed on the summary pre-dating the assault allegedly perpetrated against claimant on January 21, 1999.[1] The State contends that these incidents are too remote in time to be relevant to the issue of notice to the State of any vicious propensities. The State also contends that the circumstances of the incidents can be distinguished from the assault in question, and are therefore not relevant.

Upon a review of these records, the Court finds that certain entries may have some relevance to claimant's allegations. Accordingly, the Court directs the State to disclose to claimant the disciplinary records of inmate Solis pertaining to the incidents occurring on January 14, 1996, August 23, 1996, May 26, 1997, June 20, 1997 (fighting and refusal to follow direct order), October 2, 1997, and December 9, 1997.

The only psychiatric record related to this inmate pertains to a visit which occurred subsequent to the date of the incident forming the basis of this claim, and therefore it is not relevant. Accordingly, it is

ORDERED, that Motion No. M-65539, is GRANTED, in part, in accordance with the foregoing; and it is further

ORDERED, that the State shall produce to claimant the disciplinary records for inmates Mejia and Solis as specified herein within 60 days of the filing of this decision and order with the Clerk of the Court.

May 30, 2003
Syracuse, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

[1] Interestingly, there was no mention in the history and record produced of any disciplinary action taken with regard to the alleged assault against claimant on January 21, 1999.