New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

CANZATER-SMITH v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2003-031-021, Claim No. 107040, Motion No. M-66252


Synopsis


Claimant's request for assignment of counsel in action to recover damages for lost or destroyed property is denied.

Case Information

UID:
2003-031-021
Claimant(s):
JEFFREY CANZATER-SMITH
Claimant short name:
CANZATER-SMITH
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
107040
Motion number(s):
M-66252
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
RENÉE FORGENSI MINARIK
Claimant's attorney:
JEFFREY CANZATER-SMITH, PRO SE
Defendant's attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER
New York State Attorney GeneralBY: NO APPEARANCE
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
April 21, 2003
City:
Rochester
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

The following papers were read on motion by Claimant for appointment of counsel:
1. Claimant's unsworn Petition, filed December 5, 2002;
2. Order of the Honorable Richard E. Sise, filed January 6, 2003;

This is Claimant's motion seeking appointment of counsel to represent him in the preparation and trial of his claim against the State. The claim, filed December 5, 2002, alleges that on September 13, 2001, portions of Claimant's personal property were lost or destroyed by correction officers at Collins Correctional Facility. Claimant seeks to recover damages in the amount of $500.00.

The Court of Appeals has held that there is no constitutional or statutory requirement that indigents be assigned private counsel in civil litigation of this nature (Matter of Smiley, 36 NY2d 433). Smiley has been interpreted for the proposition that Courts should not routinely approve requests made by indigents for the assignment of private counsel without compensation unless the litigation involves grievous forfeiture or loss of a fundamental right (Wills v City of Troy, 258 AD2d 849, lv dismissed, 93 NY2d 1000; Morgenthau v Garcia, 148 Misc 2d 900, 903). I have examined the underlying claim and find that this matter involves neither a fundamental right, nor is of sufficient complexity to warrant assignment of counsel (see Matter of Smiley, supra; Matter of St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hosp. Center, 159 Misc 2d 932, 936, modified and remanded, 215 AD2d 337). Indeed, a reading of the 10-page typewritten claim and the 24 attached exhibits demonstrates that Claimant is fully capable of prosecuting this claim without the benefit of assigned counsel.

Based on the foregoing, it is;

ORDERED, Claimant's motion for the assignment of counsel to represent him in this matter is denied.

April 21, 2003
Rochester, New York

HON. RENÉE FORGENSI MINARIK
Judge of the Court of Claims