8) Filed Papers: Claim and Answer. Upon the foregoing papers, Defendant's
motion is granted. Claimants' motion is denied as moot.
Claimants, Brenda and Emerson Haynes, commenced this action against the State
of New York, alleging that their civil rights were violated in various
proceedings which related to their loss of custody of their children.
Apparently, Claimants have been involved in several actions in several courts
relating to these same matters. Although their claim is, at various times,
vague, rambling and unintelligible, it appears that, in March and April of 1998,
Claimants were arrested and custody of their children was taken from them
through appropriate proceedings in Family and Supreme Court. Claimants have
litigated the loss of custody of their children in Article 78 proceedings as
well as in Federal Court.
With their claim, Claimants apparently attempt to allege that the events that
led to the loss of custody of their children, as well as the judicial process
utilized to obtain the removal of the children from their custody, were the
result of a widespread conspiracy and violations of their constitutional rights.
Claimants seek to have this Court award $100,000,000.00 in damages, injunctive
relief, declaratory judgment to clear them of any wrongdoing, and punitive
damages in the amount of $10,000,000.00.
With its motion, Defendant seeks dismissal of the claim on several grounds.
First, that the claim fails to set forth a valid cause of action against the
State. Second, that the claim fails to identify any actionable conduct on the
part of a State agent or employee. Third, that the claim fails to specify the
dates and the nature of the various alleged actions which form the basis of the
claim. Fourth, that to the extent the claim alleges a cognizable action for
constitutional violations, this Court does not have jurisdiction over such
matters. And fifth, as the events that have been identified in the claim all
occurred in 1998, that any cognizable action that could be gleaned from the
claim is barred by the statute of limitations.
The Court of Claims is a court of limited jurisdiction with power to hear
claims only against the State and certain public authorities (Court of Claims
Act § 9). This Court does not have jurisdiction over and may not entertain
a claim against either the individuals or county agencies identified in the
claim (see Whitmore v State of New York, 55 AD2d 745, 746, lv
denied 42 NY2d 810; Jones v State of New York, 69 Misc 2d 1034).
To a large extent, Claimants appear to allege that they are unhappy with the
results they have received in the various other courts in which these matters
have been litigated. They apparently allege that the various judges presiding
over those matters were involved in a conspiracy against them. However, the
actions of these individuals are protected by judicial immunity (Harley v
State of New York, 186 AD2d 324). This doctrine has been solidly
established for years and its goal is "not to benefit the Judge, but to protect
the public on whose benefit the Judge acts; that benefit is to secure a Judge's
ability to act independently without fear of personal consequences" (Alvarez
v Snyder, 264 AD2d 27, 34 citing Pierson v Ray, 386 US 547 at
554). In order to overcome the presumptive application of this doctrine,
Claimants must set forth specifically how the actions of the judges involved in
their custody proceedings were performed in the clear absence of jurisdiction
(Harley v State of New York, 186 AD2d 324, supra). The claim is
devoid of any indication as to how the courts that determined the claimants'
custody rights did so without jurisdiction.
Further, although Claimants also allege that the various individuals identified
conspired to violate their constitutional rights, such claims are conclusory,
and Claimants have failed to allege any factual support or specifics of any kind
relating to these allegations. Be that as it may, a cause of action under the
Federal Constitution is not cognizable in this Court (see Ferrer v
State of New York, 172 Misc 2d 1, 5; Gill v State of New York, Ct Cl,
January 10, 2001, Mignano, J., UID #2001-029-042).
Finally, as Defendant correctly points out, all of the events that were
identified in the claim occurred in 1998. The claim in this matter was filed
approximately four years later on October 9, 2002. Under Court of Claims Act
§10(3-b), a claim based upon the intentional tort of a State officer, such
as is alleged here, must be filed within ninety days. It is a fundamental
principle of practice in the Court of Claims that the filing and service
requirements contained in Court of Claims Act §§ 10 and 11 are
jurisdictional in nature and must be strictly construed (Finnerty v New York
State Thruway Auth., 75 NY2d 721, 722; Commack Self-Serv. Kosher Meats v
State of New York, 270 AD2d 687). As such, the Claim must be dismissed as
Based upon the foregoing, it is:
ORDERED, that Defendant's motion to dismiss the claim is granted. The
Claimants' motion for permission to proceed as poor persons is denied as moot.
The Clerk is directed to close the file.