Claimant's motion to compel the defendant to produce copies of all papers,
records or documents relating to his alleged illegal confinement by the
Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) between January 17, 2003 and February
10, 2003 is granted. The claim filed on April 25, 2003 seeks damages for
claimant's alleged illegal confinement by DOCS for "twenty-four (24) days of SHU
and keeplock confinement, loss of access to law library, shower, recreation,
phones, access to the messhall [sic], packages, etc." Claimant alleges
that the illegal confinement occurred after the December 6, 2002 administrative
reversal and expungement of a conviction on one or more disciplinary charges
found after a hearing held October 31, 2002.
On the motion claimant alleges that he served a demand (i.e., his request) for
the production and inspection of documents on an unidentified representative of
the defendant on August 18, 2003. He sent a follow-up letter on September 25,
2003 to Assistant Attorney General Kathleen M. Resnick and allegedly received a
reply indicating that documents would be provided once they became available.
Although he alleged in his affidavit on the motion that the reply was annexed as
"Exhibit A" no such document was attached to the motion papers.
On November 24, 2003 claimant again wrote to Assistant Attorney General Resnick
this time referencing two claim numbers, one of which was incomplete. This
letter indicated that the State's failure to comply with the writer's demand by
December 1, 2003 would result in the filing of a motion to compel
After filing and service of the motion claimant filed and served an "affidavit
in addendum" in which he complained of the inadequacy of defendant's response
and requested "log books from the varies [sic] prisons between November
24, 2002, until the claimant was released from confinement on February 10,
2003." The November 24, 2002 date does not appear in either the August 18, 2003
discovery demand nor in any of claimant's aforementioned letters which he
attached to the motion.
The defendant, by Assistant Attorney General Elyse Angelico, opposed the motion
alleging that although claimant was notified by service of the State's answer to
claim no. 107664 (defendant's Exhibit B) dated June 2, 2003 that she (Ms.
Angelico) was the Assistant Attorney General assigned to that claim claimant
failed to serve his demand or his follow up correspondence upon her. Ms.
Angelico alleges that the instant motion to compel is, therefore, premature
since she was not given an opportunity to respond to claimant's requests.
Furthermore, defense counsel alleges that she replied to claimant's August 18,
2003 demand by a response dated November 26, 2003 (defendant's Exhibit D).
Defense counsel asserts that claimant's motion seeking any and all papers,
records or documents relative to his illegal confinement between January 17,
2003 and February 10, 2003 is over broad and burdensome and should be stricken
as improper. She further alleges that claimant's demands are so vague that the
defendant is unable to determine with certainty what specific documents claimant
In his reply affidavit claimant alleges that the State's opposition to his
motion is disingenuous and that his original demand was proper.
The purpose of pre-trial discovery is "to advance the function of the trial to
ascertain truth and to accelerate the disposition of suits" (Rios v
Donovan, 21 AD2d 409, 411; Siegel, NY Practice § 343 at 489 [2d ed]).
That purpose is served by the free exchange of information in response to
Claimant asserts in both his "affidavit in addendum" and in his reply
affidavit that the computer generated chronological history of his movement
within the correctional system from November 3, 1989 until March 18, 2003
provided by the defendant fails to satisfy his discovery demand and deprives him
of facts needed to meet his burden of proving illegal confinement.
Particularly, he notes the absence of information regarding his status during
the relevant transfers and the lack of information regarding the areas in which
he was held at the various facilities.
The aforementioned chronological history (defendant's Exhibit B to defendant's
responses) contains a column marked "cell," without a legend explaining the
designations appearing in that column. Neither claimant nor the Court can
determine from the information provided in what type of unit claimant was held
at each of the designated facilities. This is clearly information to which the
claimant is entitled, especially where the State has failed to raise any
concerns regarding prison security in opposition to the motion.
Furthermore, despite defense counsel's assertion to the contrary, claimant's
August 18, 2003 demand is neither over broad nor burdensome and is found by the
Court to be appropriately limited even if somewhat difficult to decipher.
Accordingly, claimant's motion is granted and the defendant is directed to
serve appropriate responses to each of the stated demands. Such responses shall
be provided within 60 days of the filing date of this decision and order.