New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

LETELLIER v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2004-016-026, Claim No. 98140, Motion No. M-67615


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):

Alan C. Marin
Claimant's attorney:
Alan D. Levine, Esq.
Defendant's attorney:
Eliot Spitzer, Attorney GeneralBy: Leslie A. Stroth, Esq., AAG
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
May 17, 2004
New York

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


This is defendant's motion for summary judgment dismissing the claim of Craig Letellier. In his underlying claim, Mr. Letellier alleges that on April 10, 1997, while assigned to a work release program under the jurisdiction of the New York State Department of Correctional Services ("DOCS"), he was falsely accused of absconding, after which he was removed from the work release program and reincarcerated for approximately seventy-four days. Claimant maintains that he was removed from the work release program because "false and incorrect information" was used against him which was a result of "negligent and intentional and malicious conduct" on the part of defendant. See ¶¶1-10 of the Claim.

The undisputed facts are as follows. On or about March 7, 1997, Letellier entered into the work release program, which required him to report to the Queensboro Work Release Facility twice a week. On other days, he was permitted to reside at a private residence approved by DOCS.

On April 10, 1997, claimant was due to report to the Work Release Facility at 1:00 p.m. but failed to show up because, earlier that day, he was arrested in Kings County for possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree. According to claimant, the substance was in fact a medication which had been prescribed for him. In any event, the Kings County District Attorney's office declined to prosecute claimant on the charge.

After Letellier was arrested, it was discovered that he had an outstanding warrant for traffic violations from 1995, and on April 11, 1997, he was returned to court for an appearance on the warrant. The case was disposed of pursuant to Criminal Procedure Law §170.55 (an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal ("ACD")).

On April 11, 1997, claimant was issued a misbehavior report by DOCS because he had failed to report to work release the previous day.[1] He was returned to Fishkill Correctional Facility on April 17, 1997.[2] See also 7 NYCRR §1904.2(r).

On May 30, 1997, the Temporary Release Committee of the Fishkill facility held a hearing with regard to claimant's work release status and decided to suspend him from the program until he was no longer subject to the conditions of the traffic warrant ACD, i.e., until October 10, 1997.[3] Claimant appealed the Committee's decision and on June 9, 1997, the decision was reversed by the Director of the Temporary Release Program.[4] On June 18, 1997, claimant was returned to the work release program.
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7 NYCRR §1904.1(a) provides in relevant part that:
. . . An inmate does not have the right to participate, or to continue to participate, in the temporary release programming. A superintendent may at any time revoke an inmate's participation in the temporary release program, and upon the recommendation of the temporary release committee, the commissioner, or the chairman of the board of parole or his designee, shall revoke an inmate's privilege to participate in the temporary release program.

The regulations list fourteen "[i]ndicators of unsuitability for continued participation in the temporary release program," any one of which is sufficient for termination from the program. See 7 NYCRR §1904.1(c). Such list includes "arrest and/or conviction for crimes committed while participating in the temporary release program" and "outstanding warrants/detainers . . ." In this case, it is undisputed that claimant was arrested while in the program and also that he had an outstanding warrant, two of the enumerated grounds for removal from the program. There is no allegation that Letellier was denied a hearing or that there were violations of any rules and regulations with regard to timing, notice or otherwise.

Claimant argues that the State violated the Criminal Procedure Law by "us[ing] the [ACD] as a reason for reincarcerating him," citing CPL §170.55, which essentially provides that the granting of an ACD "shall not be deemed to be a conviction or an admission of guilt. No person shall suffer any disability or forfeiture as a result of such an order." Such ignores the fact that it is the warrant itself, not its disposition, which was a ground for removing claimant from the work release program and claimant has submitted no authority on point to support this argument.

Moreover, in Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212, 216, 532 NYS2d 57, 58-59 (1988) (citations omitted), the Court of Appeals stated that :
With the enactment of the Court of Claims Act §8, the State waived that immunity which it had enjoyed solely by reason of its sovereign character . . . While assuming liability under the rules applicable to corporations and individuals for the actions of its officers and employees in the everyday operations of government . . . the State retained its immunity for those governmental actions requiring expert judgment or the exercise of discretion . . . This immunity, we have held, is absolute when the action involves the conscious exercise of discretion of a judicial or quasi-judicial nature . . .

Such immunity has been extended to the State Parole Board (see Tarter v State of New York, 68 NY2d 511, 510 NYS2d 528 (1986)) and also to the Temporary Release Committee (see Santangelo v State of New York, 101 AD2d 20, 474 NYS2d 995 (4th Dept 1984). In sum, I find no violation of applicable rules and regulations that would undercut immunity in this case.

Accordingly, having reviewed the submissions[5], IT IS ORDERED that motion no. M-67615 be granted and claim no. 98140 be dismissed.

May 17, 2004
New York, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

  1. [1]A disciplinary hearing was held on May 13, 1997 and the misbehavior report was dismissed as it was found that claimant did not intentionally abscond, but was arrested prior to his reporting time on a charge on which he was ultimately not prosecuted.
  1. [2]Such was apparently done pursuant to 7 NYCRR §1904.2(q) which provides that:
[w]here the superintendent revokes an inmate's privilege to participate in the temporary release program, he will immediately decide whether or not the inmate's removal from the temporary release [program] makes him unsuitable to remain at his present facility. If the superintendent determines that the inmate should not remain at his present facility, he shall contact the director of the temporary release program to obtain a transfer order to a more secure facility.

  1. [3]See 7 NYCRR §1904.1(l), which provides in relevant part that:
When . . . the temporary release committee is reviewing an inmate's appropriateness for continued participation in a temporary release program, the temporary release committee shall conduct a full hearing to ensure that the inmate has been afforded due process . . .
  1. [4]See 7 NYCRR §1904.4.
  2. [5]The following were reviewed: defendant's notice of motion with affirmation in support and exhibits A-J, the affidavit of Debra R. Joy and memorandum of law; claimant's affirmation in opposition with exhibits A-H and memorandum of law; and defendant's reply affirmation .