New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

RABINOWITZ v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2004-033-084, Claim No. 108108, Motion No. M-68831


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:
James J. O'Rourke & AssociatesBy: Stephan D. Trace, Esq.
Defendant's attorney:
Christine Malafi, Suffolk County AttorneyBy: Christopher A. Jeffreys, Assistant County Attorney
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
October 7, 2004

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


This is a claim by Arnold Rabinowitz (hereinafter "claimant") for false arrest, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution which arose on June 30, 2002 for injuries allegedly caused by defendant, the State of New York (hereinafter "defendant").

Claimant was arrested by the Suffolk County Police on that date pursuant to an Order of Protection. Claimant states that the Order of Protection, for which he was allegedly in violation, had been vacated on August 10, 2001. According to claimant, a mistake was made by failing to eliminate the Order of Protection from the legal system. The chief clerk of Suffolk County District Court testified at a deposition that the Suffolk County Sheriff's Department had been advised that the Order of Protection had been vacated.

Claimant seeks to take depositions of the Suffolk County Sheriff's Department personnel as non-party witnesses in this action. To that end, claimant prepared a subpoena and sent it to the Sheriff's Department.

The Suffolk County Attorney's Office (hereinafter "Suffolk") now moves this Court for an order quashing the non-party subpoena[1]. In support thereof, its counsel makes two arguments. First, that claimant is trying to improperly avoid a stay issued by Supreme Court, and, second, that the subpoena is invalid.

As to its first argument, Suffolk states that claimant brought an action against the County of Suffolk and the Suffolk County Police Department in Supreme Court. According to Suffolk, a motion for summary judgment having been filed in that action, discovery in this action is automatically stayed pursuant to CPLR 3214.

The establishment of the court system is found in article VI of the New York State Constitution. Article VI, §7 states that the Supreme Court shall "have general original jurisdiction in law and equity and the appellate jurisdiction herein provided."
The Supreme Court in this State is a court of general original jurisdiction in law and equity (see N. Y. Const., art. VI, § 7, subd. a.) and, in conformity with its all inclusive powers, the court is authorized in any action to render such judgment as is appropriate to the proofs received in conformity with the allegations of the pleadings, irrespective of the nature of the relief demanded, subject, of course, in a proper case, to the imposition of such terms as may be necessary to protect the rights of any party.
(Kaminsky v Kahn, 23 AD2d 231, 236).

Separately, the Court of Claims is established by NY Const, art VI, §9, which states, in relevant part, that "[t]he court shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine claims against the state or by the state against the claimant or between conflicting claimants as the legislature may provide." The Court of Claims is limited to awarding money damages against the State of New York (Matter of Silverman v Comptroller, 40 AD2d 225).

Supreme Court and Court of Claims, within its constitutional authority, are equal courts of original jurisdiction. Neither court can control the other, even when dealing with the same incident. In this action, claimant is entitled to depose personnel from the Sheriff's Department as non-party witnesses. Suffolk's attempt to circumvent the New York State Constitution and prioritize the Court of Claims behind Supreme Court is rejected.

Suffolk is correct in that the subpoena first served upon the Sheriff's Department is defective. However, now that Suffolk is aware of the reasons claimant is seeking staff personnel from the Sheriff's Department to testify, the requirements of CPLR 2307, requiring one day advance notice of the subpoena, have been satisfied. Claimant is directed to submit a subpoena which conforms to CPLR 3101(a)(4) to the Court.

Based on the foregoing Suffolk's motion to quash the subpoena is denied.

October 7, 2004
Hauppauge, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

[1]The following papers have been read and considered on Suffolk's motion to quash: Notice of Motion to Quash dated July 16, 2004 and filed July 26, 2004; Affirmation in Support of Christopher A. Jeffreys, Esq. with annexed Exhibits A-G dated July 16, 2004 and filed July 26, 2004; Affirmation in Opposition of Stephan D. Trace, Esq. with annexed Exhibits A-D dated August 9, 2004 and filed August 13, 2004; Reply Affirmation of Christopher A. Jeffreys, Esq. dated August 19, 2004 and filed August 26, 2004.