New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

WILLIAMS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2005-016-009, Claim No. 105140


Claim alleging lost property in connection with correctional facility transfer was dismissed following trial on the ground that claimant failed to show ownership of the allegedly missing items

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:
Jerome Williams, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Eliot Spitzer, Attorney GeneralBy: Geoffrey Rossi, Esq., AAG
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
February 8, 2005
New York

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

This decision follows the trial of the claim of Jerome Williams, which was held at Sullivan Correctional Facility. Mr. Williams testified on his own behalf and defendant called Correction Officer H. Pierce.

Williams testified that after he was transferred from Auburn Correctional Facility to Sullivan Correctional Facility, he learned that the following items were missing from his personal property: legal papers, stamps, a wedding band and rugs. Neither in his claim nor in his testimony did Williams state when he was transferred or when he learned of the alleged loss; defendant's exhibit A indicates that his property was unpacked and given to him on August 19, 2001.

Williams valued the legal papers at $4,000 in his claim. At trial, asked what the papers consisted of, he said he was not certain, adding that some were filed by his attorneys, some related to a §1983 action he had, and others to a federal habeas corpus action.

The wedding band was valued at $3,000 in Willliams' claim. He described it as being gold with three rows of diamond chips. Claimant added that the ring had been given to him by "illegal means" during a visit, as the facility does not allow inmates to have diamonds. He acknowledged that as such, he had no package room receipt for the ring, and said that the facility was unaware he had it and would have confiscated it had he been caught.

As to the rugs, which were valued at $1,000 in his claim, Williams said they were antique oriental rugs that had been given to him by the facility's Imam and again, he had no package room receipts for them. At trial, Williams did not elaborate as to the stamps; in his claim, they were valued at $46.92.

Aside from his testimony, to prove ownership of the items, Williams submitted the "I-64 Personal Property Transferred Form" that was annexed to his claim. See claimant's exhibit 1. As set forth more fully below, as concerns the missing items, such form differs from the I-64 submitted by defendant in its exhibit A.

Both versions of the I-64 were prepared on August 17, 2001,
i.e., presumably at Auburn before claimant's transfer to Sullivan, and both indicate possession of a number of items unrelated to this claim, such as books, magazines and shoes. The difference between the two is that on claimant's version, the four items alleged to be lost are checked off on the form, whereas on defendant's version, they are not. In addition, claimant's version is signed by him (although without a date) and has a handwritten note that he is missing the items, whereas such signature and notations are not contained in defendant's version.
Neither version has any indication of August 19, 2001, the date on which claimant's property was given to him, and thus it is unclear whether there was yet another version signed on that date. But in any event, as to the discrepancies between the documents, defendant attempted to show that claimant made the changes in question to the copy of defendant's form which had been given to him, and then annexed it to his claim; for instance, defendant pointed out that the handwriting for the four allegedly missing items appears different from that for the remaining items on the list. For his part, claimant maintained that defendant's copy must have been "tampered with," although such is less convincing in view of the fact that it would require the removal of information from the form.

Overall, I cannot find that claimant has proved, by a preponderance of the evidence, that he owned such items prior to his transfer to Sullivan Correctional Facility. See
PJI 1:60. Accordingly, his claim must fail. In view of the foregoing, claim no. 105140 is dismissed.

February 8, 2005
New York, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims