New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

MATHIS v. STATE OF NEW YORK, #2005-018-454, Claim No. 109380, Motion No. M-69182


Synopsis


Claimant's motion for assignment of court-appointed attorney is denied.

Case Information

UID:
2005-018-454
Claimant(s):
CORNELL MATHIS
Claimant short name:
MATHIS
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
109380
Motion number(s):
M-69182
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
DIANE L. FITZPATRICK
Claimant's attorney:
CORNELL MATHISPro Se
Defendant's attorney:
ELIOT SPITZER
Attorney General of the State of New York
By: ED J. THOMSON, ESQUIREAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
February 1, 2005
City:
Syracuse
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

Claimant brings this motion for an order to assign him a court-appointed attorney. He

attaches copies of letters from attorneys to his motion from whom he has unsuccessfully sought legal representation. This is Claimant's second motion requesting such relief; his first motion (Motion No. M-68645) requested permission to proceed as a poor person, specifically a reduction in the filing fee and appointment of counsel. The Honorable Richard E. Sise, Presiding Judge of the Court of Claims, by Order dated and filed May 27, 2004, denied Claimant's request for a reduction in the filing fee and by Decision and Order dated August 18, 2004, I denied his request for a court-appointed attorney. This current motion appears to be more of a motion to renew (CPLR 2221[e]) in that he attaches a letter to me seeking reconsideration of my denial of his prior motion and presents, for the first time, copies of letters from attorneys he has unsuccessfully contacted for representation, including the County Attorney. Claimant has, according to his affidavit of service, served both the Attorney General of the State of New York, as well as the County Attorney with a copy of these current motion papers. No response has been filed by either the Attorney General or the County Attorney.

Although it is apparent that Claimant has made a diligent effort to retain private counsel, there is no constitutional or statutory mandate which requires the appointment of counsel in matters of civil litigation (see Matter of Smiley, 36 NY2d 433; Stephens v State of New York, 93 Misc 2d 273). The Court of Appeals' determination in Smiley, 36 NY2d 433, has been interpreted as holding that courts should not assign private counsel without compensation unless the case involves a matter of grievous forfeiture or loss of a fundamental right (Wills v City of Troy, 258 AD2d 849; Morgenthau v Garcia, 148 Misc 2d 900, 903). This claim does not rise to that level. The claim and the circumstances of this case, involve facts which are not complicated and there are no complex issues of law (see Smiley, 36 NY2d 433; Courtwright v State of New York, Ct Cl, filed March 20, 1997, Corbett, J., Claim No. 95042, Motion No. M-54516). Although Claimant has clearly had some difficulty retaining private counsel, he has certainly not exhausted his resources.

Based upon the foregoing, Claimant's motion is DENIED in its entirety.


February 1, 2005
Syracuse, New York

HON. DIANE L. FITZPATRICK
Judge of the Court of Claims


The Court has considered the following documents in deciding this motion:


Notice of Motion.....................................................................................................1


Letter from Cornell Mathis, in support, with attachments.......................................2


No response was received from the Office of the Attorney General.