New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

WILLIAMS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2006-016-060, Claim No. 107689, Motion Nos. M-70842, CM-71068


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:
Stephen G. Kennedy, Esq.
Defendant’s attorney:
Eliot Spitzer, Attorney GeneralBy: Leslie A. Stroth, Esq., AAG and Ellen Matowik-Russell, Esq., AAG
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
September 21, 2006
New York

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Claimant John Williams moves for summary judgment on liability and defendant cross-moves for summary judgment dismissing Mr. Williams’ claim, which is for false arrest and imprisonment for the period running from December 2, 2002 to February 10, 2003. Specifically, the claim alleges:
That Claimant was arrested and indicted under New York County Indictment 12950/93. Pending disposition of said case, Claimant was arrested in the State of North Carolina and entered into a Plea Agreement which promised a term of ten (10) years. That prior to being sentenced, on and pursuant to the terms of the Plea Agreement, Claimant appeared before the Hon. George Roberts, Part 30, Supreme Court, State of New York, County of New York, with counsel, and negotiated a Plea to a term of two to four (2-4) years, [concurrent] to the sentence in the State of North Carolina and to be served while incarcerated in North Carolina. As claimant was to start serving his sentence in North Carolina, prior to his sentencing in New York, Claimant executed a signed notarized consent to be sentenced in absentia which was served upon the Court on June 23, 1994 and made part of the record. Claimant was then sentenced in absentia to a concurrent term of 2-4 years with the term in North Carolina, to be served in North Carolina. Claimant completed his term of incarceration in North Carolina on or about April 4, 1997. Claimant completed parole in North Carolina in June, 1997, and thereafter returned to New York in December 1997.

That on or about December 2, 2002, Claimant appeared on a Desk Appearance ticket at Midtown Community Court, in Manhattan in an unrelated matter where he was detained on an eight year old warrant which, upon information and belief was erroneously issued from Part 30 in 1994, under indictment number 12950/93. The warrant claimed that the Claimant absconded from Court and never served any time. Claimant was sentenced in New York County, by the Hon. Brenda Soloff, on or about December 2, 2002, to a term of imprisonment of 2-4 years in the State Correction System.

That defendant intentionally and negligently caused the Claimant to be confined on an erroneous warrant from December 2, 2002, to his release date from Rikers Island, on or about February 10, 2003. Claimant was confined . . . . in the State of New York, Department of Correctional Service, Ulster Correctional Facility, from on or about January 24, 2003 to the date of his release back to Rikers Island on January 28, 2003. That Claimant knew of and did not consent to the confinement and the confinement was not otherwise privileged.

Claimant has pled his cause of action as one for false arrest and imprisonment. It is well established that an arrest made pursuant to a warrant that is valid on its face and issued by a court possessing jurisdiction does not give rise to a cause of action for false arrest and imprisonment -- even if the warrant was erroneous.[1] See, e.g., Salzano v Town of Poughkeepsie, 300 AD2d 716, 717, 751 NYS2d 130, 131 (3d Dept 2002), a case with facts similar to the instant one, in which a previous warrant issued against plaintiff was “[f]or whatever reason” mistakenly not withdrawn. It is important to note that there has been no allegation by Williams that the warrant in this case was not facially valid or that the court lacked jurisdiction, only, as in Salzano, that it was erroneously outstanding.

In fact, an arrest made pursuant to a warrant that is facially valid and issued by a court possessing jurisdiction can give rise only to a cause of action for malicious prosecution -- not one for false arrest and imprisonment. See Broughton v State of New York, 37 NY2d 451, 457-58, 373 NYS2d 87, 94 (1975) and Conkey v State of New York, 74 AD2d 998, 427 NYS2d 330 (4th Dept 1980). The elements of such a cause of action are: (1) the commencement or continuation of a criminal proceeding by the defendant against the claimant; (2) the termination of the proceeding in favor of the accused; (3) the absence of probable cause for the criminal proceeding; and (4) actual malice. See Broughton, supra, 37 NY2d at 457, 373 NYS2d at 94. Claimant in the instant case has failed to plead a cause of action for malicious prosecution, nor could he successfully do so under the facts as alleged.

In view of the foregoing, having reviewed the parties’ submissions[2], IT IS ORDERED that motion no. M-70842 be denied, that CM-71068 be granted and that claim no. 107689 be dismissed.

September 21, 2006
New York, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

  1. [1]As the Court of Appeals has noted, “[a] qualification to this rule has been applied in the so-called ‘misnomer cases’ . . .” Davis v City of Syracuse, 66 NY2d 840, 842, 498 NYS2d 355, 357 (1985). Such is obviously inapplicable in the instant case.
  2. [2]The following were reviewed: claimant’s notice of motion with affirmation in support and exhibits A through H; defendant’s notice of cross-motion with affirmation in support and exhibits A through G; claimant’s “Reply and Opposition to Defendant’s Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment”; defendant’s “Affirmation in Reply: and claimant’s “Sur-Reply to Defendant’s Reply and Opposition to Claimant’s Motion for Summary Judgment.”