New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

LEWIS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2006-028-594, Claim No. 111590, Motion No. M-71746


Synopsis


Inmate’s motion to compel is granted in part and denied in part, with disciplinary records regarding the alleged assailant to be submitted for in camera review.



Case Information

UID:
2006-028-594
Claimant(s):
JAMES LEWIS
Claimant short name:
LEWIS
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
111590
Motion number(s):
M-71746
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
RICHARD E. SISE
Claimant’s attorney:
JAMES LEWIS, pro se
Defendant’s attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER, ATTORNEY GENERALBY: Frederick H. McGown, III, AAG
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
October 17, 2006
City:
Albany
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Decision

The following papers were read on Claimant’s motion to compel the production of certain documents:

1. Notice of Motion and Supporting Affidavit of James Lewis, pro se


2. Affirmation in Opposition of Frederick H. McGown, III, AAG


3. Reply Affidavit of James Lewis, pro se


Filed papers: Claim; Answer

This action arises out of an attack on Claimant by another inmate of Coxsackie Correctional Facility. By this motion, Claimant seeks to compel the production of the following documents:
1. Any/all policies or procedures of Coxsackie Correctional Facility regarding the securing of Keeplock status inmates that was effective until April 2005.
2. Any/all documentation of inmate Pablo Powell’s, 03A6875, violent conduct.
3. Any/all documentation of inmate Pablo Powell’s, 03A6875 affiliation or allege[d] affiliation with the gang, “Bloods.”


In his supporting Affidavit, Claimant acknowledges that Defendant responded to the discovery demand listing these documents but states that there was not full compliance with the demand.

Defense counsel maintains that the responses to Claimant’s demand for the facility policy and procedures was complete, in that the policies and procedures had been provided in response to Claimant’s Combined Demand. According to Claimant, however, the information provided was a directive relating to special housing units, which is different than Keeplock. Keeplock refers to the status of inmates who have been confined to their cells in a general population housing unit, while special housing units are entirely separate units. Keeplock, therefore, is considered to be a milder form of disciplinary confinement (see discussion in Gittens v State of New York, 132 Misc 2d 399 [Ct Cl 1986]). Since neither party has provided the Court with a copy of the directive that was provided, it is impossible to determine if there has been full compliance with this demand. Claimant is entitled to a copy of the policies and procedures relevant to Keeplock status at Coxsackie Correctional Facility. If these were not provided previously, counsel for Defendant is hereby directed to serve Claimant with copies of such documents.

Defense counsel states that the two other items were not, in fact, contained in any discovery demand submitted by Claimant, a statement that is disputed by Claimant. In any event, Defendant objects to both of those demands, on the grounds that release of the assailant’s disciplinary information would pose a serious threat to the inmate and facility and, with respect to any information maintained about gang affiliation, that would be the result of confidential investigations and not appropriate for disclosure to the inmate population. In order to prevail in proving his claim, Claimant will have to establish a one of the following: (1) that the State knew or should have known that claimant was at risk of being assaulted and yet failed to provide reasonable protection; (2) that the State knew or should have known that the assailant was prone to perpetrating such an assault and the State did not take proper precautionary measures; or (3) that the State had ample notice and opportunity to intervene but did not act. (Sanchez v State of New York, 99 NY2d 247 [2002]). Consequently, inmate Powell’s disciplinary record is relevant and material to this action.

In order to protect that inmate’s privacy as much as possible and to minimize any risk to security, the State is directed to produce two copies of inmate Powell's disciplinary history and disciplinary hearing history including violent misbehavior reports, if any, to the Court for in camera review. One of these copies is to be unredacted, while the second copy is to be redacted in a manner that the State believes presents information relevant to this claim while protecting privileged or irrelevant information from disclosure. These records are to be provided to the Court within sixty (60) days of the date this Decision and Order is filed-stamped. The Court will then determine whether and how any portion of the documents is to be provided to Claimant.

With respect to information regarding any affiliation that inmate Powell may have with an organized “gang”, Claimant has failed to show how such information would assist him in proving the necessary elements of his cause of action. For this reason, the State will not be required to provide this information, and thus it is not necessary to consider whether disclosure of such information would have an adverse effect on facility safety and security.

Claimant’s motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part, as set forth above.


October 17, 2006
Albany, New York

HON. RICHARD E. SISE
Judge of the Court of Claims