New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

HALL v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2007-041-052, Claim No. 107826, Motion No. M-74183


Claimant’s application for a court-issued subpoena on an inmate is denied for failure to show relevance and necessity of inmate testimony; request for court-issued subpoenas on non-inmate witnesses granted without requiring claimant to show relevance of requested testimony prior to issuance of subpoenas.

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:
Defendant’s attorney:
New York State Attorney GeneralBy: Saul Aronson, Esq., Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
November 7, 2007

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Claimant has submitted three subpoenas, apparently for the purpose of obtaining court ordered, or at least court-issued, subpoenas directing defendant to produce the witnesses identified in the subpoenas at the trial of this claim. Claimant has not provided an affidavit, or even an unsworn statement, in support of his request. Defendant opposes issuance of the subpoenas. Claimant is an inmate at Upstate Correctional Facility. This claim arose at Clinton Correctional Facility (Clinton) on May 19, 2002, as a result of an alleged assault upon claimant by an unknown fellow inmate who allegedly splashed a hot liquid on claimant’s face, causing 1st and 2nd degree burns.

Claimant seeks court-issued subpoenas for service on the following individuals: Paul Daley, allegedly employed by the Mental Health Dept. of Green Haven Correctional Facility; Steve Lacy, allegedly a correction officer at Clinton; and fellow inmate Dell Sinanaj.

Claimant, as an inmate proceeding pro se, is not a person authorized to issue subpoenas and must therefore apply to the “clerk of the court” or to an appropriate judge for issuance of the subpoenas (CPLR 2302 [a]). With respect to the subpoena of an inmate, CPLR 2302 (b) provides that a “subpoena to compel . . . attendance of any person confined in a penitentiary or jail, shall be issued by the court. Unless the court orders otherwise, a motion for such subpoena shall be made on at least one day’s notice to the person having custody of the record, document or person confined.”

The defendant objects to issuance of the subpoenas, asserting that the “claimant did not serve the subpoenas with required fees on any of the individuals named therein.” Defendant also “questions the motivation and reason for the requested subpoena.” Finally, defendant expresses security concerns regarding the inmate witness and objects that the inmate has not had an “opportunity to be heard on the matter.”

Claimant’s application is denied with respect to inmate Sinanaj. In Sebastiano v State of New York (112 Misc 2d 1027, 1028 [Ct Cl 1981]), the court stated that the CPLR 2302 (b) requirement of a court-ordered subpoena with respect to inmates:
“[I]s to permit the court to exercise discretion in requiring the attendance of prisoners at a trial. A court should not, without a compelling necessity, require the Department of Correctional Services to transport 12 prisoners to a central point from such widely separated locations as Clinton, Greenhaven, Great Meadow, Sing Sing, Eastern and Auburn. The security problem is serious and the expense would be burdensome to the taxpayers of the State of New York.”
It is the claimant’s burden to show that the testimony of the requested inmate is “necessary to the prosecution of his claim” (Ramirez v the State of New York, [Ct Cl, Hard, J., UID #2006-032-049]; see Livingston v State of New York, 267 AD2d 972 [4th Dept 1999]).

Claimant has offered no information demonstrating the materiality or necessity of the requested inmate’s testimony. The Court has reviewed the claim and the relevance of the testimony of the requested inmate is not apparent.

The Court will issue the subpoenas directed to Paul Daley and Steve Lacy. Contrary to defendant’s objection, claimant need not proffer witness and mileage fees to the proposed witnesses until the subpoenas are served.

Claimant’s “motivation and reason” for the requested subpoenas on the non-inmate witnesses is irrelevant. Unlike a subpoena directed at an inmate, claimant is not required to prove the relevance of the proposed witnesses’ testimony prior to issuance of the subpoena (see Matter of Martisco Bean & Grain Co., Inc. v. Gerace, 124 AD2d 408 [3d Dept 1986]; Matter of Derle Farms, Inc. v Barber, 79 AD2d 1050 [3d Dept 1981]; Matter of Coney Is. Dairy Prods. Corp. v Baldwin, 243 App Div 178 [3d Dept 1935]). If, and when, claimant serves the court-issued subpoenas on the non-inmate witnesses, defendant may make an application to quash the subpoenas on any appropriate grounds (CPLR 2304).

Claimant is directed to serve the subpoenas on Daley and Lacy pursuant to the requirements of the CPLR, including the requirement that witness and mileage fees be paid in advance (CPLR 2303 & 8001).

The application is granted in part and denied in part, as set forth above.

November 7, 2007
Albany, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

Papers Considered:

  1. Claimant’s subpoenas, filed October 29, 2007;
  2. Letter in Opposition of Saul Aronson, dated November 1, 2007.
  3. Letter in Opposition of Saul Aronson, dated November 7, 2007.