New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

PETERS v. JUDGE JAMES C. TORMEY, III, #2008-009-028, Claim No. 115165, Motion Nos. M-74925, CM-75039


Synopsis


Claimant’s motion for summary judgment was denied, and defendant’s cross-motion for dismissal was granted based upon a lack of subject matter jurisdiction, judicial immunity, and untimely service and filing.

Case Information

UID:
2008-009-028
Claimant(s):
BERNARD M. PETERS
Claimant short name:
PETERS
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
JUDGE JAMES C. TORMEY, III
Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
115165
Motion number(s):
M-74925
Cross-motion number(s):
CM-75039
Judge:
NICHOLAS V. MIDEY JR.
Claimant’s attorney:
BERNARD M. PETERS, Pro Se
Defendant’s attorney:
HON. ANDREW M. CUOMO
Attorney General
BY: Edward F. McArdle, Esq.,
Assistant Attorney General
Of Counsel.
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
September 30, 2008
City:
Syracuse
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

Claimant has brought this motion (M-74925) seeking summary judgment. Defendant has responded with a pre-answer cross-motion (CM-75039) seeking an order dismissing the claim on several grounds.

The following papers were considered by the Court in connection with these motions:
Notice of Motion, with Exhibits 1


Notice of Cross-Motion, Affirmation in Support, with Exhibits 2,3

Claimant’s Response to Cross-Motion 4


Filed Papers: Claim.

According to the affirmation submitted by defendant’s attorney (see Item 3), claimant apparently was convicted of attempted murder and other crimes in Onondaga County Court in 1995, in which the trial judge was Judge Cunningham. These convictions were then confirmed on appeal (People v Bernard Peters, 249 AD2d 987).

Claimant bases his claim against Judge Tormey, who is the Administrative Judge for the Fifth Judicial District, on allegations of “Fraud, Conspiracy, and Impermissible Misapplication of the Statue/Law (sic) that had occurred on August 28, 1995 in the Court that he is in charge of.” In addition, claimant has also included documents with his claim, including a UCC financing statement and a “notice of final default judgement” addressed to Judge Tormey, by which claimant considers himself an “account creditor”, Judge Tormey is identified as an “account debtor”, and claims that Judge Tormey owes claimant damages in the amount of $5,475,000,000.00.

In addition to this claim for monetary damages from Judge Tormey based upon an unsigned UCC financing statement, claimant, in his motion, also requests that this Court “immediately discharge my property, i.e. my body, currently being held hostage at the Elmira Correctional Facility”.

Initially, it is well settled that the jurisdiction of the Court of Claims is limited to those claims seeking money damages against the State of New York (Matter of Gross v Perales, 72 NY2d 231; Matter of Silverman v Comptroller of the State of New York, 40 AD2d 225). The Court of Claims has no jurisdiction to grant equitable relief (Psaty v Duryea, 306 NY 413), and therefore claimant’s request that this Court immediately “discharge” him from custody at Elmira Correctional Facility, which is viewed by this Court as an application for habeas corpus relief, is beyond the jurisdiction of this Court (CPLR § 7002[b]).

Furthermore, the subject matter jurisdiction of the Court of Claims is limited by statute, and the Court only has jurisdiction over the State of New York, and not individual employees of the State.[1] In this particular matter, claimant has pursued this claim against Judge Tormey individually, based upon certain unsigned documents in which claimant alleges that Judge Tormey is in “default” on a debt. This Court, therefore, lacks subject matter jurisdiction to entertain and hear such a claim.

Additionally, should claimant contend that the State is liable for any actions taken by Judge Tormey with respect to claimant, it is well settled that judges in this State are absolutely immune from civil liability for their judicial acts, and the State is not liable for alleged errors made by a judicial officer in the performance of his or her duties (Murray v Brancato, 290 NY 52; Lombardoni v Boccaccio, 121 AD2d 828). This doctrine of judicial immunity is extremely broad, and extends to virtually all actions taken and decisions made in the performance of one’s judicial functions.

Finally, defendant contends that this claim is untimely, in that neither a claim nor a notice of intention was served upon the Attorney General within 90 days of accrual of the claim, as required by Court of Claims Act § 10(3).

In this claim, claimant alleges that this claim accrued on July 12, 2006, based upon the “Fraud, Conspiracy, and Impermissible Misapplication of the Statue/Law” (sic) which allegedly occurred on August 28, 1995. Although this Court is unable to discern why July 12, 2006 is alleged as the date of accrual, documentation establishes that this claim was served upon the Attorney General on April 21, 2008, and was filed with the Clerk of the Court of Claims on April 24, 2008. There is no evidence submitted herein to suggest that a notice of intention was ever served upon the Attorney General.

Accordingly, whether the Court accepts the date of accrual alleged by claimant (July 12, 2006), or the date on which the alleged conduct occurred (August 28, 1995), it is readily apparent that this claim was not served or filed within 90 days of accrual as required by Court of Claims Act § 10(3).

The service and filing requirements of the Court of Claims Act are jurisdictional prerequisites to the institution and maintenance of a claim against the State and therefore they must be strictly construed (Finnerty v New York State Thruway Auth., 75 NY2d 721; Lepkowski v State of New York, 1 NY3d 201). Therefore, this Court may not cure or overlook defects in the time and/or manner of service and filing. Since this claim was not timely filed, and since defendant properly raised this jurisdictional defect in its pre-answer cross-motion (as required by Court of Claims Act § 11[c]), the claim is jurisdictionally defective and must be dismissed.

Therefore, for all of the foregoing reasons, this claim must be dismissed.

Accordingly, claimant’s motion for summary judgment has been rendered moot and is hereby denied.

It is therefore

ORDERED, that Motion No. M-74925 is hereby DENIED; and it is further

ORDERED, that Cross-Motion No. CM-75039 is hereby GRANTED; and it is further

ORDERED, that Claim No. 115165 is hereby DISMISSED.


September 30, 2008
Syracuse, New York

HON. NICHOLAS V. MIDEY JR.
Judge of the Court of Claims




[1]. The Court of Claims also has jurisdiction over certain designated State agencies (Court of Claims Act § 9), none of which are pertinent herein.