New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

JACKSON v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2008-038-597, Claim No. 114376, Motion No. M-74354


Synopsis


Claimant’s motion for summary judgment on liability granted. Claimant demonstrated that he was wrongfully confined when he was incarcerated on a parole violation after his sentence should have been terminated pursuant to Executive Law § 259-j (3-a), and defendant did not raise a triable issue of fact. Defendant’s opposition on the grounds that discovery was incomplete fails, as it did not demonstrate the possibility of discovering facts that were exclusively within claimant’s knowledge.

Case Information

UID:
2008-038-597
Claimant(s):
RONALD JACKSON
1 1.The caption has been amended, sua sponte, to name the State of New York as the proper defendant.
Claimant short name:
JACKSON
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
The caption has been amended, sua sponte, to name the State of New York as the proper defendant.
Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
114376
Motion number(s):
M-74354
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
W. BROOKS DeBOW
Claimant’s attorney:
STEWART L. WEISMAN, Esq.
Defendant’s attorney:
ANDREW M. CUOMO, Attorney General of the State of New York
By: Michael T. Krenrich, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
May 28, 2008
City:
Albany
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

This claim seeks damages for the alleged wrongful confinement of claimant in a State correctional facility for a period of 105 days. Claimant seeks summary judgment on the issue of liability; defendant opposes the motion. As alleged in the claim, claimant served the minimum term of a two and one third to seven year sentence of incarceration, which had been imposed upon his conviction for criminal possession of marijuana in the first degree (Penal Law §221.30). He was released to parole supervision on or about December 29, 2003. As set forth in his affidavit, claimant was charged with a violation of parole sometime in 2005, and was placed in the High Impact Incarceration Program (HIIP). Claimant’s completion of the HIIP removed the 2005 parole violation. On or about January 31, 2007, defendant charged claimant with a violation of parole, which resulted in his incarceration. Claimant petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus on the ground that his confinement was in violation of “Executive Law § 259-j (3)(a)” [sic] (Jackson Affidavit in Support, sworn to Dec. 20, 2007, at ¶ 9), which requires defendant to “grant termination of sentence after two years of unrevoked parole to a person serving an indeterminate sentence for any [non-A] felony offense defined in article two hundred twenty or two hundred twenty-one of the penal law” (Executive Law § 259-j [3-a]). The writ of habeas corpus was granted on May 11, 2007 by Acting Supreme Court Justice Brunetti, with the State “indicating that it consents to an order granting the Writ and ordering discharge, pursuant to Executive Law § 259-j (3)(a) [sic]” (Exhibit A to Jackson Affidavit, sworn to Dec. 20, 2007]), and he was released from incarceration on May 15, 2007. Claimant has commenced this action seeking compensation for the 105 days during which he was allegedly wrongfully incarcerated.

Defendant does not oppose the motion on its merits, but contends that it is premature because claimant has yet to respond to defendant’s discovery demands, and defendant has not had sufficient time to conduct its discovery. This argument is unavailing, as defendant does not demonstrate that further discovery – specifically the deposition of claimant to determine facts relating to the disposition of his initial violation – might yield relevant facts or information that are within claimant’s exclusive knowledge (see Kirtoglou v Fogarty, 235 AD2d 1019, 1022 [3d Dept 1997]; Halsey v County of Madison, 215 AD2d 824, 824-825 [3d Dept 1995]). Moreover, in reply to the assertion that further discovery is needed to ascertain whether the prior violation was actually cancelled, claimant submits a letter from the Division of Parole, dated April 4, 2007, that conclusive resolves that question in favor of claimant (see Exhibit to Weisman Reply Affirmation). Defendant does not indicate what other witnesses it might seek to depose, and its claim that it needs time to “obtain relevant documentation from the Department of Corrections and Division of Parole” (Krenrich Affirmation, ¶ 8) is unpersuasive, inasmuch as this claim was served upon defendant in November of 2007, and relevant documents within the custody of the Department of Correctional Services and the Division of Parole would presumably be readily available to the Office of the Attorney General. Accordingly, defendant’s opposition to claimant’s motion on this ground fails.

Turning to the merits, a movant for summary judgment must establish, by proof in admissible form, the right to judgment as a matter of law (Alvarez v Prospect Hosp., 68 NY2d 320, 324 [1986]; Friends of Animals v Associated Fur Mfrs., 46 NY2d 1065, 1067 [1979]). If the movant establishes prima facie entitlement to summary judgment, the burden then shifts to the opponent of the motion to establish, by admissible proof, the existence of genuine issues of material fact (Alvarez v Prospect Hosp., supra; Zuckerman v City of New York, 49 NY2d 557, 562 [1980]). Here, claimant must establish the elements of a cause of action for wrongful confinement: “that the defendant intended to confine the plaintiff, that the plaintiff was conscious of the confinement and did not consent to the confinement, and that the confinement was not otherwise privileged” (Martinez v City of Schenectady, 97 NY2d 78, 85 [2001]; Broughton v State of New York, 37 NY2d 451, 456 [1975] cert denied sub nom Schanbarger v Kellogg, 423 US 929 [1975]; Pratt v State of New York, UID # 2008-030-005, Claim No. 110574, Scuccimarra, J. [Jan. 15, 2008]).

Defendant’s intention to confine claimant is manifest in his incarceration in a state correctional facility. In his affidavit in support of his motion, claimant asserts that he was conscious of his confinement, and his lack of consent is plainly evident from his filing of a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. He asserts that Executive Law § 259-j (3-a) mandated the termination of his sentence prior to his violation in January 2007, and that he was improperly incarcerated (see Affidavit of Ronald Jackson, sworn to Dec. 20, 2007), assertions which are confirmed by Justice Brunetti’s Decision/Order granting the writ of habeas corpus upon defendant’s consent. Inasmuch as that Decision/Order has not been appealed from, it conclusively establishes that claimant’s confinement was unlawful and not privileged (see Williams v State of New York, 8 Misc 2d 390, 391 [1957], affd 5 AD2d 936 [3d Dept 1958], lv denied 4 NY2d 678 [1958]; Bratton v State of New York, UID # 2003-015-366, Claim No. 107763, Motion Nos. M-67330 and CM-67462, Collins, J. [Nov. 17, 2003]). In sum, claimant has established all of the elements of a claim for wrongful confinement, demonstrating his entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. Defendant has not met its burden of raising a triable issue of material fact, and accordingly, it is

ORDERED, that claimant’s motion for summary judgment on liability is GRANTED, and it is further

ORDERED, that the claim shall be scheduled for a trial of damages as soon as practicable.

May 28, 2008
Albany, New York

HON. W. BROOKS DEBOW
Judge of the Court of Claims


Papers considered
:


(1) Notice of Motion for Summary Judgment, dated December 20, 2007;

(2) Affirmation of Stewart L. Weisman, Esq., dated December 20, 2007, with exhibits B-C;

(3) Affidavit of Ronald Jackson, sworn to December 20, 2007, with exhibit A;

(4) Plaintiff’s [sic] Memorandum of Law, dated December 20, 2007;

(5) Affirmation in Opposition of Michael T. Krenrich, dated February 13, 2008;

(6) Reply Affirmation of Stewart L. Weisman, Esq., dated February 17, 2008, with exhibit.