Claimant, an inmate proceeding pro se,
this claim seeking damages for Supreme Court’s alleged errors in vacating
a writ of habeas corpus on one occasion, and failing to issue a writ of habeas
corpus on another occasion. Defendant answered and asserted several affirmative
defenses. Claimant now moves to strike the answer and requests that the Court
issue summary judgment in his favor on both causes of action. Defendant opposes
the motion and cross-moves to dismiss the claim. Claimant replies. As it may be
potentially dispositive, the Court will initially address defendant’s
cross motion to dismiss the claim. Defendant asserts that claimant’s
remedy for the perceived erroneous rulings by Supreme Court was to take direct
appeals in each instance pursuant to CPLR 7011. Defendant further contends that
because the actions taken by a State-employed Judge are cloaked with judicial
immunity, the State is not liable.
Conversely, claimant argues that he has met his burden on this motion for
summary judgment with admissible evidence which defendant has failed to
In his first cause of action, claimant alleges he filed a habeas corpus
petition dated June 23, 2002, naming Thomas Beilein, Niagara County Sheriff as
respondent. Supreme Court, Niagara County (Sconiers, J.), issued a writ of
habeas corpus on December 9, 2002. Claimant was thereafter placed into the
custody of the Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) and was incarcerated
at Elmira Correctional Facility (Elmira). Accordingly, Supreme Court, Niagara
County, transferred the proceeding to Chemung County. Because claimant was no
longer in the custody of the Niagara County Sheriff, Supreme Court, Chemung
County (O’Brien III, J.), vacated the writ in its Decision and Order
entered January 28, 2003,
which recited the
aforementioned facts. Claimant alleges that Supreme Court should have held an
evidentiary hearing and either released him or issued a new writ of habeas
corpus directed to the Superintendent of Elmira, and that because of its failure
to do so, claimant is entitled to payment of $1,000.
Claimant alleges in his second cause of action that, in response to a separate
and distinct petition for a writ than that referenced in his first cause of
Supreme Court, Niagara County
(Sconiers, J.), issued a writ of habeas corpus on August 8, 2002 which was
assigned Index No. 112064.
That matter was
apparently heard by the Court on October 25, 2002, and the petition was
dismissed without prejudice, by Order entered December 5,
Petitioner then filed a new petition on
the same ground which was sworn to February 20, 2003, and an amended petition
sworn to on March 18, 2003, while he was incarcerated at Elmira. Supreme Court,
Chemung County (O’Brien III, J.), found that habeas corpus relief was not
available under such circumstances, and denied the
First, as defendant correctly notes, the appropriate remedy for claimant to
pursue, based on his dissatisfaction with the results of the Orders vacating one
writ and denying his petition for the other, would have been a direct appeal
(see CPLR 7011). Claimant’s assertions are not properly pled in
the Court of Claims, which, within its constitutional authority, is an equal
court of original jurisdiction and thus has no appellate jurisdiction over
Supreme Court (see e.g. Rabinowitz v State of New York, Ct Cl, Oct. 7,
2004, Lack, J., Claim No. 108108, Motion No.
M-68831 [UID # 2004-033-084]). Accordingly, claimant’s applicable remedy
would have been to obtain a reversal of Supreme Court’s Orders, thereby
potentially establishing a violation of CPLR 7003 – an outcome which is
not available in the Court of Claims.
Further, it is well settled that the doctrine of judicial immunity bars claims
against judges of the State for their judicial acts, as well as against the
State, under the theory of respondeat superior, for any alleged errors made by
its judges in their judicial capacity (see e.g. Murray v Brancato, 290 NY
52 ; Jameison v State of New York, 7 AD2d 944 ; Koeppe v
City of Hudson, 276 App Div 443 ; see also Harley v State of New
York, 186 AD2d 324 , appeal dismissed 81 NY2d 781 ;
Rossman v State of New York, 40 AD2d 1046 ). Accordingly, this
claim fails to state any cause of action against defendant.
To the extent that claimant may be seeking recovery against former Supreme
Court Justice O’Brien,
of the Court of Claims is limited to claims which seek money damages against the
State, and this Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over any
individual employee of the State (Court of Claims Act § 9; see Peters v
Ct Cl, Sept. 30, 2008, Midey, Jr., J., Claim No. 115165, Motion No.
M-74925, Cross Motion No. CM-75039 [UID # 2008-009-028]).
Defendant’s cross motion is granted. Claim No. 107726 is hereby
dismissed in its entirety. Claimant’s motion for summary judgment and to
strike the answer is denied as moot.