New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
WILLIAMS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2009-016-047, Claim No. 110940


Case information

UID: 2009-016-047
Claimant(s): TODD WILLIAMS
Claimant short name: WILLIAMS
Footnote (claimant name) :
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 110940
Motion number(s):
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: Alan C. Marin
Claimant's attorney: Todd Williams, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney: Andrew M. Cuomo, Attorney General
By: Roberto Barbosa, AAG
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: September 8, 2009
City: New York
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)


This decision follows the trial of the claim of Todd Williams. In his claim, Mr. Williams alleges as follows. On March 14, 2004, while he was incarcerated at Sullivan Correctional Facility, he was visited by his wife. During the visit, he was escorted out of the visiting room and questioned by Sergeant Dunn about the taking of a necklace belonging to another inmate's visitor. Williams responded that he had had no involvement, but Sergeant Dunn nonetheless placed him under cell confinement.

The officer then interviewed his wife, who explained what had happened (claimant does not elaborate thereon), and gave Sergeant Dunn the necklace to be returned to the visitor. Claimant's wife was then detained, and the New York State Police were called. According to Williams, the responding police officer "confirmed that no [p]enal offense was committed and ordered the release of claimant's wife."

Thereafter, claimant was taken to the Special Housing Unit ("SHU"). On March 15, 2004, he was issued a Tier III Misbehavior Report prepared by Sergeant Dunn, which charged him with smuggling and violating facility visiting room policy. According to claimant, Sergeant Dunn falsely stated in the report that claimant was given the necklace.

A hearing on the misbehavior report was commenced on March 19, 2004. Sergeant Dunn was not called to the hearing, and none of the witnesses who testified stated that they had seen claimant in possession of the necklace. Williams thus maintains that "[a]ll the evidence, except Sgt. Dunn's misbehavior report, established that claimant had nothing to do with the necklace." Claimant was found guilty and sentenced to 60 days in the SHU. On May 25, 2004, after claimant had already served the 60 days in the SHU, his hearing disposition was reversed.

* * *

At trial, claimant testified that on March 14, 2004, he was put in the SHU because of the incident involving his wife, and that the accusation against him was unfair because he had never possessed the necklace. Williams added that he was found guilty even though all the witnesses who testified at his hearing did so in his favor, and in fact, the guilty finding was ultimately reversed and expunged from his record.

Williams explained that he brought this claim because he believed that he had been wrongly punished based on a false statement. He added that he was involved in many positive activities at the facility, and he felt that it was not right that he had been treated as he was.

* * *

Defendant does not dispute that claimant's guilty finding was ultimately reversed. Moreover, Williams credibly testified that he was not in possession of the necklace. However, I am constrained to dismiss his claim because, "[c]orrections personnel are entitled to absolute immunity for those 'discretionary decisions in furtherance of general policies and purposes where the exercise of reasoned judgment can produce different acceptable results.'" Minieri v State of New York, 204 AD2d 982, 613 NYS2d 510, 511 (4th Dept 1994), citing Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212, 532 NYS2d 57 (1988).

Specifically, "[d]isciplinary proceedings in correctional facilities that are conducted consistent with the applicable rules and regulations are covered with a blanket of immunity . . . The fact that claimant was ultimately found not guilty of the charge does not give rise to a viable claim." Brown v State of New York, Ct Cl filed 10/27/98, Bell, J. (unreported, claim nos. 94875 and 94876). Williams has not alleged that defendant violated any rules or regulations with regard to his disciplinary hearing, in terms of timing, or otherwise.

Accordingly, claim no. 110940 is dismissed. LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.

September 8, 2009

New York, New York

Alan C. Marin

Judge of the Court of Claims