For the reasons set forth below, Claimant’s motion seeking poor person
status and assignment of counsel is denied.
Claimant, Maja Schutt, appearing pro se, seeks leave to proceed as a
poor person and for assignment of counsel pursuant to CPLR § 1101(a). The
Claim was filed in the office of the Clerk of the Court on November 27, 2006 and
alleges that Claimant was an international student at the State University of
New York at Stony Brook (hereinafter SUNY Stony Brook) and that certain SUNY
Stony Brook employees were negligent in assisting Claimant in completing certain
forms for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services regarding her
eligibility for employment and inadequately counseling her in May 2006. As a
result of the allegedly improperly completed documents, Claimant allegedly lost
two employment opportunities.
Pursuant to CPLR § 1101(c), if an action has been commenced, notice of a
poor person motion shall be served on all parties and shall also be given to the
county attorney in the county in which the action is triable. Notice to the
county attorney is a significant requirement because certain costs may be a
county charge (see CPLR 1102; Hines v State of New York, Ct Cl,
Claim No. 110624, Motion No. M-69991, June 21, 2005, Sise, P.J. [UID No.
2005-028-534]; Jabbar v State of New York, Ct Cl, Claim No.
112376, Motion Nos. M-72082, M-72223, October 20, 2006, Schaewe, J. [UID No.
2006-044-504]. The action is triable in the county where the claim accrued, in
this case, Suffolk County, since that is where the alleged acts occurred.
Claimant has failed to establish that she served a copy of this motion upon the
Suffolk County Attorney. Thus, pursuant to CPLR § 1101(c), her motion is
defective and must be denied on those grounds (Sebastiano v State of New
York, 92 AD2d 966 [3d Dept 1983]; Harris v State of New York, 100
Misc 2d 1015, 1016 [Ct Cl 1979]).
Further, even assuming compliance with CPLR § 1101(c), the motion would
still be denied. The assignment of counsel in civil matters is discretionary
and is generally denied except in cases involving loss of liberty or grievous
forfeiture (Matter of Smiley, 36 NY2d 433 ; Wills v City of
Troy, 258 AD2d 849 [3d Dept 1999], lv dismissed 93 NY2d 1000 ;
Brabham v State of New York, 13 Misc 3d 1222[A] [Ct Cl 2006]; Hines v
State of New York, Ct Cl, Claim No. 110624, Motion No. M-69991, June 21,
2005, Sise, P.J. [UID No. 2005-028-534], supra; Jabbar v State of New
York, Ct Cl, Claim No. 112376, Motion Nos. M-72082, M- M-72223, October 20,
2006, Schaewe, J. [UID No. 2006-044-504], supra). Here, Claimant has
failed to establish that the Claim is of sufficient complexity or that it
involves such fundamental rights that the Court would be justified in exercising
its discretion to appoint an attorney to appear without compensation (see
Matter of Smiley, 36 NY2d 433, supra; Wills v City of Troy,
258 AD2d 849, supra).
Therefore, based upon the foregoing, Claimant’s request to be granted
poor person status and assignment of counsel is denied.