New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
Matos v. STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2010-015-150, Claim No. 115869, Motion No. M-77798

Synopsis

Defendant's motion for summary judgment dismissing PRS claim was granted.

Case information

UID: 2010-015-150
Claimant(s): JULIUS MATOS
Claimant short name: Matos
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 115869
Motion number(s): M-77798
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: FRANCIS T. COLLINS
Claimant's attorney: Friedman, Khafif & Sanchez, LLP
By: Emil Sanchez, Esq.
Defendant's attorney: Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo, Attorney General
By: Michael T. Krenrich, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: June 17, 2010
City: Saratoga Springs
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

Defendant moves for summary judgment dismissing the claim pursuant to CPLR 3212.

The claim alleges a cause of action for unlawful imprisonment arising from the administrative imposition of a five-year term of postrelease supervision (PRS) by the Department of Correctional Services (DOCS)(1) . Claimant was convicted of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree in violation of Penal Law 265.03 (2) and sentenced to a five-year determinate prison term on October 24, 2000 (Exhibit A). He was released from prison on August 4, 2005 at which time a five-year period of PRS was imposed (Exhibit B). Claimant was arrested on February 11, 2006 for driving with a suspended license, among other charges, and declared delinquent in abiding by the conditions of his parole as of the date of his arrest (Exhibits C and D). At the conclusion of the final parole revocation hearing on June 2, 2006, his parole was revoked and restored subject to the completion of programs recommended by his parole officer (Exhibit F). Subsequent to the Court of Appeals decisions in Matter of Garner v New York State Dept. of Correctional Servs. (10 NY3d 358 [2008]) and People v Sparber (10 NY3d 457 [2008]), claimant's petition for an order prohibiting either the Division of Parole (Division) or DOCS from enforcing the administratively imposed term of PRS was granted without prejudice to the People of the State of New York or DOCS seeking resentencing in the proper forum (Exhibit G). Thereafter, claimant was resentenced to the original determinate five-year term of imprisonment without any period of postrelease supervision (Exhibit H).

To establish a cause of action for false imprisonment a claimant must show that "(1) the defendant intended to confine him, (2) the [claimant] was conscious of the confinement, (3) the [claimant] did not consent to the confinement and (4) the confinement was not otherwise privileged" (Broughton v State of New York, 37 NY2d 451, 456 [1975]), cert denied sub nom. Schanbarger v Kellogg, 423 US 929 [1975]). Here, the claimant's confinement for violating the conditions of his administratively imposed term of PRS was privileged.

The Court of Appeals held in both Matter of Garner v New York State Dept. of Correctional Servs. (supra) and People v Sparber (supra) that only a sentencing judge may impose the PRS component of a sentence, thereby invalidating the longstanding practice of administratively imposing statutorily required periods of PRS. In the wake of these decisions, numerous claims for false imprisonment, arising from periods of confinement imposed for violations of a term of PRS not authorized or directed at sentencing, have been commenced in this Court with varying results (see e.g. Nazario v State of New York, 24 Misc 3d 443 [2009]; Mickens v State of New York, 25 Misc 3d 191 [2009]; Donald v State of New York, 24 Misc 3d 329 [2009], revd 73 AD3d 1465 [2010]). In Collins v State of New York (69 AD3d 46 [2009]) the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, addressed the merit of such a claim in an appeal arising from the denial of an application for late claim relief. The Court noted that DOCS and the Division are not always precluded from "clarifying" sentences and cited as a recent example People ex rel. Gill v Greene (12 NY3d 1 [2009]) in which the Court of Appeals held that it was proper for DOCS to calculate sentences to run consecutively, as required by statute, where the sentencing court failed to specify whether the sentence was to run concurrently or consecutively with a previous undischarged sentence. Thus, the Collins Court found that the Division of Parole, like DOCS, was not "wholly without jurisdiction or without 'some competence over the cause' " (Collins v State of New York, 69 AD3d at 53, quoting Nuernberger v State of New York, 41 NY2d 111, 113 [1976]). The Court concluded that claimant's confinement for a violation of an administratively imposed term of PRS was privileged, stating: "[The Division] simply acted in excess of the jurisdiction it did have, and we thus conclude that its actions were privileged and that claimants are unable to establish a claim for unlawful imprisonment" (Collins v State of New York, 69 AD3d at 53).

The claimant here was sentenced to a five-year determinate prison term for criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree (Penal Law 265.03 [2]), a class C violent felony offense (Penal Law 70.02 [1] [b]). As Penal Law 70.45 (2) was then written, a five-year period of PRS was mandated unless the sentencing Judge prescribed a shorter period not less than 2 years:

"Period of post-release supervision. The period of post-release supervision for a determinate sentence shall be five years . . . provided, however, that when a determinate sentence is imposed pursuant to section 70.02 of this article, the court, at the time of sentence, may specify a shorter period of post-release supervision of not less than two and one-half years upon a conviction for a class B or class C violent felony offense . . ."

Consistent with the then-prevailing decisional law and Penal Law 70.45 (former [1])(2) (see e.g. People v DePugh ,16 AD3d 1083, 1083 [2005]; Matter of Deal v Goord, 8 AD3d 769 [2004]; People v Hollenbach, 307 AD2d 776 [2003], lv denied 100 NY2d 642 [2003]; People v Crump, 302 AD2d 901 [2003], lv denied 100 NY2d 537 [2003]; People v Bloom, 269 AD2d 838 [2000], lv denied 94 NY2d 945 [2000]), the Division of Parole imposed a five-year term of PRS upon claimant's release from prison although no reference to this component of the sentence appeared in the sentencing minutes (Exhibit G). Here, as in Collins, while the Division exceeded its jurisdiction in imposing the five-year PRS term, it was not acting in the complete absence of jurisdiction. Thus, the claimant's confinement for a violation of the administratively imposed term of PRS was privileged.

Moreover, the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, in Donald v State of New York (73 AD3d 1465 [2010]) recently rejected the argument that the statutory authority of the sentencing Judge to impose a shorter period of postrelease supervision under Penal Law 70.45 (former [2]) distinguished that case from Collins requiring a different result. At the time of the administrative imposition of PRS in Donald, the maximum statutorily authorized PRS term was automatically imposed if the sentencing Court was silent with respect to the PRS term. Whether the maximum PRS term pursuant to Penal Law 70.45 (former [2]) was five years as in Collins (supra) or three years as in Donald (supra) "[i]n each case, the nonjudicial body imposed the default period of postrelease supervision consistent with the law at the time of sentencing and thus acted "beyond [its] limited jurisdiction" rather than in the absence of jurisdiction (id. at ___, quoting Garner, 10 NY3d at 362).

Lastly, to the extent the PRS term imposed by the Division was statutorily mandated (see Penal Law 70.45 [former 2]), the claimant is unable to establish that he suffered injury as the result of the Division's conduct. As stated by the Court in Collins v State of New York (69 AD3d at 53):

"At the time claimant was sentenced as a second felony offender based on his conviction of a class E violent felony, a five-year period of PRS was mandated (see Penal Law 70.45 [former (2)] ). Thus, if the sentencing court had been alerted to the fact that it failed to impose a period of PRS, the court would have imposed the same five-year period of PRS at the resentencing hearing that the Division itself imposed. While the procedure by which the period of PRS was imposed was improper, the actual imposition thereof was not. We therefore conclude that claimants cannot establish that they were injured by the Division's imposition of a period of PRS" (Collins v State of New York, 69 AD3d at 53, citing Mickens v State of New York, 25 Misc 3d 191 [2009]).

Based on the foregoing, defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted and the claim is dismissed.

June 17, 2010

Saratoga Springs, New York

FRANCIS T. COLLINS

Judge of the Court of Claims

The Court considered the following papers:

1. Notice of motion dated January 28, 2010;

2. Affirmation of Michael T. Krenrich, Esq. dated January 28, 2010

with exhibits;

3. Affirmation of Emil Sanchez, Esq. dated April 5, 2010;


1. Although the claim alleges "DOCS imposed upon plaintiff a five (5) year period of PRS" in paragraph 9, the PRS requirement was, in fact, imposed by the Division of Parole (see Defendant's Exhibit B).

2. Penal Law 70.45 (former [1]) provided that "[e]ach determinate sentence also includes, as a part thereof, an additional period of post-release supervision."