New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
HINTON v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2010-031-048, Claim No. 118375, Motion Nos. M-78318, M-78445, M-78446

Synopsis

Claimant has failed to meet the statutory prerequisites for asserting a cause of action pursuant to 8-b of the Court of Claims Act. Defendant's motion to dismiss the claim is granted. Claimant's applications for permission to file a late claim and for the appointment of counsel are denied.

Case information

UID: 2010-031-048
Claimant(s): ROBERT C. HINTON, JR.
Claimant short name: HINTON
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 118375
Motion number(s): M-78318, M-78445, M-78446
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: RENÉE FORGENSI MINARIK
Claimant's attorney: ROBERT C. HINTON, JR., PRO SE
Defendant's attorney: HON. ANDREW M. CUOMO
New York State Attorney General
BY: BONNIE GAIL LEVY, ESQ.
Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: September 15, 2010
City: Rochester
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

The following papers, numbered 1 to 25, were read on motions by Claimant for permission to file a late claim and for the appointment of counsel, and on motion by Defendant for an order dismissing the claim:

1. Claimant's "Motion For Permission To File A Late Claim," filed May 3, 2010;

2. Claimant's Affidavit in support of request for assignment of counsel, filed May 3, 2010;

3. Claimant's second application for permission to file a late claim, received May 19, 2010;

4. Defendant's Notice of Motion, filed June 14, 2010;

5. Affirmation of Bonnie Gail Levy, Esq., dated June 11, 2010, with attached exhibits;

6. Claimant's response to Defendant's motion to dismiss, dated June 25, 2010, with attached exhibits;

7. Correspondence from Claimant, dated April 27, 2010;

8. Correspondence from Claimant, dated June 1, 2010;

9. Correspondence from Claimant, dated June 14, 2010;

10. Correspondence from Claimant, dated June 15, 2010, with attachment;

11. Correspondence from Claimant, dated June 16, 2010;

12. Correspondence from Claimant, dated June 17, 2010, with attachments;

13. Correspondence from Claimant, dated July 2, 2010, with attachments;

14. Correspondence from Claimant, dated July 7, 2010, with attachments;

15. Correspondence from Claimant, dated July 14, 2010;

16. Correspondence from Claimant, dated July 16, 2010;

17. Correspondence from Claimant, dated July 17, 2010;

18. Correspondence from Claimant, dated July 18, 2010;

19. Correspondence from Claimant, dated July 24, 2010;

20. Correspondence from Claimant, dated July 25, 2010;

21. Correspondence from Claimant (2), dated July 30, 2010;

22. Correspondence from Claimant, dated August 1, 2010;

23. Correspondence from Claimant, dated August 10, 2010, with attachments;

24. Correspondence from Claimant, dated August 19, 2010;

25. Filed Documents: Claim and Order of the Hon. Richard E. Sise, filed May 25, 2010.

On May 3, 2010, Claimant filed his claim in this matter, as well as a motion seeking permission to file a late claim (M-78318) and a motion seeking poor person status and the assignment of counsel (M-78446). In response to these filings, Defendant has submitted both opposition to the Claimant's late claim application and a motion to dismiss the claim (M-78445). As Defendant's motion is dispositive, I will address it first.

In his claim, Mr. Hinton purports to allege a cause of action for unjust conviction, pursuant to Court of Claims Act 8-b. Defendant seeks dismissal of the claim because it fails to state a cause of action upon which relief can be granted. From the claim and other documents submitted by Claimant, it appears that he was convicted in 1997 of criminal trespass second degree, kidnapping second degree, and assault second degree. He is currently still serving his sentence relating to those convictions. The record also reveals that Claimant has attempted to overturn his conviction and has applied for habeas corpus relief unsuccessfully on several occasions.

Defendant asserts that the claim must be dismissed as Claimant can not meet the statutory threshold requirements to maintain such an action.

In relevant part, Court of Claims Act 8-b states:

3. In order to present the claim for unjust conviction and imprisonment, claimant must establish by documentary evidence that:

(a) he has been convicted of one or more felonies or misdemeanors against the state and subsequently sentenced to a term of imprisonment, and has served all or any part of the sentence; and

(b) (i) he has been pardoned upon the ground of innocence of the crime or crimes for which he was sentenced and which are the grounds for the complaint; or (ii) his judgment of conviction was reversed or vacated, and the accusatory instrument dismissed or, if a new trial was ordered, either he was found not guilty at the new trial or he was not retried and the accusatory instrument dismissed; provided that the judgement of conviction was reversed or vacated, and the accusatory instrument was dismissed . . .

As is patently evident from the record, Claimant cannot meet the requirements of subsection (b) as set forth above because he has not been pardoned and his judgment of conviction has not been reversed or vacated.

It appears that Claimant believes he can collaterally attack his conviction by commencing an action pursuant to 8-b of the Court of Claims Act. However, as stated by the Honorable Judith Hard in Larocco v State of New York (Ct Cl, May 10, 2006 [Claim No. 111720, Motion Nos. M-71214 and CM-71306], Hard, J., UID # 2006-032-044), "[t]he Court of Claims is a court of limited jurisdiction (Court of Claims Act 8 and 9), and has no authority to review determinations made by other courts regarding the legality of a criminal sentence or the denial of an application for habeas corpus." Regardless of Claimant's assertions that he is innocent of the underlying crimes, the Department of Correctional Services is "conclusively bound by the contents of the commitment papers accompanying a prisoner" (Middleton v State of New York, 54 AD2d 450, 452).

As a cause of action pursuant to Court of Claims Act 8-b is entirely statutory and in derogation of common law, its provisions must be strictly construed (Tyson v State of New York, 182 Misc 2d 707, affd 280 AD2d 934, lv denied 96 NY2d 714; Torres v State of New York, 228 AD2d 579, lv denied 89 NY2d 801). Claimant's conviction has not been overturned or vacated, therefore, he can not satisfy the requirements of Court of Claims Act 8-b and his claim must be dismissed.

With regard to Claimant's application for late claim relief (M-78318), I note that as the proposed claim is identical to the claim which has been determined to be without merit for the reasons set forth above, his late claim application must be denied (see e.g. Prusack v State of New York, 117 AD2d 729).

Finally, as the claim has been dismissed and permission to file a late claim denied, Claimant's application for assignment of counsel (M-78446) must be denied as moot.

Accordingly, it is

ORDERED, that Defendant's motion M-78445 is granted and Claim No. 118375 is dismissed; and it is further

ORDERED, that Claimant's application for permission to file a late claim (M-78318) and motion for the assignment of counsel (M-78446) are denied.

September 15, 2010

Rochester, New York

RENÉE FORGENSI MINARIK

Judge of the Court of Claims