New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
WEST v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2017-040-119, Claim No. 129628, Motion No. M-90572

Synopsis

State's pre-Answer Motion to Dismiss on the basis of judicial immunity granted and Claim dismissed.

Case information

UID: 2017-040-119
Claimant(s): HENRY WEST
Claimant short name: WEST
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 129628
Motion number(s): M-90572
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: CHRISTOPHER J. McCARTHY
Claimant's attorney: Henry West, 97-B-2679, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney: ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN
Attorney General of the State of New York
By: J. Gardner Ryan, Esq., AAG
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: September 11, 2017
City: Albany
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's pre-Answer Motion to dismiss the Claim pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(7) for failure to state a cause of action on the basis of judicial immunity is granted. The remainder of the Motion is denied as moot.

This pro se Claim, which was filed in the office of the Clerk of the Court on April 26, 2017, asserts that this is a Constitutional Tort Claim against the State of New York committed by its employee, Judge Janet DiFiore of the Court of Appeals, who made the final decision to violate Claimant's New York State Constitutional rights of due process of law, equal protection of the law, and cruel and unusual punishment (Claim, 2). Claimant further states that the Claim arises from the decision of the New York State Court of Appeals not to correct his illegal sentence (id., 3).

The Claim asserts that, on June 20, 2015, Claimant filed a motion pursuant to Criminal Procedure Law 440.20 in the Schoharie County Court due to an illegal sentence, and that the motion was denied on December 22, 2015 (Claim, 5). He further states that, on January 9, 2016, he filed an appeal with the Appellate Division, Third Department, regarding the County Court's denial of his motion, which also was denied (id., 6). Claimant also asserts that, on March 4, 2016, he requested permission to appeal in the New York State Court of Appeals, which also was denied on April 29, 2016 by Judge Janet DiFiore. He states that his Claim is based on Judge DiFiore's decision, because it is the Court of Appeals "who made the ruling about Penal Law [] 70.08 and its interruption in 1984 (or earlier) and still exists today, that is violating my New York State Constitutional rights" (id., 7).

County Court, Appellate Division, and Court of Appeals judges are State employees (see NY Const, art VI, 1[a]; Judiciary Law 39[1], [6]; Shea v County of Erie, 202 AD2d 1028 [4th Dept 1994]; Mullen v State of New York, 122 AD2d 300 [3d Dept 1986], appeal denied 68 NY2d 609 [1986], cert denied 480 US 938 [1987]). "Judicial immunity bars any action against judges of the State for their judicial acts, and the State is not liable for a judicial officer's alleged errors Unless the judicial acts were performed in the absence of subject matter jurisdiction, judicial immunity applies" (Davey v State of New York, Ct Cl, UID No. 2005-029-503 [Ct Cl, Mignano, J., July 14, 2005], affd 31 AD3d 600 [2d Dept 2006]; see Stump v Sparkman, 435 US 349 [1978], reh denied 436 US 951 [1978]; Mullen v State of New York, supra; La Pier v Deyo, 100 AD2d 710 [3d Dept 1984]). Even allegedly-libelous statements contained in a judge's written decision are absolutely privileged, and cloaked with judicial immunity (Montesano v State of New York, 11 AD3d 436 [2d Dept 2004]). Judicial immunity applies to acts alleged to have been done maliciously and corruptly (Stump v Sparkman, supra; Mertens v State of New York, 73 AD3d 1376 [3d Dept 2010]). Here, Claimant has failed to establish that the actions of the Schoharie County Court judge, and/or the Appellate Division judges, and/or any Court of Appeals Judge, including Chief Judge DiFiore, were performed without any jurisdiction over the subject matter.

The Court concludes that judicial immunity applies to the instant Claim and that, therefore, the Claim is dismissed for failure to state a cause of action. The remainder of the Motion is denied as moot.

September 11, 2017

Albany, New York

CHRISTOPHER J. McCARTHY

Judge of the Court of Claims

The following papers were read and considered by the Court on the State's Motion to dismiss:

Papers Numbered

Notice of Motion, Affirmation in Support 1

Claimant's Reply 2

Filed Papers: Claim