New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
HAYES v. STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2017-040-123, Claim No. 120513-A

Synopsis

At trial, Claimant failed to establish State was liable for alleged wrongful conviction and imprisonment of Claimant.

Case information

UID: 2017-040-123
Claimant(s): MARCUS HAYES
Claimant short name: HAYES
Footnote (claimant name) : Caption amended to reflect Claimant's name only.
Defendant(s): STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 120513-A
Motion number(s):
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: CHRISTOPHER J. McCARTHY
Claimant's attorney: Marcus Hayes, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney: ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN
Attorney General of the State of New York
By: Brett R. Eby, Esq., AAG
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: September 18, 2017
City: Albany
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

Pro se Claimant, Marcus Hayes, failed to establish by a preponderance of the credible evidence that Defendant was liable in connection with his wrongful conviction and imprisonment Claim. The trial of this Claim was held on July 11, 2017 at the Court of Claims in Albany, New York. At trial, Claimant submitted four exhibits into evidence (Exs. 8A, 8B, 8C, & 10). The Court also reserved its decision on the State's objections to the introduction into evidence of Claimant's Exhibits 1, 3, and 7. Upon due consideration, the Court now overrules the objections to those exhibits, and they are admitted into evidence and were considered by the Court. Defendant submitted two documents into evidence (Exs. B & D). The State made two oral motions prior to the taking of trial testimony. The first was to dismiss the Claim for failure to meet the pleading requirements of Court of Claims Act 8-b, and the second was to amend Defendant's Answer to assert the affirmative defense that the Claim was filed and served after the applicable statute of limitations had expired. The Court reserved decision on both motions and proceeded to hear testimony. Claimant was the only witness and testified on his own behalf.

Claimant testified that he was unjustly convicted and imprisoned following a jury trial on July 21, 2005. Mr. Hayes stated that he asserted his innocence throughout his trial. Claimant further asserted that he was released to parole on September 27, 2007 and that his conviction was reversed by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York on April 28, 2009, and that, on October 8, 2009, the District Attorney of Queens County moved to dismiss the indictment and the Court sealed the records (see also Ex. D [Claim, p. 2]).

The Appellate Division, Second Department, in People v Hayes (61 AD3d 992, 993 [2d Dept 2009], lv denied 13 NY3d 745 [2009]), stated:

Here, during the course of voir dire, one prospective juror indicated that she did not know if she could be fair and impartial considering that she had been the victim of an identity theft, a crime similar in nature to the one being tried. In addition, another juror expressed doubt as to whether she could get past her prejudices. In both of these instances, the court should have granted the defendant's challenges for cause (see People v Garrison, 30 AD3d 612 [2d Dept] [2006]; People v Harris, 14 AD3d 622 [2d Dept] [2005]). Since the defendant exercised peremptory challenges to remove both prospective jurors and exhausted his allotment of peremptory challenges prior to the completion of jury selection, the convictions must be reversed and a new trial ordered (see CPL 270.20[2]; People v Torpey, 63 NY2d 361 [1984]).

Court of Claims Act 8-b was enacted in 1984 to allow innocent people to recover damages from the State where they can prove by clear and convincing evidence that they were unjustly convicted and imprisoned (see Court of Claims Act 8-b[1]; Long v State of New York, 7 NY3d 269, 273 [2006]). The relevant portion of the statute provides as follows:

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

(b)(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 judg[]ment of conviction was reversed or vacated, and the accusatory instrument was dismissed, on any of the following grounds: (A) paragraph (a), (b), (c), (e) or (g) of subdivision one of section 440.10 of the criminal procedure law" (Court of Claims Act 8-b [3]).

A claimant may therefore seek redress where the court (1) vacates (or reverses) the judgment and dismisses the accusatory instrument; (2) vacates the judgment and orders a new trial, followed by a subsequent dismissal of the accusatory instrument before retrial; or (3) vacates the judgment and orders a new trial, resulting in a not guilty verdict.

(Long v State of New York, supra at 273-274).

The Long court further stated:

Where, as here, the accusatory instrument is dismissed, the plain language of the proviso appears to suggest that both the vacatur of the judgment and dismissal of the accusatory instrument must be premised on one of the grounds set forth in CPL 440.10(1).

(Long at 274).

However, the Court concluded:

that a claim satisfies the statutory criteria if the claimant establishes that the judgment of conviction was vacated under one of the specified grounds in Court of Claims Act 8-b (3) (b) (ii), regardless of the basis for the dismissal of the accusatory instrument.

(Long at 275).

Here, Claimant failed to establish that the dismissal of his conviction for an error that occurred during jury selection is one of the specified grounds of CPL 440.10 as set forth in Court of Claims Act 8-b (3) (b) (ii). In fact, the Court determined that his conviction had to be reversed on account of a failure to observe CPL 270.20 (1) (b) regarding permitting challenges of prospective jurors for cause (People v Hayes, supra at 992), not one of the specified grounds of CPL 440.10.

"The requirements of [Court of Claims Act 8-b] are to be strictly construed" (Torres v State of New York, 228 AD2d 579, 580 [2d Dept 1996], lv denied 89 NY2d 801 [1996]). Accordingly, the Court finds that Claimant had to establish that his conviction was reversed on one of the enumerated grounds of CPL 440.10 (1) and then had to prove the same by clear and convincing evidence (see Court of Claims Act 8-b [3] [b] [ii], [5] [b] [ii]). This Claimant failed to do.

In addition, the Court finds and concludes that Claimant failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence that he was innocent of the underlying charges (see Alexandre v State of New York, 168 AD2d 472 [2d Dept 1990], appeal dismissed 77 NY2d 925 [1991]). To the contrary, the Second Department was "satisfied that the verdict of guilt [in Mr. Hayes' criminal trial] was not against the weight of the evidence" (People v Hayes, supra). The Court has considered Mr. Hayes' testimony and observed his demeanor as he did so. While the Court finds that Claimant offered forthright and sincere testimony, and was a credible witness, nevertheless, he failed to prove his Claim.

Therefore, based upon the foregoing, the Court finds that Claimant failed to establish his cause of action for unjust conviction and imprisonment.

All motions and cross-motions are denied as moot. All objections upon which the Court reserved determination during trial, and not otherwise addressed herein, are now overruled.

The Clerk of the Court is directed to enter judgment dismissing the Claim.

September 18, 2017

Albany, New York

CHRISTOPHER J. McCARTHY

Judge of the Court of Claims