New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
BARNES v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2020-029-020, Claim No. 129722

Synopsis

After a video trial on the pro se claim for wrongful confinement at Shawangunk Correctional Facility in 2017, the court found the State liable for the period of 15 days past administrative reversal of claimant's Superintendent Hearing and expungement of his record. The court awarded claimant $10.00 per day for a total of $150.00.

Case information

UID: 2020-029-020
Claimant(s): ARRELLO BARNES
Claimant short name: BARNES
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 129722
Motion number(s):
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: STEPHEN J. MIGNANO
Claimant's attorney: ARRELLO BARNES, PRO SE
Defendant's attorney: LETITIA JAMES, ATTORNEY GENERAL
By: Thomas Reilly, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: February 13, 2020
City: White Plains
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

The pro se claim alleges wrongful confinement at Shawangunk Correctional Facility ("Shawangunk") for 45 days. A video trial was held on December 19, 2019.

Claimant testified on his own behalf. He received a Tier III Misbehavior Report for Fighting and Violent Conduct on February 21, 2017. He was sent to keeplock that same day. After his hearing, he was found guilty of violent conduct and sentenced to 45 days in keeplock and loss of privileges. On appeal, the hearing was reversed and his record was expunged on March 23, 2017. Claimant was still held in keeplock until April 7, 2017.

The court admitted the following documents collectively as claimant's Exhibit 1: the Misbehavior Report; the Superintendent Hearing Disposition; claimant's Appeal; the Tier III Expungement Notice; and two letters from claimant to the IRC dated April 10, 2017.

On cross-examination, claimant acknowledged that at some point during the 45 days he was sent to Attica Correctional Facility for court, and he returned to Shawangunk on April 10, 2017.

Claimant rested his case.

The State called Correction Officer Arellano as a witness. He testified that he has been a correction officer for about ten years and he is assigned to Shawangunk. On the day of the incident, he observed claimant standing near an inmate who was against the wall. Claimant had lacerations on his hands and said he broke up a fight.

The State rested its case.

In order to establish a prima facie case of wrongful confinement, a claimant must show "(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. 423 US 929 [1975]). Here, claimant established that defendant intended to confine him, he was conscious of the confinement and he did not consent to the confinement. The only issue is whether claimant established that the confinement was not privileged.

"Notably, '[i]t is defendant and not claimant who bears the burden of proving that confinement was privileged' " (Ifill v State of New York, 46 Misc 3d 1228 [A] [Ct Cl 2013] quoting Nelson v State of New York, 20 Misc 3d 1125 [A] [Ct Cl 2008], affd 67 AD3d 1142 [3d Dept 2009]; see Gonzalez v State of New York, 110 AD2d 810, 812 [2d Dept 1985], appeal dismissed 67 NY2d 647 [1986]). The State's restrictive confinement of an inmate is privileged if it was done in accordance with DOCCS regulations (see Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212, 214 [1988]; see generally Tarter v State of New York, 68 NY2d 511, 518-519 [1986]; see also Lee v State of New York, 124 AD2d 305, 307 [3d Dept 1986]; see also Soto v State of New York, UID No. 2016-032-512 [Ct Cl, Hard, J., Dec. 20, 2016]).

Claimant has met his burden to show prima facie that he was wrongfully confined from March 23, 2017 until April 7, 2017. His testimony and the facility records admitted as Exhibit 1 show that his hearing and adjudication of guilt were reversed on appeal on March 23, 2017, but he was not released from keeplock until April 7, 2017. The State does not dispute this fact, and did not submit any evidence that the confinement was "otherwise privileged." "Where a finding of misbehavior is reversed after an administrative appeal or Article 78 proceeding, and there is no other regulatory authority to hold an inmate in restrictive confinement, discretionary conduct is not involved and continued confinement is not privileged" (Porter v State of New York, UID No. 2017-018-816 [Ct Cl, Fitzpatrick, J., May 4, 2017] [granting summary judgment for wrongful confinement after reversal by administrative appeal]). The burden is on the defendant to come forward with the reason for the delay (see Minieri v State of New York, 204 AD2d 982 [4th Dept 1994]; see also Ruggiero v State of New York, UID No. 2010-015-187 [Ct Cl, Collins, J., Nov. 1, 2010]).

Accordingly, the State is liable for the claim of wrongful confinement for a period of 15 days and claimant is awarded $10.00 per day for a total of $150.00. To the extent that claimant has paid a filing fee, it may be recovered pursuant to Court of Claims Act 11-a (2). The Clerk of the Court is directed to enter judgment accordingly.

February 13, 2020

White Plains, New York

STEPHEN J. MIGNANO

Judge of the Court of Claims