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BAKER v. CUOMO

December 22, 1993

THEODORE BAKER and all individuals similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
MARIO CUOMO, Governor of the State of New York and Thomas Coughlin, Commissioner of New York State Department of Correction Services, Defendants. RAYMOND STRAWDER and all individuals similarly situated, Plaintiffs, v. MARIO CUOMO, Governor of the State of New York and Thomas Coughlin, Commissioner of New York State Department of Correction Services, Defendants. MILTON GOODMAN and all individuals similarly situated, Plaintiffs, v. MARIO CUOMO, Governor of the State of New York and Thomas Coughlin, Commissioner of New York State Department of Correction Services, Defendants. ANTHONY CANADY and all individuals similarly situated, Plaintiffs, v. MARIO CUOMO, Governor of the State of New York and Thomas Coughlin, Commissioner of New York State Department of Correction Services, Defendants. RICHARD JACKSON and all individuals similarly situated, Plaintiffs, v. MARIO CUOMO, Governor of the State of New York and Thomas Coughlin, Commissioner of New York State Department of Correction Services, Defendants. YOHANNES JOHNSON and all individuals similarly situated, Plaintiffs, v. MARIO CUOMO, Governor of the State of New York and Thomas Coughlin, Commissioner of New York State Department of Correction Services, Defendants. MARK SIMON and all individuals similarly situated, Plaintiffs, v. MARIO CUOMO, Governor of the State of New York and Thomas Coughlin, Commissioner of New York State Department of Correction Services, Defendants. TYRONE SANCHEZ and all individuals similarly situated, Plaintiffs, v. MARIO CUOMO, Governor of the State of New York and Thomas Coughlin, Commissioner of New York State Department of Correction Services, Defendants. MALCOLM NELSON and all individuals similarly situated, Plaintiffs, v. MARIO CUOMO, Governor of the State of New York and Thomas Coughlin, Commissioner of New York State Department of Correction Services, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: VINCENT L. BRODERICK

 VINCENT L. BRODERICK, U.S.D.J.

 I

 These nine identical actions are brought under 42 USC 1983 by prisoners at the Green Haven Correctional Facility (collectively, "plaintiffs"). Each action alleges unconstitutional deprivation of the right to vote because of incarceration for a felony conviction. Plaintiffs seek monetary damages of $ 1.50 per day, as well as declaratory and injunctive relief.

 The related cases in the caption of this memorandum order are consolidated under the following caption: *fn1"

 
THEODORE BAKER, RAYMOND STRAWDER, MILTON GOODMAN, ANTHONY CANADY, RICHARD JACKSON, YOHANNES JOHNSON, MARK SIMON, TYRONE SANCHEZ, MALCOLM NELSON and all individuals similarly situated, Plaintiffs, v. MARIO CUOMO, Governor of the State of New York and THOMAS COUGHLIN, Commissioner of New York State Department of Correction Services, Defendants.
 
93 Civ 6839 (VLB)

 All future filings should include this caption and case number.

 Plaintiffs allege that New York Election Law ยง 5-106(2), which prohibits incarcerated felons from voting in federal, state, and local elections, unconstitutionally discriminates against Blacks and Hispanics, who allegedly comprise 87% of the total prison population and 25% of the population of New York state.

 II

 The case raises profound issues, but these have already been examined by the judiciary with uniform negative outcomes. If a different approach is to be taken, it would be more appropriate for such a step to be initiated by the higher courts rather than at the trial level. Unless this is to be done, appointment of counsel at the district court level or awaiting responses by the defendants would consume resources with little likelihood of benefit to plaintiffs or the public.

 Because of the possibility that an appellate court may choose to appoint counsel at the appellate level or to grant relief, it may be useful to consider the variety of options which might be available were the existing rule to be re-examined.

 The preponderance of minority groups in our prisons is a subject of profound concern. The ability of the judiciary to confront the underlying reasons for this phenomenon is limited. *fn2"

 Under our system of justice, governed by if not always attaining due process and providing numerous safeguards to defendants, political empowerment of those convicted of crime cannot necessarily be assumed to be in the interest of citizens who are members of minority communities. The Equal Protection Clause and the federal Voting Rights Act seek to protect such citizens. *fn3" The victims of crime are also predominantly members of minority groups, as eloquently pointed out by ...


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