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Baker v. City of New York

October 29, 2010

KARON BAKER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK, THE NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, MARTIN HORN, AS COMMISSIONER AND INDIVIDUALLY, NEW YORK CITY OPINION & CORRECTIONS OFFICERS JOHN DOES # ONE THROUGH ORDER FIVE, THE NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES, BRIAN FISCHER AS COMMISSIONER AND INDIVIDUALLY, NEW YORK STATE DIVISION OF PAROLE, NEW YORK STATE PAROLE OFFICER EDMUND GRANT, THE NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT, NEW YORK CITY POLICE OFFICER GREGORY LARSON, 44TH PRECINCT, NEW YORK CITY POLICE OFFICER JESUS GUZMAN, SHIELD #31476 NARCOTICS BOROUGH BRONX, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Harold Baer, Jr., District Judge

Plaintiff Karon Baker commenced this civil rights action pursuant to the Civil Rights Acts of 1866 and 1871, U.S.C. § 1981 and 1983; the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, and New York State law, against Defendants the City of New York; the New York City Department of Corrections ("NYC DOC"); Martin Horn, as Commissioner of NYC DOC and Individually; New York City Corrections Officers John Does 1-5; the New York City Police Department; New York City Police Officer Gregory Larson, New York City Police Officer Jesus Guzman (collectively, the "City Defendants"); the New York State Department of Correctional Services ("DOCS"); Brian Fischer, as Commissioner of DOCS and Individually; the New York State Division of Parole, and New York State Parole Officer Edmund Grant (collectively, the "State Defendants"). Plaintiff alleges that his civil rights were violated when he was arrested on two separate occasions for parole violations, and again when he was arrested on a narcotics charge that was later dismissed.

The City Defendants filed an Answer to the Complaint and on October 4, 2010, reached a settlement with Plaintiff, pursuant to which the substantial majority of Plaintiff's twenty-seven enumerated causes of action were dismissed. The State Defendants moved to dismiss the claims asserted against them, namely, a claim for unlawful detention of Plaintiff in violation of the 8th and 14th Amendments (Am. Cplt. ¶¶ 18, 19, 39); a claim for cruel and unusual punishment, also in violation of the 8th and 14th Amendments (Am. Cplt. ¶ 47); and a state law claim for negligent training and supervision by DOCS and Commissioner Brian Fischer of Parole Officer Grant (Am. Cplt. ¶ 70). For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's remaining claims must be dismissed.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

Plaintiff Karon Baker was convicted in New York State Supreme Court, upon a plea of guilty, to attempted criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree and attempted criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree. See Def's Ex. C (People ex rel. Karon Baker et al. v. New York State Division of Parole, et al., Sup. Ct. Bx. Cty. Index No. 250851-07 (Feb. 6, 2008)). On June 11, 2001, Plaintiff was sentenced as a second felony offender to an indeterminate sentence of three to six years on the controlled substance charge, and a determinate sentence of three years on the weapon charge, which were to run concurrently. Am. Cplt. ¶ 15. The sentencing court did not impose post-release supervision ("PRS"), commonly known as parole, as part of the sentence, nor did the clerk make any record of post-release supervision on the commitment sheet. Id; Def.'s Ex. C at 1. Plaintiff alleges that shortly before his release from prison on September 2, 2004, the New York State Department of Correctional Services ("DOCS") executed a Certificate of Release to Parole Supervision pursuant to which Plaintiff was to remain under parole supervision until September 2009. Am. Cplt. ¶ 15.

Plaintiff alleges that he was subsequently arrested for two parole violations, despite the fact that PRS was not imposed by the sentencing court as part of his sentence. Id. Plaintiff was arrested on June 17, 2007, by two unidentified New York State parole officers, for allegedly violating the terms of his PRS. He was released on August 23, 2007, when he was putatively restored to parole to be supervised by Defendant Grant, a state parole officer. Id. Plaintiff alleges that he was again arrested for violating the terms of his PRS, this time by Defendant Grant, on November 14, 2007, and was held in custody by the New York City Department of Correction ("NYC DOC") until his release on February 11, 2008. Id. Plaintiff alleges that his release was pursuant to a Writ of Habeas Corpus granted by the Supreme Court, Bronx County. Id.; see Def.'s Ex. C.

B. Legal History

On August 6, 1998, the New York state legislature enacted "Jenna's Law," a statute that prohibits indeterminate sentences for violent felonies. See N.Y. Penal Law § 70.02. When it took effect, Jenna's Law also imposed a mandatory term of post-release supervision ("PRS") to be included as part of the sentence for certain violent felony offenders. See N.Y. Penal Law § 70.45(1) ("Each determinate sentence also includes, as a part thereof, an additional period of post-release supervision") (amended 2008). Between 1998 and 2006, New York state courts repeatedly ratified administrative imposition of PRS. See Scott v. Fischer, 616 F.3d 100, 104 (2d Cir. 2010) ("New York state courts had repeatedly ratified administrative imposition of PRS.").

On June 9, 2006, the Second Circuit held that it was unconstitutional for DOCS to impose PRS as that agency lacks the power to do so. See Earley v. Murray, 451 F.3d 71, 75 (2d Cir. 2006) ("Only the judgment of a court, as expressed through the sentence imposed by a judge, has the power to constrain a person's liberty."). For the next two years, New York courts were in disagreement regarding the propriety of administratively imposed PRS. See Rodriguez v. Fischer, No. 08 Civ. 4662, 2010 WL 438421, at *6 (E.D.N.Y. Feb. 3, 2010) (noting that some New York courts continued to uphold the practice after the Earley decision, while others followed Earley and found the imposition of PRS improper). In two cases decided on April 29, 2008, the New York State Court of Appeals struck down administratively imposed PRS, holding that sentencing is a judicial function. See People v. Sparber, 10 N.Y.3d 457, 470 (2008) ("[E]ven in cases with mandatory PRS terms, the defendant still has a statutory right to hear the court's pronouncement as to what the entire sentence encompasses, directly from the court"); Garner v. New York State Dep't of Correctional Services, 10 N.Y.3d 358, 362 (2008) ("[T]he sentencing judge-and only the sentencing judge-is authorized to pronounce the PRS component of a defendant's sentence."). Two months later, on June 30, 2008, the New York State Legislature created a statewide statutory framework to resentence those inmates who had improperly received the administrative imposition of PRS. See N.Y. Corr. Law § 601-d (2008).

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A complaint must be dismissed pursuant Rule 12(b)(6) if plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed. R. Civ. P.12(b)(6). To survive a motion to dismiss on this ground, a plaintiff must "plead enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A facially plausible claim is one where "the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). Where the court finds well-pleaded factual allegations, it must determine whether they "plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief." Id. at 1950. A court must accept as true all of the factual allegations in the plaintiff's complaint. Rescuecom Corp. v. Google Inc., 562 F.3d 123, 127 (2d Cir. 2009).

To state a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that "some person has deprived him of a federal right" and "the person who has deprived him of that right acted under color of state law." Velez v. Levy, 401 F.3d 75, 84 (2d Cir. 2005). Although relief may at times be derived directly from the Constitution, "when § 1983 provides a remedy, an implied cause of action grounded directly in the Constitution is not available." Lehman v. Doe, 66 Fed.Appx. 253, 255 (2d Cir. 2003)(citing Pauk v. Bd. of Trustees of City Univ. of New York, 654 F.2d 856, 865 (2d Cir.1981)). Since section 1983 provides a cause of action for claims based on the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, see Collins v. City of Harker Heights, 503 U.S. 115, 119-120 (1992), I will construe Plaintiff's Complaint as seeking all available constitutional relief provided by that statute.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Sovereign Immunity Bars Claims Against ...


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