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Allen Albergottie v. New York City; Martin Horn

February 15, 2011

ALLEN ALBERGOTTIE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NEW YORK CITY; MARTIN HORN,
N.Y. CITY DOC. COMMISSIONER; GLENN GOORD,
N.Y. STATE, DOCS. COMMISSIONER; ROBERT J.
DERRISON, N.Y. STATE DIV. OF PAROLE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sidney H. Stein, U.S. District Judge.

OPINION & ORDER

Pro se plaintiff Allen Albergottie brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 challenging the imposition and enforcement of post-release supervision ("PRS") by the New York State Department of Correctional Services (the "State DOCS"), by the New York State Division of Parole, and by the New York City Department of Corrections (the "City DOC"). Specifically, Albergottie contends that the imposition of PRS by anyone other than a judge violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by depriving defendants in criminal proceedings of their constitutional right to be sentenced by a judge. Further, Albergottie alleges that his detention pursuant to a parole warrant was illegal and a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. Defendants Glenn Goord, former Commissioner of State DOCS, and RobertJ. Derrison, former Chairman of the State Division of Parole (collectively the "State Defendants"), have moved pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Defendants New York City and Martin Horn, Commissioner of New York City Department of Corrections (collectively the "City Defendants"), have moved pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c) for judgment on the pleadings.

Because this Court finds that (1) the State Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity and (2) that Albergottie has failed to state a plausible claim for relief against the City Defendants, the defendants' respective motions to dismiss the complaint are granted.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

The following facts are taken from the complaint and are assumed to be true for the purposes of this motion. On November 11, 2001, Albergottie was arrested for burglary, assault, and possession of burglar's tools. (Compl. ¶ 1.) Albergottie pled guilty and received a five-year determinate sentence. (Compl. ¶ 1.) During his plea allocution and sentencing, the judge did not inform Albergottie that a mandatory period of PRS would follow his determinate sentence. (Compl. ¶ 1.) Albergottie's commitment sheet also did not reflect the imposition of the mandatory PRS. (Ex. A to Compl.)*fn1

Albergottie was conditionally released from incarceration and placed on PRS on February 10, 2006. (Pl.'s Mem. in Opposition to Motion to Dismiss I ¶ 27.) Prior to his release, Albergottie met with a parole counselor, and it is at this time that Albergottie alleges he first learned of his mandatory period of PRS. (Compl. ¶ 2.) Although Albergottie objected to the PRS, he was told that "if I didn't sign [the PRS] papers that I will not be allowed to go home on my conditional release date." (Id.) Albergottie filed a grievance, which was "never answered," and for two years he reported to his parole officer. (Id. ¶¶ 2-3.)

Two years later, on February 14, 2008, Albergottie was arrested for forgery. (Compl. ¶ 3.) He posted bail, but was not released because a parole warrant had been lodged by the State Division of Parole. (Compl. ¶ 3; Ex. B to Compl.) Subsequently, Albergottie filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, which the New York Supreme Court, Bronx County, granted on May 2, 2008. (Compl. ¶¶ 3-4.) Although the parole warrant was vacated, Albergottie remained detained because the bail on his forgery charge was "raised from $3,500 to $10,000." (Id. ¶ 4.)

B. Legal History

In 1998, the New York legislature enacted "Jenna's Law," which requires the imposition of PRS "as a mandatory follow-up period to a determinate sentence for violent felony offenders." State v. Myers, 22 Misc. 3d 809, 812-13, 870 N.Y.S.2d 757 (Sup. Ct. Albany Cty 2008); see also N.Y. Penal § 70.45 (1999). For several years after the enactment, if the sentencing judge did not impose PRS at sentencing, the State DOCS imposed it administratively. See Myers, 22 Misc. 3d at 811, 812-13 (noting that the State DOCS estimated that it had administratively imposed PRS on over ten thousand defendants). New York appellate courts had also consistently upheld the administrative imposition of PRS in the absence of the imposition of PRS by the sentencing court. See Collins v. State, 69 A.D.3d 46, 50, 887 N.Y.S.2d 400 (4th Dep't 2009) (citations omitted).

Then, on June 9, 2006, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that the State DOCS' imposition of extra-judicial sentences of PRS violated federal law. Earley v. Murray, 451 F.3d 71, 76 (2d Cir. 2006). Following the Second Circuit's decision in Earley, three of the four appellate departments in New York continued to uphold the administrative imposition of PRS. Myers, 22 Misc. 3d at 813 n.9 (listing several cases from the first, third, and fourth appellate departments (citations omitted)).

In April 2008, the New York Court of Appeals decided Garner v. N.Y. State Dep't Corr. Servs., 10 N.Y.3d 358, 859 N.Y.S.2d 590 (2008) and People v. Sparber, 10 N.Y.3d 457, 859 N.Y.S.2d 582 (2008), which held that PRS imposed by anyone other than a judge violated New York state law. See Garner, 10 N.Y.3d at 362. The New York state legislature subsequently passed Corrections Law § 601-d to "provide a mechanism for courts to consider resentencing defendants serving determinate sentences without court-ordered post-release supervision terms." People v. Williams, 14 N.Y.3d 198, 206, 899 N.Y.S.2d 76 (2010).

C. Procedural History

In August of 2008, Albergottie filed this section 1983 complaint alleging that defendants violated his constitutional rights when they administratively imposed and enforced a five-year term of PRS on him. (Compl. ¶¶ 1-5.) He seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the two years he served on supervised release. (Id. ¶ 5.)

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A. Rule 12(b)(1) ...


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