United States District Court, N.D. New York
NAKIA CHANEY, Plaintiff Pro Se.
JONATHAN M. BERNSTEIN, ESQ., Attorney for Defendant D'Agostino.
KEVIN M. HAYDEN, Ass't Att'y Gen., for Defendant Masiello.
ANDREW T. BAXTER, Magistrate Judge.
In this civil rights action, plaintiff alleges that defendants improperly failed to give him credit, against a criminal sentence, for time previously served in Schenectady County Jail ("SCJ"), causing him to be wrongfully confined by the New York Department of Correctional and Community Services ("DOCCS") beyond his legal conditional release date. (Compl., Dkt. No. 1 at 7). The complaint asserts that defendants, in their individual and official capacities, thereby violated plaintiff's Eighth Amendment right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment and his Fourteenth Amendment right not to be deprived of liberty without due process of law. (Compl. at 10). Plaintiff seeks millions of dollars in damages for the approximately four months that he was detained beyond his claimed merit release date, as well substantial consequential and punitive damages. Defendant Dominic D'Agostino, the Schenectady County Sheriff, and defendant Kathleen Masiello, an Inmate Records Coordinator at DOCCS' Wallkill Correctional Facility ("Wallkill") filed crossclaims against each other for contribution and indemnification. (Dkt. Nos. 21, 25).
Defendant D'Agostino has filed a motion for summary judgement, under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56, and for a judgment on the pleadings, under Rule 12(c), seeking dismissal of all of plaintiff's claims and the co-defendant's crossclaim. (Dkt. No. 34). Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to defendant D'Agostino's motion (Dkt. No. 43); the defendant filed a reply (Dkt. No. 45); and plaintiff submitted a sur-reply (Dkt. No. 47), to which both defendants objected (Dkt. Nos. 48, 50). Defendant Masiello also filed a summary judgment motion seeking dismissal of plaintiff's claims (Dkt. No. 40), to which plaintiff did not respond. Both motions were referred to me, by United States District Judge David N. Hurd, for Report and Recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Rules N.D.N.Y. 72.3(c).
For the reasons discussed below, this court concludes that defendants' summary judgment motions should be granted because the plaintiff was not improperly deprived of jail time credit by the defendants, or, in the alternative, because the defendants are entitled to qualified immunity. According, I recommend that plaintiff's complaint be dismissed in its entirety.
I. Overview of Relevant Facts and Procedural History
Following a guilty plea to criminal sale of a controlled substance in the 5th degree in Rensselaer County Court, plaintiff, on January 4, 2006, received a 1.5 year determinate sentence, as a second felony offender, with one year of post release supervision. (Bernstein Aff., Ex. I, Dkt. No. 34-10). Plaintiff was released on parole on the Rensselaer County charge in or about January 2007, with a post-release supervision maximum expiration date of November 2, 2007. (Bernstein Aff., Ex. N, Dkt. No. 34-15). On March 1, 2007, while on parole, plaintiff was arrested and charged, in Schenectady County, with criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree. (Pl.'s Art. 78 Petit. ¶¶ 5-6, Dkt. No. 34-7 at 3). Plaintiff's parole was not revoked as a result of the new charge. (Pl.'s Art. 78 Petit. ¶ 7; Dkt. No. 1-1 at 14). On January 31, 2008, plaintiff was sentenced on the Schenectady County charge, as a second felony offender, to a determinate term of five years, with three years of postrelease supervision. (Bernstein Aff., Ex. G, Dkt. No. 34-8 at 3; Dkt. No. 1-1 at 2).
Plaintiff was confined at the SCJ from March 1, 2007 through February 5, 2008, for a total of 341 days, before being transferred into DOCCS custody. (Pl.'s Art. 78 Petit. ¶ 9; Bernstein Aff., Ex. G, Dkt. No. 34-8 at 3). In a Sentence & Commitment Statement dated February 5, 2008, the SCJ certified that plaintiff was entitled to have the 341 days spent in local custody credited against his sentence on the Schenectady County charge. (Dkt. No. 1-1 at 4). Plaintiff alleges that, on July 20, 2010, the Parole Board granted him a September 13, 2010 merit release date, presumably based in part on the jail time credit granted by the SCJ. (Pl.'s Art. 78 Petit. ¶ 11; Dkt. No. 1-1 at 7).
In August 2010, defendant Masiello, the Inmate Records Coordinator at the DOCCS facility where plaintiff was then confined, did a routine review of the jail time credit calculation for plaintiff because of his scheduled release date of September 13, 2010. (Masiello Decl. ¶¶ 11-21, Dkt. No. 40-1). She concluded that, pursuant to New York Penal Law § 70.30, the 246 days that plaintiff was confined in the SCJ prior to the November 2, 2007, maximum expiration date for his post-release supervision on the Rensselaer County sentence should have been credited against that prior supervised release term and, thus, could not also be credited towards his sentence on the subsequent Schenectady County charge. (Masiello Decl. ¶¶ 18-21). After confirming her conclusion with the DOCCS Office of Sentencing Review, which is ultimately in charge of DOCCS' review of inmate jail time credits, defendant Masiello advised the SCJ, by letter dated August 3, 2010, that plaintiff was not entitled to credit, against his Schenectady County sentence for the time period between March 2, 2007 and November 2, 2007. (Masiello Decl. ¶¶ 16, 22-25; Dkt. No. 1-1 at 6). The SCJ, whose Sentencing & Commitment Statement control DOCCS' determination of the appropriate release date, responded with an amended statement on August 3, 2010, reducing the number of days credited against plaintiff's Schenectady County sentence by 246 days, to 95 days. (Masiello Decl. ¶¶ 26, 36; Dkt. No. 1-1 at 5).
On August 9, 2010, defendant Masiello advised plaintiff of the reduction in jail time credits by the SCJ, which would cause a corresponding delay in his merit release eligibility date. (Masiello Decl. ¶¶ 27-28 & Ex. B, Dkt. No. 40-3). Plaintiff responded, on September 7th, by providing a partial transcript from his sentencing in Schenectady County, during which the county court judge stated that plaintiff would get "credit from March 1 forward off your sentence of five years." (Masiello Decl. ¶ 29 & Ex. C, Dkt. No. 40-4; Dkt. No. 1-1 at 2-3). After further consultation with the Office of Sentencing Review, defendant Masiello advised plaintiff that he should consult with his defense attorney, and stated that DOCCS could not change his jail credit dates without an amended Sentence & Commitment Statement from the SCJ. (Masiello Decl. ¶¶ 30-37 & Ex. I, Dkt. No. 40-10).
On September 13, 2010, as a result of various communications from plaintiff and Prisoner's Legal Services, the SCJ again amended its Sentence & Commitment Statement, restoring plaintiff's credit for the full 341 days he was in custody in the SCJ towards his Schenectady County sentence. (Bernstein Aff. ¶ 15, Dkt. No. 34-1 & Ex. J, Dkt. No. 34-11 at 3-4; Dkt. No. 1-1 at 16-18). Defendant Masiello consulted with the Office of Sentencing Review and, at their direction, wrote another letter to the SCJ on September 23rd, restating DOCCS' opinion that, under Penal Law § 70.30, plaintiff could not be given jail credit towards his Schenectady County sentence for the period of incarceration credited to the remaining term of post-release supervision on the Rensselaer County sentence, through the maximum expiration date of November 2, 2007. Schenectady County responded, on September 23, 2010, by filing another amended Sentence & Commitment Statement giving plaintiff credit, against his Schenectady County sentence, of only the 95 days served in the SCJ after the expiration of his term of post-release supervision on the Rensselaer County sentence. ...