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Ifill v. State

Supreme Court of New York, Third Department

April 13, 2017

SHAKA IFILL, Claimant,
v.
STATE OF NEW YORK, Appellant.

          Calendar Date: February 22, 2017

          Eric T. Schneiderman, Attorney General, Albany (Zainab A. Chaudhry of counsel), for appellant.

          Before: Egan Jr., J.P., Lynch, Rose, Clark and Mulvey, JJ.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Clark, J.

         Appeal from a judgment of the Court of Claims (Ferreira, J.), entered January 23, 2015, upon a decision of the court in favor of claimant.

         In November 2002, claimant was convicted of attempted burglary in the second degree and sentenced to a prison term of three years, to be followed by three years of postrelease supervision (hereinafter PRS). Claimant was released from the custody of the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (hereinafter DOCCS) to PRS in May 2005, but he was thereafter twice declared delinquent and twice returned to DOCCS's custody. In April 2008, claimant was once again released to PRS, and, the following month, he was arrested in Richmond County and charged with several felony offenses. As a result, claimant pleaded guilty to violating the terms of his PRS, and he was sentenced to serve the remaining undischarged portion of his

         PRS in the custody of DOCCS. Additionally, in full satisfaction of the felony charges pending against him in Richmond County, claimant pleaded guilty to one count of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree - a misdemeanor - and he was sentenced to a jail term of nine months, which was ordered to run concurrently with any sentence that he received for his PRS violation. In December 2008, after serving his local jail sentence on his misdemeanor conviction, claimant was transferred to the custody of DOCCS to serve the remainder of his PRS. At that time, DOCCS - unaware that claimant's jail sentence was to run concurrently with any time remaining on claimant's undischarged prison sentence - calculated claimant's parole jail time credit to be eight days, which was deemed to be the amount of time that claimant had spent in local custody in excess of his nine-month jail sentence (see Penal Law § 70.40 [3] [c] [iii]).

         In January 2009, claimant sought review of DOCCS's computation of his parole jail time credit and requested credit for the total amount of time that he had served in local custody for his misdemeanor conviction. That request was denied, and claimant was advised that, in order to obtain the credit that he sought, he had to provide a copy of the certified disposition from the criminal court or a copy of the sentencing minutes. On October 14, 2009, claimant provided DOCCS with a copy of his misdemeanor sentence and commitment order, prompting DOCCS, on October 21, 2009, to revise claimant's parole jail time certificate to reflect that claimant should have received 176 days of parole jail time credit. On October 23, 2009, DOCCS used claimant's revised parole jail time certificate to recalculate the maximum expiration date of his sentence and concluded that such expiration date had passed on July 21, 2009. Claimant was released from DOCCS's custody that same day.

         Thereafter, claimant commenced this action alleging, among other things, a wrongful confinement claim against defendant and sought monetary damages for the 94 days that he spent in DOCCS's custody beyond the maximum expiration date of his sentence. Defendant answered, pleading, among other things, that claimant's confinement was privileged. Following a bifurcated trial, the Court of Claims concluded that DOCCS's detention of claimant beyond the maximum expiration date of his sentence was not privileged and, thus, that claimant had been wrongfully confined from July 22, 2009 through the date of his release on October 23, 2009. Following a subsequent trial on damages, the Court of Claims determined that an award of $20, 000 would reasonably compensate claimant for his wrongful confinement, and judgment was entered in favor of claimant in that amount. Defendant appeals, and we reverse.

         To establish a cause of action for false imprisonment or unlawful confinement, claimant had to demonstrate that defendant intended to confine him, that he was conscious of the confinement, that he did not consent to the confinement and that his confinement was not otherwise privileged (see Martinez v City of Schenectady, 97 N.Y.2d 78, 85 [2001]; Miller v State of New York, 124 A.D.3d 997, 998 [2015]; Hudson v State of New York, 115 A.D.3d 1020, 1022 [2014], lv denied 23 N.Y.3d 907');">23 N.Y.3d 907 [2014]; Moulton v State of New York, 114 A.D.3d 115, 119-120 [2013]; Hernandez v City of New York, 100 A.D.3d 433, 433 [2012], lv dismissed 21 N.Y.3d 1037');">21 N.Y.3d 1037 [2013]). As the parties do not dispute the first three elements of claimant's wrongful confinement claim, the sole question before us is whether defendant's confinement of claimant was privileged. To that end, "[a] detention, otherwise unlawful, is privileged where the confinement was by arrest under a valid process issued by a court having jurisdiction" (Donald v State of New York, 17 N.Y.3d 389, 395 [2011] [internal quotation marks and citation omitted]; accord Hudson v State of New York, 115 A.D.3d at 1022; see Nazario v State of New York, 75 A.D.3d 715, 718 [2010], lv denied 15 N.Y.3d 712 [2010]). "In other words, 'where the illegal imprisonment is pursuant to legal process which is valid on its face, [defendant] cannot be held liable in damages for wrongful detention... [unless] the court issuing the process lacked jurisdiction of the person or the subject matter'" (Collins v State of New York, 69 A.D.3d 46, 51 [2009], quoting Harty v State of New York, 29 A.D.2d 243, 244 [1968], affd 27 N.Y.2d 698 [1970]). Defendant has the burden of establishing that the detention was privileged (see Hudson v State of New York, 115 A.D.3d at 1022; Moulton v State of New York, 114 A.D.3d at 120).

         Here, claimant does not dispute the validity of the underlying 2008 parole arrest warrant or the jurisdiction of the court that sentenced him to serve the remainder of his undischarged term of PRS in prison. As such, there is no question that, at the time of claimant's transfer from local custody to state custody in December 2008, DOCCS's confinement of claimant was privileged. Rather, claimant argues that his confinement became unlawful on July 22, 2009 and that his continued detention thereafter through October 23, 2009 was not privileged. Under the circumstances of this case, we are unpersuaded by this contention.

         The record evidence established that, at the time of claimant's transfer into DOCCS's custody, DOCCS was not in possession of claimant's local sentence and commitment order or the sentencing minutes reflecting that his misdemeanor jail sentence had been ordered to run concurrently with his prior undischarged prison sentence. Without the local sentence and commitment order or sentencing minutes, DOCCS calculated claimant's parole jail time credit in accordance with the controlling Penal Law provision, Penal Law § 70.40 (3) (c) (iii), which required that claimant's parole jail time credit be limited to that portion of time that he spent in local custody that exceeded the total length of his misdemeanor jail sentence (see Matter of Jackson v Molik, 63 A.D.3d 1330, 1330 [2009]; Matter of Davidson v State of N.Y. Dept. of Correctional Servs., 53 A.D.3d 741, 742-743 [2008], lv denied 11 N.Y.3d 706');">11 N.Y.3d 706 [2008]; Matter of Blake v Travis, 35 A.D.3d 925, 926 [2006]; People ex rel. Melendez v Bennett, 291 A.D.2d 590, 591 [2002], lv denied 98 N.Y.2d 602');">98 N.Y.2d 602 [2002]). DOCCS correctly calculated claimant's parole jail time credit in accordance with this provision, and, until claimant provided DOCCS with the local sentence and commitment order in October 2009, DOCCS had no reason to believe that the local sentencing court had intended to afford claimant more parole jail time credit than would ordinarily be authorized by law. Nevertheless, once presented with the local sentence and commitment order, DOCCS recalculated claimant's parole jail time credit to include the total amount of time that claimant had served in local custody and, upon determining that his recalculated parole jail time credit had advanced the maximum expiration date of his sentence to a date that had already passed, released claimant from custody. Contrary to claimant's contention, DOCCS did not have an independent obligation to obtain claimant's misdemeanor sentence and commitment order (cf. Matter of Guido v Goord, 1 N.Y.3d 345, 349 n 3 [2004]; Hudson v State of New York, 115 A.D.3d at 1023; Matter of Faiello v Fischer, 109 A.D.3d 1197, 1197 [2013]; Matter of Ramos v Goord, 58 A.D.3d 921, 922 [2009]) [1]. Accordingly, under these circumstances, we find that DOCCS's confinement of claimant from July 22, 2009 through October 23, 2009 was privileged (see Hudson v State of New York, 115 A.D.3d at 1022-1023; compare Miller v State of New York, 124 A.D.3d at 999). As such, claimant's cause of action for wrongful confinement fails, and his claim must be dismissed.

          Egan Jr., J.P., Lynch, Rose and Mulvey, JJ., concur.

         ORDERED that the judgment is reversed, on the law, without ...


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