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Prisoner held three weeks after he was due to be released is awarded $35,000

In October 2007, the claimant was put in jail as a result of pending Criminal charges. In March 2009, he pled guilty and was released from custody pending sentencing. "On May 4, 2009, he was sentenced to a prison term of 1½ years to be followed by postrelease supervision of 1½ years. Claimant had served his prison sentence in full at that point, but was returned to custody for processing upon the understanding that he would be released the next day. Notwithstanding those assurances, he was held by the New York City Department of Corrections for several days and, on May 12, 2009, was transferred to the custody of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (hereinafter DOCCS). DOCCS officials quickly realized that claimant had reached the maximum expiration date of his prison sentence, but failed to release him until June 3, 2009." The reason being was so that DOCCS "could finalize the conditions of his postrelease supervision." This supposed reason, is why the claimant had to spend nearly a month in prison.

Law: "[I]n order to succeed on a claim of false imprisonment or unlawful confinement, claimant was required to show "that (1) defendant intended to confine him, (2) he was conscious of the confinement, (3) he did not consent to the confinement, and (4) such confinement was not otherwise privileged" (Hudson v. State of New York, 115 AD3d 1020, 1022 [2014], lv denied 23 NY3d 907 [2014]; see Martinez v. City of Schenectady, 97 NY2d 78, 85 [2001]; Moulton v. State of New York, 114 AD3d 115, 119-120 [2013])."

Claimant was sentenced to a prison term as the result of his conviction and, "where a facially valid order issued by a court with proper jurisdiction directs confinement, that confinement is privileged" (Holmberg v. County of Albany, 291 AD2d 610, 612 [2002], lv denied 98 NY2d 604 [2002]; see Jackson v. State of New York, 94 AD3d 1166, 1168 [2012]). That being said, DOCCS was "'conclusively bound' by the terms of the sentence and commitment order," which unambiguously directed that claimant be released after 1½ years of confinement (Matter of McCullaugh v. DeSimone, 111 AD3d 1011, 1011 [2013], quoting Middleton v. State of New York, 54 AD2d 450, 452 [1976], affd for reasons stated below 43 NY2d 678 [1977]; see Matter of Murray v. Goord, 1 NY3d 29, 32 [2003]). "DOCCS continued to confine claimant after that period had ended and, given the absence of any order that required it to do so, its actions were not privileged" (see Moulton v. State of New York, 114 AD3d at 122-123; compare Donald v. State of New York, 17 NY3d 389, 394 [2011] [detention stemmed from valid process revoking postrelease supervision and was privileged, even though term of postrelease supervision itself was later found to be invalid]). Because they were not privileged, the prison sentence was invalid and DOCCS is liable.

Application: The Court finds that the claimant met his burden - although he should have been released, DOCCS held him for a longer period of time. DOCCS, defendants, still contended that they were justified in this release. The Court flatly rejects the Defendants' arguments - "Defendant's further contention, that the need to finalize the terms of claimant's postrelease supervision conflicted with the expiration of his prison sentence, and somehow authorized his continued detention under the terms of the sentence and commitment order, is not well taken. Claimant was not confined after the maximum expiration date of his prison sentence because of any "conflicting mandates" in the commitment order, but rather because DOCCS officials chose to hold him while they belatedly finalized the terms of his postrelease supervision (see Executive Law §259-i [2]; Penal Law §70.45 [3])."

Holding: " is well settled that DOCCS has no jurisdiction to extend or modify a prison sentence (see People v. Williams, 14 NY3d 198, 218 [2010], cert denied US, 131 S Ct 125 [2010]; Matter of Garner v. New York State Dept. of Correctional Servs., 10 NY3d 358, 362 [2008]; cf. Donald v. State of New York, 17 NY3d at 395-396). Thus, defendant was properly found liable"

The Case is Miller v. State of New York, 516950, NYLJ 1202715544159, at 1 (App. Div., 3rd, Decided January 15, 2015).

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