New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
BROOKS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2019-015-195, Claim No. 127751, Motion No. M-94671

Synopsis

Pro se inmate's request for a subpoena duces tecum to obtain documents in the defendant's possession was granted to the extent of requiring the defendant to produce the documents at the time of trial.

Case information

UID: 2019-015-195
Claimant(s): WILLIAM HARRIS BROOKS
Claimant short name: BROOKS
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 127751
Motion number(s): M-94671
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: FRANCIS T. COLLINS
Claimant's attorney: William Harris Brooks, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney: Honorable Letitia James, Attorney General
By: Glenn C. King, Esq., Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: October 21, 2019
City: Saratoga Springs
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

Claimant, proceeding pro se, seeks the issuance of a subpoena duces tecum in preparation for his upcoming video trial.

Claimant, an inmate in the custody of the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), seeks damages for the loss and destruction of certain personal property which allegedly occurred on January 21, 2016 during the course of a cell search. In support of his motion, claimant submits his affidavit, together with defendant's response to his previously served demand for discovery, in which he requests the issuance of a subpoena duces tecum to obtain the following documents:

"i. DOCCS FORMS 2733D 'CLAIMS LOG' for Facility Claim # 040-0254-15.

ii. DOCCS FORM 1422 'CLAIMS INVESTIGATION REPORT' FOR Facility Claim # 040-0254-15.

iii. The entire record from the initial review, including but not limited to, all signed statements, reports, to/froms, memorandums [sic], and log book entries from employees, supervisors, correction officers, relied upon for the disapproval of the claimant's claim.

iv. The entire record relied upon by the appeal reviewer in giving the decision to disapprove the claimant's claim" (Brooks affidavit, 4).

A pro se litigant is not among the persons authorized to issue subpoenas thereby requiring issuance by the Court (CPLR 2302). To obtain a subpoena compelling the production of documents or the attendance of witnesses at trial, the burden rests on the party seeking the subpoena to establish that the documents or witness testimony sought is both "material and necessary" to the prosecution or defense of an action (CPLR 3101; Matter of Kapon v Koch, 23 NY3d 32, 38 [2014]; Romance v State of New York, Ct Cl, June 3, 2014, DeBow, J., claim No. 117475, UID No. 2014-038-525; Allaway v State of New York, Ct Cl, April 7, 2010, Scuccimarra, J., claim No. 114865, UID No. 2010-030-532).(1) Material and necessary means relevant, "regardless of whether discovery is sought from another party (see CPLR 3101 [a] [1]) or a nonparty" (Forman v Henkin, 30 NY3d 656, 661 [2018], citing 3101 [a]).

In response to the claimant's motion, defendant does not dispute that the documents claimant requests are relevant and notified the Court that it does not oppose the claimant's request for the issuance of subpoenas. Considering that all of the records sought are in the defendant's possession, and in light of the practical difficulties service of subpoenas by pro se inmates entail, the Court directs the defendant to provide claimant with certified copies of the requested records at the time of trial.

Accordingly, claimant's motion is granted to the extent indicated.

October 21, 2019

Saratoga Springs, New York

FRANCIS T. COLLINS

Judge of the Court of Claims

Papers Considered:

  1. Notice of Motion dated September 26, 2019;
  2. Affidavit of William Harris Brooks sworn to September 26, 2019 with Exhibits A-D;
  3. Letter from Glenn C. King, A.A.G. dated October 9, 2019 served in response to motion.

1. Select unreported decisions from the Court of Claims are available via the internet at: https://www.nyscourtofclaims.state.ny.us.