Claimant's motion for the assignment of counsel was denied.
|Claimant(s):||ROGER CODRINGTON, 17A3736|
|Claimant short name:||CODRINGTON|
|Footnote (claimant name) :|
|Defendant(s):||STATE OF NEW YORK|
|Footnote (defendant name) :||The caption has been amended sua sponte to reflect the only properly named defendant.|
|Judge:||FRANCIS T. COLLINS|
|Claimant's attorney:||Roger Codrington, Pro Se|
|Defendant's attorney:||Honorable Letitia James, Attorney General
By: Albert D. DiGiacomo, Esq., Assistant Attorney General
|Third-party defendant's attorney:|
|Signature date:||May 6, 2020|
|See also (multicaptioned case)|
Claimant, an inmate in the custody of the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, seeks damages for personal injuries allegedly sustained on April 23, 2018 when his finger tip was severed in a large metal door and medical personnel failed to provide appropriate treatment. By this motion he seeks the assignment of counsel on the basis he is a layman and suffers from mental illness.
Initially, the instant motion is procedurally defective as there is no affidavit of service indicating service upon the County Attorney as required by CPLR 1101 (c).
Moreover, this is not a proper case for the discretionary assignment of counsel under CPLR 1102. In Matter of Smiley (36 NY2d 433 ), the Court of Appeals held there is no constitutional or statutory requirement that indigents be assigned private counsel in civil litigation. In so holding, the Court recognized that unlike a defendant in a criminal proceeding, most civil litigants are not facing a "risk of loss of liberty or grievous forfeiture" (id. at 437). While the Court in Smiley made clear that civil litigants have no absolute right to assigned counsel, it recognized that "[t]he courts have a broad discretionary power to assign counsel without compensation in a proper case" (id. at 441; see also CPLR 1102). Such a case is one in which an individual is faced with a grievous forfeiture or loss of a fundamental right implicating his or her liberty interests (DeLeon v State of New York, 52 AD3d 1282 [4th Dept 2008]; Planck v County of Schenectady, 51 AD3d 1283 [3d Dept 2008]; Wills v City of Troy, 258 AD2d 849 [3d Dept 1999], lv dismissed 93 NY2d 1000 ). The instant action seeking money damages fails to implicate claimant's fundamental rights so as to warrant the assignment of counsel. Moreover, attorneys' fees in such actions are generally paid on a contingency fee basis thereby permitting indigents to obtain the services of an attorney without the need for the assignment of counsel under CPLR 1102.Based on the foregoing, the claimant's motion is denied.
May 6, 2020
Saratoga Springs, New York
FRANCIS T. COLLINS
Judge of the Court of Claims
1. Undated Notice of Motion filed December 5, 2019;
2. Affirmation in opposition dated February 24, 2020, with Exhibits A and B.