New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
MAHMOOD v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2020-015-056, Claim No. 134432, Motion No. M-95381

Synopsis

Claimant's motion for the assignment of counsel was denied.

Case information

UID: 2020-015-056
Claimant(s): MOHAMMED SAYEED MAHMOOD
Claimant short name: MAHMOOD
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) : Caption has been changed sua sponte to reflect the only properly named defendant
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 134432
Motion number(s): M-95381
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: FRANCIS T. COLLINS
Claimant's attorney: Mohammed Sayeed Mahmood, pro se
Defendant's attorney: No Appearance
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: May 18, 2020
City: Saratoga Springs
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

Claimant, proceeding pro se, moves for the assignment of counsel.

Claimant seeks damages for various forms of harassment and mental torture that occurred from 2002 to the present. Claimant alleges that he and his wife were "afflicted with unseen evil" consisting of harassment and mental torture by U.S. Government agencies and have suffered injury as a result thereof (Claim, 5).

Initially, the instant motion is procedurally defective as there is no affidavit of service indicating that it was served on 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 [1975]), 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 [1999]). The instant action seeking money damages for unspecified evils of the federal government fails to implicate claimant's fundamental rights so as to warrant the assignment of counsel.

Based on the foregoing, the claimant's motion is denied.

May 18, 2020

Saratoga Springs, New York

FRANCIS T. COLLINS

Judge of the Court of Claims

Papers Considered:

1. Notice of Motion dated March 6, 2020;

2. Affidavit in support sworn to February 14, 2020, with attachments.