Monday's (Belated) NY Blawg Round Up
Comedic Break

Ouch!--NY Court of Appeals Dismisses Unjust Conviction Claim Against State

In Long v. State of New York, 2006 NY Slip Op 05231, Mr. Long was convicted of Rape, Robbery, and Sexual Abuse in 1995 and sentenced to prison for 8-24 years.  In 2000 he was released and his conviction was vacated pursuant to CPL s. 440.10 as a result of an investigation by the DA's Office which determined that he was the "wrong man."  In 2002 he failed a claim against the State of New York in the Court of Claims alleging unjust conviction and imprisonment. 

The Court first clarified that "the Court of Claims Act requires a claimant to establish only that the vacatur of the judgment was predicated upon one of the statutory grounds" rather than requiring a claimant to establish that the vacatur of the judgment and dismissal of the indictment were based on one of the grounds specified in Court of Claims Act § 8-b (3) (b) (ii) and CPL 440.10 (1).

However, unfortunately for Mr. Long, the next issue considered by the Court was not decided in his favor, and is yet another example of a failure to err on the side of caution when it comes to procedural matters--especially when filing a claim in the Court of Claims.

In this case, the claim was not verified by Mr. Long, but rather was verified by his attorney on his behalf, pursuant to pursuant to CPLR 3020 (d) (3), which permits an attorney to verify a claim if the client "is not in the county where the attorney has his office."  The Court concluded that, unlike other types of claims against the State, the Court of Claims Act specifically required a Claim verified only by the claimant in cases alleging unjust conviction and imprisonment:

Claimant's reliance on Lepkowski is misplaced. That case involved section 11 (b) of the Court of Claims Act, the general verification requirement that specifically incorporates CPLR procedures by providing that a claim "be verified in the same manner as a complaint in an action in the supreme court." We concluded that a defectively verified claim under section 11 (b) should be treated no differently than a defective verification in supreme court, and that CPLR 3022's remedy for an invalid verification is available (see Lepkowski, 1 NY3d at 210). In contrast, the verification requirement in Court of Claims Act § 8-b (4) is specific to claims for unjust conviction and imprisonment and makes no reference to the rules governing supreme court practice. Hence, CPLR 3020 (d) (3) and 3022 have no application to this case.

Wow.  That's gotta hurt.  Talk about unjust results.  Poor Mr. Long.  At least he only served 5 years in prison prior to the vacatur of his sentence, as opposed to the unlucky people who aren't released for 15-20 years.  But, I suppose that's not much consolation, now, is it?


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Michelle Wilkins

Notary Public commission expire date is missing from papers. How does this effect the papers? We are in Saratoga County, NY.

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