Smythe v. State, 2022-22050

CourtNew York Court of Claims
Writing for the CourtLinda K. Mejias-Glover, J.
PartiesJamar A. Smythe, Claimant, v. The State of New York, Defendant.
Decision Date24 February 2022
Docket NumberClaim 129542,2022-22050

Jamar A. Smythe, Claimant,
v.

The State of New York, Defendant.

No. 2022-22050

Claim No. 129542

Court of Claims

February 24, 2022


For Claimant: Fasulo, Braverman & DiMaggio, LLP (By: Samuel Braverman, Esq.)

For Defendant: Letitia James, Attorney General (By: Joseph E. Scolavino, Esq., Assistant Attorney General)

Linda K. Mejias-Glover, J.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Defendant's counsel has moved by Notice of Motion, dated August 23, 2021, seeking, inter alia, an order, pursuant to CPLR § 3211(a)(7), on the grounds that Claimant has failed to state a cause of action, in that, the Claim does not state a cause of action under the Court of Claims Act § 8-b(3)(b)(ii). Claimant vehemently opposes the motion. The Court notes that this matter and the instant motion were transferred to the undersigned Judge pursuant to the Order - Transfer of Claim and Motion dated January 26, 2022 (Sise, J.). This Court having immediately determined that the instant motion had been fully briefed, submitted the motion for decision on January 31, 2022.

This matter, which has been previously deemed trial-ready, was granted leave by the prior Judge to the Defendant to file the instant motion.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND POINTS OF COUNSEL

In the interest of judicial economy, the Court will only set forth the factual background, which directly informs the Court's decision hereinbelow.

The claim in this matter is based upon Claimant's allegations of wrongful conviction and incarceration in Westchester County Court, under Court of Claims Act § 8-b. Claimant also filed a lawsuit against the officers and the Yonkers Police Department in federal court (the "Claim"). There is no dispute as to the timeliness of the Claim or proper and timely service up on the State.

On September 16, 2011, the Claimant was driving in an area in Yonkers, New York, when he was stopped by members of the Yonkers Police Department. According to the Claim, prior to being stopped by police, Claimant picked up Mr. Jasmin Green, who "approached Claimant's vehicle, opened the passenger door, and placed a book bag and his other belongings in the back seat of Claimant's vehicle." According to Counsel, the Claimant further alleges that the "Yonkers Police Department quickly approached Claimant's vehicle," had the Claimant step out of the vehicle and recovered what was "later found to contain narcotics." Claimant alleges that the predicate for the vehicle stop was false as it was based upon a false allegation of observations by Detectives Koch and Molina.

As a result of the stop, Claimant was arrested, which resulted in him being indicted by the grand jury with one count of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree, three counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, unlawful possession of marijuana, and one count of a violation of the Vehicle and Traffic Law for a failure to signal. Thereafter, on November 15, 2012, Westchester County Court Judge Barbara G. Zambelli, held a pre-trial suppression hearing to determine whether the Yonkers Police Department's search of Claimant's vehicle and seizure of evidence found therein was unconstitutional. Claimant alleges that Detective Molina testified falsely at the hearing, and the Court, relying on such false testimony, denied Claimant's motions. Claimant further alleges that the Westchester County District Attorney's Office and the Yonkers Police Department "failed to disclose favorable evidence to the Claimant's defense pursuant to its obligations under Brady v. Maryland "

At Claimant's criminal jury trial, Mr. Green testified that, inter alia, he was the owner of the belongings and narcotics recovered from the vehicle. The jury, notwithstanding, returned a unanimous verdict of guilty on all counts. Thereafter, on April 2, 2013, Claimant was sentenced to serve a determinate term of fifteen years of imprisonment, followed by five years of post-release supervision.

It is further alleged that later, on or about July 28, 2014, Claimant received notice from the Westchester County District Attorney's Office that Detective Koch had knowingly submitted a false affidavit in order to obtain a search warrant for the seizure of controlled substances in an unrelated matter. Detective Koch was subsequently indicted for perjury and official misconduct in preparing a search warrant on an unrelated matter. During the course of the trial of People v. Koch, the Westchester County District Attorney's Office conducted a review of Claimant's case, which ultimately resulted in Steven A. Bender, Assistant District Attorney ("ADA Bender") concluding that new evidence discovered during the post-conviction investigation supplied grounds for a motion to vacate the Claimant's...

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