Case: Cookhorne v. Fischer

12-01791 | New York state trial court

Filed Date: 2012

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On November 22, 2011, the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision sentenced the plaintiff, a 17-year-old prisoner, to four years in solitary confinement following a disciplinary hearing for allegedly assaulting a correctional officer. In solitary confinement, the prisoner was allegedly deprived of phone calls, packages, commissary, and good time credits for four years, and was confined in a small cell for 23 hours a day. Prisoners' Legal Services of New York subsequently fi…

On November 22, 2011, the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision sentenced the plaintiff, a 17-year-old prisoner, to four years in solitary confinement following a disciplinary hearing for allegedly assaulting a correctional officer. In solitary confinement, the prisoner was allegedly deprived of phone calls, packages, commissary, and good time credits for four years, and was confined in a small cell for 23 hours a day. Prisoners' Legal Services of New York subsequently filed a lawsuit on behalf of the prisoner in New York State Supreme Court, alleging that the hearing disposition "shocked the conscience" and "was deliberately indifferent to the medical and mental health needs of 16 and 17 year olds". The plaintiff sought a declaratory judgment stating that (1) solitary confinement of 16 and 17 year olds violates state and federal constitutional prohibitions on cruel and unusual punishment, and (2) the Department's regulations on solitary confinement is unconstitutional because they do not require consideration of a person's age in imposing punishment at disciplinary hearings.

On March 15, 2013, the New York State's Appellate Division ruled that although there was substantial evidence that the prisoner violated inmate rules, the solitary confinement sentence was "so disproportionate to the offense as to be shocking to one's sense of fairness." The court sent the declaratory judgment part of the case to the State Supreme Court for adjudication.

On October 17, 2014, the parties announced a settlement. Under the terms of the settlement, the state agreed to a number of provisions, including (1) a one-time review of all juveniles in adult prison solitary confinement; (2) establishing a Juvenile Separation Unit with special programming; (3) the hiring of social workers to work with juveniles in new housing units; (4) the enactment of new regulations to consider age as a mitigating factor in disciplinary cases; (5) limiting of disciplinary confinement for juveniles, and (6) training officers in the new procedures. The settlement agreement is scheduled to expire after 24 months.

Summary Authors

Priyah Kaul (11/8/2014)

People


Judge(s)

Carni, Edward D. (New York)

Centra, John V. (New York)

Fahey, Joseph E. (New York)

Sconiers, Rose H. (New York)

Siwek, Donna M. (New York)

Valentino, Joseph D. (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Murtagh-Monks, Karen L. (New York)

Pagano, Maria E (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Murphy, Kim S (New York)

Judge(s)

Carni, Edward D. (New York)

Centra, John V. (New York)

Fahey, Joseph E. (New York)

Sconiers, Rose H. (New York)

Siwek, Donna M. (New York)

Valentino, Joseph D. (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Murtagh-Monks, Karen L. (New York)

Pagano, Maria E (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Murphy, Kim S (New York)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

12-01791

Docket

New York state supreme court

Sept. 25, 2014

Sept. 25, 2014

Docket

12-01791

The Petition of Paul Cookhorne, by and through his Attorneys

New York state supreme court

May 31, 2012

May 31, 2012

Pleading / Motion / Brief

12-01791

12-01634

Brief for Petitioner

New York state supreme court

Oct. 17, 2012

Oct. 17, 2012

Pleading / Motion / Brief

12-01791

Opinion

New York state supreme court

104 A.3d 1197

March 15, 2013

March 15, 2013

Order/Opinion

12-01791

Prisoners' Legal Services Press Release

New York state supreme court

Oct. 22, 2014

Oct. 22, 2014

Press Release

12-01791

Amended Settlement Agreement

New York state supreme court

Feb. 10, 2016

Feb. 10, 2016

Settlement Agreement

Resources

Docket

Last updated June 28, 2022, 3:02 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: New York

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Special Collection(s):

Solitary confinement

Key Dates

Filing Date: 2012

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Prisoner sentenced to four years in solitary confinement following a disciplinary hearing.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

Prisoners' Legal Services of New York (PLSNY)

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (Erie), State

Defendant Type(s):

Corrections

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Constitutional Clause(s):

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Availably Documents:

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Order Duration: 2014 - 2016

Content of Injunction:

Reporting

Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention

Hire

Issues

General:

Administrative segregation

Classification / placement

Conditions of confinement

Disciplinary procedures

Disciplinary segregation

Education

Good time

Juveniles

Over/Unlawful Detention

Special education

Youth / Adult separation

Type of Facility:

Government-run