Case: People ex rel. Stoughton o/b/o Little v. NYS Department of Corrections

260154/2020 | New York state trial court

Filed Date: March 25, 2020

Closed Date: July 23, 2020

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

COVID-19 Summary: 106 individuals held at New York City's Rikers Island jail on non-criminal technical parole violations secured their release after alleging that their continued incarceration constituted deliberate indifference to the risk of serious medical harm in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and state constitutional right to due process. On March 25, 2020, 110 individuals held at Rikers Island on non-criminal technical parole violations filed this habeas petition in New York State …

COVID-19 Summary: 106 individuals held at New York City's Rikers Island jail on non-criminal technical parole violations secured their release after alleging that their continued incarceration constituted deliberate indifference to the risk of serious medical harm in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and state constitutional right to due process.


On March 25, 2020, 110 individuals held at Rikers Island on non-criminal technical parole violations filed this habeas petition in New York State trial court (which is called the New York Supreme Court). Represented by the Legal Aid Society of New York, petitioners sought immediate release on the grounds that continuing to hold them on parole warrants constitutes deliberate indifference to the risk of serious medical harm in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and state constitutional right to due process. The respondents in the case were the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Corrections and the Acting Commissioner of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

The plaintiffs alleged they were especially vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 due to their age and/or underlying medical condition. The plaintiffs cited the exponential growth of the disease in New York jails as support for their immediate release; on March 20, one prisoner was reported as having contracted COVID-19. Five days later, there were 75 confirmed cases. Specifically within Riker’s Island, the plaintiffs alleged that the rate of infection was 85 times higher than the average in the United States.

The same day as the petition was filed, Judge Doris Gonzalez ordered the defendants to show cause for why the petitioners should not be released. On March 27, 2020, the Court heard arguments and then ordered 106 of the 110 petitioners be released immediately.

Nine remaining petitioners who were denied relief appealed to the New York State Supreme Court. On July 23, 2020, the Supreme Court affirmed the lower court's denial of relief, agreeing that the "individual petitioners provided insufficient factual information

necessary to assess their flight risks, as well as the particular medical vulnerabilities that heightened their risks for serious illness or death if they contracted COVID-19." The Supreme Court noted that the DOC had taken significant steps to reduce the spread of COVID within jails and prisons in holding that the petitioners failed to state a claim for a violation of the state constitution.

The case is now closed.

Summary Authors

Justin Hill (3/29/2020)

Rachel Harrington (10/13/2021)

People


Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Elgarten, Kerry (New York)

Gottesman, Lauren (New York)

Harpaz, Elon (New York)

McEvilley, Lorraine (New York)

McGrath, Michelle (New York)

Ndiaye, Marie (New York)

Stoughton, Corey (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Elgarten, Kerry (New York)

Gottesman, Lauren (New York)

Harpaz, Elon (New York)

McEvilley, Lorraine (New York)

McGrath, Michelle (New York)

Ndiaye, Marie (New York)

Stoughton, Corey (New York)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

260154/2020

Writ of Habeas Corpus

People of the State of New York v. Brann

New York state supreme court

March 25, 2020

March 25, 2020

Complaint

451609/20

260234/20

Opinion

The People of the State of New York v. Brann

New York state supreme court

July 23, 2020

July 23, 2020

Order/Opinion

Docket

Last updated Aug. 24, 2022, 3 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: New York

Case Type(s):

Jail Conditions

Special Collection(s):

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

Key Dates

Filing Date: March 25, 2020

Closing Date: July 23, 2020

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Individuals held at Rikers Island on non-criminal technical parole violations

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

Legal Services/Legal Aid

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Commissioner of the New York City Department of Corrections (New York City, New York), State

Acting Commissioner of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (New York City, New York), State

Defendant Type(s):

Corrections

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Constitutional Clause(s):

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Due Process

Special Case Type(s):

Habeas

Availably Documents:

Complaint (any)

Non-settlement Outcome

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Mixed

Nature of Relief:

Habeas relief

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Issues

General:

Conditions of confinement

Sanitation / living conditions

Medical/Mental Health:

Medical care, general

COVID-19:

Release Denied

Release Granted

Release Requested

Type of Facility:

Government-run