University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Ruffin v. Brann JC-NY-0079
Docket / Court 260211/2020 ( State Court )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Attorney Organization Legal Services/Legal Aid
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: On April 7, 2020, inmates detained on parole warrants in New York City jails filed this state court lawsuit alleging that holding the inmates in jails amidst the COVID-19 outbreak represented deliberate indifference to the welfare of the inmates in violation of the Fourteenth ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: On April 7, 2020, inmates detained on parole warrants in New York City jails filed this state court lawsuit alleging that holding the inmates in jails amidst the COVID-19 outbreak represented deliberate indifference to the welfare of the inmates in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and New York Constitution's right to Due Process. The state court released some of the inmates but not others.


On April 7, 2020, 101 separate inmates detained on parole warrants in New York City jails filed this lawsuit in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Bronx. (In New York, Supreme Court is the trial court.) They alleged that holding the inmates in jails amidst the COVID-19 outbreak represented deliberate indifference to the welfare of the inmates in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and New York Constitution's right to Due Process. The state court released some of the inmates but not others. The writ pointed out that, at the time of filing, New York City was one of the world's hardest hit localities and the prisons and jails were particularly affected. Moreover, the prisoners seeking habeas were immuno-compromised, elderly, or otherwise thought to be particularly susceptible to the virus.

Six days later, Judge Ralph Fabrizio issued his decision, weighing the risk of detainees not returning to Court or custody, versus the health risk to the detainee if they were not released.
Judge Fabrizio's order summarized the following outcomes:
-Fifty-one inmates were released
-Fourteen of the petitioners withdrew their petition or were otherwise mooted their petitions for unknown reasons
-Thirty-four inmates were denied release
-One inmate's petition remained pending, as the Court was still waiting to find out whether they had already been released by the state
-One inmate had already died of COVID-19.

Jack Hibbard - 06/11/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Bail/Bond
Conditions of confinement
Fines/Fees/Bail/Bond
Sanitation / living conditions
Medical/Mental Health
COVID-19 Release Denied
COVID-19 Release Granted
COVID-19 Release Requested
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Special Case Type
Habeas
Causes of Action Habeas Corpus, 28 U.S.C. ยงยง 2241-2253; 2254; 2255
Defendant(s) Commissioner of the New York City Department of Corrections
New York State Acting Commissioner of Department of Correction and Community Supervision
Plaintiff Description 101 prisoners in New York City, thought to be especially vulnerable to COVID-19
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Legal Services/Legal Aid
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Habeas relief
Source of Relief Litigation
Filed 04/07/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Court Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
State Trial Court
04/02/2020
Writ of Habeas Corpus
JC-NY-0079-0001.pdf | Detail
State Trial Court
04/13/2020
Decision and Order on Petitioners' Writs of Habeas Corpus
JC-NY-0079-0002.pdf | Detail
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Judges Fabrizio, Ralph Court not on record show/hide docs
JC-NY-0079-0002
Plaintiff's Lawyers Billingsley, David (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0079-0001
Gottesman, Lauren (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0079-0001
Ndiaye, Marie (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0079-0001
Quackenbush, Robert Matthew (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0079-0001
Simpson, Kayla (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0079-0001
Stoughton, Corey (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0079-0001
Vela, Veronica (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0079-0001
Werlwas, Mary Lynne (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0079-0001

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