On March 21, 2012, the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) and two prisoners at the Nassau County Correctional Center (NCCC) filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court for Nassau County, New York, against Nassau County and its County Executive, pursuant to CLPR Article 78 and Article XX § 2004 of ...
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On March 21, 2012, the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) and two prisoners at the Nassau County Correctional Center (NCCC) filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court for Nassau County, New York, against Nassau County and its County Executive, pursuant to CLPR Article 78 and Article XX § 2004 of the Nassau County Charter. The plaintiffs, represented by attorneys from NYCLU, sought an order of mandamus from the Court to compel the defendants to appoint seven members to the NCCC Board of Visitors pursuant to Article XX § 2004 of the Nassau County Charter.
Between January 2010 and March 2012, seven people died while in custody at the jail since January 2010, including five suicides. NYCLU received a large number of complaints from the prisoners about the failure to provide necessary medication, the mistreatment of persons with disabilities and the utter lack of mental health services at the jail. The plaintiffs argued that all of the above point to the facility's inadequate grievance system.
The county charter authorizes the seven-member committee to respond to inmate grievances and advise the sheriff on programs that would improve the care and treatment of people housed at the jail. According to the county charter, the Board of Visitors is to be composed of seven county residents who will serve three-year terms and have some "working knowledge of the correctional system."
The arguments revolved around two issues. Firstly, the defendants argued that it had discretion on whether to appoint the seven-member Board. Secondly, the defendants argued that the County Executive's recent submission of four names to the nominations committee of the Nassau County Legislature renders this complaint moot.
On April 3, 2013, the Court (Acting Justice James McCormack) exercised its power of mandamus and ordered the County Executive to appoint a Board of Visitors consistent with the County Charter, and to submit a list of names to constitute the seven-member Board within 90 days. Marone v. Nassau County, 39 Misc. 3d 1034, 1047(N.Y. 2013). The Court rejected both of the defendants' arguments. The language of the County Charter left no discretion to the County Executive on the appointment of the Board, and such appointment was clearly mandated by the language of the Charter. Ibid., 1045 (N.Y. 2013). The second argument was also rejected, because the language of the Charter made it clear that the Board must have seven members, which means it was not the intention to create a seven-member quorum to allow a four-member board to vote. Ibid., 1047(N.Y. 2013). Moreover, there was no evidence that the four members were in fact approved, so the submission of four names was of no importance. Ibid. Zhandos Kuderin - 04/23/2014