The complainant woman seeks damages for injuries she sustained as a result of her alleged wrongful arrest by court officers employed by the State Office of Court Administration. The trial of the claim was bifurcated and the decision addresses solely the issue of liability.
The complainant woman is an attorney formerly employed by the County District Attorney’s Office. She was assigned as a felony arraignment assistant in the criminal courts building in New York. Her testimony and that elicited from two court officers on the complainant’s direct case established that on that date, she was taken into custody by the two court officers in the Arraignment Part 1 courtroom (AR-1) and subsequently arrested and charged with petit larceny and possession of stolen property. She was transported to the 84th Precinct for processing and was later returned to the courthouse and arraigned on charges of criminal possession of stolen property, petit larceny and grand larceny. The charges were presented to a grand jury in Brooklyn and the grand jury returned no indictment.
The complainant testified that on the morning of July 2, 1999 she was assigned to handle arraignments in Arraignment Part 2 courtroom (AR-2). While she was on the record in AR-2, she was approached by a woman from the courtroom helpdesk. The woman’s duties encompassed arraignments in both Arraignment Parts 1 and 2, but she worked at a desk in the AR-1 courtroom. The complainant recalled that the courtroom helpdesk handed her a file and said it was a warrant or extradition or something and then left but when she later examined the papers, only an arrest file was included, not an extradition file as she expected. After unsuccessfully attempting to contact the courtroom helpdesk by telephone, the woman walked to the AR-1 courtroom purportedly to obtain the correct papers.