Recent Developments in New York Law

By Boyle, Patrick J.; Mitchell, William J. | St. John's Law Review, Fall 1997 | Go to article overview

Recent Developments in New York Law


Boyle, Patrick J., Mitchell, William J., St. John's Law Review


Court of Appeals recognizes private constitutional tort remedy against the State

In September 1992, a 77-year-old white woman was allegedly attacked at knifepoint in a house in Oneonta, near the State University campus.l Based upon the woman's description of the assailant as a black man who may have cut his hand during the attack, both New York State Police and University security officials began a five-day manhunt for the perpetrator. They obtained a computer-generated list containing the names and addresses of every African-American male attending the University and sought to interrogate each of those students.3 Additionally, both State and local law enforcement officials conducted a "street-sweep" in which all African-Americans in the vicinity of the City of Oneonta were stopped and similarly questioned.4 These tactics did not lead to an arrest of a suspect.5

"Suspects" who were interrogated by the police or whose names were on the computer list, brought suit in both state and federal court and asserted that the conduct of the police was racially motivated and therefore deprived them of rights guaranteed by both the New York and United States Constitutions.6 In the federal suit, the plaintiffs named as defendants the individuals who acted under color of state law7 and the municipality of Oneonta, alleging that the policies of the Oneonta Police Department led to the constitutional rights violations.8 In the state action, plaintiffs sought damages from the State of New York, alleging illegal and unconstitutional acts by the State, the State Police, the State University of New York, and other individuals acting under color of state law.9 However, an issue concerning the State's liability arose because federal law does not allow a state itself to be named as a defendant in such a lawsuit.lo

In spite of this backdrop of state immunity from suits alleging constitutional torts-that is, actions for damages against the government or individual defendants for violations of a constitutional right"-the New York Court of Appeals, in Brown v. State of New York,l2 reversed the Appellate Division and held that based on principles embodied in the State Constitution"3 and jurisdiction created by the Court of Claims Act,14 the State could be held liable for damages if its employees violate a person's constitutional rights.l5

Writing for the majority, Judge Simons acknowledged that unlike federal constitutional tort actions arising under 42 U.S.C. 1983,16 New York does not have a statute providing for a private right of action against the State or its employees for violations of the State Constitution.l7 Nevertheless, the majority employed the "analytical tools" of section 874A of the Restatement (Second) of Torts"8 and the United States Supreme Court decision in Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics,l9 which recognized a federal action against federal agents, in order to imply a remedy against the State for violations of the State Constitution.so

The court emphasized that while a damages remedy was not explicitly included in either the State Constitution or in subsequent enforcement legislation,21 there was "historical support" for implying a tort remedy for violations of rights created by the State Constitution.22 The court pointed out that the delegates from the State's 1938 Constitutional Convention did not reject or disfavor a damages remedy for violations of "constitutional torts."23 Whether or not the Convention delegates favored a constitutional tort remedy or believed such a remedy to exist at common law is immaterial, for it was precisely those delegates who failed to grant a private remedy in the Constitution and instead granted to the legislature all subsequent authority to create claims against the State. In fact, the legislature has never enacted a statute that creates such a remedy.24 In essence, the court engendered the potential for liability of the State by recognizing that constitutional torts are included within the "torts" for which the Court of Claims Act imposes respondeat superior liability upon the State. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Recent Developments in New York Law
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.