Court Allows Putative Class Action on Behalf of Wrongfully Incarcerated “PRS” Plaintiffs to Proceed

  • February 10, 2012

On February 10, 2012, United States District Judge Shira Scheindlin denied a motion brought on behalf of a variety of state officials seeking to dismiss a putative class action claiming that, in flat defiance of clear constitutional commands, state officials subjected hundreds of individuals to unlawful custody for violations of terms of “Post-Release Supervision” (“PRS”) that they were never sentenced to by a judge. The state officials claimed that the unconstitutionality of the practice was not “clearly established,” despite a 2006 ruling of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals that it violated due process (Earley v. Murray, 451 F.3d 71 (2d Cir. 2006)). In denying the motion, Judge Scheindlin found that the plaintiffs had “clearly and plausibly alleged that [State Department of Correction (“DOC”)] Defendants knew that the plaintiffs’ terms of PRS had been imposed administratively when those plaintiffs were returned to DOC custody for unlawful incarceration, and that the DOC officials were deliberately indifferent to these known violations of the plaintiffs’ rights.” Accordingly, “it was objectively unreasonable of defendants to continue enforcing administrative PRS without seeking resentencing for two years after Earley.” ECBAWM attorneys Matthew D. Brinckerhoff and Adam R. Pulver represent three individuals on behalf of a putative class in the case, captioned Betances v. Fischer, S.D.N.Y. No. 11 Civ. 3200(SAS).