Court Orders Expungement Of Disciplinary Charges Due To Inadequate Employee Assistance And Wrongful Denial Of Witness

Our client was charged with turning off the bars and pushing an officer in the chest. Our client described the incident differently stating that while standing against the cell bars he heard an officer smack a prisoner standing next to him and when he turned to see what was going on, he was pummelled. He asserts that he fell to the floor, where he continued to be assaulted by multiple officers. A CT-scan taken several weeks later showed a fracture of the eye orbit with herniation of fat through the fracture.

At his hearing, our client asserted that he had not received adequate employee assistance. Among other things, he indicated he had asked his assistant to interview all of the inmates on a certain tier so he could determine who had witnessed the incident for which he was charged and select relevant witnesses. The assistant randomly selected six prisoners; five of the six refused to testify and one provided a written statement that he observed an officer push a prisoner. Our client also called another prisoner as a witness at his hearing, but the hearing officer stated that at the time of the incident the witness was restrained face down on the floor, and therefore could not have observed petitioner’s incident. Our client was found guilty of all of the charges against him and received a penalty including 270 days in solitary confinement and six months recommended loss of good time.

PLS sued alleging that our client’s right to employee assistance was violated by the refusal of the assistant to interview all the requested witnesses so our client could select relevant witnesses. PLS also argued that the hearing officer’s decision to deny the requested witness, who was at the scene of the incident, was an improper violation of the right to call witnesses, since there was nothing in the record to support the hearing officer’s conclusion that the witness could not have observed the incident.

By the time the case was argued in court, DOCCS conceded that our client’s rights to call a witness and to assistance may have been violated, and so they focused their argument on the remedy, urging the court to order a new hearing rather than expungement of the charges.

On February 9, 2017, the Appellate Division, Third Department issued a decision in the case holding that our client was prejudiced by the assistant’s failure to interview the requested witnesses and that the Hearing Officer erred in denying the requested witness based on his own speculation regarding the content of the witness’s testimony. The court then addressed the issue of remedy holding that, in this case, expungement of the charges was the proper remedy.  Matter of Nance v. Annucci, #523293 (3d Dep’t Feb. 9, 2017)

Halinka Zolcik – Accredited Representative

Halinka Zolcik

Accredited Representative
Tel.: 518-694-8699 x 2106

Photo of Halinka Zolcik

Halinka joined the Albany office of PLS as an immigration law graduate/immigrant justice corps fellow in September 2017. Halinka received her JD from the University of Wyoming College of Law in May 2017. Before attending law school, she worked for a criminal law district court judge for two years where she realized the injustice that incarcerated immigrants face. She has participated in a wide-variety of internships in the area of criminal law, including internships with the: Colorado Public Defenders Office, Colorado Adult Probation, United States Attorney’s Office in Colorado, Wyoming Guardian Ad Litem’s Office and the Wyoming Public Defender’s Office. She was an intern at the International Human Rights Clinic in Laramie, Wyoming in her second year of law school and the student director of the clinic in her final year of law school. In January 2017, Ms. Zolcik was offered a position as an Immigrant Justice Corps fellow and was subsequently placed with Prisoners Legal Services. Halinka is passionate about animals, learning to cook Puerto Rican food, and spending time in the mountains.

Megan Welch – Staff Attorney

Megan Welch

Staff Attorney

(607) 273-2283 ext. 1209

Megan joined PLS in October of 2018 after received her J.D. from CUNY School of Law in May of 2018. Prior to law school, she worked as an 8th and 9th grade science teacher, and received her Masters of Education from Brooklyn College in 2014, and B.A. from Ithaca College in 2009. During law school, she was a Judicial Intern with Hon. Lois Bloom in the USDC Eastern District and had a number of internships focusing on urban environmental justice, including legal policy research for Lloyd Patel, LLP, on drug overdose health issues, and authored recommendations on environmental legislation for the Office of NYC Councilmember Costa Constantinides. She also interned with Queens Legal Services, preparing and attending school suspension hearings and conducting intake for students whose rights had been violated under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Her work as an AmeriCorps Volunteer after undergraduate school took her to Alaska and Maine, focusing on restorative justice and at-risk youth. In her free time, Megan enjoys traveling and hopes to see all 58 national parks one day. She has traveled to 32 parks so far, with Glacier Bay and Death Valley being her favorites.

Hallie Mitnick – Staff Attorney

Hallie Mitnick

Staff Attorney

(607) 273-2283 ext. 2004

Hallie joined PLS in September of 2015 after graduating from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.  As a law student, Hallie participated in the Innocence Project clinic as well as the Civil Rights Clinic.  She was also a Public Service Scholar and Dean’s Merit Scholar.  She was a recipient of the Cardozo Center for Public Service Law’s INSPIRE! Award, which recognizes extraordinary commitment to public service law, and the Cardozo Service and Achievement Award, which is given annually to graduating students for achievement and outstanding service to the law school,.  Her note “Estelle v. Gamble in a Post-Affordable Care Act World” was published by the Cardozo Public Law, Policy & Ethics Journal in summer 2015.  Hallie also was a Charles H. Revson Law Student Public Interest Fellow at the Legal Aid Society Criminal Defense Practice’s Special Litigation Unit during the summer of 2014.  At Legal Aid, Hallie worked on solitary confinement appeals for individuals at Rikers Island as well as impact litigation concerning Rikers Island.  While an undergraduate at Cornell University, Hallie was a teaching assistant in the Cornell Prison Education Program at Auburn Correctional Facility.  In her spare time, Hallie likes to go to antique markets.


Yuriy Pereyaslavskiy – Managing Attorney/Technology & Social Media Coordinator

Yuriy Pereyaslavskiy

Managing Attorney & Technology & Social Media Coordinator

PLS Immigration Unit

(845) 391-3110 ext. 2108




Managing Attorney of the Newburgh office.  Yuriy has been with the PLSNY since March 2018, litigating removal defense cases representing detained, non-detained and incarcerated individuals before the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, Immigration Courts, the Board of Immigration Appeals and at the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.  A Michigan State University College of Law graduate, he has been admitted to the New York Bar since 2015.  He is also admitted to practice in the Southern District of New York.  Prior to joining the PLS Immigration Unit, Mr. Pereyaslavskiy worked at the New York State Bar Association and as a consumer rights defense attorney helping indigent clients save their homes in foreclosure and bankruptcy proceedings in state and federal courts.  In his spare time Yuriy enjoys travel and sampling of ethnic cuisine.

John Peng – Federal Litigation & Appellate Staff Attorney

John Peng

Federal Litigation & Appellate Staff Attorney,

41 State St., Ste. M112

Albany, NY 12207

T: (518) 694-8699 ext. 2102

John Peng,  Federal Litigation & Appellate Staff Attorney

John joined the Immigration Unit in August 2019 as an Immigrant Justice Corps Fellow. He received his J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. There, John was an active participant in the Transnational Legal Clinic and focused his coursework on immigration and international human rights law. John was admitted to practice law by the New York State Bar in January 2020.

Alex McGriff – Immigrant Justice Corps Fellow

Alex McGriff

Immigrant Justice Corps Fellow

(518) 694-8699

Alex McGriff, Immigrant Justice Corps Fellow. Alex grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. In 2013, he graduated from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee with a B.A. in Political Science. After graduation, he worked in Memphis as an immigration paralegal, primarily serving clients affirmatively applying for asylum and defending against deportation. Alex graduated from Harvard Law School in May 2020. During law school, he focused on the intersection of immigration law and public defense. Alex represented clients as a clinical student attorney at the Greater Boston Legal Services asylum clinic and in public defense in the Roxbury and Dorchester District Courts through the Criminal Justice Institute. He spent summers interning at Orleans Public Defenders in Louisiana and in the Bronx Defenders Immigration Practice. Outside of work, he enjoys watching the NBA with his dog.