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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Doing What They Do Best, Court System Operates From the Shadows

4-Year-Old Queens Custody Case Shifted to Brooklyn
The unexplained transfer of a long-running and highly volatile custody case from a judge in one borough to a judge in another—without a motion, hearing or formal request to move the case—has added another ember to an already fiery matrimonial dispute.
McAvoy v. Hannigan had been dragging on for more than four years before Supreme Court Justice Sidney F. Strauss in Queens when, just before Thanksgiving, the Office of Court Administration without explanation took the case away from him and sent it to Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey S. Sunshine in Brooklyn. The shift was mandated in an order issued in late November by Justice Fern A. Fisher, deputy chief administrative judge for the New York City courts. Apparently neither party asked for the case to be transferred, and the shift has given the estranged couple, who have been at loggerheads for a decade, one more thing to fight over. The mother, Annemarie McAvoy, an adjunct professor at Fordham University School of Law, former federal prosecutor, one-time candidate for city comptroller and legal commentator for Fox News, said she wants the case to remain with Justice Sunshine. The father, New Jersey real estate investor John Hannigan, wants it back before Justice Strauss in Queens and filed a writ of prohibition in the Appellate Division, Second Department, to get it there. "There was no motion, no hearing, no papers served and that is the part that is extraordinary," said Glenn S. Koopersmith, a matrimonial attorney in Garden City who represents Mr. Hannigan on an Article 78 writ of prohibition. Mr. Koopersmith is among at least eight matrimonial attorneys, many of them members of the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, who have been involved in this case. "I'm doing this for 35 years and I have never seen anything like this," Mr. Koopersmith said. "Normally, you would have a motion and a chance to oppose. This was done summarily."
David Bookstaver, a spokesman for the OCA, said on Jan. 6 that the case was "assigned to Judge Sunshine because there were extremely serious concerns about the welfare of the child involved in this case." Mr. Bookstaver said that court administrators thought it best to have another judge take a look. His comments marked the first time the OCA had provided an explanation for the shift. "The feeling was that a fresh set of eyes that did not have four years of dealing with the case would be the best way to deal with this matter," Mr. Bookstaver said. "Once Judge Sunshine makes a determination regarding the child's welfare, the case will be sent back to Queens. The intent here was always keeping the child's welfare as the focus." It is unclear whether the case will go back to Justice Strauss. At the center of the tug of war is the couple's 10-year-old son, Chad. Ms. McAvoy and Mr. Hannigan divorced in 2005. Initially, the parents agreed to an arrangement whereby the mother had residential custody and the father shared legal custody, meaning they had joint decision-making authority. But their very different views of Chad's needs quickly led to a conflict. Ms. McAvoy believes the boy is autistic, or borderline autistic, and suffers from neuro-behavioral issues. In an interview, she said that she had Chad in therapy 40 hours a week when he was 18 months old. "He had issues," she said. "He still has neurological issues." Mr. Hannigan's attorney paints a different picture. "The mother basically saw the child through very dark glasses and was insistent to label this child autistic or being on the autistic spectrum," said Audrey M. Sager of Sager & Gellerman in Forest Hills, counsel for Mr. Hannigan in the divorce proceedings. "The father, however, did not see the child that way at all and the professionals that he dealt with did not corroborate the mother's viewpoint. The mother had not agreed with a single neutral professional opinion." Ms. Sager said the disagreement reached a tipping point when Chad entered kindergarten and the mother insisted on a restrictive placement that the father opposed. In early 2007, without a hearing, Justice Strauss shifted residential custody from Ms. McAvoy to Mr. Hannigan. A few months later, the Second Department affirmed Justice Strauss and held that the evidence before him was sufficient to "reach a sound conclusion that, under the circumstances of this case, it was in the child's best interest to award temporary residential custody to the father until such time as a hearing could be conducted on the issue of permanent custody." The Second Department in its terse decision (41 AD3d 791, 2007) did not say what that evidence was, although there was some suggestion, according to both sides of the dispute, that Chad was underweight while living with Ms. McAvoy and that his teeth were unhealthy. The panel sent the matter back to Justice Strauss for a trial on permanent custody. That trial has consumed about 30 trial days over the four-year duration of the litigation.
Multiple Counsel
Ms. Sager blames the slow progress on the fact that Ms. McAvoy has gone through six lawyers—Steven D. Kommor, Alexander Potruch, Stephen Gassman, Raoul Felder, Robert Hiltzik and Edward Hayes—before going pro se. Ms. Sager also said that, along the way, there were unfounded allegations of sexual abuse against the father and an unsuccessful motion by Ms. McAvoy under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act to transfer the case to New Jersey. "Every time, we had another set of lawyers and they needed time to prepare," Ms. Sager said. Ms. McAvoy said in an interview that she is not to blame for the delay and wants the case to end. She said she accumulated more than $1 million in legal bills before running out of money and going pro se. "This is not an issue of switching lawyers," Ms. McAvoy said. "When I switched lawyers there was maybe a couple weeks' delay, if that. I made sure that there was no delay because my interest was in getting Chad back." Now, an imminent risk hearing is taking place before Justice Sunshine and is slated to continue on Jan. 9 and 10 in Brooklyn. Ms. McAvoy contends she brought her concerns about Chad before Justice Strauss more than a year ago. "I raised on the record with the judge that [Chad] was talking about killing himself, and the judge did nothing," Ms. McAvoy said. "In September, my son was hospitalized for hurting himself and having suicidal thoughts, as well as homicidal thoughts toward his father. The thought of killing himself always revolves around he would rather be dead than continue living with his father. He feels that if he has to do that, he doesn't want to live."  Ms. Sager said neutral professionals dispute those claims and insists Chad is doing fine with his father—performing well in school, making friends, getting involved in extra-curricular activities.
Once Justice Sunshine concludes the imminent risk hearing in Brooklyn, the matter will go back to Queens, according to Mr. Bookstaver. Ms. Sager said the Nov. 23 order transferring the matter out of Queens caught her completely by surprise. "There was no motion, no application, nothing, and all of a sudden a case was being moved to a county with improper venue, from a sitting judge where there has been no mistrial and no recusal after 32 days of trial," Ms. Sager said. "I want a written decision and I want to know how it happened. My client wants this case adjudicated fairly and adjudicated quickly." Ms. McAvoy said she had made clear her displeasure with Justice Strauss, but said she did not seek transfer of the case. "I have been pretty vocal about my dissatisfaction with how this thing is moving, so it [the transfer] may have come through that," Ms. McAvoy said. "The judge on the record said we would be submitting post-trial briefs in 2014, so there was no end in sight. Temporary custody shouldn't be four and a half years. But I have not had any contact with any of the administrative judges." Ms. McAvoy also noted that Justice Strauss posted a question on the International Institute of Judaic Law website asking whether Jewish law supports or refutes the New York legal concept that custody determinations should be based on the best interests of the child. On the website (judaiclaw.org/Questions_Answers_010.html), a rabbi responded that under Talmudic law children under 6 should be placed with the mother and boys over 6 are to be placed with the father and that the welfare of the child is not the primary consideration. Chad was 6 when custody was shifted to the father, Ms. McAvoy said. Justice Strauss was unavailable for comment.  John Caher can be contacted at jcaher@alm.com.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

This case appears to be just another example of the b.s. games in court that create an out of control monster. There are only 2 consistent elements throughout all cases like this one: the lawyers pump up their fees and improper back room deals are made. Something's got to change.

Anonymous said...

Why is everything so secret with New York's court system?

Anonymous said...

Judge Lippman lied when his office wrote me that his office and the court's administrative judges never become involved in cases or change judges after initial assignment. How much does it cost to make judge changes or is is it a special favor granted to only to Lippman cronies?

Anonymous said...

Maybe this is a good sign now that Prudenti is the new chief administrative judge, and the disappointing and do-little Pfau and her band of hacks are gone....

Anonymous said...

While this happens all the time, (just giving a case to another judge) "Judge" Strauss is one of those phony "certificated" judges who are never legally appointed. The state constitution and state laws, as well as court rules, are very specific as to how one of these judges can become "certificated." Needless to say, those requirements are never met.

Looks like the wife is right on this one, as it seems that at least, Judge Sunshine is legally on the bench, as he was actually elected to the position.

Anonymous said...

Everyone should be asking themselves the question, including Lippman and the rest of his henchmen, one question:

If this can happen to someone who is an adjunct professor at Fordham University School of Law, former federal prosecutor, one-time candidate for city comptroller and legal commentator for Fox News, what chance does just a regular person have in a court?


Time to set-up an "Occupy" "Annemarie McAvoy"?

Anonymous said...

@6:44 The regular person will have their case churned until no more money is available for the attorneys. Judge Lippman should open up the judge assignments to competitive bidding where everyone can freely participate, not just the cronies.

Foolmeonce said...

To 6:44 PM

I was thinking the same thing.

To 7:03 PM

Churn, create fights between client and lawyer, coerce a financial settlement. Blame lawyer changes on the designated loser.

Jig is up, we know the drill..

Anonymous said...

Too bad we can't just hire a retired Judge like Joyce J. George,

http://joycejgeorge.com/private-dispute-services/

for a position analysis.

Wouldn't that be a kick..

Real Judge vs. Judicial Imposter

ohmydidshereallymeanit? said...

Pg. 114 ¶ 3-Pg 115 “Once a Judge has taken the step of recusing himself from a case, he has lost all authority to render any further rulings in the matter. A disqualified judge has no power to act in any proceeding after his disqualification. There is no limited, partial or conditional recusal. In effect, he has no authority over the matter and should he render a decision which postdates his recusal, it will be invalidated.” Joyce J. George, JUDICIAL OPINION WRITING HANDBOOK 5th ed., (2007).

Anonymous said...

Isn't the fact that Justice Strauss engaged in ex-parte communication reason enough for him to be removed?

Imagine if he sought the advice on Sharia law in a matter? He would have been outta there soooo fast.

Anonymous said...

If I'm not mistaken there are Appellate Decisions which do not recognize the "get" as having authority over a matrimonial dissolution action.

I'm confused as to which law this judge was following..

Anonymous said...

When Strauss was checking with that rabbi, he should have brushed up on the facts about who is a jew. If the mother is not jewish, the children can't be either by jewish law. So it wouldn't make any difference how old that boy was.

Patrick said...

First, this child needs an ad litem that is a child life specialist. The REAL facts need to be brought to the table, not what attorneys are speaking so their clients can get their wish. When does this become about the "best interest of the child" and not about an ego that can't let go that they're not right...Cmon people, stop thinking of yourself, there is a chld that is experiencing this chaos as well.

Anonymous said...

It's exciting to know that the public is seeing real cases being handled in the black hole of the OCA legal operation!
It is procedure for OCA to sign a subpoena to secure all surrounding bank records of those who oppose them while using the Homeland security act to hide it, secure wiretaps for same and alter legal documents that were testified to under the legal oath of penalities of perjury!
The cover-up is always there..not always too clean as you see how they revealed thmeslves in this case, but brutal and severely retaliatory, with the knowledge that..who would ever be able to come after the NY State Court system ot any court system.. and as you see there is no one to date!
Or maybe there is?!!
High level people are catching on..maybe through their own divorces etc...but the public needs to lash out on more politicians who have ruined their lives..the Judiciary is the biggest and the last to be exposed...and thus available to gut open.

Anonymous said...

Like MAGIC things happen if you know the RIGHT people!

Anonymous said...

So if OCA makes many false statements about you and puts it in writing or blabs about it to the legal community, and is a court of law and power...does your truth relative to those lies ever receive credibility.... because as we know the courts answer to NO ONE!?
This is a Federal Ct question and any Federal judge or employee who is crooked or not can answer it..because I say that in America the COURT SYSTEMS are at the head of all our problems, because whatever lies they tell daily are circumventing...AMERICAN LAW AND ORDER!
We are obligated to correct this issue however we can..write,blog,tweet,facebook and the World will hear it..I know I have heard from the World!

Anonymous said...

I must say Frankie this all amazes me....The plot thickens...As does my strength...:-)

Anonymous said...

When is the hearing?


Is anyone going to watch?

Anonymous said...

START FUCKING SHOOTING !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Annmarie Macavoy is a fit mother who is an attorney who had over a million dolllars extorted from her over the past 5+ years to fight for custody of her son who she already had custody of since his birth. See the corruption in the court system by judges connected to corrupt lawyers allowing cases to be churned for years unfairly stealing money from litigants and see raul felder stealing money from litigants such as annmarie and passing the case along to incompetent lawyers in his firm such as robert hilsik who messed up many cases and was fired from felders office and given this case which was his only way to make money for year but he was too weak to fight sager who is an ally to the politicians in queens and in manhattan and gets cases all the time and charges top dollars she lives in a mansion in bedford and goes to europe every summer and on many vacations each year so barely has time to return calls of clients but yells at them if they call concerned about the status of their case sager stole ann marie macavoy's son and should be locked up and return all legal fees for her lies and abuse of her connections in the systme as she is on phone with judges having ex parte communciations and has been seen talking to judge strauss about the case when she was before him on this case judge strauss step down in disgrace and judge sunshine you were too weak to help the mother and her child to stand up for justice shameful judge greko gave custody back to mom thanks rudy greco for caring about the right thing to do but why were you giving the father decision making when he abusively makes mom drive two hours+ each weekend to see her little boy?? the mother is a lawyer who is more fit than most of the judges and a very nice person clean up the system and take out the bad judges and get replacement for Judge Lippman as he and his court of appeals judges are too busy to hear more than 4% of cases that come before him must stop and must have cases heard every day up to at least 60% of cases to be heard in 2013 AND AMOUNT MUST GO UP EVERY YEAR
REPLACE JUDGE WEINSTEIN ASAP AND HAVE ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGES REPLACED EVERY TWO YEARS AND CHIEF JUDGES OF CITY AND STATE COURTS REPLACED EVERY FOUR YEARS

Anonymous said...

SEAN DELEVAN HAD TO DEAL WITH CORRUPT LAWYER ADE FASANYA, A NIGERIAN LAWYER WHO ALSO IS A LAW GUARDIAN ON THE 18b PANEL WHO DRIVES A BMW AND LIVES IN A FANCY HOUSE AND TRAVELSS AROUND THE WORLD ON THE SALARY OF AN 18 b LAWYER BECAUSE HE ACCEPTS BRIBES FROM ONE PARENT IN CUSTODY CASES HE IS LAWYER FOR CHILD ON AND HE HAS ABUSED SEAN DELEVAN FOR MANY YEARS. HE GETS ASSIGNED CASES DUE TO HIS SIDING WITH JUDGES WHO APPOINT HIM AND HE HAS CORRUPT AND UNETHICAL CONDUCT WITH THE JUDGES AND THEIR COURT STAFF HE MUST BE REMOVED FROM LAW GUARDIAN PANEL ASAP AND TAKEN OFF 18B PANEL BUT HARRIET WEINBERGER IS IN CHARGE OF 18B PANEL AND THE LAWYER FOR THE CHILD PANEL AND SHE IGNORES COMPLAINTS OF HIS ABUSE AND ALLOWS OTHER INCOMPETENT LAWYERS TO STAY ON THE PANEL EVEN THOUGH THEY FAIL TO REPRESENT THEIR CLIENTS SUCH AS STEVE GREENFIELD, CHRISTINE MARSHALL, BOB MODENA AND ADE FASANYA AND OTHERS WHO SIGN IN TO A SHEET LEFT AT CLERK'S WINDOW WHICH NO ONE CHECKS HARRIET WEINBERGER PART OF THE CORRUPTION IN THE SYSTEM NEEDS TO BE REMOVED FROM HER DUTIES AND PANEL OF LAY PEOPLE TO MONITOR THE COURT SYSTEM AND MISCONDUCT COMMISSION
TEGRITY BUREAU LOOK INTO THIS WITH INVESTIGATIONS AND LOOK AT MR FASAYNA'S TAX RETURNS TAKE AUDREY SAGER AND GASSMAN AND STOKINGER OFF THE LAWYER FOR THE CHILD PANEL AS IT IS A RACKET AS LAWYERS WHO DO CUSTODY CASES MUST NOT BE ON THE LAWYER FOR THE CHILD PANE

Anonymous said...

Judge Fasanya is well to know exhibit systematic bias for Chinese litigants. He is married to a Chinese lawyer and his children are half-Chinese.



Unscrupulous Chinese lawyers are actually advertising to Chinese non custodial parents who wish to have a change of custody hearing, that they can shop their cases to Judge Fasanya who will almost always grant them a hearing.



I am a member of the 18-b counsel in Family Court, and among the group here, we cannot think of a single time Fasanya declined or dismissed petition for a change of custody initiated by a Chinese non-custodial parent. In fact the AD has overturned him:



Appeals - Unified Court System



http://www.courts.state.ny.us/courts/AD1/calendar/appsmots/2014/November/2014_11_18_dec.pdf


See Ben Sze... and there are countless others with similiar fact patterns working through the system.



This judge has a soft spot for Chinese non custodial parents filing frivolous actions. To any custodial parent who finds themselves against a Chinese litigant in Judge Fasanya's court, my heart goes out to you. Your case will likely end up in the Appellate Division.



This Judge has been demoted from custody to juvenile deliquency. Try to get the case dismissed, removed, anything to avoid the biased orders emanating from this judge.

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See Video of Senator John L. Sampson's 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption

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               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
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