MLK said: "Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere"

End Corruption in the Courts!

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Hope Against Court Corruption Has Arrived. Her Name is Ann T. Pfau. CLICK HERE FOR FULL STORY

It was announced on Friday, May 25, 2007, that Ann T. Pfau would take over as New York State’s Chief Administrative Judge, effective immediately. Albany insiders report that the appointment, though largely welcomed, is somewhat surprising since Judge Pfau is not the traditional “inside player.” One state employee said, “Judge Pfau is probably one of only a few people who can correct the widespread problems and abuses in our courts. Someone like Ann Pfau is long-overdue.”

Chief Administrative Judge Pfau’s appointment comes at the end of a week when The Westchester Guardian reported on a request for a criminal investigation involving the alleged improper actions of Westchester County Surrogate Anthony A. Scarpino and New York City Administrative Judge Jacqueline W. Silbermann.

Another Albany insider says, “Even Chief Judge Kaye is ready for a shake-up, and Judge Pfau is the person who can get the job done. Judith Kaye doesn’t want to be remembered as being the top person over the type of wide-spread abuse and corruption that would make Boss Tweed blush. It’s about the Kaye legacy at this point.”

One top state official said, “the appointment of Judge Pfau has [Governor] Spitzer’s and [Attorney General] Cuomo’s fingerprints all over it. [Judge] Pfau is how the Governor and the A.G. clean up the mess in the courts.”

As nice as the name Ann T. Pfau sounds, it’s been around for a few years.

As Sam Roberts reported on March 2, 2006 (New York Times: “State Bars a Bronx Lawyer From Receiving Court Appointments”), it was First Deputy Administrative Judge Ann T. Pfau who permanently barred Bronx political heavy-weight Stanley K. Schlein from ever accepting Guardianship and other high-paying judicial appointments.

And the name Ann T. Pfau comes up in a February 23, 2002 New York Times article (“Another Brooklyn Judge Said to Be Reassigned”) as taking action in a Brooklyn State Supreme Court bribe scandal, and where the ethical actions of 5 other judges were being investigated. While censuring one judge, the Commission on Judicial Conduct commented that one judge showed “remarkable insensitivity to his ethical responsibilities.”

And, most heart-warmingly, is the sound of the name Ann T. Pfau as presented in a November 11, 2003 New York Times Metro Briefing (“New York: Brooklyn: Administrative Judge Promoted”) announcing her appointment as First Deputy Chief Administrative Judge, noting that Judge Pfau was then brought in to oversee the corruption probes in the Brooklyn courts, which included her overseeing investigators’ placement of hidden cameras to catch corrupt judges.

Note to Judge Pfau: Honest judges cheer your appointment; honest lawyers cheer your appointment; and honest state employees cheer your appointment. Your employees, the public and the rule of law have been waiting for you.

Monday, May 21, 2007

** 2 ** DEVELOPING STORIES.....(updated 5/31/07)...CLICK HERE FOR FULL STORY

(updated 5/31/07)

*** 1 *** Sources reveal Westchester Feds have appealed to Washington for HELP. "Westchester is a mess," says the source, revealing that the federal government was OVERWHELMED when they set up a federal corruption hotline last year.

"People -important people-- who have been on the inside for years, are now talking. The coming shake-up will change all of Yonkers, White Plains, and most of Westchester....for the better." ****LOOK FOR DETAILS, NAMES.....Connecting the dots with Albany, Spano, Pirro, party bosses, judges, the Yonkers machine & Westchester and NYC "politics" .... Full Story Coming Soon..........DEVELOPING........*****

*** 2 *** We're working on collecting full documents to support initial findings on story that may go down as one of the most DISGUSTING judicial beatings in memory: JUDGE DENIES CANCER VICTIM PARENT'S $LEGACY$ FOR TREATMENT AND CARE !!!
******* THIS STORY WILL BE POSTED June 1, 2007 *******

****IMPORTANT ****** If you have informaton regarding any complaints largely ignored by the Commission on Judicial Conduct and/or any attorney disciplinary committee, WE NEED TO HEAR FROM YOU ....we have 28 to date.... send info via email or pdf. ******

Wannabe Judge Attorney Writes About Ethical Dilemmas SHE Failed to Report...CLICK HERE FOR FULL STORY

Wannabe Judge Attorney Writes About Ethical Dilemmas SHE Failed to Report

It was reported in The Westchester Guardian (“Carvel Niece Fights Westchester Judicial Machine”, May 17, 2007) that Manhattan attorney Eve Markewich had “itemized in a New York Law Journal article how many different violations of professional ethics and disciplinary rules the attorneys in the Westchester Carvel proceedings inflicted on Agnes Carvel.”

Many blog readers wrote to us saying they were confused, so we looked into the story.

We wondered whether Ms. Markewich did, in fact, author an article that explained how she saw violations of attorney disciplinary rules. “Impossible,” said one lawyer we asked. “She knows that she is obligated to report the improper acts of other attorneys to the disciplinary committee. She can’t use that knowledge as material for a story without reporting it.”

Well, we looked for, and found, that New York Law Journal article, dated Monday, February 14, 2005, “Getting Grounded On Ethical Dilemmas”. The article is a part of the Carvel estate file and available to the public. The New York Law Journal article provides the following credit: “Eve Rachel Markewich is a member of the Blank Rome litigation department. Barbara MacGrady, an associate with the firm, assisted in the preparation of this article.” (Note: Eve Rachel Markewich is no longer with Blank Rome)

We took further note that The Westchester Guardian reported that attorney Markewich had recently run for Manhattan Surrogate. Sure enough, we found attorney Eve Rachel Markewich’s name on the primary ballot for Manhattan Surrogate in 2006. (Note: Ms. Markewich lost the primary election to the current Surrogate, Kristen Booth Glen)

We then poised the following to 36 New York State licensed attorneys:

You become involved in an estate litigation and are astounded that: (1) the will was drafted by an attorney who never met the decedent, or even spoke to him on the telephone; (2) the wife was never advised to seek separate counsel, and never asked to consent to joint representation; (3) the attorney supervising the execution of the documents was not an estates practitioner but was charged with explaining the documents (which were not simple) to the wife; and (4) the wills named several executors, two of whom were corporate attorneys involved in the estate planning process, although they were not the ultimate drafters of the documents- and one of those lawyers also was named as a beneficiary.

We then asked the 36 lawyers: What would you do given the provided facts?

(a) Confront the lawyers about the astounding facts, and maybe advise the court attorney or judge, but surely report the revelations to the disciplinary committee?

(b) Say nothing about the astounding facts because those responsible for the improper acts must approve the $3 million in legal fees you seek. But write an article about the lacking ethics for The New York Law Journal, and then run for Manhattan Surrogate Court Judge in the next election; or

(c) Go to Disney World.

Our findings were inconclusive and our survey abandoned because not one of the queried attorneys would stop laughing.

Attorney Markewich’s conduct is reprehensible, and obviously not funny. And her failings are, unfortunately, not a joke. The Westchester Guardian may be right, “The Estates of Thomas and Agnes Carvel are a microcosm of the political corruption that festers in Westchester Surrogate’s Court.” The facts in the 17-year-old Carvel estate case, and the actions and inaction of Ms. Markewich, point to the critical condition of certain courts in New York.

It is a fact that on Monday, February 14, 2005, the New York Law Journal published an article written by New York attorney Eve Rachel Markewich, titled “Getting Grounded On Ethical Dilemmas.” In that article, Ms. Markewich had that temerity to write about events subsequently brought to her attention in an estate proceeding that resulted in her penning, “It was astounding to me that none of the following issues had been raised in the probate proceeding.” Ms. Markewich then went on to list the grossly improper happenings and failures, which included numbers 1-4 from the above poised facts. Incredibly, wannabe judge Markewich then cites numerous attorney disciplinary rules in her “review of basic ethical precepts.”

The apparent and brazen disregard of Ms. Markewich’s own attorney ethical obligations to report the improper actions of other attorneys is only outdone by her nerve in then writing about it. And both of those acts are eclipsed by her gall in attempting to be elected Manhattan Surrogate Judge.

We are informed that Ms. Markewich is currently seeking legal fees in excess of $3 million dollars in the pending Westchester County Surrogate Court Carvel estate. (Meanwhile, Pamela Carvel, as executrix of Agnes Carvel’s estate, is still seeking reimbursement of $6,000.00 for Agnes’ 1998 funeral expenses.)

(Click on Markewich Ethics icon to the right to see NYLJ “Getting Grounded On Ethical Dilemmas.”)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Carvel story in The Westchester Guardian

Consistent with its Mission Statement, The Westchester Guardian is again upholding the public's right to know the truth, most recently in the May 17, 2007 publication concerning events in the Westchester County Surrogate's Court involving the Carvel Estate. This weekly paper is an important source of information for citizens of Westchester and, indeed, beyond. Important, indepth and timely reporting by The Westchester Guardian covers issues from Manhattan to Albany, and from village to statewide and federal concerns. Click on the photo to the right "The Westchester Guardian May 17th 2007" It is an honor to post a publication dedicated to the public's right to know.....

Thursday, May 17, 2007

NY Daily News Speaks Out Against Court Corruption...(CLICK HERE FOR FULL STORY)

Once again, The New York Daily News takes the lead in exposing the rampant corruption in our New York courts. We cheer the NY Daily News for their Saturday, May 12, 2007 editorial:

Gone but not forgotten


Those rare instances when a hack loses a judgeship that was procured only by virtue of party loyalty are cause for celebration. Today we cheer the departure from the bench of one such slug, Frank Seddio, who stepped down yesterday just a year and 131 days into what he hoped would be a 14-year term.

Seddio packed it in rather than risk formal removal by the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, which is in the thick of probing his affairs. The agency took an interest in Seddio after this page accused him of violating the canons of ethics regarding the use and misuse of campaign funds.

Based on what we discovered in filings of this former Brooklyn Democratic assemblyman, we predicted that "Seddio could go down as having had one of the shortest judgeships in New York history." How true, how true. Pardon our gloating.
Now that he's gone, it's worth retelling the story of Seddio's rise and fall because it is so revealing of the disgraceful way judges are made in New York. From time immemorial, Brooklyn has been served by one surrogate judge, who handles wills and estates and is a patronage font for the party machine. And, in fact, Brooklyn needs only one such judge.

But, from out of nowhere in the final moments of the 2005 legislative session, then-Gov. George Pataki, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno rushed through a big judge-making deal giving posts to the Brooklyn, Queens and Bronx Democrats, as well as to GOP leaders upstate.

The Brooklyn machine - and not the voters - was given the power to select the new surrogate. Assemblyman Joe Lentol was their pick, but he had the good sense in the end to decline. Next up was Seddio, a longtime party man whose Assembly bio depicted him as "best known for his elaborate Christmas display that surrounds his home each year, which is visited by thousands."

Seddio's only judicial experience had been as a judge of the Queen of Coney Island beauty pageant, but he was a lawyer - and he had $50,000 in campaign funds to spread around. Which he did. Which was against the rules. As we pointed out.
Incorrigible to the end, Seddio wrote in his resignation letter: "It is my hope that during my tenure I have been able to improve the image of the court." Good grief.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Carvel's Plea to Spitzer Sparks 2nd Request for Special I.G.

Carvel's Plea to Gov. Spitzer Sparks 2nd Request for Special Inspector General in Westchester

Someone else has joined the Ice Cream party. The meltdown of Westchester's Surrogate's Court began with a letter delivered on April 27, 2007 to New York Governor Spitzer in Albany. Tom Carvel's niece had asked Governor Eliot Spitzer to immediately appoint a Special Inspector General to oversee and investigate estate related activity at the Westchester County Surrogate's Court. And now she has company.

Second Scoop for Carvel

Kelvin McKeown, whose mother died in August of 2003, has also asked the Governor to exercise his power to appoint a person to lead an investigation into what he describes as widespread and troubling happenings in and about the Surrogate's Court.

Attorney Secretly Files Papers Against His Own Client !

Within days after his mother's death, McKeown and his sister Mary Virga, who were both named co-fiduciaries in their mother's will, jointly retained New York attorney Joseph McQuade of McQuade & McQuade. The September 2, 2003 dated retainer agreement was signed by McKeown, Virga and attorney McQuade.

Then sibling cross-allegations began to fly between the two. Though voluminous and disputed by each, what is known is that Virga filed a police report on September 18, 2003, alleging that her brother had assaulted her at a local post office. (See page on right marked MCQUADE COMPLAINT)

The family fighting continued up to the first scheduled court case status hearing on October 8, 2003 when, McKeown says, it was first revealed to him that his own retained attorney, Joe McQuade, had assisted his co-fiduciary sister in the preparation and execution of an Ex Parte Order to Show Cause to stay his (McKeown's) authority as a co-fiduciary of his mother's estate. "I turned to McQuade and said, 'what are you doing? You're MY lawyer."

But after attorney McQuade signed the attorney retainer agreement with him and Virga, McKeown says, "McQuade sneaked around behind my back-behind his own client's back- to have my authority as co-executor stayed by the court." Though McQuade apparently attempted to simultaneously terminate his representation of McKeown the same day the Ex Parte court order was presented to and signed by the Surrogate Judge Anthony A. Scarpino on October 8, 2003, attorney McQuade overlooked one important detail, accordingly to McKeown.

"Besides the obvious ethical deficiencies of McQuade," he says, "McQuade had foolishly notarized the supporting affidavit of a
co-client against another co-client in the same matter-- my sister against me—on September 24, 2003-- 14 days BEFORE his failed attempt to make it appear that he was terminating his representation of me on the same day the papers were to be presented to the judge. McQuade had trouble explaining that one. He also had difficulty explaining his acceptance and cashing of the $18,370.92 check made out to his firm that I co-signed on September 26, 2003."

"Beyond the fact that my own retained attorney was secretly preparing papers against me at the same time that he was representing me, it's quite unsettling that the Surrogate's Court did nothing about it," says McKeown. Though the allegations in the filed police report against McKeown were later found to be false after an investigation, the false police report information had been successfully used by McQuade and Virga in their papers.

And McKeown is equally unhappy about the fact that his attorney disciplinary complaint against McQuade has been pending for over a year. (See page on right marked COMPLAINT STATUS)

"I was told early on by the Surrogate's Court attorney assigned to my mother's estate, Mr. Joseph M. Accetta, that they were a 'nice court' and that I should look beyond what attorney Joseph McQuade had done to me, his client," McKeown says. "Joe Accetta knew that Mr. McQuade had previously filed papers on behalf of Virga and myself, and Accetta let this happen."

The Next Problem….

The Red Cross 9/11 Fraud, the False Assignment and a Connected Lawyer

McKeown also apparently refused to keep quiet about what happened next. A few months after his mother died, his brother Ronald committed suicide at Ronald's home in East Lyme, Connecticut. Ronald had been out on bail facing charges that he stole over $130,000.00 in Red Cross 9/11 donations while he was employed at a local chapter of the Red Cross in Connecticut.

But a few days after Ronald's death, McKeown received in the mail a copy of an Assignment of Ronald's share in their mother's New York estate. It had been purportedly executed by Ronald just days before his death. "It was obvious that certain people wanted to prevent my mother's New York legacy from making its way to Ronald's Connecticut estate where the stolen 9/11 Red Cross monies could be repaid."

"All hell broke loose when I questioned that assignment, " McKeown says. "One attorney told me to just forget about the assignment, and if I didn't I'd "be Fu#$ing destroyed." You don't know what you're up against,” he said. McKeown would soon find out that the undisputed drafter and filer of that assignment was attorney Frank W. Streng of McCarthy Fingar in White Plains. McKeown also learned that Streng had been on Westchester Surrogate Judge Scarpino's election transition
committee. (See page on right marked STRENG FILING)

"I was a bit concerned when I realized that Frank Streng was advertising on the internet and his law firm website the fact that he was on the Surrogate's election transition team. I became VERY concerned when the Surrogate twice awarded Mr. Streng financial sanctions against me at the same time their close ties were being advertised on the internet." (See page on right marked STRENG FILING)

And it would get worse, he says. "When I asked Surrogate Scarpino to disqualify Mr. Streng, the Judge denied my request without prejudice to renew, but in that very same decision, went on to Sua Sponte prevent the filing of any more motions." (See page on right marked JUNE ORDERS)

"Actually, when Surrogate Scarpino was approached with the fact that Mr. Streng was advertising his close association with the Court on the internet and his law firm website which implies an improper posture of favoritism, it was the judge who should have taken action, by way of remittal, disqualification or recusal," says a prominent attorney who asked that his named be withheld. "Lawyers and, most importantly, judges are required to avoid even the appearance of impropriety."

And, of course, McKeown would later find out that the court attorney assigned to his mother's estate, Joseph Accetta, was also quite friendly with attorney Streng. "It didn't come as a complete surprise when a Surrogate's Court employee told me that court attorney Joseph Accetta's wife Susan Hegquist Accetta, of the law firm Stern Keiser Panken & Wohl, was 'working for one of the law firms involved in my mother's estate," he says.

Problem #3:

Recusal, Case Transferred Out the Front Door, But Back in Through Side Door

"After the Surrogate denied my motion to disqualify Mr. Streng, I was forced to file a order to show cause seeking his own disqualification or recusal," McKeown says. "That, as you can imagine, was a big hit with everyone."

Another attorney says, "The big question is why Surrogate Scarpino could not bring himself to remove attorney Streng from involvement in the McKeown estate, but for the very same reasons—and not on his own initiative— the judge removed himself.

But while all this was going on, McKeown had succeeded in removing his sister as a fiduciary, and so the court appointed the Public Administrator as the temporary executor. (And after two attempts by McKeown, the court finally disqualified the
File-Papers-Against-Your-Own-Client McQuade.)

But McKeown would also have problems with the Public Administrator, George Lambert and his attorney Robert A. Korren. "Hey, I'm not making this stuff up," McKeown says. "In a letter to the court, the Public Administrator himself admits that they let a prospective buyer of my mother's home start gutting the house interior before closing and before the buyer had even obtained a mortgage commitment! And before I could get in the house for a long-sought-after court-ordered appraisal!" (See page on right marked NICOLAI COMPLAINT)

So Judge Scarpino recuses himself, and the estate will be transferred, and McKeown will be happy. Well, not exactly. "I wrote a letter to the Ninth Judicial District Administrative Judge Nicolai and described all the troubling issues about the estate: the fraudulent assignment and Mr. Streng, claims against the Westchester Public Administrator, and the urgent need for the estate to be transferred OUTSIDE of Westchester County," says McKeown. "But Judge Nicolai had his own plans for my mother's estate." (See page on right marked NICOLAI COMPLAINT)

He says, "The estate was transferred out the front door of the Westchester Surrogate Court and then back in through a side door-staying in the same county. So the estate, and my trial, brought on by the papers submitted by my own attorney, would be handled by County Judge/Acting-Surrogate-for-the-McKeown-Trial-only, Judge Gerald E. Loehr."

The Fix Was In

McKeown says everything proceeded exactly how he thought it would. "Judge Loehr refused to sign my trial subpoenas, ordered that no motions could be filed, and said that I shouldn't bother presenting any order to show cause applications because he wouldn't sign any." McKeown was not surprised when the trial ended against him. Yes, the papers filed against McKeown by his own attorney resulted in his removal as the executor of his mother's estate.

But why didn't he appeal, or go to the Appellate Division, Second Department in Brooklyn. He has a good answer. "I went to the Appellate Division dozens of times. And I ultimately found out that a judge at the Appellate Division who had ruled against me concerning the McCarthy Fingar "assignment" had recently retired. And, of course, that same justice, former-Associate Appellate Division Judge Sondra M. Miller, "was then hired by McCarthy Fingar (the drafters of the assignment).
I thought it best to look beyond Brooklyn for any justice."

Issuing Judicial Decisions Without Authority

After receiving County Judge Loehr's assignment designations from New York State Court Senior Administrative Assistant William D. Dahl, McKeown says, it was determined that Judge Loehr had not only been improperly assigned to 2 separate proceedings in his mother's estate in which decisions were issued but, in fact, Judge Loehr issued 2 decisions while he lacked the authority to so act as an acting-surrogate judge. (At the time, County Judge Loehr was prevented from so acting because he had been a judge for less than two years and was restricted by law from acting beyond a certain time period.) (See page on right marked LOEHR SPATZ DAHL)

Though the decedent's Last Will was never contested, it took over two years for the Westchester County Surrogate's Court to finally admit the will for probate. And though Virga was ordered to file a judicial accounting nearly two years ago, and which includes other large amounts of monies paid to McQuade, she has failed to file those papers. Meanwhile, McKeown is prevented from filing any papers to compel Virga's compliance with the June 2005 court order.

“I am hopeful that Governor Spitzer, Attorney General Cuomo and a Special Inspector General can bring some correction to the actions of some who improperly corrupt our system of law,” says McKeown.

(Editor’s Note: the allegations contained in this story are so outrageous that the reader is requested to read the provided, and referenced, court filings. There's more. Look for McKeown- Part II)

Blog Archive

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

The first hearing, held in Albany on June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:

               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
               The June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 1
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 2
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