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Monday, January 16, 2012

When It Comes to Manipulating Judicial Elections, Anything Goes

Judge's Claims Against Election Law Attorney Are Dismissed
The New York Law Journal by Joel Stashenko  -  January 17, 2012

An election law attorney who was sued by a judge who is a former client alleging he committed legal malpractice by using privileged information he obtained from her to help a rival he later represented during a race for Brooklyn surrogate has won dismissal of the case in a Nassau County court. Supreme Court Justice Thomas P. Phelan granted summary judgment to Bernard M. Alter and his Brooklyn firm, Alter & Barbaro, dismissing the claim brought four years ago by Civil Court Judge Shawndya L. Simpson. Justice Phelan ruled in Simpson v. Alter, 11095/09, that Mr. Alter's representation of Diana Johnson in a 2007 race for Brooklyn surrogate did not breach any lawyer-client privilege between Judge Simpson and Mr. Alter that developed when she was running for Brooklyn Civil Court in 2003. Judge Simpson argued that she retained Mr. Alter in large part to help her meet residency requirements in Brooklyn for her successful 2003 campaign for Civil Court. Judge Simpson, who sits in Manhattan Civil Court, contended that Mr. Alter distributed confidential information he gleaned during her 2003 campaign to Ms. Johnson and reporters who used the information to challenge Judge Simpson during the 2007 surrogate's race about whether her legal residence was in Brooklyn or South Orange, N.J.  Ms. Johnson won the Democratic primary against Judge Simpson in 2007 and was elected Brooklyn surrogate that fall. Mr. Alter, in an interview on Jan. 13, praised Justice Phelan for working "long, hard and laboriously" before reaching his decision.

"He saw that the plaintiff's case had no substance and he threw it out," Mr. Alter said. "I was getting tired of my reputation being thrown around. She [Judge Simpson] is nothing more than a sore loser trying to get back at everybody who opposed her election for surrogate judge." Neither Judge Simpson nor her attorney, Laura M. Dilimetin of Dilimetin & Dilimetin in Manhasset, returned calls seeking comment.  The 2007 surrogate's race spawned a number of lawsuits. Before the primary, Judge Simpson attempted to have Mr. Alter disqualified as Ms. Johnson's attorney based on his prior representation of Judge Simpson. But Queens Supreme Court Justice Peter J. O'Donoghue dismissed those claims, and also rejected Mr. Alter's attempt to have Judge Simpson disqualified from the 2007 ballot because of residency rules (NYLJ, Aug. 21, 2007). Last year, Justice Phelan removed Surrogate Johnson as a defendant in Judge Simpson's 2009 suit, ruling that all oral and written communications between Mr. Alter and Surrogate Johnson in the 2007 campaign were shielded from disclosure by the attorney-client privilege. At the same time, the judge ruled that the case against Mr. Alter could go forward (NYLJ, June 27, 2011). But on Jan. 9, Justice Phelan rejected Judge Simpson's claims for legal malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, aiding and abetting, unjust enrichment and other allegations against Mr. Alter. Among other things, Justice Phelan ruled that Judge Simpson failed to rebut Mr. Alter's contention that his work for her was completed in July 2003. She could make only "vague allegations" of her meetings with Mr. Alter beyond the Civil Court race, the judge said, thus placing her allegations related to the 2007 campaign outside the three-year window for filing legal malpractice, breach of contract and other claims.  "Her failure to produce any direct or documentary evidence such as time sheets, notes, appointment book entries or phone bills, substantiating these meetings do not suffice, particularly where defendants have also demonstrated that plaintiff's first and third causes of action for breach of contract and legal malpractice are barred by applicable statute of limitations period," Justice Phelan wrote. He also held that Judge Simpson, who sought $15 million in damages, did not demonstrate triable issues of fact on those claims. "Plaintiff has simply failed to demonstrate that her damages, monetary or otherwise, including her loss of the surrogate's election in 2007, was a result of defendants failure to perform under their contract," he wrote. "Plaintiff has failed to establish that her damages resulted from the alleged attorney negligence or fiduciary misconduct." The ruling ends the long-standing litigation, the justice determined. "Incidentally, this holding is now law of the case and precludes any relitigation by plaintiff that defendants' representation of Johnson in any way breached plaintiff's right and/or privileges as a former client," Justice Phelan wrote.  Mr. Alter represented himself. @Joel Stashenko can be contacted at


Anonymous said...

Simpson's a good judge and an honest person.
She really has no business trying to do good in a court system as bad as NY's. Tembeckjian will likely target her next so she won't run again for criminal court in 2013. If you fight the corrupt insiders in OCA, you will pay the price. Judge Phelan will be repaid nicely for booting this case. And the injustice continues !

insider said...

New York doesn't have judicial elections. First, they decide who should sit as a judge- it has to be a person who will do what they are told to do. Then they make believe there is a choice to the voters. Sometimes the anointed one will have to lose one election as a price to win next time. Many times they just appoint an insider as a judge, or they crown someone as an "acting-supreme court justice." By the way, "THEY" are the criminal-insiders who simply continue the injustice and advance the fact that justice is for sale in NYS.

Anonymous said...

The below comment is my comment that I have reprinted from the 01/01/2012 editorial titled “Justice System Must Correct Itself After Debacle”. Thought I would share it here as well.

“As a commenter previously stated “The ‘Justice System’ will NEVER CORRECT itself, because there is too much money involved…” There are too many backdoor dealings and too much cronyism amongst the decision makers and the supposed protectors of public interest. There is currently a case in Alachua County Florida (in Gainesville to be precise) that people should watch. The case involves a Judge who has engaged in proven criminal acts under the color of law (it also involves various proven and identified conspirators). The powers that be are aware of the judge’s (and the conspirator’s) crimes so let’s watch and see what they do. Judicial corruption (and the often inadequately ultra-gracious punishment that offending judges receive) is a problem that is not only in NY or TN…it is a problem that effects the entire country. The judicial systems needs total reform, from the lowest court to the highest court. Lastly, the judge that has engaged in criminal acts in Florida is Judge David P. Kreider. For more information on Judge Kreider and those charged with upholding the law (and protecting the public) in Florida check out the link”

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Election law attorneys are a protected bred, don't mess with them, if you do you die!

Anonymous said...

START SHOOTING !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Are their any recommended, notable watch dogs when judges cover for the wrong doings of former and possibly present co workers.....whats the average joe to do????????

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:
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