Friday, December 28, 2012

The Who Are You Kidding Award Goes To Judge Felice O'Shea For Censuring and Not Removing Bronx Surrogate Judge Lee Holtzman

Hands counting money, stock photo. REUTERS Jo Yong hak

From Betsy Combier:I attended almost every
hearing date of Bronx Surrogate Court Judge Lee
Holtzman's "trial". What a theatre performance
he gave! I attended partially due to the fact that Manhattan Public
Administrator Ethel Griffin stole the estate of my mom, with the
assistance of former Manhattan Surrogate Judge Renee Roth and
Attorneys Kenneth Wasserman, Eli Uncyk, Peter Schram, and
Jonathan Landsman. Even Eliot Spitzer was involved in not only the
theft of my mom's estate (her Will - which left me her apartment in
NYC - was declared null and void by Renee Roth and then by Nora
Anderson's replacement, Judge Troy Webber) but hundreds of others
from the rightful heirs.
RICO in the New York State Unified Court System: How the Courts
Steal Your Property, Your Children, and Try To Destroy Your Life...
And How You Can Stop Them
Dont forget to listen in the article above to
the taped conversation between me and NYPD detective Ahearne
about how 1st Department Appellate Division Judge Karla Moskowitz
paid Attorney Kenneth Wasserman to harass me.


Bronx surrogate fights misconduct 

charge in rare public hearing


By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Bronx Surrogate Lee Holzman asked 
a disciplinary panel Wednesday to dismiss charges of misconduct against 
him for failing to fire a lawyer in his court who improperly billed estates 
hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees before performing any work.
The hearing before the state Commission on Judicial Conduct offered a rare 
glimpse inside what are usually secret proceedings. Holzman waived his 
right to confidentiality last year.
Fewer than a dozen judges have elected to waive secrecy in more than 750 
cases since 1978, according to the commission.
In a crowded hearing room, a lawyer for the commission's counsel and 
Holzman's lawyer painted diametrically opposing portraits of the judge in 
the months after he learned in 2006 that lawyer Michael Lippman had been 
billing legal fees in advance, a violation of the court's protocol.
"The surrogate put in place measures to remedy the problem and protect 
the public," said Holzman's lawyer, David Godosky. He claimed the judge 
was the only one to act to fix the issue, while investigators from the FBI, 
the city's Department of Investigation and the Bronx district attorney's office 
did not charge Lippman with any wrongdoing for years.
But Mark Levine, the lawyer for the commission's counsel, told the commission 
that Holzman had abandoned his duty to the public and urged it to remove him 
from the bench.
"Don't let him fool you," Levine said. "This was a clear abrogation of judicial responsibility."
The commission filed charges against Holzman after Lippman, the counsel to 
the public administrator, was indicted in 2010 for stealing $300,000 in excess 
fees. Lippman has pleaded not guilty.
The public administrator handles estates for which there is no designated heir.
Rather than fire Lippman, Holzman instead demoted him and instituted a 
repayment structure in which Lippman would turn over any new fees he 
earned to repay the money he had improperly collected in previous cases. 
Holzman said Wednesday he was unaware of the extent of Lippman's 
transgressions in 2006.
Last year, a judicial referee, retired state Supreme Court Justice Felice 
O'Shea, conducted a three-week trial to determine whether any of the 
commission's misconduct charges should stand.
In her July report, O'Shea concluded one count of misconduct should be 
sustained for Holzman's failure to terminate Lippman but recommended that 
he be cleared of other charges, including claims that he broke the law by rubber-stamping Lippman's fees without enough documentation and that his lack of 
oversight led to corruption in his court. She also found that Holzman had 
allowed his personal affection for Lippman to color his judgment.
Wednesday's hearing was called to hear arguments from both sides on whether 
the commission should accept all, some or none of O'Shea's findings.
Holzman defended his decision, telling the commission it was an appropriate 
response that would ensure estates were made whole while forcing Lippman 
to complete the work for which he had already been paid. Lippman did not 
earn another penny after 2006, he said.
But Levine said Holzman's motives were far more self-serving. He said 
Holzman had no desire to expose himself to scrutiny and wanted to protect 
Lippman, whom Levine described as a longtime friend of Holzman's.
"He was not my friend," Holzman said in response. "There was absolutely no 
attempt to cover it up."
Holzman is retiring at the end of the year after having reached the state's 
mandatory retirement age, but Levine said his actions still warranted removal 
and would serve notice to other judges that such conduct will not be tolerated.
The commission, which met after the hearing in private to discuss the matter, 
will issue a written decision, likely later this fall. If the commission disciplines 
Holzman, he will have 30 days to appeal its decision to the court of appeals.
The case is the Matter of the Honorable Lee Holzman.
For the commission: Mark Levine.
For Holzman: David Godosky of Godosky & Gentile.
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