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Suntrust Mortg., Inc. v. Byrd

Other Lower Courts

February 8, 2008

Suntrust Mortgage, Inc., Plaintiff,
v.
Donald R.H. Byrd, et al., Defendants.

Editorial Note:

This case is not published in a printed volume and its disposition appears in a table in the reporter.

COUNSEL

Plaintiff: Gena Goldberger, Esq. Berkman Henoch Peterson & Peddy PC Garden City NY

Defendant: No Opposition submitted by defendants to plaintiff's request for Judgment of Foreclosure and Sale.

OPINION

Arthur M. Schack, J.

In this foreclosure action, plaintiff's counsel moves for an order of reference, but I am compelled to recuse myself. Plaintiff's attorney is Berkman, Henoch, Peterson & Pedddy, P.C. I am a petitioner in an Article 78 proceeding. In that action, the Hon. Mark Weprin, of the 24th Assembly District in Queens, is a member of a respondent, the New York State Assembly. He is also of counsel to Berkman, Henoch.

Nassau County District Court Judge Edward Maron, Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Joseph De Maro, and I are petitioners in an Article 78 proceeding against Governor Eliot Spitzer, the Assembly, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, the State Senator, State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, Comptroller Thomas Di Napoli and the Office of Court Administration, for, among other things, their continued violation of the New York State Constitution, by allowing diminishment of judicial compensation by inflation during our term of office. New York States judges have not had a pay increase for more than nine years. Assembly Member Weprin, unlike myself and my fellow New York State judges, is not precluded from earning additional income. Mr. Weprin, according to the Office of Court Administration's Attorney Registry, lists Berkman, Henoch's Garden City, New York office as his "business address." A visit to Berkman, Henoch's website, www.bhpp.com, shows that Mr. Weprin is of counsel to the firm. Since Mr. Weprin is a member of on one of the respondents in my lawsuit, it would be equally improper for me, as a petitioner in a separate action against the New York State Assembly, to deny plaintiff's application for an order of reference by plaintiff's counsel, Berkman, Henoch, or to issue an order of reference in favor of plaintiff and plaintiff's counsel, Berkman, Henoch.

In late December 2006, I became a petitioner in a Nassau County Supreme Court Article 78 proceeding ( EDWARD A. MARON, ARTHUR SCHACK, and JOSEPH DE MARO v SHELDON SILVER, as Speaker of the New York State Assembly, NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY, JOSEPH BRUNO, as the Temporary President of the New York State Senate, NEW YORK STATE SENATE, GEORGE PATAKI, as Governor of the State of New York, "JOHN DOE" as the Acting Comptroller of the Sate of New York, and the OFFICE OF COURT ADMINISTRATION, Index Number 21984/06). The venue of this action was subsequently transferred to Albany County Supreme Court, Index Number 4108/07. The caption has been amended to replaced "GEORGE PATAKI, as Governor of the State of New York" with "ELIOT SPITZER, as Governor of the State of New York," and " John Doe' as the Acting Comptroller of the State of New York" with "THOMAS DINAPOLI as the Comptroller of the State of New York." This action seeks, among other things, a determination that: the Legislatures's 2006-07 appropriation for judicial pay raises were final and complete; judges' compensation has been unconstitutionally diminished in violation of Article VI, 25(a) of the New York State Constitution; and respondents' improper linkage of judicial salary increases with unrelated legislative initiatives, among other factors, violates the equal protection clause of Article I 11 of the New York State Constitution.

I hope that Mr. Weprin, as well as his Berkman, Henoch and legislative colleagues are cognizant of the plight of the New York State judiciary. Chief Judge Judith Kaye (State of the Judiciary? Pay Crisis is Taking its Toll, NYLJ, Jan. 28, 2008, at 11, col 1) recently commented on the lack of action by Berkman, Henoch's counsel, the Hon. Mark Weprin, and his legislative colleagues:

Now in the 10th year with no adjustment whatsoever, New York has dropped from 48th to 49th among the nation's state judiciaries in compensation (adjusted for cost of living) . . . No judge anywhere has gone as long as we have at absolutely frozen compensation. Not even a cost -of-living increase, as the cost of living soars.

The literature these days is filled with articles on judicial independence . The Judiciary's independence of the other political branches is a strength of our democracy. Yet here we are, once again begging and pleading before the Executive and Legislature, on bended knee, hat in hand, no seat at the negotiating table, nothing to trade or barter with them. Is this the posture of judicial independence?

I think not.

All of our partners in government favor the proposed judicial salary increases, to the penny, yet nothing happens. And the only explanation is a process that holds our compensation hostage to other, entirely unrelated ...


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