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Brooklyn Housing Court Bar Association wants more tenants’ attorneys to join

September 11, 2018 By Rob Abruzzese, Legal Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Kings County Housing Court Bar Association and its president Michael Rosenthal (left) welcomed judges Hon. Remy Smith (center) and Hon. Anthony Cannataro (right). Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese
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Historically, the Kings County Housing Court Bar Association (KCHCBA) has brought together all factions that work in the housing court, but lately that membership has skewed more towards the landlord attorney faction.

To correct this imbalance, vice president Charles Wasserman has suggested that the bar association do something to attract more tenants’ attorneys.

“We used to have more tenants’ attorneys at these meetings,” Wasserman said on Thursday’s meeting of the KCHCBA at Rocco’s Tacos in Downtown Brooklyn. “Obviously we always open our bar association, and Michael Rosenthal has let everyone know that they are welcome, but I think we really have to make an effort to draw them in.

“They are having the same types of problems that we are having,” Wasserman continued. “Like today’s meeting, it would have been good to have more tenants’ attorneys here weighing in.”

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KCHCBA President Michael Rosenthal noted that joining the bar association has paid off for many tenants’ attorneys who have become regular members — a majority of them have gone on to become judges.

“Every single tenants attorney who came to more than three or four meetings over the time they’ve practiced is now a housing court judge,” Rosenthal joked. “Every single one of them, and they’re all sitting in the Bronx.”

That was just one of the topics discussed at the recent KCHCBA meeting, which is different from the typical monthly meetings most bar associations host that features a continuing legal education lecture.

The KCHCBA’s meetings are more laid back, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot to learn. On Thursday, Hon. Remy Smith was in attendance, and she discussed Bills of Particulars (BPs) for 20 minutes, explaining what housing court attorneys should expect.

“I know BPs seems dry, but it has been coming up a lot as motion practice,” Judge Smith said. “What I find a lot happens is (BPs) are a time killer, especially since the actual subject matter is easy to accomplish — it’s just that as housing court practitioners you may not have too much familiarity with it.

“To help, in my materials I put the statute down, what it is, and what happens if you don’t reply for a request for a BP,” Judge Smith continued. “I also gave cases basically saying what you should be giving over, what you shouldn’t be giving over.”

Afterward, members had an opportunity to discuss new rules that have been implemented in recent months with Hon. Anthony Cannataro, the supervising judge for the NYC Civil Court.

“Everyone wants to know what’s going to happen,” Rosenthal said to Justice Cannataro. “If we know the rules then we can work with the rules, but if the rules are constantly changing or not being applied the way we’ve been led to believe, then that’s a problem.”

Members also voted on new officers. Rosenthal was re-elected as the president and Wasserman as the vice president. Jeffrey Saltiel is the new treasurer, and Hal Rose and Jim Kasdon are the secretaries.

Wasserman also brought up the idea of reviving a scholarship for a local high school student.

“We should revisit the idea of a scholarship coming out of the bar association,” he said. “We’d discussed it before, but it’s a very good idea to find someone coming out of high school with an interest in the law. Even just a couple hundred dollars from our bar association would be a really nice thing to do that’s good for the community.”

The KCHCBA meets regularly every month on the first Thursday of the month at 1 p.m. at Rocco’s Tacos on Adams Street, except for July and August. The guest speaker varies month by month, and is often a judge who sits in the housing court.


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