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Housing Court Bar Association has grim predictions for the future of 141 Livingston St.

Bar Association hosts a moment of silence for Melvin Krimko

May 14, 2020 Rob Abruzzese
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On Thursday, May 7, the Kings County Housing Court Bar Association discussed the state of its members’ practices when it held its first meeting since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the New York State Court System. Most members don’t expect to be back in the Housing Court in Downtown Brooklyn again anytime soon.

Set up by member Jeffrey Saltiel, the meeting was attended via Zoom by about 50 members of the bar association. There was no continuing legal education component to the meeting, but the lawyers got right down to trying to help each other figure out the state of the courts.

“This is a social meeting and there is no agenda,” Saltiel said before he got right down to discussing business. “I don’t know if people saw that Gov. Cuomo extended the moratorium on evictions today. No evictions until August 20.”

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Melvin Krimko, 77 years old, practiced law in Brooklyn for over 30 years. Members of the Kings County Criminal Bar Association remembered and spoke highly of him on Thursday. Photo courtesy of the KCHCBA

Members asked each other for advice on cases and probed each other to see how they were dealing with certain situations. One lawyer was stressed because she represents a landlord who has a tenant who has allegedly cut wires and a gas line in the building and broken windows. The tenant was arrested twice, but the police released him immediately both times because he is 70 years old.

“There are nuisance cases that I have where warrants have been issued and I cannot do anything about it,” Michael Rosenthal said as he commiserated with the other attorney. “In one case, a woman was setting fires in her building and I can’t bring any action.”

While many in the meeting discussed exactly what Gov. Cuomo’s extended moratorium means (members questioned whether it means that there are no evictions, or if proceedings can’t begin until Aug. 20), one member threw some cold water on the group.

Michael Rosenthal, President of the Kings County Housing Court Bar Association.

“I think if we see 141 Livingston St. (Brooklyn’s Civil Court, which hosts the Housing Court) open before the end of the year it will be a miracle,” said attorney Scott Miller. “You can’t have social distancing in the way it’s supposed to be carried out in a zoo like 141 Livingston. The very nature of that court is too crowded. Is everyone expected to take the elevator one at a time? Let’s get real. That place is going to be closed for a long time.”

Michael Rosenthal, president of the Kings County Housing Court Bar Association, then explained that space is an issue that he has discussed with NYC Housing Court Supervising Judge Jean Schneider recently. But while she acknowledges that problem, there has been no plan put in place yet to deal with it once the court reopens.

“I spoke with her on Monday and she hasn’t been shown a plan, she hasn’t been told anything, and she said that when she offered her own suggestions, they told her that it was premature,” Rosenthal said. “I think what’s going to have to happen is that they’re going to have to require the two attorneys to do a trial virtually. There is no other way to cut the amount of people that are in that court.”

Jeffrey Saltiel, an attorney from the firm Wenig Saltiel LLP, helped to organize Thursday’s meeting.

Eventually the topic turned to Melvin Krimko, an attorney and friend of the Bar Association who died on May 2. A brief moment of silence was held and members shared their memories of him.

“Mel gave me my first job as an attorney and was always my support and buffer,” Rosenthal said. “We remained friendly after the split, and when I was honored by the Bar Association, I made sure to acknowledge him. Even though I had heard of others I knew well dying in the last few weeks, Mel’s death hit me the hardest and I found myself crying.

“The words of affection I received from the Bar and the Bench when I shared the news of his passing were many and all heartfelt,” Rosenthal concluded.

A Brooklyn lawyer for over 30 years, Krimko lived in Port Washington and Boca Raton, Florida. Known for being a person eager to help clients, he is survived by his wife Diane, their daughters Tracy and Rachel and son Brian. Krimko also had three grandchildren, Colby, Myles and Jordan.

“I knew Mel for close to 30 years from our days together in Housing Court,” Miller said. “He always had a smile, and usually a joke or fun story. He would always ask about how I was doing on any given day and make our conversation enjoyable. I will miss Mel greatly.”

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