BBA sits down with Judge Kevin McClanahan, supervisor of the Housing Court

March 16, 2023 Robert Abruzzese
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BOROUGHWIDE — The Brooklyn Bar Association invited members to attend a Judicial Sit Down with Hon. Kevin McClanahan, the supervising judge of the Kings County Housing Court, in order to hear from him about the latest regarding the court.

Organized by Anthony Vaughn, first vice president at the BBA, and moderated by Michael Rosenthal, president of the Kings County Housing Court Bar Association, the one-hour, members-only meeting was attended by dozens of judges and attorneys, who were able to ask questions of the new supervisor.

Judge McClanahan shared his background, highlighting his time in Brooklyn, and discussed the impact of the pandemic on the housing court. He noted the current court is mostly in-person with a high level of defaults, and that staffing remains a challenge, with a shortage of court clerks, court officers, and court attorneys.

“I came kicking and screaming to Brooklyn because I didn’t know what type of place it was,” Judge McClanhan admitted. “Then I discovered the gyms, the restaurants, and I fell in love with Brooklyn. The litigants and attorneys will keep you honest, they’re not phased by the robe. There is something refreshing about that and it keeps you on your toes. In Brooklyn there is a lot more advocacy. There is more organization with groups getting involved, people advocating for various issues.”

He plans to foster better communication and transparency by implementing bi-monthly “bag lunch meetings” with the bar to share updates and information. He also touched on the pilot program aimed at relieving capacity issues and providing benefits to landlords and tenants, which offers a 45-day adjournment.

“I call it Long-COVID because we’re still dealing with the impacts of COVID in terms of the functioning of the court,” McClanahan said. “Now we’re mostly in person. I very rarely have Teams meetings. You can request accommodations to appear virtually, but our court is now presumptively in person so people expect to be here.”

Judge McClanahan explained that he will host a bag-lunch meeting every other month. The next one will be on March 23 in Room 403 in the Housing Court.

“The goal is to share with the bar, keep lines of communication open and try to get as much information in real time as possible,” he said. “It’s in that kind of communication that you get early settlements. I think there can be levels of communication that affect things like courtesy adjournments so that not everything has to come before a judge. We can function if we communicate with one another.”

Judge McClanahan expressed his commitment to serving as a bridge between parties and promoting open communication for effective court functioning.

The Brooklyn Bar Association hosts regular Judicial Sit Downs with local judges. The programs started during COVID as a way to keep attorneys updated on the very latest on what was occuring in the courts, but BBA members have found the events so helpful that the association is planning to continue them indefinitely.

Its next Sit Down will be with Hon. Rosemarie Montalbano, of the Surrogate’s Court, on Thursday, March 30 at 1 p.m. That event will be hybrid as people can watch online via Zoom or attend in person at the BBA.

The BBA will also host a Judiciary Night, its first since 2019, on Tuesday, March 28. A reception will be held where juges of the local state and federal courts who have been elected, re-elected, appointed and reappointed will be introduced to members.

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