Kings County Housing Court Bar Association discuss Judge Sherman’s reassignment by supervising Judge McClanahan

October 6, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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Members of the Kings County Housing Court Bar Association (KCHCBA) gathered virtually on Thursday to tackle pressing issues affecting the court system. Association President Michael Rosenthal presided over the meeting, which has been held online since the onset of the pandemic and attracted nearly 75 attorneys, a common turnout in recent times.

A critical topic on the agenda was the performance of Judge Malikah Sherman, who has come under scrutiny for delays in issuing warrants and writing decisions. The concerns have reached the ears of Hon. Kevin McClanahan, the supervising judge of the Kings County Housing Court, and Hon. Josh Stoller, the citywide supervising judge of the Housing Part of the Civil Court of the City of New York.

In response, McClanahan announced via email that he has reassigned Sherman to trial Part P effective Oct. 2, 2023, and will take over her former responsibilities.

“I have also administratively reassigned warrants assigned to Judge Sherman to myself. I plan an expedited review process with the expectation of clearing the backlog within three weeks if not earlier,” he stated. A later email confirmed that he had reviewed and signed or declined all outstanding warrants previously overseen by Sherman.

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Rosenthal, who had personally written a formal complaint letter to court authorities, applauded McClanahan’s swift actions but urged sustained vigilance.

“I have some decisions I’m waiting a year on,” Rosenthal said. “The administration has come to realize that there is a problem, which is why Judge McClanahan switched parts with Judge Sherman and issued months’ worth of warrants in a single day.”

Attorney Charles Wasserman backed Rosenthal’s statements, pointing out that McClanahan has begun tackling some of Sherman’s overdue decisions. He also provided an update on the current court assignments, a useful piece of information for the legal community navigating these changes.

But the woes extend beyond individual judges. Several attendees brought attention to systemic issues, including staff shortages and courtroom inefficiencies.

“The court is very short on clerks and court attorneys, and they don’t feel they can put more cases on than they’re putting on,” Wasserman said.

He also criticized the low volume of cases currently being taken by the court, an approach that conflicts with achieving statutory compliance.

Michael Ficchi, another participating attorney, described how he was given an adjourn date of January 2024 when a tenant filed an answer in a non-payment case at the end of September, emphasizing the excessive delays currently plaguing the court system.

The meeting concluded with a discussion about the future relocation of the Housing Court to the Brooklyn Municipal Building by 2025. This move has been postponed due to challenges ranging from asbestos removal to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In closing, Rosenthal encouraged members to actively participate in holding the judicial system accountable. “Put in your two cents. Believe it or not, it matters,” he said, reiterating the influence that the bar association can wield in the reappointment of judges.

The next meeting is expected to feature a presentation by Judge Sergio Jimenez on raising challenges on traverses.

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