Well, the victory in the Illegal lockout case was very heartening, but it was not the end. It was not even the beginning of the end. It may have been past the end of the beginning, but I don't think it is quite the middle yet.
While the Illegal Lockout case was still being tried, Judge Weisberg released his decision in the HP case (I will post it here when I get it loaded to YouTube). It was brief, and said that because my vacated room is an illegal Single Room Occupancy dwelling, he could not order it to be re-occupied, so it would be futile to order the safety condition (lack of a fire escape or other means of egress) repaired, so the entire case, including the building violations and harassment, was dismissed (without prejudice, so I could seek relief elsewhere, just not in housing court) However, my neighbor's case, which involved the same building violations and harassment complaints, was moved to another part of housing Court for trial under one Judge Capell..
I felt this ruling to be not quite right. How could one person's harassment complaint be worthy of consideration in housing court but another's is not when both cases involved the same actions of the same building manager in the same building to tenants of that building? Also, there had been no consideration made of the possibility that the illegal room could become part of a larger, legal apartment if combined with other rooms? Would a rent-stabilized tenant have the right to move into that new apartment that contains his old room?
So I filed what is known as a Motion to Reconsider. Unlike an appeal, which goes to a higher court and requires copies of the transcript and every document filed in the original court in quadruplicate, and Motion to Reconsider merely requires an affidavit (Extra exhibits for evidence is a plus).
Before I was ready to file that Motion, though, Judge Capell held her first conference in the matter of my neighbor's case against the management and owners of 182 Graham Avenue.
Because she was actually a co-petitioner of mine in the HP action, the papers that came through setting the date and time of this conference had my name as the petitioner of this case. I thought this meant that only the "repair and return" position of my case was dismissed and the building violations and harassment were still in play after all. But when we logged on and dialed in to the Teams meeting that is what "being in court" means these days, we were informed that no, my entire case WAS dismissed after all. I was, however, allowed to be an observer of the case, "in the audience" if you will.
The defense attorney, Charles Marino, of course, led with a bunch of creative interpretations of the history of the case and the building. He repeatedly said "rent controlled" when the accurate term would have been "rent stabilized. He talked about the difficult position the owners were in due to all the violations and that the tenants had "chopped up" the apartments to make SROs. And then he got to the point where he said that they had to make each floor one apartment to conform to the Certificate of Occupancy and that meant they would have to evict all but one of the tenants from each floor.. That's when I couldn't hold it in anymore and raised my hand.
Judge Capell pointed out that there were two tenants present, myself and my neighbor , and asked what our thought were on the matter of each floor being one apartment. We both stated that we did not object in principle to being co-tenants of one apartment.
Since I had lived in the building for 27 years and Marino had obviously never set foot in the building. Judge Capell allowed me to answer questions and speak in regard to the history and condition of the building. I pointed out that where Marino said "controlled" he should have said "stabilized" (which Judge Capell noted changed things), that there were plenty of empty rooms int he building and that it is possible that all the vacated tenants could be moved into them.
There was a little back-and-forth between myself, Judge Capell, Marino, and my neighbor. Being very conscious of my non-participant status in this trial, I was on ,my best behavior and made sure to raise my hand and only speak when invited to.
In the end, Judge Capell said that the tenants and the owners and management should get together and figure out a way for all the tenants, vacated an d otherwise, to like in a safe, legal building, and once that is done, she would hear and try the harassment complaints. And every month that was not the case, civil penalties would be assessed against the owners.
She also complimented me on being so well behaved and respectful.
So the judge adjourned the case for a month in the hopes that when we returned, we would have a deal.
It didn't quite happen that way.
NEXT: Decision! Reconsideration! Contempt!