Courthouse Confidential: Brooklyn Dems’ Chief Boosted Lawyer for Court Job

According to knowledgeable sources, Kings County Democratic Leader Frank R. Seddio is referring job seekers for positions at the Supreme Court at 360 Adams Street in downtown Brooklyn. Information to that effect has leached out and become widely known within the courthouse in the case of a lawyer, who was recently appointed as a law assistant to a judge handling civil cases, including foreclosures.

The lawyer, whom Seddio is said to have helped, was Alexis Riley, who had spent the last two years as a “court appearance attorney” handling foreclosure cases for one of the most active lender firms, Rosicki, Rosicki & Associates, according to her LinkedIn profile, and for a second real-estate firm, now known as Friedman & Bartolo. I am aware of at least two persons, who have spoken to Riley about the help that Seddio gave her.

As recounted to me, Riley, who was accompanied by a court officer, had a chance encounter with Seddio at the courthouse earlier this year. Upon bumping into Seddio, the court officer introduced Riley and told Seddio that she would like to work for the courts. Seddio responded by asking whether she would like to work for Justice Kenneth Sherman and asked her to meet him at party offices soon afterwards.

According to Office of Court Administration (OCA) spokesman Lucien Chalfen, Riley was hired as an assistant law clerk to Justice Sherman for a one-year term in July. The term is renewable for a second year. Justice Sherman, Chalfen added, has discretion to hire an assistant law clerk, in lieu of a secretary, if the demands of his caseload require it.

Seddio declined to comment as did Riley.

Seddio’s role in the hiring of Riley was such an open secret, that Brooklyn Justice Laura Jacobson apparently referred to it in a federal lawsuit against the Brooklyn Democratic Party, claiming that the party manipulated its screening procedures to deny her a shot at a second term.

Though Jacobson’s complaint in Jacobson v. Kings County Democratic County Committee, 16-cv-4809 189 (EDNY) did not identify Riley by name, it alleged “upon information and belief” that Seddio “has ‘appointed’ one, or more, attorneys who specialized in bringing foreclosure actions by banks and lenders to become ‘Law Clerk’ or ‘Law Secretary’ to Justices of the Supreme Court in Kings County Supreme Court dealing with foreclosure actions.” (See para. 189).

In addition to having experience handling foreclosures for lenders,[1] Riley has strong academic credentials. She graduated in 2008 magna cum laude from Long Island University with a double major in political science and philosophy. She was also a Carbonell Fellow at New York Law School, where she researched social justice issues and worked on education initiatives.

Delayed Foreclosure Cases

In accepting an offer from Sherman, Riley parachuted into job where she will have to deal with seven foreclosure cases in which, according to court records, fully briefed dispositive motions have been pending without a decision from nearly a year to as long as two years. Under OCA rules motions are required to be decided within 60 days after they have been fully submitted to a judge for decision.

Court delays from one to two years in undecided foreclosure motions can cause serious problems for homeowners. Owners of homes in some of Brooklyn’s most preyed-upon neighborhoods—such as Bushwick, Bedford Stuyvesant and Crown Heights—are undergoing a renaissance where home values have been rising steeply.

In neighborhoods where prices have been rising, court delays can deprive homeowners of significant amounts of equity should their homes be sold at foreclosure auctions. More than $69,000[2] in interest has accrued during the past 22 months in one of the cases with the longest delays.

In stagnating neighborhoods, court delay also exposes lenders to lost opportunity costs. Without the 22-month court-caused delay, the lender would have been able to recoup whatever the market will bear in a foreclosure sale and put those funds to work elsewhere sooner than is possible with the nearly two-year court delay. While the amount of a lender’s lost opportunity costs may be unclear, the fact that there will be some loss is not.

Of course, much more is at risk for both parties when homes are in neighborhoods with crumbling markets. Lenders risk the loss of large portions of their loans and homeowners face the loss of their homes, in which many have invested their life savings.

These are fraught and hard fought cases that Riley will have to wrestle with as she digs through the records in these long-pending cases.

FOOTNOTES

[1] I am using the term lender to include the company that originated the home mortgage loan and any entity to which it was subsequently assigned. It is often the case that mortgage notes are sold to mortgage pools formed by major investment banks. In a mortgage pool, bonds are sold to investors to whom interest is paid from the income stream generated by the mortgage notes within the pool.

[2] Dispositive motions have been pending for 22 months. The interest on the mortgage note was 6.56 percent with an outstanding balance of $574,000 at the time of default. Reduced to a mathematical formula, this shows that the homeowner would be obligated to pay an additional $69,000 in interest. [.0656x$574,000 = $37,654/12 = $3,138×22 = $69,000]

That amount will be paid to the lender not, the homeowner, should sufficient funds be realized when the home is sold in foreclosure.

©DanielJWise2016

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2 responses to “Courthouse Confidential: Brooklyn Dems’ Chief Boosted Lawyer for Court Job

  1. nestor candia

    Assistant law clerks can get their terms extended twice , for a total of 3 years . This is a recent change.

  2. Mark Goldstein

    From 10/13/15 Daily News – DESPITE THE spotlight on the scandal-racked Brooklyn Democratic organization, an elected official’s son has been handpicked by county Democrats to replace a respected Civil Court judge. Kenneth Sherman, a Housing Court law clerk and son of Mill Basin District Leader Roberta Sherman, is set to gain a coveted Civil Court judgeship – without facing an opponent. The seat was vacated by Judge Esther Morgenstern, who was recently picked as the party’s county Supreme Court nominee. A party committee picked Sherman on Sunday for the Democratic ballot in the general election being held next month, which nearly guarantees his victory in heavily Democratic Brooklyn. Critics inside the party complain the timing of the action prevented a primary where voters would decide among several candidates. “There are thousands of lawyers in Brooklyn who would give their right arm to be a judge, but this kid’s going to be a judge because his mother is a district leader,” said Park Slope District Leader Alan Fleishman, a self-described reformer