Great Day in Court

I went to New York Supreme Court on Monday, May 13 and Tuesday May 14 on my motions to hold the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission in Contempt in Court.

The judge ruled completely in my favor. Although she did not go as far as I had hoped, for example she did not put the TLC in jail where they belong, she did go almost as far as I could have reasonably have expected her to go.

The most shocking revelation came during the hearing on May 14 before Judge Lippman, who had been designated as the Special Referee in this case. When the case was called in Room 148 of the Supreme Court of New York, the attorney for the TLC advised the court that the case was moot because the TLC had discovered that I had appealed from the ruling of ALJ Manzione and indeed, on appeal, the TLC had upheld the decision of ALJ Manzione.

What was most shocking about this was that the reason I did not know about this was that this decision had again been sent to the wrong address of 24 6th Avenue, Brooklyn New York. The original grounds for my appeal was that the summons in the same case had also been sent to the same wrong address. On my notice of appeal and on every page of my appeal, I had provided my correct address and complained about the fact that the summons had been send to the wrong address. The date of the decision, which also had been sent to the wrong address, was July 24, 2001.

What was even more shocking was that, throughout this litigation, the TLC has claimed that I never filed a notice of appeal. It was based upon this claim that Judge Lebdeff had referred the matter to Judge Lippman for a hearing. Yet, the papers filed in court yesterday showed that I had filed my notice of appeal on time on July 5, 2001, which is exactly the date when I said that I had filed it, and that the TLC clerk had noted on the papers that my appeal was complete and on time. It was only because I filed an Article 78 Proceeding against the TLC that it came out that my appeal had been entirely proper.

Judge Lippman then sent the matter back up to Judge Lebedeff. Judge Lebedeff was out, so a conference on the matter was held by Judge Lebedeff's Law Clerk. The Law Clerk was shocked when notified by the attorney for the TLC that my appeal had been found. She was even more shocked when the attorney for the TLC, Kristine Holden, claimed that I had suffered no prejudice thereby. Obviously, I had suffered prejudice because I had been forced to file an Article 78 Proceeding, because they had once again sent my papers to the wrong address.

The clerk then set a hearing for 2:30 that afternoon when Judge Lebedeff would be returning. At the hearing, Judge Lebedeff ruled in my favor on almost every point, although sometimes not going far enough in my view. There followed an almost acrimonious colloquy between the Judge and the TLC attorney. For example, again and again, the TLC Attorney claimed that the original summons which started this entire litigation had been served properly, even though it had admittedly been sent to the wrong address. In response, Judge Lebedeff said many times, "I have been a criminal court judge for 20 years, and this was not proper."

The debate between the Judge and TLC Lawyer became so heated that I often could not follow it all. Fortunately, the judge had ordered a court reporter. The court reporter was Lester Isaacs (212) 374-6206. I told him that I want to order a transcript. He said that he will call with an estimate.

The most important ruling was ordered the TLC to reinstate my FHV license, which again had been suspended without a hearing for the third time. The Judge set a new court date of June 26 at 9:30 AM to see if the TLC has complied with her order this time, unlike the last time.

Regarding my HACK license, the TLC Lawyer said that the TLC would be willing to hold a "licensing standards hearing" provided that I sign a release form giving them access to my court records. I do not know to what court records they are seeking access, but I suspect that it pertains to the child custody litigation regarding my daughter Shamema, which took place in the Amherst County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. If I am correct in this, Virginia will not agree to a release of the records, regardless of what waiver I sign. When my case was on appeal to the Virginia Court of Appeals, the Amherst County Court refused even to transmit the record of my case to that appellate court. The Amherst County Count is not likely to be willing to admit that it violated federal law, including the Federal Parental Kidnapping Act and the Uniform Child Custody Act, by adjudicating the custody of a New York child, my daughter Shamema, who had been kidnapped and taken to Virginia.

Judge Lebedeff concluded the hearing by saying that on June 26, she will review the question of money damages. To this, the TLC lawyer said, "You cannot award money damages in an Article 78 Proceeding." Judge Lebedeff replied, "You can, under certain circumstances."

This leads me to believe that the judge may be contemplating awarding me money damages. The grounds for this would be that the TLC disobeyed the court order, the TLC claimed that I had not appealed when I had appealed and on appeal the TLC had ruled against me, and the TLC once again suspended my license, after the court had ruled that my license cannot be suspended without a hearing, thereby causing me to lose income.

Then, Judge Lebedeff said that she will write a decision to confirm what she said in open court yesterday.

Sam Sloan

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