Grousing Court

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Landlords have claimed for years that housing court is stacked against them, but a federal judge has shot down an eight-year-old law suit alleging that tenant friendly court administrators are violating owner’s rights.

Federal Judge Shirley Wohl Kram ruled in late January that the Rent Stabilization Association had failed to prove a pattern of unconstitutional abuses that stacked the odds against them in court. Kram also decided that federal courts had no jurisdiction in the matter.

RSA contends that court administrators improperly allow distribution of anti-landlord literature, issue illegal rulings and, at times, make it difficult for owners to appeal questionable verdicts. The group also claims that judges too often revert to off-the-record conversations with lawyers–requesting court recorders turn off their tape recorders–without agreement from landlord attorneys.

In the wake of recent defeat, RSA lawyers say they probably won’t appeal the decision. “I don’t think there are any [plans to sue], but I can’t say for certain,” says Mitchell Posilkin, RSA’s general counsel.