The Office of Court Administration, transferred all of the cases out of the Greenburgh Drug Court this week in an apparent response to complaints made by Tilem & Campbell partner, Peter H. Tilem. The problems began when a client of Tilem & Campbell, unhappy with her representation in the Town of Greenburgh Drug Court hired the firm to represent her. When Mr. Tilem, a 20 year veteran of the legal profession, and a member of the bar of New York and Connecticut as well as the United States Supreme Court and numerous federal courts initially appeared in Court he was told that he was not permitted to practice before the Greenburgh Drug court. From that moment the situation got worse.
Mr. Tilem observed that this Court was violating numerous constitutional rights of his client and potentially others and reported the conduct to the Deputy Chief Administrative Judge of New York State. After only a couple of hours after the report was made Judge Friedman one of the two judges in the Greenburgh Drug court agreed to comply with the suggestions of the supervising judge. However, when Mr, Tilem appeared next time before Judge Forster, Judge Forster steadfastly refused to comply with basic due process requirements as suggested by the supervising judge. Judge Forster continued to attempt to keep Mr. Tilem from representing his client and permitted the drug court “team” a group of non-judges to vote on matters that can only be decided by a judge such as the issues of bail or sentencing.
Judge Forster told Mr. Tilem and a reporter for the New York Law Journal who wrote a front page article about the matter that because the Court was funded through a federal grant and not through the Court system that they could have their own rules and that the supervising judges were not their supervisors. Judge Forster obviously learned differently when Judge Alan D. Scheinkman, the Administrative Judge for the Ninth Judicial District transferred all of the cases out of the Greenburgh Drug Court to the White Plains Drug Court and leaving Judges Forster and Friedman with no Drug Court cases.
Prior to the actions of Judge Scheinkman, Tilem & Campbell filed an Article 78 seeking to restrain Judge Forster and members of the Drug Court “Team” from continuing a list of illegal activities and from sentencing the firm’s client. On November 25, 2011, an acting Justice of the Westchester Supreme Court signed an order barring Judge Forster from sentencing the Tilem & Campbell client and from continuing other illegal practices that were going on in the Court.
Judge Forster had threatened to give the client one year in the Westchester County Jail for a shoplifting case, a Petit Larceny of less than $250 from a TJ MAXX in the Town of Greenburgh. It was only after Mr. Tilem pointed out that the Court could not conduct the sentencing because Mr. Tilem had not had the required 24 hours to review the pre-sentence report from the Department of Probation, that the sentencing was adjourned giving Tilem & Campbell enough time to file the Article 78 and get the restraining order.
Yesterday, a Judge in the Westchester County Court reversed Judge Forster on the issue of bail. Judge Forster had previously remanded the client, meaning that she was held without bail. Yesterday, after an extensive bail hearing County Court Judge John P. Colangelo agreed that the client should be released on bail.
“Other Judges ruled against Judge Forster every step of the way,” according to Mr. Tilem. “The Supreme Court obviously decided that there was enough evidence of impropriety to issue a stay, an extraordinary remedy. In addition, she was reversed on bail and had her calendar taken away, “according to Mr. Tilem.”
If you or a loved one believes that their constitutional rights are being violated by a Court or anyone else, contact one of our experienced criminal defense lawyers to discuss how the firm can help.