I am publishing here a part of my conversation with Patrick
Orr, paralegal at Harlem & Jervis, recorded at their office under the
following circumstances on March 26, 2015.
On that date, according to prior agreement with
Harlem & Jervis, my assistant and I arrived at Harlem & Jervis law
office in Oneonta, NY, to review trial exhibits.
That was highly irregular for at least these reasons:
Harlem was not listed as trial counsel, James Hartmann, of Delhi, was, but
James Hartmann did not have trial exhibits in his office;
exhibits consisted of certified records from a governmental entity, the
Delaware County Clerk's office, and preservation of integrity of the exhibits
required that those exhibits be filed directly with the court from the Clerk's
office, while the alleged certified records that I never saw were somehow
directed to the office of the interested witness.
When we arrived to Harlem & Jervis on the morning of March 26, 2015, a large box of
potential trial exhibits which were claimed to be certified files from the Delaware
County Clerk's office was brought by paralegal Patrick Orr into the room where
I and my assistant were directed to by Harlem & Jervis personnel. Patrick
Orr indicated to me that there is another box, the same size, that he will
bring in after I have finished review of exhibits in the first box.
Paralegal Patrick Orr also indicated to me that he
will be manually taking exhibits, one at a time, out of the box, and giving
them to me for review. This way, Patrick
Orr said, Harlem & Jervis wanted to be sure as to integrity of the exhibits
– in other words, so that I would not tamper with exhibits.
That certifications by the Delaware County Clerk
left the hands of the Delaware County Clerk and were held with the trial
witness most interested in the outcome of the proceedings (Richard Harlem whose
legal fees were claimed as the only damages at trial), was obviously not a
concern as to integrity of Delaware County Clerk's certifications – not for
anybody, including the court, as further correspondence and interactions with
the court will show.
At the point when Patrick Orr's supervision was
being forced upon me and knowing from the history of that litigation that
Richard Harlem attempts to charge services of Patrick Orr at $100.00/hr or more
against my client, I refused and indicated that I will ask the court to have
the exhibits filed with the court before trial for my review.
Patrick Orr then disappeared, consulted with Richard
Harlem (whom he calls "Rich") and then came back with this statement:
Rich told that we
will give you every opportunity to go through every document.
I understand, but
that's a costly opportunity.
Right. Rich reminds
me, and you, that if you need to go through the trial, you understand there
are two attorneys at
that trial, and that will be more expensive than to review it here.
You can hear the recording of my conversation with
Patrick Orr here.
Apparently, Richard Harlem engaged in extortion
against my client, claiming to me that if I do not agree to review of trial
exhibits (which could require two full days – 16 hours or more, judging by the
size of one of two boxes where exhibits were contained)
Since there was a claim made by Richard Harlem who
communicated his message to Patrick Orr, that there were two attorneys at the
trial whose services are going to be charged against my client, on the same
day, March 26, 2015, I made a phone call to James Hartmann, Esq., the only
trial counsel in the case that was announced to me by that date. This is the transcript of my conversation
with Mr. Hartmann that day.
Good afternoon, Jim
Hello, can I,
please, speak to James Hartmann, this is Tatiana Neroni?
Sure, one moment,
This is Tanya Neroni
calling, how are you?
Not bad, thank you. I just have a question, who is the second
trial counsel in this case, in Mokay case?
I don't believe
there is a second trial counsel.
Oh, ok, thank you
You can hear the recording of my conversation with
James Hartmann here.
The recording, and the Affirmation from me
indicating that Richard Harlem is engaging in fee inflation, while, according
to the recent decision by the Appellate Division (January 22, 2015,
representation of the decedent/ Estate brings Richard Harlem into
irreconcilable conflict with the Mokay children as co-plaintiffs in the Mokay
trial and requires the court to order forfeiture of Richard Harlem's fees
claimed as damages and dismissal of the Mokay proceedings) was provided to
Judge Dowd in my pre-trial cross-motion.
Judge Dowd disregarded my motion and my claims that I was deprived of access to pretrial exhibits calling these claimed "a little brouhaha":
Yet, if exhibits, the way they were issued, certified and introduced at trial, or if they even exist, were all good and above board, my question is - why Judge Dowd blocked my access to them after the trial, before he made a decision in the Mokay case, and even after he made that decision?
It was clear from the recording with James Hartmann (unopposed and provided to the court) that Richard Harlem lied to me, through Patrick Orr, and was engaged in clear
extortion when he claimed that, if I refused to review alleged certified
records of Delaware County Clerk's office in Harlem & Jervis office, at the
potential cost of $100.00/hr for "supervision services" of Patrick
Orr, my client will have to pay for the same time at the rate of "two
attorneys" at the trial.
Apparently, when the trial counsel does not know
there is another trial counsel in the case, and that is 10 days before trial, Richard
Harlem was clearly lying to me, in order to have me review the records which
should have been filed with the court to begin with, since they were certified
records of a governmental entity and should not have been held before trial at
the office of an interested witness.
I then wrote to the court this letter pertaining to
trial exhibits and trial counsel, asking the court to compel Richard Harlem to
file trial exhibits with the court for my review – supervision of court
personnel for such review could not possibly be charged against my client as
Richard Harlem's fee claimed as plaintiffs' only damages.
Richard Harlem responded with this letter, claiming
that I either misunderstood or am trying to mislead the court claiming that he is
disqualified and that he is not a trial counsel.
Unbeknownst to me, Judge Dowd could have been on a
vacation in Virginia at this time, at least he admitted he was on such a
vacation up until April 6, 2015 (in a trial transcript), but Judge Dowd's
office never indicated to me that Judge Dowd was on a vacation.
Instead, Judge Dowd's law clerk wrote me a letter
claiming that the judge has no authority to issue orders based on letters. The honest thing to say was that the judge
was on a vacation and had no authority to issue orders on a vacation at all,
and that my letter was forwarded to another judge for review. That was, of course, never done.
The trial counsel saga continued at the trial.
This is the front page of the transcript of the ex
parte Mokay trial showing only
James Hartmann as trial counsel.
Yet, Richard Harlem, in his testimony, claimed – and
the court awarded him - $35,000.00 for trial preparation on three occasions
where the trial was adjourned, and where trial counsel were people other than
In August of 2012 – John Scarzafawa was plaintiffs' trial
counsel, but the trial was adjourned because of recusal of Judge Becker;
In November of 2013 – James Hartmann was plaintiffs'
trial counsel, and the case was adjourned, at Richard Harlem's request, when
Richard Harlem notified the court 3 days before trial that James Hartmann was
in a hospital for nearly a month – and Richard Harlem continued "trial
preparation" anyway, inflating fees for his clients – to be charged
against Mr. Neroni.
In May of 2014 – James Hartmann was plaintiffs'
trial counsel, and the case was adjourned, at Richard Harlem's request, once
again because of James Hartmann alleged illness.
So, $35,000 awarded to Richard Harlem, who was NOT a
trial counsel in the Mokay case, for trial preparation for adjourned trial
dates, one of them adjourned for reasons beyond control of any party, and two
of them adjourned at Richard Harlem's own request. Nothing like a little bit of fee inflation
and corruption going on here.
Why a witness, and not the trial counsel, was doing
trial preparation, nobody knows.
Moreover, judging by actions of James Hartmann in
the Mokay trial, James Hartmann had no clue what the case was about, what the
initiating document for the case (the 2nd Amended complaint) was about, what
was claimed in damages, or even whether all of his clients could claim all of
the damages they were claiming, for the time period they were claiming
As one example, James Hartmann claims in his opening statement that the case is by Mokay children (without mentioning the Estate of Andrew Mokay) and because they were hurt as the Estate's beneficiaries.
Compare that to the argument of Richard Harlem to Judge Garry in 2007 claiming that the Estate has nothing to do with the case and that the Mokay children's claim in the litigation is only and exclusively as contract beneficiaries under the contract to make a will.
Compare it to statements that Daniel Mokay, one of the Mokay children suing through Richard Harlem as their attorney in the Mokay action, and the executor of the Estate of Andrew Mokay, said about the essence of the Mokay litigation (which was completely contrary to what Richard Harlem said to judge Garry and completely conflicted out Richard Harlem, requiring him to forfeit ALL legal fees in the Mokay action). Daniel Mokay stated under oath and under guidance by another counsel (looks like he sacked Richard Harlem after all) that it was the misconduct of the decedent, his father, that brought on Mokay litigation. Yet, his father/Estate of his father, is suing in the Mokay action as a plaintiff, represented by Richard Harlem, along with Daniel Mokay, and claiming a completely different legal theory of children suing as contract beneficiaries and not as beneficiaries of the Estate.
The confusion gets even better when you consider testimony of Richard Harlem at the ex parte Mokay trial where Richard Harlem testified under oath that the "subject" of litigation in the Mokay action did not change from the Amended Complaint (Judge Garry) to 2nd Amended Complaint when the Estate was joined.
So why the Estate was joined into the litigation where Mokay children are suing as "contract beneficiaries", because their father (the Estate's decedent) breached that same contract as part of the "trio" recognized by the Appellate Division on January 22, 2015 as a trio of people engaged in fraud - nobody knows.
Yet, Richard Harlem did add the Estate, and many judges did agree with it, and Judge Dowd did rubber-stamp damages for the Estate as plaintiff in the Mokay action for Richard Harlem's representation of Mokay children long before the Estate was joined and at the time Richard Harlem was claiming to the court that the Estate had nothing to do with the case.
As another example, James Hartmann put
on testimony that ALL legal fees by Richard Harlem's two law firms were claimed
as damages by ALL plaintiffs in the Mokay case.
That means that legal fees generated by Harlem &
Harlem in representation of 5 plaintiffs since June of 2007 when the case
initially commenced were charged as damages of the sixth plaintiff, too, the
Estate of Andrew Mokay that was joined into the action in March of 2008
only. The complete impossibility that
the Estate of Andrew Mokay could, factually or legally, incur such fees, for
the time it was not part of litigation and was not represented in the Mokay
litigation by Richard Harlem's law firm, did not apparently enter the minds of
James Hartmann or Richard Harlem.
It did not enter the mind of Judge Dowd either, who
rubber-stamped those fees for the Estate and had the arrogance of calling all
the plaintiffs, including the Estate, "generous" to defendant in its
claims of damages.
So, I was not permitted to review two boxes of trial
exhibits before the Mokay trial because I did not agree to extortion by Richard
Harlem that I had to review those trial exhibits under supervision of Patrick
Orr that would be charged against my client at $100.00/hr or more, because my
choice (in Richard Harlem's opinion) was to either agree to that kind of paid
supervision, or being slapped by a fee of "two attorneys" at trial
for the same amount of time required for review of the exhibits before they
were supposed to be introduced.
When I got sick, and on a legitimate medical leave,
of which I notified the court ahead of time, with the same advance notice as
Richard Harlem gave Judge Dowd about James Hartmann's alleged illness in
November of 2013, Judge Dowd, without seeing me, but after seeing my doctor's
note, rejected my doctor's diagnosis, called my reasons not to appear without
merit, dismissed the jury, held a bench trial, allowed introduction of the
alleged trial exhibits in bulk, at the whopping 19 seconds per exhibits for
review – if one considers the entire length of trial by court records, in fact
there was obviously no review at all, because the transcript shows that hundreds
of exhibits were admitted by Judge Dowd "in bulk" as soon as they
Whether there was a trial at all, is a big question,
because my court observer was led to believe by the court personnel, at about
11:00 am, that the trial is not going on, while the transcript indicates that
the trial proceeded at that time, and the trial transcript was created by
Facebook friend of Judge Dowd's law clerk, a subpoenaed witness in the case.
I will report the story of how Judge Dowd blocked my access to
trial exhibits AFTER they were introduced "in bulk" at the alleged
secret ex parte trial, and even after he rendered his decision upon those
exhibits and no longer needed review of those exhibits, with recordings of my
conversations with Delaware County Supreme Court Clerk's office, in my next blog post.
Apparently since there is no way to subpoena court personnel or get it to testify truthfully about judge's instructions to them, and Judge Dowd refuses to give written orders of his "directives" to the clerks to block my access to the file, to prevent my client from appealing those orders, I have to record my conversations with the court personnel.
As I said, I will publish the recordings of my conversations with court personnel about access to trial exhibits in my next blog post.
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