"If the judges interpret the laws themselves, and suffer none else to interpret, they may easily make, of the laws, [a shredded] shipman's hose!" - King James I of England, around 1616.

“No class of the community ought to be allowed freer scope in the expression or publication of opinions as to the capacity, impartiality or integrity of judges than members of the bar. They have the best opportunities of observing and forming a correct judgment. They are in constant attendance on the courts. Hundreds of those who are called on to vote never enter a court-house, or if they do, it is only at intervals as jurors, witnesses or parties. To say that an attorney can only act or speak on this subject under liability to be called to account and to be deprived of his profession and livelihood by the very judge or judges whom he may consider it his duty to attack and expose, is a position too monstrous to be entertained for a moment under our present system,” Justice Sharwood in Ex Parte Steinman and Hensel, 95 Pa 220, 238-39 (1880).

“This case illustrates to me the serious consequences to the Bar itself of not affording the full protections of the First Amendment to its applicants for admission. For this record shows that [the rejected attorney candidate] has many of the qualities that are needed in the American Bar. It shows not only that [the rejected attorney candidate] has followed a high moral, ethical and patriotic course in all of the activities of his life, but also that he combines these more common virtues with the uncommon virtue of courage to stand by his principles at any cost.

It is such men as these who have most greatly honored the profession of the law. The legal profession will lose much of its nobility and its glory if it is not constantly replenished with lawyers like these. To force the Bar to become a group of thoroughly orthodox, time-serving, government-fearing individuals is to humiliate and degrade it.” In Re Anastaplo, 18 Ill. 2d 182, 163 N.E.2d 429 (1959), cert. granted, 362 U.S. 968 (1960), affirmed over strong dissent, 366 U.S. 82 (1961), Justice Black, Chief Justice Douglas and Justice Brennan, dissenting.

" I do not believe that the practice of law is a "privilege" which empowers Government to deny lawyers their constitutional rights. The mere fact that a lawyer has important responsibilities in society does not require or even permit the State to deprive him of those protections of freedom set out in the Bill of Rights for the precise purpose of insuring the independence of the individual against the Government and those acting for the Government”. Lathrop v Donohue, 367 US 820 (1961), Justice Black, dissenting.

"The legal profession must take great care not to emulate the many occupational groups that have managed to convert licensure from a sharp weapon of public defense into blunt instrument of self-enrichment". Walter Gellhorn, "The Abuse of Occupational Licensing", University of Chicago Law Review, Volume 44 Issue 1, September of 1976.

“Because the law requires that judges no matter how corrupt, who do not act in the clear absence of jurisdiction while performing a judicial act, are immune from suit, former Judge Ciavarella will escape liability for the vast majority of his conduct in this action. This is, to be sure, against the popular will, but it is the very oath which he is alleged to have so indecently, cavalierly, baselessly and willfully violated for personal gain that requires this Court to find him immune from suit”, District Judge A. Richard Caputo in H.T., et al, v. Ciavarella, Jr, et al, Case No. 3:09-cv-00286-ARC in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Document 336, page 18, November 20, 2009. This is about judges who were sentencing kids to juvenile detention for kickbacks.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Audio recordings show misconduct of plaintiffs' attorney Richard Harlem (son of a judge) in the Mokay case

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:

·       Richard Harlem was not listed as trial counsel, James Hartmann, of Delhi, was, but James Hartmann did not have trial exhibits in his office;

·       Trial 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:

Patrick Orr

Rich told that we will give you every opportunity to go through every document.

Tatiana Neroni

I understand, but that's a costly opportunity.

Patrick Orr

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.

Dialing sound

Woman's voice

Good afternoon, Jim Hartmann's office

Tatiana Neroni

Hello, can I, please, speak to James Hartmann, this is Tatiana Neroni?

Woman's voice

Sure, one moment, please.

James Hartmann


Tatiana Neroni

Hello, Mr. Hartmann?

James Hartmann


Tatiana Neroni

This is Tanya Neroni calling, how are you?

James Hartmann

Good, how are you?

Tatiana Neroni

Not bad, thank you.  I just have a question, who is the second trial counsel in this case, in Mokay case?

James Hartmann

I don't believe there is a second trial counsel.

Tatiana Neroni

Oh, ok, thank you very much.

James Hartmann


Tatiana Neroni


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 Richard Harlem.

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 them. 
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 were offered.

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.

Stay tuned.

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