In April 2022 a new judicial candidate has announced of his run for the seat of Delaware County (NY) County/Family/Surrogate's court judge, a position that pays $210,000 a year.
Andrew Van Buren.
I have explained in my earlier articles on this blog why you won't hear from currently practicing attorneys anything negative about this judicial candidate.
I cannot and will not remain silent. Voters have a right to know who and what this candidate is.
I know this candidate since 1999, I know him through social settings (he used my husband as his mentor until he switched to become Judge Carl F. Becker's messenger boy), I worked with him on the same cases as an attorney, and I know him as a dishonest and mean drunk who has no place on the bench.
Delaware County has known enough dishonest judges and enough dishonest mean drunks on the bench without Van Buren be added to this cohort.
It is true that Van Buren - same as the other candidate, John Hubbard - has an extensive litigation experience, and has his share of cases that he won, like any lawyer does.
But, a County Court judge in Delaware County is a multibench judge, and his main caseload will be in Family Court where he will rule as a sole fact-finder, without a jury, determining the fate of people's custody to children and in cases where people's custody of children, employment and a vast range of other rights are implicated, child abuse and neglect proceedings.
A Family Court judge has a tremendous power, and must be even-tempered, and not prone to petty vengeance. That is not who Andrew Van Buren is.
1. The coward who sells friends for money
"A breath of fresh air" is a phrase Andrew Van Buren likes to use.
He used it characterizing me once, in an interesting setting.
He lived in my husband's home while going to law school.
My husband helped his family member a lot.
My husband was mentoring Van Buren and teaching him trial skills. Van Buren was calling my husband frequently for - free - consultations, which were always given, just to set a background of relationships with our family.
Van Buren recommended me to the licensing authorities to be admitted for the practice of law.
Then my practice of law started.
I was in the courtroom of Judge Carl F. Becker, it was sometime in 2009.
I was representing a client in a child neglect case. I have made a motion to recuse Becker from presiding over the case as an attorney who represented the Petitioner for 27 years and will rely on his personal out-of-court knowledge and not the evidence presented, in assessing credibility of his personal friends.
Becker denied the motion, I continued to make objections in court.
Becker told me "close your mouth, Mrs. Neroni".
I stood up and objected against Becker treating me in such a manner and moved to recuse for actual bias against me that will reflect on my client.
Andrew Van Buren was one of attorneys present in these proceedings.
He remained silent, looking into his desk, head down.
After court, he caught up with me outside of the courthouse and told me that
- I am "a breath of fresh air", supposedly much needed for the County, and that,
- as to my motion to recuse Becker as having represented the local DSS for 27 years before coming to the bench, "everybody knows it, but nobody says it".
To that, Van Buren added - but, "don't burn your bridges, Tanya".
I did not realize at that time that it was a threat, and a threat communicated from Becker. I still considered Van Buren at that time not just a colleague, but a family friend.
Little did I know that Andrew Van Buren, to survive financially and get assignments in Family Court, has become a messenger boy for that same Judge Carl F. Becker.
In 2011, Andrew Van Buren came to the house of his mentor of many years, my husband, bringing to him a personal threat of criminal prosecution from Judge Becker, a completely bogus threat. I was present when he voiced that threat to my husband - "if you don't do this and that, I will have you criminally prosecuted."
Note that Becker was not a county DA at that time. Northrup (Becker's friend) was. So Becker could not possibly "have" anybody criminally prosecuted, unless his friend Northrup would go along with his request for fabrication.
Note that in 2009, after I have made that motion to recuse Becker, Becker used his other corrupt friend, DSS Commissioner Moon, to fabricate a child neglect case against my husband and myself, trying to hurt our young child and us, prosecuted by a yet another Becker's friend, Porter Kirkwood, who also ran for the judicial position with Becker's endorsement.
So, Becker by that time has ALREADY fabricated a case with the help of another friend, a child neglect case, against us (which may have resulted also in criminal charges had it played out as Becker wanted it to).
We won it - after over a year in litigation.
Even the child's assigned counsel (out of Binghamton) told us that it was "small town politics", and supported us in fighting it.
DSS/Moon has fired a young attorney who rebelled against this fabrication as a political case, later settled and had that attorney move away across the state.
Note that BEFORE that threat, I have asked the current judicial candidate and then Chief ADA John Hubbard to criminally prosecute Becker for being an impostor and not a judge and for forging documents relating to his election in March of 2011.
Hubbard did not tell me that he was Becker's prior law partner who bought Becker's law practice and law office and was put into the ADA position by Becker, but refused to prosecute him.
Note that in May of 2011, Hubbard, instead, threatened my husband "not to burn bridges" (exactly as Van Buren threatened me in 2009, before Becker fabricated a child neglect case against us with his friend Moon).
That was when my husband filed an assigned appeal in People v Carbone, raising the issue of corruption of Becker and Northrup (having a blind man sign, without knowing, a waiver of civil rights litigation against Becker and Northrup for extrajudicial confiscation of his money and car). My husband did not take that appeal back and was disbarred, based on bogus claims.
Note that at the end of June, 2011, I have SUED Becker in state court on behalf of a 3rd party, my husband and myself.
Andrew Van Buren knew all of that. Because we told him this information, as a longtime family friend.
I wonder how much of it Van Buren communicated directly to Becker, in exchange for assignments in family and criminal court.
And, knowing all of that, he came into his mentor's home in July of 2011 bearing a threat from Becker that Becker will fabricate a criminal charge against my husband. Van Buren told us directly that it was Becker's request he was carrying out.
He did not tell the judge that he will not be serving as his messenger boy.
He did not tell the judge that it is illegal to threaten a person who just sued you and whose wife just asked to criminally prosecute you as an impostor, with a yet another fabrication - after Moon's fabrication failed.
He did not tell the judge to bring his threats that had nothing to do with his judicial duties - on his own.
He caved in and worked as a messenger boy for the corrupt judge.
As a contemptible coward that he is.
Because this was his Judas price to get assignments from Becker, at $75 an hour, in criminal and Family Court cases.
But that was not all.
2. Deliberate deception of voters
The next year, in 2012, when Becker ran for re-election, Van Buren, knowing full well, who and what Becker is, wrote THIS:
Knowing that Becker - VICIOUSLY - avenges criticism of his misconduct, Van Buren preferred to DECEIVE Delaware County voters by falsely praising a judge he knew was a criminal.
"In my experience, Judge Becker gives attorneys and litigants, alike, an opportunity to be heard (even when the time for doing so is limited). His decisions are fair, well-reasoned, and thoroughly researched. His sentencing decisions reflect the interests of the community and also a measure of compassion for criminal defendants".
Van Buren knew that Becker shut down attorneys' objections and did not let them make their arguments in court.
He knew that Becker DID NOT research his cases - that's why he was the most-reversed judge.
He knew that Becker's sentencing decisions served the career and financial interests of his own and of his friends Northrup, Moon and (then-County Attorney) Spinney, and nobody else's.
Yet, Van Buren knew that he will not be disciplined for FALSE PRAISE - only for criticism of a judge, no matter how fair.
And - HE LIED TO VOTERS, lied with authority, based on his years of experience appearing in front of Becker.
So, Van Buren IS the one who arranged, through his DELIBERATE DECEPTION OF VOTERS, for saddling the County residents with another term of 10 years of Becker's tyranny (good that the "fair and reasonable" Becker ran from the office in 2015 chased by the FBI, the New York State Commission for judicial conduct and the State Comptroller's office).
3. Disorderly conduct arrest
Van Buren's unruly behavior was reported back in 2002 when he was arrested for disorderly conduct and littering in front of his client's house.
4. Dishonesty with clients, attorneys and courts and GREED, GREED, GREED again
Greed Case # 1. Extorting attorney fees from a cancer patient and victim of his client's stone theft
Sometime in the early 2000s, when I have just got married to a Delaware County resident, attorney Frederick J. Neroni, and came to live there, my husband had an interesting case against Andrew Van Buren's client.
The case was well publicized at that time, and I am sure many people who lived in the area at the time would remember it.
A woman (my husband's client) was diagnosed with cancer and came to live in our area, charmed by its peace and tranquility.
Well, Andrew Van Buren's client interfered with that piece and tranquility by starting to steal stones from a historical stone wall on her property.
What was even more atrocious was that Andrew Van Buren moved for a summary judgment against my husband's client, asking the court to award his client's (thief's) attorney fees owed to Van Buren - against the victim of the theft, the property owner and a cancer patient who his client robbed.
I do remember that the presiding judge, I believe, it was Michael V. Coccoma, was so upset about what Van Buren did that he
1/ granted to my husband's client a REVERSE summary judgment ON THE COURT'S OWN MOTION, when my husband was not even asking for it; and
2/ banned Andrew Van Buren from his courtroom.
I remember how Andrew Van Buren called my husband and left a drunk insulting message on our answering machine about it.
The only reason he did what he did was GREED, he wanted his fee no matter what and no matter who he was going to squeeze that fee from.
Greed Case # 2. Desperately trying to get paid for representing opponent of Van Buren's own former client in the same case
Children custody trials are emotional, drawn-out, involve a lot of detailed evidence and a lot of witnesses, and courts usually give plenty of time to prepare for such trials - because of all the above.
Imagine the situation.
I have a custody trial for a client scheduled for the next day.
Suddenly I receive a call from Andrew Van Buren telling me that he represents the opponent in that case now.
That was NOT how the law requires attorneys to get substituted.
There was an attorney of record in that case (attorney Zilbert, as far as I remember), substitution of attorneys must be done - by law - through a NOTARIZED consent to change attorneys, which Andrew Van Buren DID NOT obtain from the opposing party and DID NOT file with the court.
Quite recently before that Judge Burns (presiding judge in the custody case) chastised in court attorney Renee Albaugh for claiming to be attorney of record in a divorce case and making motions in that case, while failing to file a proper substitution of attorneys and, thus, not being attorney of record.
So, Andrew Van Buren was NOT an attorney of record in the case at the time he claimed he was representing my client's opponent.
Anyway, I call my client and I notify him that a claim is made that Andrew Van Buren will be representing his opponent at the tomorrow's trial - and he calls me back immediately, quite upset, telling me that Andrew Van Buren was HIS attorney in the SAME case (custody cases take a long time, sometimes years).
I do believe it was greed - Andrew Van Buren charges an arm and a leg for representation at trials, and he needed money, so he pretended that he "forgot" that he is opposing his own former client in the same case where he represented him on the same issue.
Van Buren dishonestly took the case out of greed, hoping that it will slide through, and nobody will remember.
Well, his client did remember, and objected, and I wrote to Andrew Van Buren on my client's behalf.
Here is our e-mail exchange (I've blacked out the names of clients).
The year was 2013 - after Andrew Van Buren has shown us his true colors as the corrupt Judge Becker's racketeer messenger boy.
What was wrong with Andrew Van Buren asking for an adjournment?
Everything was wrong about it.
First of all, he was not yet an attorney of record in the case - never was, and can't ask the court for anything.
Second, he cannot be an attorney of record for the opponent since he represented my client in the same case before, and can't ask the court for anything that is against my client's best interests.
As I said above, there was plenty of time given by the court for trial preparation, there was PLENTY of work done by me preparing for the trial, work that was already billed, per hour, to my client, and my client very reasonably objected to any adjournment at the 11th hour, especially for the bogus reason that his opponent fired previous attorney and hired HIS OWN INITIAL ATTORNEY, and then, after his attorney's conflict of interest was revealed, claimed an adjournment that she was not otherwise entitled to.
A good trick, wasn't it?
Here is what I wrote to Van Buren on the subject:
And that is when Andrew Van Buren EXPLODED - consider THAT piece for an assessment of this judicial candidate's "judicial temperament":
He was obviously afraid that I will sue him on behalf of his client - which his client had an obvious right to do, and it would not have been a "malicious way to practice law", but his former client's right.
Note that all I asked was for Van Buren to just step aside COMPLETELY and not ask the judge for ANYTHING on behalf of his new client (opponent of his former client in the same litigation), because THAT REQUEST WAS ILLEGAL AND UNETHICAL - twice, coming from an attorney who was not an official attorney of record, and coming from an attorney who was opposing his own former client.
Note that I did not threaten Van Buren with any referrals, complaints or lawsuits.
I simply asked him to not ask the judge for any adjournments, since he had no right to represent his own client's opponent in the first place, for any reason.
Note that Van Buren tries to pretend that he cares a lot about Judge Burns "coming from Cooperstown" to preside over the case, only to "have to adjourn it".
Know what? He didn't have to adjourn anything, since Van Buren was instantly replaced by another attorney, and the trial did happen.
But, Van Buren just tried to have the case adjourned on false pretenses - possibly, trying to keep a part of the (likely giant) fee that he unlawfully charged his client.
How is that about honesty and temperament of a judicial candidates, dear voters?
And here is what Andrew Van Buren told me when I called him out on his tantrum.
He "always" apologizes "when it is warranted".
Once again, the summary of the story.
A certain client FIRED Andrew Van Buren and, after other previous attorneys, hired me.
I prepared for trial for my client.
Andrew Van, angry at his client for firing him, designed a costly revenge for his client.
Van Buren allowed his client's opponent to hire him, charged her a trial fee (not less than $10,000, and that is a conservative estimate, as far as I know Van Buren's fees), and tried to derail his former client's trial.
When caught red-handed, he started to accuse the attorney who simply asked him not to act against his own former client, of all kinds of - non-existing - mortal sins and refused to apologize, because I am not worth the apology.
GREED CASE #3 (and that's only what I know of, over a short period of time). Cika v Kellner
A contractor did a remodeling job in a house. The homeowner refused to pay.
I sued on behalf of the contractor. Van Buren represented the homeowner.
Van Buren moved to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming that it is subject to a mandatory arbitration agreement.
I opposed the motion and won, so the case was retained by the court.
I filed discovery demands with Van Buren, he did not comply.
The judge (Lambert) called a discovery-pretrial-settlement conference. My client did not want to settle, and especially when Van Buren's client did not comply with discovery demands.
Before the pre-trial conference, Van Buren told me that his client is not paying him (like he did not pay my client for his work). At the conference Van Buren started to pressure me into settling the case on terms favorable to his client - and demanded that my client's must pay Van Buren's attorney fees for OPPOSING my client's lawsuit.
Van Buren became verbally abusive.
I requested the court attorney (Oursler) handling the conference to put audio recording on (it was in the Grand Jury room where audio recording equipment was installed at that time). Oursler refused.
Van Buren continued to berate me at the top of his lungs for not settling the case and accusing me and my client of non-existing misconduct.
At the end of the conference I was crying, shaking, my hands were trembling, and I went to a colleague to at least have a witness of my condition after the conference.
I DID turn Andrew Van Buren into attorney discipline for his behavior in this Greed #3 case.
Being a diligent Becker's student and knowing that by that time Becker has fabricated a child neglect against us (we won a dismissal), a disciplinary case against my husband (he was disbarred) and a disciplinary case against me (still pending at the time), Van Buren decided to fabricate more - with Becker's help.
He complained against me that I FALSELY accused Van Buren of misconduct at the conference, that it was I, and not him, who derailed discovery in the case, and that I was "improperly" refused to settle (and, obviously, to agree that my client must pay Van Buren's attorney fees).
Van Buren claimed that Oursler (who refused to audiotape Van Buren's misconduct) will testify against me as to what was happening in the conference, and that Becker will also come to testify against me on Van Buren's behalf.
That was a year after Van Buren praised Becker during his election campaign to voters and 2 years after he parlayed Becker's threat of (fabricated) criminal prosecution to my husband.
Apparently, Van Buren revealed that he was in a very close friendly relationship with Judge Becker if Becker would agree to come testify on behalf of Van Buren against me. So much for "I am not beholden to anyone".
In response to Van Buren's fabrication, I pointed out his misbehavior in the conflict of interest Greed #2 case, and THEN Andrew Van Buren LIED EVEN MORE, now to the court - the court never disbarred him for that though (I wonder, why, probably, Becker asked for him).
While Van Buren claimed to me - see e-mail exchange above - that, oops, my mistake, missed conflict of interest, to the Attorney Grievance Committee/Appellate Court Van Buren said something completely different.
He said that he has
1/ an advance archiving system, PLUS a "court-approved" conflict-checking software!!!
Which only aggravated his misbehavior in the custody case. The only thing he needed to do was, without stepping into representation of his client, to CHECK his "advanced and court-approved" conflict-checking software and archive to see whether there is a conflict of interest - and say "no" to the prospective client.
By the way, when Van Buren told me that "I am the breath of fresh air" (back in 2009) and berated Becker to me, possibly to get into my confidences ON BECKER's BEHALF, as his messenger boy, to get on the assignment list, at that point Van Buren told me that he actually has 11 disciplinary violations (not shown on his public record though, but that he acknowledged himself).
I wonder what those violations are for.
Here is some of my responses to Van Buren's fabrication after he nearly caused me a heart attack or a stroke trying to get money from my client instead of his own non-paying client (as he usually does - since the stone wall case).
I would like to point out one very important point. Van Buren did not only try to (knowing that I was under severe stress, when my husband lost his law license due to Becker's and 2 other local sons-of-judges' fabrication, when Becker was after me with sanctions after I sued him for misconduct, when I carried a huge caseload, my husband's and my own, and supported a minor son, who we had to transfer to an out-of-state private school to save him from harassment of Becker's pocket social services department) rattle me to the point of a heart attack - simply to shake money out of my client because his own client did not pay his fees and, thus Van Buren did not want to do discovery or proceed to trial, not being paid.
Van Buren also falsely claimed to the disciplinary authorities that it was I, his victim, who falsely accused him, and he is ready to provide testimony for that of Judge Lambert's court attorney Oursler (never provided), the one who refused to audiotape Van Buren's tantrum, and ready to provide testimony in Van Buren's support of Judge Becker - who was not in that courtroom, but was obviously ready to testify against me no matter in what case.
Moreover, Van Buren tried to claim that it is I who was in need of a "psychological evaluation" - because I did not want to have my client pay for Van Buren's greed, obviously.
It would be a suicide act for Delaware County voters to give this vengeful, greedy and mean drunk who already tried to create fabrications and "diagnose" his opponents as psychos - authority to COURT-ORDER, under the threat of "contempt of court", jail time and fines, psychological evaluations.
He will do it to people out of pure personal revenge.
So, dear Delaware County voters.
I wrote a lot of things criticizing John Hubbard. I think he is a very bad candidate for a judge, and I stand by my word.
I will post separate articles about John Hubbard's qualifications to become a judge.
Yet, one BIG negative factor John Hubbard definitely lacks, as compared to Van Buren.
GREED to instantly start getting the judicial salary of $210,000 per year.
Andrew Van Buren overcharges the private clients he happens to catch, so private clients are rare - so he resorts to trying to claim attorney fees against his client's opponents, like he did in the stone wall theft case, like he did in Cika v Kellner's case.
Or, he desperately tries to get hired even by his former client's opponents in the same case and hide it hoping that he won't be caught red-handed.
Van Buren otherwise subsists on assigned cases, which pay not much, and only at the end of the case, so he has no cash flow in between, which is bad, especially when you are raising growing children close to college age.
Van Buren's opponent in judicial elections, DA John Hubbard's salary at this time is $201,000.
So, at least one can say about Hubbard that a puny salary increase of 4% cannot be considered as motivated by greed - which is, quite obviously, Van Buren's case.
Do you want a judge who is drunk, mean, vengeful and desperately greedy, with a history of outrageously unethical behavior dictated by greed?
Do you want a judge who would drive a woman to a blood pressure hike behind closed doors, arrange with his buddies not to preserve evidence and then claim that what happened behind those closed doors was exactly the opposite to what his victim claimed?
Just for greed?
Just for personal vengeance?
Will you feel SAFE with such a judge behind closed doors?
- Respect for justice;
- committed to the concept of impartial justice;
- exudes respect and empathy for his fellow human beings;
- will hold all in his courtroom to the highest standards of ethics and the law;
- will make sure that our county court system works first and foremost for us, the people
- represents people, and represents a breath of fresh air.
These are all arrogant LIES.
Did I also mention that Van Buren is not only mean, and is not only dishonest, and greedy, and vengeful, but is a dishonest, greedy, mean and vengeful DRUNK?
I have personally smelt alcohol on his breath, at a distance, in court, on many occasions, and I know Andrew Van Buren since 1999, and came to court regularly since that time accompanying my husband first, and then on my own, as an attorney.
Reportedly, he did not stop drinking since we left Delaware County in 2015. If anything, his drinking has reportedly become worse.
My contacts in the County tell me they see Van Buren, increasingly unkempt, and with increasingly greater number of beer 12-packs.
He looks like a cow chewed him and then spat him out.
A big contrast with the unfailingly clean-cut John Hubbard.
Will you vote for an unethical, dishonest, petty, vengeful, mean drunk with a history disorderly fraudulent conduct who is a danger to women behind the closed doors of unrecorded court conferences - which he will be able to hold aplenty if he becomes a judge?
Would you want to find yourself on the receiving end of a forcible psychological evaluation each time you point out his - inevitable - misconduct?
And note - audio and video recordings are not allowed by court rules in the courthouse.
Van Buren knows it.
And he has a history of using it in his fabrications, and had, as an aid in his fabrications, Judge Becker, the notoriously corrupt judge. While claiming now to voters that he is "independent", "for the people" and "not beholden to anybody".
As a judge, his fabrications will only become worse and have greater impact upon people.
Do you want such a judge?