The Appellate Division gave explicit advice, not often heard, on how to deal with an Order to Show Cause which a judge declines to sign.  In the end, everyone seems to have done it wrong.  In Cypress Hills Mgt., Inc. v Lempenski  2019 NY Slip Op 04677  Decided on June 12, 2019
Appellate Division, Second Department waded into the swamp:

“After defaulting in this action, the defendant attempted to move by order to show cause to vacate his default, asserting that the Supreme Court did not have jurisdiction over him because he had never been served. The Supreme Court, Kings County (Devin P. Cohen, J.), did not sign the order to show cause, but nevertheless purported to deny the application on the merits in an order dated July 5, 2017. The defendant then filed a second order to show cause, seeking the same relief as his prior application. The Supreme Court, Kings County (Lawrence Knipel, J.), signed the order to show cause and allowed the motion to proceed. However, the court subsequently denied the motion on the ground that it could not overrule the decision of another Supreme Court Justice. The defendant appeals.

By declining to sign the first order to show cause, Justice Cohen, in effect, refused to permit the defendant to bring on that motion seeking to vacate his default. Consequently, the order dated July 5, 2017, purporting to deny that motion on the merits, was improper because there was no pending motion. While the defendant could have sought to have this Court review Justice Cohen’s refusal to sign the order to show cause (see CPLR 5704[a]; Matter of Greenhaus v Milano , 242 AD2d 383), he instead chose to simply re-apply for an order to show cause before a different Supreme Court Justice. One Supreme Court Justice should not sign an order to show cause refused by a colleague, assuming that the supporting papers are the same. Nevertheless, under the circumstances of this case, the order to show cause having been signed by a different Supreme Court Justice, the motion thus allowed should have been determined on its merits as the order dated July 5, 2017, did not represent the determination of a prior motion by a Justice of coordinate jurisdiction.

The procedural morass which occurred here is the result of two fundamental errors. [*2]First, a court which declines to sign an order to show cause, and thus refuses to allow that motion to be made, should not proceed to act as if the motion had in fact been made. If the court declines to sign an order to show cause, that is all it should do. Second, a remedy of a party whose proposed order to show cause has been refused is to seek relief from the Appellate Division pursuant to CPLR 5704(a). The remedy is not to simply re-submit the same application to the same or a different Supreme Court Justice.”

 

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Andrew Lavoott Bluestone

Andrew Lavoott Bluestone has been an attorney for 40 years, with a career that spans criminal prosecution, civil litigation and appellate litigation. Mr. Bluestone became an Assistant District Attorney in Kings County in 1978, entered private practice in 1984 and in 1989 opened his private law office and took his first legal malpractice case.

Since 1989, Bluestone has become a leader in the New York Plaintiff’s Legal Malpractice bar, handling a wide array of plaintiff’s legal malpractice cases arising from catastrophic personal injury, contracts, patents, commercial litigation, securities, matrimonial and custody issues, medical malpractice, insurance, product liability, real estate, landlord-tenant, foreclosures and has defended attorneys in a limited number of legal malpractice cases.

 

Bluestone also took an academic role in field, publishing the New York Attorney Malpractice Report from 2002-2004.  He started the “New York Attorney Malpractice Blog” in 2004, where he has published more than 4500 entries.

Mr. Bluestone has written 38 scholarly peer-reviewed articles concerning legal malpractice, many in the Outside Counsel column of the New York Law Journal. He has appeared as an Expert witness in multiple legal malpractice litigations.

Mr. Bluestone is an adjunct professor of law at St. John’s University College of Law, teaching Legal Malpractice.  Mr. Bluestone has argued legal malpractice cases in the Second Circuit, in the New York State Court of Appeals, each of the four New York Appellate Divisions, in all four of  the U.S. District Courts of New York and in Supreme Courts all over the state.  He has also been admitted pro haec vice in the states of Connecticut, New Jersey and Florida and was formally admitted to the US District Court of Connecticut and to its Bankruptcy Court all for legal malpractice matters. He has been retained by U.S. Trustees in legal malpractice cases from Bankruptcy Courts, and has represented municipalities, insurance companies, hedge funds, communications companies and international manufacturing firms. Mr. Bluestone regularly lectures in CLEs on legal malpractice.

Based upon his professional experience Bluestone was named a Diplomate and was Board Certified by the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys in 2008 in Legal Malpractice. He remains Board Certified.  He was admitted to The Best Lawyers in America from 2012-2019.  He has been featured in Who’s Who in Law since 1993.

In the last years, Mr. Bluestone has been featured for two particularly noteworthy legal malpractice cases.  The first was a settlement of an $11.9 million dollar default legal malpractice case of Yeo v. Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman which was reported in the NYLJ on August 15, 2016. Most recently, Mr. Bluestone obtained a rare plaintiff’s verdict in a legal malpractice case on behalf of the City of White Plains v. Joseph Maria, reported in the NYLJ on February 14, 2017. It was the sole legal malpractice jury verdict in the State of New York for 2017.

Bluestone has been at the forefront of the development of legal malpractice principles and has contributed case law decisions, writing and lecturing which have been recognized by his peers.  He is regularly mentioned in academic writing, and his past cases are often cited in current legal malpractice decisions. He is recognized for his ample writings on Judiciary Law § 487, a 850 year old statute deriving from England which relates to attorney deceit.