Posted by XXX on October 02, 2001 at 15:11:35:
In Reply to: DONT LISTEN TO THIS BAD ADVICE! posted by nyhawk on October 01, 2001 at 21:06:47:
: The author of this message stated: "the judge probably will not be interested in: looking at any evidence -- tapes, photos, or anything else -- that you bring (bring them anyway, and let the landlord's attorney know you have them)." What-are-you-nuts-????????? There is absolutely no good reason why a tenant would provide the landlord's attorney with the evidence that will be used at trial by the tenant, in advance of the trial. Nothing is more helful than producing key evidence at a trial that your adversary does not know about and does not expect and thus has no time to refute. It's called "surprise" and wins many cases! Further, tenants should not -- for the most part -- ever be talking with the landlord's attorney, except in front of the judge. Most landlord's attorneys will try and cajole a tenant to drop an HP action (regardless of its merit) and sign an agreement waiving valuable rights and protections.
No, I am not nuts. The tone you are taking in your response is not very civil.
You are worried about producing evidence in advance of "the trial." What trial? Trials are not common in HP actions. Even if there were a trial, producing photographs at trial would not surprise the average landlord attorney.
Tenants who appear in front of the judge in Manhattan hoping to provide evidence at a trial are usually disappointed. Most HP cases are settled without a trial. The judge in the Manhattan HP court, even though usually sympathetic to tenants, almost always signs orders based only on HPD inspection reports, without holding
I didn't say that the tenant should provide the landlord's attorney with the photographs, or even show him the photographs. I said the tenant could let him know he has them. It does no harm to let the landlord's attorney know that you have photographs. That sends the message that you are better prepared than most tenants in housing court, and that, if necessary, you are prepared to prove that a condition exists that you are alleging. Most landlord attorneys would rather sign a consent order than proceed to trial knowing that a tenant has photographs of horrible condition to show a judge. This is useful if you want to add something to the judge's order that is not included in the inspection report.
As for talking with a landlord's attorney, I guess tenants have to
decide how easily they can be cajoled. Before coming up to see the judge, it is helpful to know if the landlord will sign a consent order or not, it is helpful to discuss access dates, and it is helpful to discuss repairs that do not appear on the inspection report. If the landlord or his attorney is nasty, it is very helpful to be able to say to the judge,
"Your honor, there are ten violations on the inspection report. I
just tried to negotiate access dates for repairs, and the landlord
refused even to agree to repair them, or to set up repair dates."
Finally, don't sign anything you don't understand or you don't agree with. The HPD attorney's in court will have a pre-printed order for the judge to sign. Read it over and ask them to explain anything you
don't understand. If the landlord wants to add anything, or cross
off anything, and you don't understand what it means or don't agree
with it, tell them to wait and bring up the issue with the judge. If
you feel yourself being cajoled, just walk away. The judge will
order that violations of record be removed -- eventually.
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