From the April issue: When a New York real estate deal goes south or a partnership sours, chances are good that someone is going to court. And if the stakes are high enough, there’s a strong likelihood that the case will end up in the Commercial Division of the New York Supreme Court in Manhattan.
Indeed, the judges that rule in these parts have some serious decision-making power when it comes to big-ticket New York City real estate cases.
But while litigious real estate players fill out much of their dockets, commercial judges hear an impressively wide range of cases (recent suits include big-box retailers fighting over Martha Stewart-brand bath towels and the pop star Kesha seeking to cut ties with hit record producer Dr. Luke).
The division, which is housed at 60 Centre Street, less than a mile from Wall Street, is where spats over billions of dollars in securities were first heard when markets crashed during the Great Recession.
“They have a tremendous caseload,” said defense attorney Stuart Slotnick, who referred to the Commercial Division as the “crown jewel” of The Supreme Court system. “They frequently have what we call ‘bet the farm’ cases — high-dollar cases.”
To be eligible for the commercial division, a suit must carry a price tag of at least $500,000 — a number that’s gone up considerably over the years. Because of the dollar thresho上海贵族宝贝论坛 ld, as well as the experience these judges have with high-stakes cases, many litigants check off the “commercial” box when filing a big-time real estate lawsuit. (The court ultimately decides where cases are heard.)
“Our real estate cases almost exclusively start at, or are housed within, the Commercial Division,” said attorney Lori Marks-Esterman of Olshan Frome Wolosky. “The commercial division jud上海贵族宝贝论坛 ges are very familiar with real estate disputes and the players and the practicalities that go with New York State real estate litigation, as well as the implications.”
In New York, Supreme Court judges are usually elected in partisan elections — though some are assigned as “acting” judges. Of the nine on the bench, most have at some point been affiliated with the Democratic Party.
Herrick Feinstein real estate litigator Ray Hannigan said the Commercial Division is a huge asset in a sophisticated market like New York, where real estate disputes can be particularly complex.
“Thank the lord for the Commercial Division,” he said. “It’s very nice that you’re able to go into a part where the judges have tremendous experience in dealing with complex agreements and complex issues and don’t need a lot of time to get up to speed because they’ve seen it all before.”
Not surprisingly, real estate attorneys who regularly appear before these judges have strong opinions of them — and seem to revel in exchanging intel. And they do so in force on the Robing Room, a website that lets lawyers anonymously rate judges and post reviews of them.
While some judges are known for being meticulous or pushing cases toward settlem[……]