When last I was in Housing Court, on January 31, 2013, I learned something very exciting.
If the landlord whose actions — or, more accurately, inactions — have been going on for quite a while and you, the petitioner, have continued to bring your complaint back to court over and over, and have gotten the landlord fined, but still the landlord has not remedied one or more violations …
There’s something more you can do. Instead of filing and serving yet another Order to Show Cause to Restore [the complaint] to the Calendar for a Compliance Hearing and for Assessment of Civil Penalties, i.e., dragging the landlord’s ass and lawyer representing the ass back into court, and seeing if you can get them fined yet again, you can…
Fill out, file and serve a much more resonant document. It is a two-page form which you can pick up in the Housing Court Clerk’s office, 2nd floor, 111 Centre Street. (Make sure you get two copies; you’ll need them in case you make a mistake.) And it is called (take a deep breath):
Order to Show Cause to Punish for Contempt (Punishable by Fine and/or Imprisonment)
Yes, that’s right. When you fill out the form and the second page Affidavit in Support of an Order to Show Cause to Punish for Contempt, you are asking the Housing Court judge not simply to fine your recalcitrant landlord once again, but to punish him for contempt. Contempt penalties are heftier than fines. And then, of course, there’s always the possibility that, according to one paragraph in the OSC, the judge will consider:
PUNISHING [your landlord] for separate and distinct criminal contempt(s) of court by imprisonment for a definite period not to exceed 30 days and a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000) pursuant to Section 751 of the Judiciary Law, for each separate contempt for willful failure(s) to comply with the provisions and mandates of the Order(s)/Stipulation(s) dated __________________________________.
I’ve been informed by an expert that judges call the above, “Bring Your Toothbrush To Court Day.” You don’t need me to tell you why.
So did I do it? Did I dare to eat a peach? Oh yeah.
Tomorrow: I file an Order to Show Cause to punish for contempt