Here’s how I prepared and filed the Housing Court Order to Show Cause to Punish for Contempt:
I took home the forms I collected from the Housing Court Clerk (2d floor at 111 Centre Street) and read them carefully before filling them in. On that long blank line of both the Order to Show Cause and Affidavit forms, I put in all the dates of the Orders and/or Stipulations in which my landlord, the Little Crooked House Tenants Corp., promised but failed to remedy that last, serious, violation: 2/28/12, 5/17/12, 8/3/12, 11/30/12 and 1/31/13.
The form affidavit prompted me to attach copies of all those Orders and Stipulations. I did more: I wrote a simple, direct Supplemental Affidavit which told the story of my more than year-long Housing Court venture.
My affidavit is seven pages long; attached are twelve exhibits (I made up my own exhibit tabs and printed them out on blue paper) in precise chronological order: my initial filing, all those Orders and Stipulations, along with the HPD inspector’s certified violations; letters and affidavits from the co-op building manager and lawyer promising that the work will be done and promising when and saying things like, “however, due to circumstances beyond Respondents control, it proved impossible;” more promises and more “beyond Respondents control;” and so on.
I finished it off with a little flourish (copied from the Housing Court form affidavit): “Moreover, Respondents’ failure to comply with the Orders and Stipulations dated [I listed them again] was calculated to and actually did defeat, impair, impede, endanger and prejudice the rights of the Petitioner.”
It makes a little book. Eminently readable, of course. I took it over to Staples and made four copies. Primary Tip: if you do file this kind of OSC (for contempt), make at least four copies; you’ll need them. Secondary Tip: Have the Staples people loan you the use of a fat stapler and load it not with the biggest staples (for 100 page things) but the medium-size big staples: you don’t want to have staples poking their poisoned tips out of your OSC where they might pierce the finger of the Housing Court judge and put her to sleep for a hundred years…
So, when I was in Small Claims Court on March 27 settling the matter of getting reimbursed for repair work I had to pay for in my own apartment, part of the reason I was willing to settle was because after saying goodbye to Larry, the co-op’s attorney, I knew I was going to carry my heavy tote bag down from the 7th floor (Small Claims Court) to the 2nd floor, Housing Court and file the Order to Show Cause.
There was only one person in front of me in the line. One of the lovely clerks in Housing Court gathered in my fat package, did stuff with it and gave me a slip of paper to take up to Housing Court on the 11th floor. “But,” the clerk said, “unfortunately, they’re closed for lunch until 2:30. So you’ll have to come back then.” “Unfortunately?” When I was a few blocks from Joe’s Shanghai and their soup dumplings?
I had a leisurely lunch and an entire steamer-full of soup dumplings all to myself, after which I sat in the park reading the paper and watching the spring flowers bloom. At 2:30 I went back up to court, where the judge signed the Order to Show Cause and wrote in a court date of April 16.
Then once again, I took two copies over to the post office and sent them by certified mail, one to HPD and the other to the co-op’s lawyers.
I smiled all night.
Next: What happened when I went to Housing Court on April 16.