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Release: February 16, 2006
Empire State Development Corporation to Appeal Decision to
Disqualify Conflicted Attorney David Paget from Review of Ratner's "Atlantic
Move By ESDC Raises Serious Questions About Its Desire to Retain
So Roundly Rebuked
by Justice Carol Edmead on Tuesday
MANHATTAN, NY - Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn Inc.
(DDDB) was informed today that the Empire State Development Corporation
(ESDC) will appeal the
ruling of the Honorable Carol Edmead (Justice New York County Supreme
Court) that disqualified its attorney, David Paget, from representing the
ESDC with regard to Forest City Ratner's (FCR) proposed "Atlantic Yards”
development because of a clear conflict of interest. The conflict involves
Mr. Paget's representation of Ratner for "Atlantic Yards" until October
2005 when he then began representing the ESDC on the same development proposal.
Mr. Paget's firm, Sive, Paget and Riesel also represents Forest City Ratner
on other matters. DDDB was notified that the ESDC will seek a stay from
the Appellate Division of Justice Edmead's order directing replacement of
ESDC counsel within 45 days, and will ask that the appeal be expedited.
After hearing oral argument on the issue this past Tuesday, Justice Edmead
commented from the bench that Mr. Paget's continued representation of the
ESDC gave a "severe, crippling appearance of impropriety", and could not
be countenanced under the ethical rules of this State.
"You have to question why ESDC is fighting so hard to keep Mr. Paget after
the court has found that there is a hopeless conflict between his representation
of Ratner and ESDC, the agency charged with an objective review of the project,
and the power to exercise eminent domain in the appropriate case. With so
many attorneys available to the ESDC, why wouldn't it simply retain another
attorney, and restore the public's faith that it is actually acting in the
public's best interest, rather than as Ratner's collaborative partner?"
said DDDB spokesman Daniel Goldstein.
The decision by ESDC to appeal will require that DDDB and the community
organizations that joined DDDB in this lawsuit to not only defend the court's
determination to oust Mr. Paget, but also to defend the public's right to
a fair and objective review by the ESDC when reviewing any proposed development
in New York State.
"We initiated this litigation not just because of our deep concerns about
the project proposed by Ratner, but also because the environmental review
process, as executed by the ESDC, is stacked so heavily in favor of developers,
and against communities," said DDDB legal chair Candace Carponter. "We are
optimistic that the Appellate Division will agree with Justice Edmead that
'business as usual' at the ESDC is no longer acceptable when it comes to
sharing attorneys with developers."
DDDB and its co-plaintiffs are considering whether to appeal Justice Edmead's
determination to allow demolition of certain buildings within the proposed
project footprint to proceed–a determination based solely on a report
submitted by FCR and reviewed by the conflicted lawyer, Mr. Paget.
DON’T DESTROY BROOKLYN
leads a broad-based community coalition
fighting for development that will unite our communities instead of
dividing and destroying them.
We oppose Forest City Ratner's "Atlantic Yards" proposal in Prospect
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