Attorney John E. “Sean” Crowley is suing a California woman on disability, claiming he was never properly compensated for legal work he had done for her. She and her lawyer, who are fighting the fee, claim his congressman brother’s appointments create a conflict of interest.
Sean Crowley is the brother of U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), chairman of the Queens Democratic Party.
A Forest Hills resident who works for Manhattan firm Davidoff, Malito & Hutcher LLP, Sean Crowley filed a lawsuit in Queens Surrogate Court against Rose McGushin, 49, seeking $10,000 for work he performed on McGushin’s mother’s will more than a decade ago, City Hall News reported.
But McGushin and her lawyer, Manhattan attorney Dan Isaacs, contend the suit over unpaid fees will be compromised.
Isaacs said they do not believe McGushin will get a fair hearing in court because Peter Kelly, head of the Queens Surrogate Court, was nominated for the post by the congressman.
Isaacs, who is also chairman of the Manhattan Republican County Committee, said he had no opinion on Joseph Crowley’s appointments but believed the case hit “a little too close to home.”
“You always want to avoid any appearance of impropriety whatsoever,” Isaacs said.
He said when he appeared before court last Thursday, he was told by Kelly to put in writing the reasons why he thought having Kelly judge the case constituted a conflict of interest. Isaacs is also asking that the case be moved to another court system altogether.
McGushin was not able to attend last Thursday. Their next court date is Nov. 10, Isaacs said.
Joseph Crowley’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Neither Kelly nor the Queens Surrogate Court made a statement. David Bookstaver, spokesman for the New York State courts, said Friday that Kelly would consider the request after it is put in writing.
“Right now it’s all speculation,” Bookstaver said.
Sean Crowley did not address the alleged conflict of interest, but a spokesman for his firm released a statement saying the lawyer wanted to be compensated for his work.
“This case deserves a fair day in court and we expect the court will rule on this matter based on the merits of the case and nothing else,” the statement read.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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