Attorney at Law

545 East 14th Street                                                                                                                                                                             Tel. & Fax: (212) 995-5201

New York, NY  10009                                                                                                                                                                        Mobile 917 687 0652



August 1, 2002


State Commission on Judicial Conduct

801 Second Avenue

New York, NY 10017



Dear Sir or Madam:


             This is a complaint against Judge Helen C. Sturm of the Family Court of the State of New York, County of New York for violating:


1.      Judicial Canon 2 (A) that requires a judge to “act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary;” and


2.      Judicial Canon 3 (6) that requires a judge to “accord to every person who has a legal interest in a proceeding … the right to be heard according to law.  A judge shall not initiate, permit or consider ex parte communications, or consider other communications made to the judge outside the presence of the parties or their lawyers concerning a pending … proceeding, except….” for certain situations that do not apply here.


            The alleged violations occurred on July 2, 2002, around 9:30 am in Part 8 of the Family Court of the State of New York, County of New York in the matter of Roy Den Hollander v. Shipilina, Docket No. O-03570/02, a petition for a permanent order of protection.


            The chain of events began at a preliminary conference on May 6th where Judge Strum set a trail date of July 2nd and instructed the parties to engage in discovery.  Petitioner served Respondent’s attorney, Nicholas J. Mundy, two requests for interrogatories, a request for inspection and copying of documents and a notice to admit—four requests in all.  Mr. Mundy chose to completely ignore all the discovery requests, so Petitioner filed motions to compel discovery that were returnable on the scheduled trial date of July 2nd.


            On July 2nd Petitioner, who represents himself, was instructed along with others to wait outside the courtroom while Mr. Mundy spent around fifteen minutes inside apparently engaged in ex parte communications with Judge Strum and/or her law clerk as inferred by the transcript, see attached Exhibit 1, Transcript of July 2, 2002, proceedings in Hollander v. Shipilina, Docket No. O-03570/02, and the manner in which Judge Strum conducted the proceeding.


Judge Sturm began the proceeding by calling on Respondent’s attorney, Mr. Mundy, even though the issue at hand concerned Petitioner’s motions to compel discovery.  In addition, the tenor, flow and length of the initiating conversation between Judge Sturm and Mr. Mundy infer the continuation of previous ex parte talks and carrying out a prearranged decision to resolve quickly and in favor of Mr. Mundy’s client the issue over the motions to compel discovery. 


As the transcript illustrates, Judge Sturm decided that Petitioner’s discovery requests were intrusive before even affording Petitioner an opportunity to be heard through motion practice.  See Exhibit 1, Transcript pp 6, 7, 8.  True, Judge Strum instructed Mr. Mundy and Petitioner to file motion papers for and against a protective order on discovery, but a hearing after the Judge has already made up her mind is no hearing at all.  Due process is not met by filing papers after a “Star Chamber” like decision has obviated a party’s right to notice and a hearing. 


Subsequent events bear out the inevitable conclusion that Judge Sturm had no intention of providing and, in actuality, did not provide Petitioner a meaningful hearing on his discovery requests.  Mr. Mundy’s partner submitted the motion for a protective order at a proceeding before Judge Sturm on July 16, 2002, while Petitioner served his answer a few days later.  Judge Sturm rendered her decision on July 29th.  See attached Exhibit 2, Order Directing Discovery.  Judge Sturm’s ruling made a mockery of her directive of May 6th that the parties engage in discovery by eviscerating Petitioner’s rights under discovery.  Judge Sturm’s ruling carried out her premature decision of July 2nd to deny Petitioner’s discovery requests without a meaningful hearing.  Motion practice as a mere matter of form over substance does not rise to the level of due process in this country.


            In addition to denying Petitioner a proper hearing on discovery requests, the transcript of the July 2, 2002, hearing shows that the entire proceeding does not promote confidence in the integrity and impartiality of Judge Sturm’s court.



Sincerely yours,



Roy Den Hollander



Attorney at Law

545 East 14th Street                                                                                                                                                                                 Tel. & Fax: (212) 995-5201

New York, NY  10009                                                                                                                                                                            Mobile 917 687 0652



October 8, 2002


Gerald Stern

Administrator and Counsel

State Commission on Judicial Conduct

801 Second Avenue

New York, NY 10017



Dear Mr. Stern:


            It has been some time since the Marie Lambert case, and I hope the years have been good for you.


            I’m contacting you now concerning the conduct of another New York judge: Helen C. Sturm of the Family Court in Manhattan.  This is my second complaint against her, which was necessitated by improper conduct that occurred after I filed my first complaint.  Your office dismissed that complaint.


            The new violations of the Judicial Rules by Judge Strum occurred during the discovery phase and trial in the case Roy Den Hollander v. Alina Shipilina, Docket No. O-03570/02.  I brought the action to obtain an order of protection against the defendant in order to prevent an organized crime associate of the defendant from making good on his telephone threats.


            The threats were made by a man, unknown to me, but whom the Federal Bureau of Investigation identified by tracking down a telephone number I provided them.  One FBI agent said the man probably worked at Flash Dancers in Manhattan, the same club where the defendant works. 


            In my case, I claimed that the defendant, who grew up in Chechnya, had arranged for the man to make three threatening telephone calls in order to, among other things, keep me from testifying against the defendant before the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.


            Judge Strum violated Rule 100.3(B)(1) by failing to “be faithful to the law” and Rule 100.3(B)(7) by failing to “dispose of all judicial matters…fairly” when:


1.      Judge Sturm denied my discovery motion for a subpoena of Verizon telephone records for the same telephone number that the FBI used to determine the identity of the threatening caller.  Exhibit 1, Motion for Verizon Records.  The FBI had refused to provide me with the identity of the caller, and, as Judge Sturm knew, identifying the caller through Verizon records was key to proving my case.


2.      At the beginning of the trial on August 12, 2002, I requested Judge Strum to order the defendant to produce her mobile telephone, which she had in court with her, for examination in order to determine whether calls were made from defendant’s mobile to my telephone number at the times and dates of the threatening calls. 


During discovery, Judge Sturm had ordered defendant to produce telephone records for both defendant’s mobile and home telephones if “in fact [defendant] has these documents.”  Exhibit 2, Order Directing Discovery, Document Requests, Item 2.  In response to that order, defendant claimed not to have these records in her possession.  Exhibit 3, Respondent’s Response, Document Requests, Item 2.  Despite her own order, Judge Strum sharply denied my request to examine defendant’s mobile telephone in court by saying, “I’m not going to allow him [plaintiff] to touch her phone.”  Exhibit 4, page 3, Transcript of August 12, 2002, Trial.


3.      In the beginning of my case, I requested permission to play audio tape recordings I had made of two of the three threatening telephone calls that were voicemail messages left on my mobile telephone.  In addition to the caller’s words, the recordings captured his threatening demeanor that made clear I was in physical danger and that he was calling on behalf of the defendant.  The recordings also noted the times and dates that the messages were left.  Judge Sturm abruptly refused my admission of this key evidence by saying, “I am not going to take the Court’s time to listen to the tape.”  Exhibit 4, page 6.


            The above conduct also illustrates that Judge Sturm violated 100.3(B)(3): “A judge shall be patient….” and 100.3(B)(4): “ A judge shall perform judicial duties without bias or prejudice against or in favor of any person.”  By denying key discovery requests and admission of crucial evidence, Judge Sturm made clear her impatience with the proceedings and her biased against plaintiff.  It is clear to me that if the sexes of the parties had been reversed, Judge Strum would not have made the same rulings in her rush to judgment.


            Thank you for your time.







            Roy Den Hollander