Tomorrow – Big Day, or Same Old, Same Old?

         Tomorrow, October 14, 2009, is when the New York Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in Goldstein v. New York Urban Development Corp., which is the state court version of Goldstein v. Pataki (the federal case that unsuccessfully challenged the condemnation of land for the infamous Atlantic Yards redevelopment project in Brooklyn). For a summary of the issues, see our fellow blogger’s assessment at

         This is supposed to be a big deal — a chance for New York’s highest court to reform the unspeakable state of New York’s right-to-take law, under which anything and everything for which the city wants to take private property is judicially rubber-stamped as a “public use.” Possibly, the New York Court of Appeals may come to its senses, or regain its moral compass and hold that whatever Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards mega-development may be, isn’t a public use. But we aren’t holding our breath. We hope to be pleasantly surprised, but we don’t expect much from the judiciary that in the past deemed the best land in Manhattan, located on Central Park South, to be “blighted” because Robert Moses wanted it for some fershluggener project of his. Still, hope springs eternal, and like Charlie Brown who every year hopes that Lucy will hold the football for him, and that he will be able to kick it, and not wind up on his little keester when she snatches the ball away at the last moment, your faithful servant is willing to be pleasantly surprised, though he isn’t counting on it.

         Procedural note: Along with many other weird attributes of the New York court system, they have a weird nomenclature. The Court of Appeals is that state’s highest court, what everybody else, except for Maryland, would call the Supreme Court. What New Yorkers call the Supreme Court is a trial court — the lowest court of general jurisdiction — what in other places would be called the Superior Court or the Circuit Court. And what about New York’s intermediate appellate court? We’re glad you asked. It’s called the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court. Go figure. 

         So we look forward to tomorrow’s judicial festivities in New York with the same eager anticipation that one might muster for the next performance at the Circus Maximus, where the Christians got a better break from the lions than condemnees get from New York judges. At least those lions left the Christians alone when they were full, but in New York the local machers’ appetite for other people’s property is insatiable.

         So stay tuned.

Update. For the latest related development, a new lawsuit challenging New York MTA’s sale of its land to Bruce Ratner, see the New York Times article by Charles V. Bagli, entitled Suit Challenges Sale of Land to Atlantic Yards Developer, October 13, 2009.  See,

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