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For Immediate Release: February 16, 2006

Empire State Development Corporation to Appeal Decision to
Disqualify Conflicted Attorney David Paget from Review of Ratner's "Atlantic Yards"
Move By ESDC Raises Serious Questions About Its Desire toRetain Lawyer
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.



For more on ESDC Chairman Charles Gargano and Ratner's "Atlantic Yards" visit:
http://timesratnerreport.blogspot.com/2006/02/collaborative-arms-length-or-just.html

All lawsuit related documents and information can be found at: http://www.dddb.net/litigation


 


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