By Rob Abruzzese
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Brooklyn Women's Bar Association hosted a continuing legal education (CLE) seminar with the Kings County Clerk Hon. Nancy T. Sunshine titled "Pitfalls in Filing Papers" at the bar association in Brooklyn Heights last Thursday.
In addition to serving as the county clerk, Sunshine is also the clerk of the supreme court and commissioner of jurors. She presented the CLE alongside Craig Schatzman, court clerk specialist, and Joe Leddo, senior court clerk, as well as Charles Small, chief clerk for Civil Matters at Kings County Supreme Court.
"We thought that this would be helpful and informative to many attorneys," said Sara J. Gozo, president of the Brooklyn Women's Bar Association (BWBA). "We are very honored to have this panel here who collectively has decades of experience."
In 2016, the Kings County Clerk’s office had 2.6 million transactions, took in more than $30 million in revenue and docketed 36,000-plus judgements, Sunshine said. She tried to explain her office and its functions so that attorneys can better understand the process of effectively filing documents and then shifted to the common pitfalls that she sees.
“How do you avoid pitfalls?” Sunshine asked. “You avoid pitfalls by learning the law, following up and being sure that you are aware of how to use all of the databases that affect the life of your case.”
Sunshine explained that common mistakes fall into one of three categories. The first she called navigational pitfalls, or when attorneys have problems dealing with the databases. The second includes more serious mistakes that cause attorneys to lose their court dates. The last are non-serious pitfalls when attorneys make minor mistakes when filing documents.
“Serious pitfalls that really can't bear repeating,” Sunshine said. “Two mistakes that you won't be able to overcome is commencing an action after the statute of limitation or failing to file a notice of appeal on time. If you make those mistakes, there is nothing that a judge can do to help you.”
Sunshine stressed knowing the law and following up on paperwork that is filed. She also suggested that attorneys ensure they file paperwork with the proper channel whether that is the clerk's office or with the Supreme Court clerk. She also suggested that attorneys always use the e-filing system which she called "easy filing."
“I call it easy filling because it frees up your time as lawyers to do what you need to do — study the law, draft papers, meet clients, make money and not [waste] time on filing,” Sunshine said. “E-filing is simply a method of filing papers, and you always have to remember that the CPLR controls it. If you remember the rules of the various databases and your role as a lawyer, everything will fall into place.”
Sunshine will be honored with the Beatrice M. Judge Recognition Award at this year’s BWBA annual dinner that will take place on June 15 at the Liberty Warehouse in Red Hook. She’ll be honored alongside Lisa Schreibersdorf of the Brooklyn Defender Services, who will take home the Sybil Hart Kooper Award.
The BWBA currently has two events scheduled before then. It will host its Lunch with a Judge series on Tuesday, March 21 with Judge Rosemarie Montalbano at 1:00 p.m. at the Kings County Criminal Court. Later that same day, the BWBA will host a CLE at the Brooklyn Bar Association building at 6:30 p.m. titled "Striking a Balance: Strategies for Success at Work and at Home" with Andrea Bonina.