No Delay Pending Criminal Case Against Tenant
LVT Number: 12729
Facts: Landlord cooperative corporation sued to evict co-op tenant for conducting illegal drug sales at the building. Tenant asked the court to delay the eviction case until after the criminal case against him was completed. Tenant claimed that otherwise he would be forced to incriminate himself, in violation of the Fifth Amendment. Landlord opposed tenant's request. The district attorney's office had informed landlord that a search warrant had produced proof of drug dealing from tenant's apartment. The DA asked landlord to start the eviction case under RPL and RPAPL sections concerning illegal use. Landlord's petition stated that there had been over 15 instances of drug sales by tenant to undercover police officers. Court: Tenant loses. Tenant won't automatically give up his lease by choosing to remain silent. And tenant can't be forced to answer incriminating questions in the housing court case. He must choose between his right to testify in his defense during the eviction case and asserting his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. This isn't unconstitutional. Tenant can also present other proof in his defense.
54 W. 16th St. Apt. Corp. v. Dawson: NYLJ, p. 26, col. 6 (10/7/98) (Civ. Ct. NY; Shulman, J)