The lawyer may have a conflict with the tenants and the owner of Paterson Art Factory

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The lawyer for the Art Factory could be in conflict to represent more than 60 tenants and the owner of the complex in the event that the city issued 145 summons, according to municipal court judge Giuseppe Randazzo.

Lawyer Michael Rubin told court on Friday morning that he represented both the landlord and tenants of the Spruce Street arts complex.

“I see a glaring conflict,” said city attorney Vincent Stampone.

Rubin argued that the city had reported the same violations to the landlord, David Garsia, and to the tenants. “I don’t know how they can write two same summons to different people,” he told the court.

The judge said the city can issue the same summons to different parties. The city issued 65 invitations to tenants (the Art Factory claims that the occupants are “technically” not tenants) and 80 to Garsia.

“I really think you do,” the judge said of the conflict of interest. Rubin said the landlord has taken responsibility for protecting tenants from the city’s actions.

“If the tenants are sentenced to prison, will Garsia serve her sentence?” Stampone asked rhetorically. He can pay their fines.

Rubin also told the judge that the summons issued to his clients did not have an appearance date. Stampone said an initial summons did not have such a date. Rubin said he only learned of today’s court date from a reporter.

“I don’t know why Mr. Rubin is surprised,” Stampone said, adding that Rubin had asked the court to postpone the case until today.

Randazzo scheduled a case management conference on March 3rd, 2017. He said he wanted to see all tenants appear in his courtroom to explain their rights and the possible conflict of interest in one lawyer representing the tenants and the landlord.

Judge sets trial date for March 31st, 2017.

In the meantime, Rubin plans to appeal the order made by Passaic County Superior Court Judge Thomas Brogan. Rubin sought to prevent the city from taking further action against the Art Factory, but Brogan ruled in favor of the city.

Garsia continued to maintain that tenants do not need a certificate of occupancy to have businesses inside the Spruce Street Art Factory. He compared his complex to We Work, a shared office space company, and Impact Paterson who runs 100 Hamilton Plaza.

The city court on Wednesday issued an arrest warrant against Garsia for failing to respond to a subpoena issued for alleged illegal dwellings at his Totowa Avenue complex in 2015.

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