Schenectady’s entrepreneur continues his 8-week protest against the justice system, rain or shine


SCHENECTADY – Edmund J. Laven, Jr. took a recent afternoon break.

Even for a retired entrepreneur, holding a heavy sign for two hours a day can be taxing. But as the traffic light in front of Schenectady’s Town Hall changed and cars began to drive down Liberty Street, Laven raised his sign to the sky:

“Something smells bad at the town hall”, one can read.

Also pictured: City Court Judge Carl Falotico, whom Laven called “corrupt.”

And a poo emoji.

Falotico, Laven alleges, “stole” $ 750 in a default judgment previously rendered by one of his judicial counterparts over a dispute over unpaid residential construction work.

“I’ll be here in the winter and I’ll be here in the rain,” Laven said. “I do not go.”

For nearly eight weeks, Laven led a solitary crusade.

What started in 2019 as a routine job fixing a deteriorating garage roof has turned into a protracted battle with the owner, Laven said, was slow to pay and seen as an injustice by the court system.

At the heart of the blackout is a pair of legal proceedings: one that followed Laven’s path – and another that did not.

Laven first asked for $ 1,750.

It’s hard to get the Nova Scotian resident to identify precisely where he feels wronged: his version of events may be Byzantine – with elaborate detours, parentheses, tangents, and accusations of “conspiracy” – but here is the facts as described by court documents.

Laven, 63, made an informal deal with a tenant to repair part of the roof of a deteriorating garage on Richard Street in the town’s Mont Pleasant neighborhood for $ 2,400, for which he was paid 1 $ 200 in cash with the remainder due at the end.

A contract, Laven said, was drawn up (he later said the document was never signed). But once it started ripping through the roof, the rot was more prevalent than expected.

Laven drew up an additional quote of $ 1,500, which he presented to his client recommending that he be billed to his insurance company. The tenant hesitated. The spirits were heated. Laven threatened to walk over and throw a tarp over the half-finished project, but was tricked into completing the job.

“I do the job, he has no money,” Laven said.

Laven filed a civil complaint. Six weeks later, he received $ 1,000 in two Western Union money orders from the owner.

Two judges presided over two separate court proceedings, as Laven claimed the project cost more than he expected.

At the first hearing, Laven testified, but the owner did not. As a result, Teneka E. Frost City Court judge awarded him $ 1,750. Yet that award was later dropped when the owner sought to set aside the judgment, a request allowed under law and state rules of civil practice.

Falotico, one of the four municipal court judges, took up the following case, in which Laven and the landlord disagreed in a court case over the extent of the work he had actually performed.

Following testimony from both sides, Falotico awarded Laven $ 1,000. Two weeks later, evidence confirmed that he was paid $ 1,156.71 after the owner’s wages were garnished.

“Substantial justice,” Falotico determined, “had been served and no further judgment was appropriate, so the claim for further damages was dismissed.”

Falotico advised Laven to appeal to a higher court if he disagreed.

The applicant refused.

“It’s a waste of time,” Laven said Monday.

In total, Laven has filed 15 lawsuits, with three judges ruling against him. Still, he still believes Falotico unfairly withdrew $ 750 owed to him – and he will continue to champion his cause even if the temperature drops.

“I’m going to go viral,” he said.

The past eight weeks have not been without challenges. Finished Laven’s stepladder after a warning from the town police.

And while he once held court on the street early in the morning, he now adjusts his schedule, experimenting with different times to maximize his exposure to passers-by.

He doesn’t intend to go away quietly.

“It’s all true,” Laven said, pointing to his sign. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here.

Falotico declined to comment, citing rules of judicial ethics that generally prevent judges from commenting on their recent cases.

“Courts are a place where people come to resolve their disputes in a civilized manner,” said Lucian Chalfen, spokesperson for the State Courts Administration Office. “When the decisions of the Court do not meet these expectations, some litigants get angry and their anger takes different forms.

Laven, he said, chose to protest and “denigrate” Falotico.

“Although he prevailed in the case, Mr. Laven remains dissatisfied and angry,” Chalfen said. “I hope the coming winter will cool those feelings.”

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