The Commercial Division in Bronx County hasn’t been around all that long, opening its doors for adjudication in September 2019 with its very first case, Manhattan Beer Distributers LLC v Biagio Cru and Estate Wines, LLC. Justice Eddie McShan was the first to preside over the ComDiv in Bronx County and remained in that position for more than two years. Former Bronx County Civil Court Justice Fidel E. Gomez took the ComDiv reigns in January of this year, after Justice McShan was appointed to the Appellate Division, Third Department.
According to various biographical accounts, including from the Dominican Bar Association, Justice Gomez emigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic as a young boy and was raised in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood. He is a two-time graduate of SUNY Buffalo, receiving both a B.A. in Legal Studies in 1996 and a J.D. from the University at Buffalo Law School in 1999.
Justice Gomez began his career as Assistant Corporation Counsel in the New York City Law Department where he tried more than 30 cases in five years. After leaving Corp. Counsel’s office in 2004, Justice Gomez spent nearly a decade clerking for current SDNY District Judge Nelson S. Roman, both when Judge Roman was on the bench in Supreme Court, Bronx County (2004-09), as well as the Appellate Division, First Department (2009-13). Justice Gomez then returned to Bronx County Supreme to clerk for Justices Mitchell J. Danziger, Betty Owen Stinson (Ret.), Barry Salman (Ret.), and Ben Barbado before being elected to the bench himself in November 2017. Justice Gomez presided in Bronx County Civil Court until his ComDiv appointment January 2022.
By my count as of the day of this post, Justice Gomez has issued six officially-published decisions so far in 2022 — at least three of which involved commercial real property, Yellowstone injunctions, or other commercial lease disputes (see Section 202.70 (b) (3)) — which confirms a continued upward trend in this area over the last couple years, as we have reported here and here. (More on the substance of Justice Gomez’s decisions in a future post).
Since taking the ComDiv bench, Justice Gomez has instituted a robust set of Part Rules, some of which are worth noting here, particularly for litigators with Bronx commercial practices. To wit:
- If you need to address a scheduling matter, email the Court; don’t call Chambers or e-file letter-requests.
- Familiarize yourself with Microsoft Teams because all court conferences are held virtually.
- If you’re not sufficiently briefed on your own case and the issues to be conferenced, you will be subject to default and/or sanctions.
- Before filing a Note of Issue, you must request a settlement conference with the Court, at which you must be authorized to bind your client to a deal.
- If you don’t provide the Court with a courtesy (hard)copy of your motion papers, your motion will be denied without prejudice.
- If your motion papers lack proper form, etc., your motion will be denied without prejudice.
- Your motion for summary judgment is due within 30 days of the filing of the Note of Issue.
- Make your motions returnable any day of the week, except those brought by Order to Show Cause, which are returnable only on Mondays.
- Don’t plan on oral argument for any of your motions, except those brought by Order to Show Cause for which appearances are required.
- All trial-ready cases must go through the Special Trial Part, including ComDiv cases, so Justice Gomez may not be the judge to try your case.
- If you want to make a motion in limine, you must do so orally before or during trial; ComDiv Rule 27 does not apply.
Finally, Justice Gomez closes out his Part Rules with the following omnibus admonition:
Be prepared and organized. Be punctual and professionally attired. Be civil to the Court and to one another.