Senior court officials abruptly yanked a custody case from a Queens judge amid claims that a boy became suicidal after meeting with him, the Daily News has learned.
Though neither side asked for it, the long drawn-out case before Supreme Court Justice Sidney Strauss was ordered to an emergency trial that began in Brooklyn last week.
“The transcripts are scary,” said a source familiar with the reasoning behind the highly unusual change of venue.
In a September hearing, the boy’s mother and his lawyer told Strauss that the 10-year-old — who was ordered to live with his father in 2007 — was distraught after the judge told him he would not change that order.
The boy’s mental state has “gotten progressively worse” since the sitdown with Strauss, said his mom, Annemarie McAvoy, a Fordham University professor and frequent TV commentator.
“He talked about how he’d kill himself or his father,” she said.
The judge was unmoved by stories of the boy’s distress.
“I guess I’m the one that created the suicidal ideation, then,” Strauss said, according to court records. “I didn’t tell him what he wanted to hear.”
The same judge made another controversial custody switch in 2007, placing a toddler with her dad against the recommendations of all involved.
The girl’s distraught mother, Mazoltuv Borukhova, then had the father killed. The custody change was presented as her motive at her murder trial.
The judge called the custody arrangement in the McAvoy case temporary, but the case has been stalled ever since.
Strauss recently indicated that a final ruling won’t come before 2014, records show.
McAvoy separated from John Hannigan in 2002 and signed an agreement making her the main caretaker of their son.
But the couple sparred over the boy’s diagnosis of mild autism, with the mother insisting he needs special care and the father contending he’s normal.
The judge changed custody from mother to father without a hearing in 2007, based on one opinion disputing autism and a doctor’s report saying the boy is “slightly underweight” and “his teeth appeared to be discolored.”
The state’s deputy chief administrative judge ordered the case transferred after “serious questions about the child’s welfare were brought to [her] attention,” said David Bookstaver, spokesman for the court system.
Following an evaluation whether there’s an imminent risk to the boy, he added, the case will return to Queens.
Even then, sources said, Strauss, who’s no longer assigned to matrimonial cases, is not likely to get it back.
Audrey Sager, lawyer for the boy’s father, blasted the decision to move the trial to Brooklyn as unnecessary interference.
“No one asked, no one filed a motion,” she said.
Source: NY Daily News