Judge issues reprieve to MMJ appraisers

Jeffrey Jackson and Steven Knobel
Jeffrey Jackson and Steven Knobel

A New York State Supreme Court judge signed an order last week providing breathing room for the second time this year to two appraisers who were on the verge of having their state-issued licenses taken away.

A Manhattan judge signed the order on May 22, allowing Steven Knobel and Jeffrey Jackson, the co-founders of Midtown-based appraisal firm Mitchell, Maxwell & Jackson to hold on to their licenses pending a full hearing of their case.

Daniel Shapiro, New York’s first deputy secretary of state had ruled on May 10 that their licenses should be revoked, effective this past Friday. But Knobel and Jackson filed a so-called Article 78 petition on May 21, asking for the stay and for a review of Shapiro’s decision. Judge Alice Schlesinger granted the stay the next day.

This was the second time Knobel and Jackson survived a decision by the state to revoke their certified residential real estate appraisers licenses. The first was in December, when a state administrative law judge concluded that they had broken state law in 2009 by allegedly affixing the name of one of their top appraisers, Marianne Mueller, on appraisals that she did not perform or know about. That decision set Feb. 1 as the day they would lose their licenses.

But in January, Knobel and Jackson sought a review of that ruling through an internal process within the New York State Department of State, the agency that regulates appraisal and real estate licenses, and the revocation was temporarily blocked.

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Shapiro’s decision affirmed the department’s position that the licenses should be revoked.

The case began after Mueller claimed Knobel and Jackson improperly affixed her name electronically to a set of home mortgage appraisal reports. Mueller is pursuing a civil case against the men in New York State Supreme Court as well.

The Article 78 proceeding is expected to return to court for a hearing on June 28, court records say.

“Jeff and I are relieved that this is no longer being dealt with in the back rooms of Albany and that it is [now] before an impartial judge, who will correct the serious errors in the original [December] decision and the convoluted rewrite by [Shapiro],” Knobel said.

Mueller’s attorney said in a statement: “We Remain Confident That The Supreme Court will ultimately arrive at an appropriate result.”