A PREGNANT MOTHER GOES UNDERCOVER TO KEEP HER CHILDREN AND TO EXPOSE AN ALLEGEDLY CORRUPT SUPREME COURT JUSTICE --
�48 HOURS MYSTERY,� SATURDAY, FEB. 19
Judge Judy Sheindlin Speaks Out For Divorce Court Reform
In Light of the Alleged Corruption
Frieda Hanimov Hailed as the New Erin Brokovich
Frieda Hanimov was a woman in desperate fear of losing custody of her kids because she believed the judge ruling on her case was corrupt. Panicked and pregnant, she told authorities of her suspicions and agreed to go undercover. Wearing a wire, she went alone into a warehouse to try to prove that New York State Supreme Court Judge Gerald Garson was corrupt. 60 MINUTES Correspondent Lesley Stahl reports for 48 HOURS MYSTERY: �Chamber of Secrets,� to be broadcast Saturday, Feb. 19 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Hanimov�s undercover work, recorded on audiotape, has the man she met at the warehouse bragging that he had Judge Garson in his pocket and that if Hanimov gave the man at the warehouse a large sum of money that he would guarantee that she would get custody of her younger children. This taped conversation was enough evidence to have the Brooklyn District Attorney grant permission to place a hidden camera in Judge Garson�s chambers. Prosecutors catch Judge Garson on videotape, they say, taking a gift for legal advice, giving a lawyer advice on how to write a legal memo on a case before him and accepting a $1,000 referral fee.
Judge Garson�s lawyer, Ronald Fischetti, explains to Stahl that the judge�s behavior may look bad, but there�s nothing illegal about it:
RF: �He never fixed a case. He never accepted any money on any cases whatsoever�.The $1,000 was a referral fee that Paul Siminovsky [a lawyer in Garson�s court] said, �You referred me a case. I received a fee and here�s the $1,000.��
LS: �Are judges supposed to take referral fees?�
RF: �Absolutely not and he tried to give it back three times.�
LS: �He ended up taking it.�
RF: �You�ve heard of the law of entrapment, I�m sure.�
New York State Supreme Court Justice Gerald Garson goes on trial this fall, and the alleged gatekeeper to Garson�s court, Nissim Elmann, next week. Judge Garson has been charged with bribe receiving in connection with free meals he accepted from a lawyer who appeared before him, and Elmann is accused of conspiring to bribe the judge and the judge�s staff.
Hanimov�s case has been a catalyst for a major reform in divorce court and she is being hailed as the new Erin Brockovich. In fact, Judge Garson�s arrest led a new commission to reform divorce court, with none other than Judge Judy Sheindlin -- who was a family court judge in Brooklyn for 25 years -- as one of its major supporters. Sheindlin tells Stahl, �I don�t know all the facts. I only know what I read in the paper, but certainly here is a man [Garson] who has brought the judiciary into disrepute because of, at least, his stupidity.�
48 HOURS MYSTERY: �Chamber of Secrets� is produced by Patti Aronofsky. Katie Boyle is the senior producer and Susan Zirinsky is the executive producer.