Judge praises 30-year-old son’s legal research, boots him from parents’ house anyway

By Douglass Dowty


Syracuse, NY — State Supreme Court Justice Donald Greenwood tried everything he could today to convince a 30-year-old man to move out of his parents’ Camillus house on his own.

But after half an hour of back-and-forth, primarily between the son, Michael Rotondo, and the judge, the judge had had enough:

Rotondo would have to move out, the judge ruled. He also ordered adult protective services to investigate, expressing concern about what was going on.

That order capped a surreal 30-minute court appearance in which Rotondo didn’t deny that his parents had given him multiple orders to leave their 408 Weatheridge Drive home. But Rotondo wasn’t going to leave without a legal battle.

Since the story was first reported on Syracuse.com, it’s captured attention both nationally and internationally, with outlets such as the New York Post, Fox News and the BBC covering the case. The court fight made the Late Late Show with James Corden. A half-dozen camera crews covered today’s court appearance.

Today, the parents’ lawyer, Anthony Adorante, told the judge he was looking for a court order that could be enforceable by sheriff’s deputies.

Greenwood listened quietly to Michael Rotondo’s argument that he was entitled to six months more time. He gently corrected Rotondo by pointing to an appellate court decision ruling that family members don’t get special treatment absent rare circumstances. And he praised Rotondo for his legal research.

But Rotondo wasn’t having any of it.

Greenwood called the son’s demand for six more months “outrageous.”

Rotondo called the judge’s eviction order “outrageous.”

Greenwood tried to convince Rotondo to speak directly to his parents, Mark and Christina, while the judge waited. Rotondo refused, saying he’d made his legal arguments.

Greenwood credited Rotondo’s legal research in finding a prior case that appeared to show that family members get six months before an eviction. Rotondo dismissed his work as a simple internet search that took only minutes.

Greenwood provided a copy of the appellate court decision that overrode the case that Rotondo cited. Rotondo maintained that what Greenwood was doing was wrong.

Nothing was too small to attract Rotondo’s attention: a notice incorrectly listed the room for today’s appearance. Rotondo demanded an adjournment due to the mix-up: the judge noted that he’d made it just fine.

As Rotondo’s parents sat quietly in the court gallery, Rotondo appeared to crave the spotlight. At one point, the judge called Rotondo up to the bench. Rotondo noted that microphones placed by the media were on the lawyer’s podium. He tried to take the podium up with him.

Afteward, Rotondo called out to the television camera crews to meet him outside the courtroom for an interview.

There, he again lambasted the judge’s eviction order and vowed to appeal.

When asked if he considered spending as much time looking for a new place to live as fighting the eviction, Rotondo replied that he wasn’t ready to leave home.

Michael Rotondo, left, sits during an eviction proceeding brought by his parents, Mark and Christina, of Camillus. The two parents confer with their lawyer, Anthony Adorante (far right), in the court gallery behind.

Asked how he interacted with his parents under the same roof, Rotondo said there were no incidents, but that he did not talk to his parents. When asked if he lived in the basement, Rotondo replied in a bedroom.

In court, Rotondo noted that his parents did not support him by providing food or doing his laundry. But he insisted that they were providing for him with housing, in arguing why he should be granted another six months to find a new place to live.

Exasperated, the judge at one point mentioned Airbnb in pointing out how easy it was to find a place to stay on short notice.

After court, Rotondo said he had a business to support himself. But when asked about his business, Rotondo replied: “My business is my business.”

When all was said and done, the judge asked the parents’ lawyer to come up with an eviction order that Greenwood would sign. No specified deadline was stated in court, but the lawyer mentioned that it would include reasonable time for Rotondo to vacate.

Rotondo said later that he believed he was entitled to another 30 days, which would be plenty of time for him to file an appeal, delaying the eviction.

After speaking to media, Rotondo left the courthouse to go back to his parents’ house.


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