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Courts debate child’s future

Courts debate child’s future
Gavriel Malakov has been taking care of Michelle Malakov (inset), the girl who saw her father, Daniel Malakov, shot to death outside a Forest Hills playground.
By Ivan Pereira

The Forest Hills mother who had her estranged husband murdered in front of their young daughter made a motion in Queens Family Court Monday to have the girl’s law guardian removed from pending proceedings because he allegedly slandered her during her criminal trial.

Dr. Mazoltuv Borukhova, the convicted wife of Dr. Daniel Malakov, said David Schnall, the law guardian who has been representing her child Michelle for years, has been biased in his representation of the girl. Schnall allegedly told a New Yorker reporter after he took the stand in Borukhova’s seven−week criminal trial that he had wished for a guilty verdict, according to Florence Fass, Borukhova’s family law attorney.

“We believe Mr. Schnall does not have the judgment to take a position on this case,” Fass told Family Court Judge Linda Tally during a court conference Tuesday.

Borukhova, 35, an internist and an Uzbek immigrant, was convicted two weeks ago of first−degree murder and conspiracy along with her distant uncle, Mikhail Mallayev, 51, in the Oct. 28, 2007, shooting of Malakov. He was killed outside the Annadale Playground while he was dropping off the girl to meet Borukhova.

Malakov, 34, an orthodontist also from Uzbekistan, had gained custody of Michelle from Borukhova six days before his death and the internist hired Mallayev to murder him in retaliation. She and Mallayev are set to be sentenced next month and face between 20 years to life in prison without parole.

Michelle, 6, is currently living with her paternal uncle Gavriel Malakov and has been doing well in her new surroundings, according to the city Administration for Children’s Services.

Tally said she was surprised Borukhova and Fass would submit the motion to remove Schnall without citing any legal precedent or case study to back up their claims.

“When attorneys ask for relief, I expect case law for basis of that relief,” she said.

Tally said she would discuss the matter with both Fass and Schnall and render a decision on the motion April 22.

Schnall told reporters after the hearing that he did speak with a New Yorker writer, but did not discuss the criminal case or his testimony. He called Fass’s motion “fever pitch hypocrisy” because ACS may be planning to relinquish Borukhova’s paternal rights after she is sentenced.

“I represent the client. I take positions and I make statements on behalf of my clients,” Schnall said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e−mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 146.

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