This Weeks News

Judges Grapple With Test Under FLSA for Interns

Mark Hamblett | February 2, 2015

A Second Circuit panel, considering two cases brought by unpaid interns at Hearst and Fox Searchlight Pictures, appeared dissatisfied with the Department of Labor's test for determining an "employee" under the Fair Labor Standards Act, as grafted from a 67-year-old Supreme Court opinion.

Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman addresses the House of Delegates Friday at the annual meeting of the New York State Bar Association.

Lippman Backs Reform of Grand Jury, Attorney Discipline

By Joel Stashenko |

Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman provided glimpses to members of the New York State Bar Association's House of Delegates Friday of initiatives he will propose during his State of the Judiciary address, saying they would address what he called the most pressing problem facing the bar and the courts: public confidence in the criminal justice system and the courts.

Defense attorney Harvey Fishbein and prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon arrive for opening arguments Friday in the trial of Pedro Hernandez, who is charged with abducting and murdering 6-year-old Etan Patz in 1979.

Trial Opens in 35-Year-Old Case of Missing Boy

By Ben Bedell |

Pedro Hernandez, the man Manhattan prosecutors say choked 6-year-old Etan Patz to death in a bodega basement 35 years ago, has an IQ lower than 92 percent of the population, hears voices, has visions and suffers from a less severe form of schizophrenia.

A still from the video for the Uncle Murda and Maino song

Mayor Demands Discipline for Bronx Defenders 'Bad Apples'

By Andrew Keshner |

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio reiterated Friday that The Bronx Defenders must act quickly to discipline two attorneys who knew about song lyrics advocating killing police officers in "Hands Up" when proposing the organization participate in the music video and reform its procedures or face sanctions that could include the loss of city funding that provides most of the group's finances.

Boies Wins Discovery Fight in Bank of China Terror Funding Case

By Julie Triedman |

Over the objections of defense lawyers at Dorsey & Whitney and Squire Patton Boggs, Bank of China was ordered to turn over internal investigation records that could help plaintiffs tie the bank to a 2006 Palestinian terrorist attack.

State Bar Annual Meeting

By NYLJ/Rick Kopstein |

Following is a list of the awards presented at the annual meeting of the New York State Bar Association during the group’s annual meeting Jan. 26-31 at the Hilton New York Hotel.

Southern District Judge Jed Rakoff

After Short Departure, Rakoff Rejoins DOJ Panel

By Mark Hamblett |

Southern District Judge Jed Rakoff has rejoined a Justice Department commission two days after resigning because it wouldn't allow discussion of the extent to which forensic science experts and their data, methodologies should be disclosed prior to trial.

To Our Readers

The New York Commercial Litigation Insider will be closing today, Jan. 30. It has been our pleasure to provide in-depth coverage of this vibrant area of the law to a dedicated and sophisticated audience.

Panel Approves Post-Sandy Restriction on Overtime

By Joel Stashenko |

The state budget director's decision to restrict overtime for certain employees who worked longer weeks following Hurricane Sandy was not unreasonable under state Civil Service Law, an Appellate Division, Third Department, panel has decided.

Queens Attorney Disbarred for Insurance Fraud

By Andrew Keshner |

A Queens attorney convicted in a multimillion-dollar insurance fraud ring has been disbarred.

Former Democratic Assembly leader Sheldon Silver, center, in December 2010 at the signing of a bill authorizing judicial pay raises. From left, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman; former Fund for Modern Courts chairman Victor Kovner, a partner at Davis Wright Tremaine; former Gov. David Paterson; and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.

Rochester Legislator Drops Bid to Lead NY Assembly

By Associated Press |

A third candidate to lead New York's Assembly has dropped out and thrown his support to the Bronx lawmaker who appears to be the frontrunner for the job.

Judge Scheindlin

Judge Certifies Class in Post-Release Supervision Litigation

By Mark Hamblett |

Southern District Judge Shira Scheindlin has certified a class of what could be more than 2,000 people in a lawsuit attempting to hold top corrections officials liable for the unconstitutional practice of imposing terms of post-release supervision on inmates, which requires a judge's ruling.

E-Signature Accepted in Queens Domestic Violence Case

By Andrew Keshner |

In what Queens prosecutors hailed as a "significant victory" for domestic violence victims, a judge has found a complainant's emailed signature on a document to be enough to move a case ahead.

Former Democratic Assembly leader Sheldon Silver, center, in December 2010 at the signing of a bill authorizing judicial pay raises. From left, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman; former Fund for Modern Courts chairman Victor Kovner, a partner at Davis Wright Tremaine; former Gov. David Paterson; and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.

Speaker's Sudden Downfall Stirs Anxiety in Legal Community

By Joel Stashenko |

With Sheldon Silver no longer at the helm of the state Assembly, criminal justice and court advocates say they're anxious about how new leadership in the chamber will affect the judiciary, civil and criminal legal services providers and other areas of the legal system.

Judge Deems Legal Fees Charged in Asbestos Cases Reasonable

By Christine Simmons |

In recommending $8.8 million in legal fees for 14 law firms, including Sidley Austin, DLA Piper and Nixon Peabody, Southern District Magistrate Judge James Francis said that a reasonable billing rate "need not be the lowest possible rate, but, rather, must merely fall within a range of reasonableness."

Witnesses testify on the second day of hearings regarding Loretta Lynch's confirmation before the Senate Judiciary Committee to replace Eric Holder Jr. as the next U.S. Attorney General.

Obama Administration, Holder Assailed at Lynch Hearing

By Mike Sacks |

Loretta Lynch was not present at the second day of her confirmation hearings, either physically or in the testimony of many of the witnesses who criticized the Obama administration at large and the leadership of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr.

A still from the video for the Uncle Murda and Maino song

City Blasts Participation of Bronx Defenders in Video

By Ben Bedell |

New York City's Department of Investigation released a report Thursday rejecting The Bronx Defenders' claim that a controversial music video was released without its "authorization and approval."

Dorchen A. Leidholdt

Q&A: Dorchen A. Leidholdt

By Jeff Storey |

Dorchen Leidholdt is a committed opponent of violence against women who found in the law a valuable tool to achieve social change. The leader of the largest dedicated legal services provider in the U.S. for domestic violence victims discusses her career, the Center for Battered Women's Legal Services, and feminism today.

King & Spalding Advises Latest Bidder for NYC Opera

By Nell Gluckman |

A month after Duane Morris client NYCO Renaissance sought to rescue the New York City Opera out of bankruptcy, another suitor has emerged with a competing bid. King & Spalding client Gene Kaufman is offering $1.5 million for the opera company, trumping NYCO's $1.25 million bid.

Southern District Judge Jed Rakoff

Rakoff Quits Commission in Protest of Policy

By Mark Hamblett |

Southern District Judge Jed Rakoff has resigned in protest from the National Commission on Forensic Science because of a policy shift limiting its inquiry into the extent to which forensic science experts and their data, opinions and methodologies should be disclosed before trial.

Inside Trading Charges to Be Dropped in 'Conradt'

By Mark Hamblett |

The Southern District U.S. Attorney's office will drop insider trading charges against five defendants because of a recent decision by the Second Circuit.

NY Artistic Tax Exemption Rejected for Hustler Club

By Ben Bedell |

A Manhattan judge has rejected a claim by a strip club that it is a purveyor of "dramatic or musical arts performances," and thus exempt from New York state taxes on places of entertainment.

60 Centre St.

Law Firm Launches Guide to Business Court Reforms

By Ben Bedell |

Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler has launched a web-based user's guide compiling recent rule reforms in the Commercial Division of the New York Supreme Court.

Loretta Lynch appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

AG Nominee Tells Senate Panel: 'I Will Be Loretta Lynch'

By Mike Sacks |

Loretta Lynch, appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday for the first of her two-day confirmation hearings, faced a wide array of questions from Republicans seeking to tie her to Eric Holder Jr.'s Department of Justice and Democrats trying to limit the focus to her record as a career federal prosecutor.

Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse at 40 Foley Square

Circuit: Reports of Dismissed Arrest Not Libel

By Mark Hamblett |

Continuing to publish accurate arrest stories after a criminal conviction has been erased from the record is not libelous, the Second Circuit ruled Wednesday.

Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson addresses a forum on wrongful convictions during the Presidential Summit at the New York State Bar Association annual meeting Wednesday. On the panel are, from left, Barry Scheck, co-founder of the Innocence Project; Frank Sedita III, Erie County District Attorney; Gerald Mollen, Broome County  District Attorney; Zachary Carter, New York City Corporation Counsel; and Erin Murphy, New York University School of Law.

Thompson Says Review Unit Will Take on Non-Murder Cases

By Joel Stashenko |

Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson, speaking at the Presidential Summit at the annual meeting of the New York State Bar Association Wednesday, said said the flurry of publicity that has accompanied the 11 murder convictions his office moved to vacate has also produced potentially credible claims of wrongful convictions in non-murder felony cases from defendants, their families and lawyers.

From left, Matthew Brinckerhoff, a partner at Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady; Orion Danjuma, an associate at Emery Celli; Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union; and New York City Public Advocate Letitia James speak about unsealing the Garner grand jury minutes at a news conference Wednesday.

Long-Accepted Secrecy of Grand Juries Faces Challenges

By Jennifer Peltz and Andrew Keshner |

For centuries, grand juries have held some of the criminal justice system's best-kept secrets. But their private process has come under extraordinary public scrutiny after recent decisions not to indict police officers in the deaths of unarmed men, causing a closely-watched court battle and a batch of proposed reforms in New York state.

Alexandra Marchuk and Juan Monteverde

Judge Narrows Bias Suit Against Faruqi & Faruqi

By Christine Simmons |

Southern District Judge Alvin Hellerstein has narrowed former associate Alexandra Marchuk's discrimination suit against class action boutique Faruqi & Faruqi and the partner she says harrassed her, dismissing claims against the firm's principals.

Dacheng founder Peng Xuefeng and Dentons global chair Joseph Andrew at a signing ceremony in Beijing

Dentons, Dacheng Create World's Largest Law Firm Union

By Julie Triedman |

The union between Dentons and Dacheng Law Offices, Asia's largest firm, is now official. Chinese regulators gave the expected green light to the landmark deal early on Monday Beijing time, clearing the way for a signing ceremony later that morning at Dacheng's Beijing headquarters.

New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver speaks to the media as he leaves the Southern District federal court on Thursday after his arrest on public corruption charges. Silver is surrounded by his counsel, from left, Joel Cohen, a partner at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan; and Steven Molo and Justin Shur, partners at MoloLamken.

Silver to Take Leave From Weitz & Luxenberg

By Christine Simmons |

Weitz & Luxenberg said Wednesday it has asked Sheldon Silver, the New York State Assembly speaker who faces federal corruption charges, to take a leave of absence from his of counsel position at the firm.

New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan

Speaker Silver to Vacate Post Amid Criminal Charges

Sheldon Silver, the longtime leader of the New York state Assembly, will relinquish the position he has held for 21 years in the wake of federal corruption charges.

Charges Against Westchester Attorneys Dismissed

By Andrew Keshner |

A judge has thrown out a witness tampering and bribery case against George Galgano and his associate, Eric Sharp, faulting prosecutors on their handling of the grand jury proceedings.

Nassau Litigator Acquitted in Insurance Fraud Scheme

By Christine Simmons |

Matthew Conroy was acquitted of federal charges connected with a scheme that the Southern District U.S. Attorney's Office alleged defrauded insurance companies of more than $279 million under New York's no-fault automobile insurance law.

James T. Foley Courthouse, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York

Magistrate Judge Sought for Northern District Seat

By Joel Stashenko |

The Northern District of New York is taking applications until March 20 for a full-time magistrate judge to replace Randolph Treece, who has announced he is stepping down in September.


John Mendez, a partner at Latham & Watkins, has been nominated by President Barack Obama to serve as the newest chairman of the board of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, among other announcements and honors.

Judge Abrams

Treatment Programs Not 'Work' Under FLSA, Court Finds

By Mark Hamblett |

A requirement that two city police employees undergo off-duty alcohol treatment and counseling to keep their jobs is not "work" requiring compensation under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, Southern District Judge Ronnie Abrams ruled Monday.

City Hall

City Broadens Its Evaluation of Indigent Criminal Defense

By Andrew Keshner |

Though New York City now tracks conviction rates, incarceration rates, case duration, charge reduction and disposition at arraignments, officials in the mayor's Office of Criminal Justice told City Council members on Monday that they were developing a "more robust evaluation system to ensure effectiveness of indigent defense provision."

Hearsay Faulted but Panel Finds Harmless Error

By Ben Bedell |

Despite a limiting instruction, a police sergeant should not have been allowed to testify as to the statements made by three people who had purchased drugs from a defendant just before police "stormed the block," the First Department found, although the defendant's guilt was "overwhelmingly proved" by other evidence.

Queens County Supreme Court

Misdemeanor Charges Survive Unfitness Ruling

By Joel Stashenko |

Misdemeanor charges should stand while offenders are on probation, even if the defendants are deemed to be mentally unfit to defend themselves in post-conviction probation proceedings, a Queens judge found.

Nassau County Supreme Court

After the Storm

By Rick Kopstein, Photographer |

Though not as severe as forecast in most places, the snowstorm caused the closure of state and federal courts throughout the metropolitan area Tuesday.

The federal courts building in Manhattan.

Circuit to Consider Employment Status of Interns

By Scott Flaherty |

A panel of federal judges is poised to hear two appeals this week stemming from a rash of employment class actions brought by disgruntled unpaid interns. The outcome could determine whether the litigation was just a flash in the pan for the interns' enterprising lawyers—or if it's just getting started.

The NYSBA Annual Meeting will be held January 26-31 at the New York Hilton Midtown.

State Bar's Annual Meeting to Resume After Snowstorm

By Joel Stashenko |

The New York State Bar Association said its annual meeting will resume Wednesday and continue through the rest of this week. The state bar cancelled its entire program today due to the anticipated blizzard.

Son of State Lawmaker Is Convicted on Tax Charges

By Andrew Keshner |

Matthew Libous, an attorney and the son of Senate Deputy Majority Leader Thomas Libous, was convicted Monday of three counts of filing false income tax returns and acquitted of four other charges.

Paul Weiss Is on the Ball for Deflategate Probe

By Jennifer Henderson |

The National Football League has tapped Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to lead a probe into whether the New England Patriots used intentionally deflated balls during the first half of the American Football Conference title game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Leon Lazer

Lazer Steps Down as Chair of Jury Instruction Panel

By Joel Stashenko |

Former Supreme Court Justice Leon Lazer has stepped down as the long-time chairman of the committee responsible for producing and updating the Pattern Jury Instructions for civil cases in New York.

On the Move

Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler has promoted two to partner and three to counsel, and Dilworth Paxson has added Robert Frucht as of counsel.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder listens to Eastern District U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, after she was nominated to succeed Holder as attorney general, during a meeting at the White House in November.

NY Bar Groups Show Support for Lynch as Attorney General

By Mike Sacks |

Three major New York bar groups Monday weighed in with the U.S. Senate's Judiciary Committee to support Loretta Lynch's nomination by President Barack Obama as the next U.S. attorney general, all stressing her professional credentials and her personal integrity.

Judge Lohier

District Judges Must Decide Treatment, Circuit Rules

By Mark Hamblett |

A federal judge cannot delegate to probation officers a decision on whether a convict on supervised release should get drug treatment in an outpatient or inpatient program, the Second Circuit ruled Monday.

Howard Houses in Brownsville, Brooklyn

Housing Agency Criticized for 'Harsh' Eviction Attempt

By Ben Bedell |

Supreme Court Justice Doris Ling-Cohan held the New York City Housing Authority's attempt to evict a mentally ill senior citizen was "disproportionate to the offense of failing to appear at the scheduled hearing and, in light of all the circumstances, shocking to one's sense of fairness."

Manhattan Supreme Court and the Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse at Foley Square

Storm Closes Courts

The blizzard in the New York metropolitan area closed all state courts today in New York City, on Long Island and in the suburbs of Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester counties.

U. S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern Discrict of New York.

Plaintiffs Lawyers Urge Clients to File Claims With GM

By Amanda Bronstad |

Individuals who were injured or had loved ones killed allegedly because of a defect in the ignition switch of General Motors Co. vehicles must file claims through a victim-compensation fund before they can learn whether they have the option to sue.

<b>THE STAKES:</b> As attorneys prepared for Supreme Court test, marriages began in Florida.

Who Will Argue Same-Sex Marriage Cases Before High Court?

By Tony Mauro and Marcia Coyle |

History-making arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on same-sex marriage are still more than three months away, but the strategizing among lawyers has already begun.

Judith Kaye

Storm Cancels Events at State Bar Convention

By Joel Stashenko |

The New York State Bar Association has cancelled all events planned on Tuesday at its annual meeting due to the blizzard forecasted in the metropolitan New York region.

Assemblyman Keith Wright

Leading Democrat Asks Silver to Resign as Speaker

A senior Democratic member of the state Assembly called for Speaker Sheldon Silver to step down Monday as the longtime leader fought to maintain his grip on power in the wake of federal corruption charges.

U.S. Claims Three Were Part of Russian Spy Ring

By Mark Hamblett |

Federal authorities said they busted a Russian spy ring Monday, arresting a man who allegedly used his cover as a Russian bank employee in New York to try to obtain economic and political intelligence about the United States.

Panel Upholds Sentence in Vehicular Homicide Case

By Joel Stashenko |

A driver who was distracted as she texted on her cellphone was suitably blameworthy for criminally negligent homicide when she fatally ran over a woman who was mowing her lawn, an appeals court decided.

U.S. Attorneys Richard Hartunian of the Northern District of New York and John Walsh of the District of Colorado

Two Named to Lead USAG Advisory Committee

By Joel Stashenko |

Northern District of New York U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian has been appointed as vice chair of the Attorney General's Advisory Committee of United States Attorneys by Attorney General Eric Holder. John Walsh, U.S. attorney for the District of Colorado, has been selected as chairman.

On the Move

Eight firms announce promotions, while Fried Frank and Troutman Sanders have added attorneys.