This Weeks News

Sean Penn, an American actor, left, and Lee Louis Daniels, an American film and television producer and director.

Lee Daniels, Sean Penn Settle Defamation Suit

"Empire" television show creator Lee Daniels agreed to settle a defamation lawsuit filed by Sean Penn, issue a written apology and donate to Penn's Haitian relief organization.

Lisa Smith

Q&A: Lisa F. Smith

By Christine Simmons |

Lisa F. Smith's book, "Girl Walks Out of a Bar," to be published by SelectBooks on June 7, is the story of her long and spiraling addiction to alcohol and drugs while working at prominent New York law firms—and her journey toward sobriety.

Newark Municipal Court

DOJ Says Newark Misapplied Law in Deaf Litigant Case

The U.S. Department of Justice has submitted a statement of interest urging a federal judge to deny the City of Newark's motion to dismiss a federal suit claiming a deaf municipal court litigant was denied a sign language interpreter.

New York Skyline

Big Firm Alums Seek to Grow Tech Startups in New York

Several former Am Law 100 associates are at the center of an effort to position New York City as an alternative to Silicon Valley for technology startups. The city's robust legal scene, meanwhile, is anxious to get involved.

Barbara Underwood

Decade-Old Case Against Greenberg Not Dead, State Insists

By Joel Stashenko |

New York's solicitor general insisted this week that the state's civil fraud case against Maurice "Hank" Greenberg and another former American International Group executive remains viable, despite settlements reached in federal court with AIG and its shareholders in 2013.

Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse at 40 Foley Square

Circuit Affirms Conviction Under Investment Adviser Act

By Mark Hamblett |

Making a criminal case for investment adviser fraud does not require proof of intent to harm clients, the Second Circuit held Wednesday.

Judge: Hearing Request Didn't Put Mental State at Issue

By Andrew Keshner |

Prosecutors seeking to speak with a patient's doctors at a psychiatric facility were rebuffed by a judge who said they failed to show that access to the man's treating staff outweighed his right to confidentiality.

Man Faces Contempt Charge for Attempted Instagram Contact

By Joel Stashenko |

A man prohibited under an order of protection from contacting his ex-girlfriend may be charged with contempt for asking to follow her Instagram page, a judge ruled.

Cutting the ribbon, from left, are General Services Administration Regional Administrator Denise Pease, Southern District Chief Judge Loretta Preska, and U.S. Reps. Jerrold Nadler and José Serrano, both New York City Democrats.

Security Pavilion Opens

By Rick Kopstein, Photographer |

Southern District Chief Judge Loretta Preska led a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday celebrating the opening of the new security pavilion at the Daniel Patrick Moynihan U.S. Courthouse, which has seen several major terrorism trials since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Some of Varsity Brands' designs

Justices Agree to Hear Copyright Case Over Cheerleading Uniforms

By Scott Graham |

The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari Monday to decide what appellate courts have described as one of the most vexing issues in copyright law: whether pictorial, sculptural or graphic designs are conceptually separate from otherwise functional articles—such as clothing or furniture—and therefore copyrightable.

Former Manhattan Administrative Judge Dies at 100

Xavier Riccobono, a former administrative judge for the Civil Term of Manhattan Supreme Court, died on April 29.

Disbarred Lawyer, 2 Others Charged in $5M Theft

By Andrew Keshner |

A disbarred attorney and two other men conspired and stole approximately $5 million from attorney escrow accounts, according to charges announced earlier this week by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office.

Judith Kaye

Memorial Service Set to Honor Judith Kaye

The New York State Federal Judicial Council will hold a memorial service for former Chief Judge Judith Kaye at 4 p.m. today.

CUNY School of Law

CUNY Law Search for New Dean Enters Final Stages

By Andrew Denney |

City University of New York School of Law Dean Michelle Anderson will begin a new job as president of Brooklyn College on Aug. 1, while CUNY Law has announced four candidates for Anderson's successor.

Bronx Housing Court

Comments Sought on NYC Housing Court Judges

The Advisory Council of the Civil Court's Housing Part is seeking comments to help evaluate New York City Housing Court judges who are up for reappointment.

Paul Weiss' David Bernick HANDOUT

Paul Weiss Hire Beefs Up Its Product Liability Ranks

In an effort to fill out its product liability and class action defense ranks, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison has hired David Bernick, a former general counsel at Philip Morris International Inc., as a partner from Dechert in New York.

New Administrative Judge Named to NY's Sixth District

By Joel Stashenko |

State Supreme Court Justice Molly Reynolds Fitzgerald has been designated as the new administrative judge for the state's Sixth Judicial District, succeeding Justice Robert Mulvey, who was recently appointed to the Third Department.

Confirmation of $2.3M Fee Sought in Theater Dispute

By Ben Bedell |

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has moved to confirm an arbitrator's award of $2.3 million in legal fees in a case where its client prevailed against the long-running Off-Broadway musical "Stomp."

Lynch Receives Learned Hand Award

By Rick Kopstein, Photographer |

Judge Gerard Lynch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit received the Learned Hand Medal for excellence in federal jurisprudence from Federal Bar Council at the group's Annual Law Day Dinner Tuesday.

Addressing Civil Legal Services

By Rick Kopstein, Photographer |

New York City Human Resources Administration commissioner Steven Banks was one of seven speakers at the New York City Bar Association Monday evening discussing the impact of expanding civil legal services for low-income New Yorkers.

Sheldon Silver leaves federal court Tuesday after he was sentenced to 12 years in prison. At right is attorney Steven Molo.

Judge Scolds Silver Before Issuing 12-Year Sentence

By Mark Hamblett |

Sheldon Silver's rapid slide from Albany power broker to federal prisoner was nearly completed yesterday as Southern District Judge Valerie Caproni ordered the former New York State Assembly Speaker to serve 12 years behind bars.

Panel Refuses to Legalize 'Aid in Dying' Procedures

By Ben Bedell |

Advocates of "aid-in-dying" lost a bid to exempt the practice from state laws banning assisted suicide when the First Department unanimously rejected their claims Tuesday.

GM Sales Formula for Dealers Violates NY Law, Ruling Says

By Joel Stashenko |

A formula used by General Motors to determine if dealers are selling enough GM vehicles in local franchise areas violates a 2008 statute designed to prohibit abusive business practices by auto manufacturers against their franchisees, the state Court of Appeals determined Tuesday, responding to a question certified to it by the Second Circuit.

Martin Shkreli and attorney Evan Greebel are escorted by law enforcement agents in New York in December 2015.

More Charges May Be Coming Against Shkreli, Attorney

By Christine Simmons |

Martin Shkreli, the former pharmaceutical executive who was arrested alongside his company's corporate attorney, Evan Greebel, may use a "reliance of counsel" defense and is exploring whether to sever his case from Greebel's.

Uber headquarters in San Francisco

Uber Settles Discrimination Claims by Blind Riders

Uber Technologies Inc. will deactivate drivers who don't accept ride requests from service animal-assisted blind passengers as part of a settlement resolving federal and state discrimination law claims.

Justice Schack

Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Arthur Schack Dies

By Andrew Denney |

Justice Schack, who attracted attention during his tenure for taking a hard line against banks seeking to evict New Yorkers from their homes through foreclosure, died on Monday after a lengthy battle with anemia. He was 71.

Robert J. Giuffra, Sr.

Robert Giuffra Sr., Admiralty, Insurance, Products Liability Practitioner, Dies

By Andrew Denney |

Robert Giuffra Sr., an attorney who practiced for almost 60 years, died on Saturday. "My father was someone who really loved the law, but who really loved his family," Robert Giuffra Jr., a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell, said, adding that his father often brought him to court when he was a child. Giuffra Jr. and two of his siblings went on to become attorneys.

A gravity knife

Strict Liability Applied to Gravity Knife Possession

By Joel Stashenko |

The state Court of Appeals upheld a driver's conviction for illegal possession of a gravity knife Tuesday, ruling that the defendant's argument that he did not know of the knife's illegal features did not invalidate his conviction.

The Appellate Division, Fourth Department, M. Dolores Denman courthouse in Rochester

New Trial Is Ordered After Selective Readback

By Joel Stashenko |

A criminal defendant is entitled to a new trial because the trial judge granted jurors' request to have the prosecution's closing statement read back to them, but denied the defense's request that the defense summation also be read back, an appeals court said.

Clockwise from top left, Dennis Hopkins, Rosalyn Richter, Joseph Tillman and Conway Ekpo.

City Bar Selects 2016 Diversity Champions

By Christine Simmons |

The New York City Bar Association announced its 2016 Diversity & Inclusion Champion Award recipients. They are: Dennis Hopkins, a partner at Perkins Coie; Rosalyn Richter, an Appellate Division, First Department, justice; and Conway Ekpo and Joseph Tillman, founding members of the group 1844.

Domestic Violence Reports to Include More Information

New York state has redesigned the domestic violence incident report form used by police officers in an effort to aid investigations and help victims.

On the Move

Seven firms announce new additions, the Eastern District U.S. Attorney's Office has appointed Taryn Merkl as acting deputy chief of its criminal division, and attorneys Jennifer Keough, Neil Zola and David Isaac have formed JND Legal Administration to administer large-scale class actions, bankruptcy and mass tort cases.


Law School May Lose Status for Accepting GRE Scores

A recent decision by the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law to accept GRE scores in lieu of LSAT scores could cost it its membership in the Law School Admission Council—the organization that administers the law school exam.

Paul Gatling and his attorney Malvina Nathanson appear in a Brooklyn courtroom on Monday.

Lawyer and Client Exult at Vacated 1964 Conviction

By Andrew Keshner |

In the course of her 50-year legal career, Malvina Nathanson could not let go of the case of Paul Gatling, an 81-year-old retiree convicted of second-degree murder decades ago whom Nathanson was "morally convinced" was truly innocent.

Judge Orders Insurers to Pay Legal Fees of FIFA Official

By Christine Simmons |

Insurers have been ordered to pay the legal fees of a FIFA official arrested in a wide-ranging criminal corruption case, likely opening the door for other FIFA officers and their attorneys to tap the $50 million policy for legal fees.

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore

Kaye Pointed the Way to Court Reforms, Law Day Speakers Say

By Joel Stashenko |

The annual Law Day celebration at the state Court of Appeals Monday served as a stage to commemorate the late Judith Kaye and her forward-looking work as chief judge.

The Appellate Division, First Department, at 27 Madison Ave.

Ex Parte Meeting Prompts Panel to Order New Trial

By Ben Bedell |

A defendant is entitled to a new trial because his assigned counsel asked to be relieved from the case at an ex parte conference with the presiding judge, a Manhattan appeals panel has ruled.

James Hurlock

James Hurlock, Former White & Case Chairman, Dies

By Andrew Denney |

James Hurlock, a former chairman and partner at White & Case who oversaw a massive expansion of the firm during the last two decades of the 20th century, died on April 27. He was 82.

Eric Holder Jr.

Eric Holder Has No Apologies for Return to Big Law

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. said Friday "I am not ashamed" to have returned to private practice after resigning last year, asserting he will continue to advance the justice reform issues he espoused in office as a private attorney. "You can be a public interest lawyer wherever you are," he said at a public discussion at Georgetown University Law Center.

Bid to Copyright Fictional Language Launches Legal Battle

A copyright suit over a "Star Trek" spinoff has ignited a legal battle over whether made-up languages—and specifically Klingon—are copyrightable.

Ted Olson of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher

Olson Joins Legal Huddle for Players, Tom Brady

By Christine Simmons |

Days after a divided panel for a federal appeals court restored the suspension of Tom Brady, the New England Patriots' quarterback and the NFL Players Association have added prominent litigator Theodore Olson to their legal team.

Eric T. Schneiderman

Schneiderman Proceeds With Probe of Cop Shooting

By Joel Stashenko |

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Monday his office is proceeding with its investigation into the fatal April 17 shooting of a motorist by a Troy police officer, even though a grand jury convened by the Rensselaer County district attorney has cleared the officer of criminal charges.

Judicial Conduct Board Names Top Two Officers

By Joel Stashenko |

Manhattan attorney Joseph Belluck has been elected as the new chairman of the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, which investigates allegations of misconduct against state and local judges in New York and recommends sanctions up to removal from office.

David Loftis

Legal Aid Establishes Post-Conviction Position

By Andrew Denney |

David Loftis has been named attorney-in-charge of post-conviction and forensic litigation for the Legal Aid Society after spending a decade as managing attorney for the Innocence Project.

A stun belt

Defendant Made to Wear Stun Belt Gets New Trial

By Joel Stashenko |

The Fourth Department said that a Steuben County Court judge erred by making the defendant appear at his 2005 trial for assault, attempted assault, burglary and other charges with the stun belt without stating for the record why he was wearing the device.

Getting a 'Clean Slate'

By Rick Kopstein, Photographer |

A warrant forgiveness program sponsored by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office and the Legal Aid Society on Saturday attracted about 460 New Yorkers with outstanding summonses for nonviolent offenses

Law Journal Seeks Nominations for Pro Bono, Public Service

The New York Law Journal is looking for Lawyers Who Lead by Example, attorneys who have made an outstanding contribution to their community by devoting their time to public service by working toward improving the courts, the laws or the profession, and/or by providing free legal services to low- and moderate-income New Yorkers.

The Court of Appeals in Albany

Court Weighs Merits of Attorney-Client Privilege Expansion

By Joel Stashenko |

A matter that began as a fraudulent inducement claim on insuring mortgage-backed securities has mushroomed into what litigants and observers say could be a defining moment for attorney-client privilege in New York and the "common interest" rule.

Age at Time of Crime Must Be Weighed by Parole, Panel Says

By Andrew Keshner |

A man who was 16 years old when he fatally strangled his girlfriend almost 40 years ago is entitled to a new parole board review that takes into consideration his age at the time of his crime, a divided upstate court has ruled.

Judge Scheindlin

Scheindlin Assumes New Roles at JAMS, Stroock

By Christine Simmons |

Shira Scheindlin, a Southern District judge who shaped e-discovery standards and became well known for her rulings in stop-and-frisk policy, will become an arbitrator and mediator for JAMS and of counsel at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan.

Man's Claim That Marriage Was Valid Can Proceed

By Andrew Denney |

While Jackson K. and Parisa G. did not obtain a marriage license before the wedding nor a civil certificate of marriage at the conclusion of their Iranian Islamic wedding ceremony, they signed a marriage contract written in Farsi, in the presence of witnesses.

Michael Critchley

Bridge Tie-Up Was Inconvenient but Not a Crime, Attorney Says

A federal judge in Newark is weighing motions to throw out the indictments of Bridget Anne Kelly and William Baroni in the Bridgegate scandal after defense lawyers for the two pitched an assortment of theories to support dismissing the charges—including that the closures did not constitute a crime.

Antonin Scalia.

New Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason Draws Criticism

Opposition is mounting to George Mason University's plans to rename its law school. The university's Faculty Senate on Wednesday adopted a resolution expressing "deep concern" with both the decision to honor Scalia in the new name and the terms of the $30 million donation that led to the name change, while a a Virginia legislator has sent a letter asking the state’s Council of Higher Education to reject the change.

Hudson Yards project

Milbank to Move Uptown Into Hudson Yards Site

By Christine Simmons |

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, a firm that has spent the last 150 years in downtown Manhattan, will relocate its headquarters to the Hudson Yards development in 2018.

Lawyer Who Defrauded Auto Parts Business Is Disbarred

By Ben Bedell |

A Manhattan attorney whose federal felony conviction was discovered only after he was suspended for not reregistering was disbarred Thursday.

Absence of Notice Cited in Eviction Reversal Ruling

By Andrew Keshner |

The landlord did not dispute failing to provide a written 90-day notice after the previous building owner had been foreclosed upon, but argued that the tenant's failure to appear and submit an answer before she found representation through Queens Legal Services made it too late for her to assert a notice defense.

Manslaughter Charges Against Nurse Dismissed

By Andrew Denney |

An appeals court has affirmed the dismissal of a second-degree manslaughter charge filed against a nurse who allegedly dropped an elderly woman while transferring her from her wheelchair to her bed, though a charge of criminally negligent homicide is pending.

Recognition for Lawyers

Among other honors and appointments, Fund for Modern Courts has elected new directors, Robert Giuffra was elected board chairman of the American Swiss Foundation and Sarah Baird and Stavros Karageorgiou of Farrell Fritz were recognized for their pro bono service at the second annual Access to Justice event hosted by the Nassau County Bar Association, Nassau/Suffolk Law Services and The Safe Center LI.

Hail to the Retiring Chief

By Rick Kopstein, Photographer |

More than 200 court officers lined the steps of the 60 Centre St. Thursday to honor Jewel McCollin, the chief of the New York Department of Public Safety who is retiring after more than 30 years in the state court system.


Forensic scientists at New York City's Office of Chief Medical Examiner in April 2014

Majority Rules Analyst Linking DNA to Defendant Must Testify

By Joel Stashenko |

A slim majority of the state Court of Appeals judges ruled Thursday that prosecutors must produce forensic experts with "requisite personal knowledge" of how DNA samples are handled when that evidence is used against a criminal defendant.

Dan Halloran

Circuit Upholds Conviction of Ex-City Councilman

By Mark Hamblett |

The public corruption conviction of former New York City Councilman Daniel Halloran for trying to rig the city's 2013 mayoral race was affirmed Thursday by the Second Circuit.

Fire escape at 82 Second Ave. at the time of the accident. The building has since been renovated.

Vertical Ladder Fire Escape Where Student Fell Ruled Illegal

By Ben Bedell |

The landlord of a Lower East Side walk-up cannot escape liability for a student's fall from a fire escape on grounds that a 1929 law outlawing the type of fire escape from which she fell had been grandfathered under the statute.

The Appellate Division, First Department, at 27 Madison Ave.

Panel Finds NY, Not London, Is Proper Forum for Dispute

By Ben Bedell |

The First Department said that a forum selection clause in the earlier of four agreements between a Kazakh oligarch and his former financial advisor designating New York courts for the resolution of disputes controlled the matter, notwithstanding the fact that later agreements cancelled the earlier one.

Bill Robinson.

Ex-ABA Head Faults Labor Department's 'Persuader' Rule

In 2011, when he was president of the ABA, Bill Robinson III sent a letter to the Department of Labor expressing "serious concerns" that a proposal to require more disclosure of companies' union-busting activities would compromise attorney-client confidentiality. On Wednesday, Robinson appeared before a congressional panel to say that his objections still stand.

In this Sunday, Oct. 23, 1983, file photo, service members search through rubble after a suicide truck bomb attack on the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. The blast _ the single deadliest attack on U.S. forces abroad since World War II _ claimed the lives of 241 American service members. - AP Photo/Jim Bourdier

Lawyers for Beirut Bombing Victims Close In on Recovery

Thirty-three years after the 1983 Beirut barracks attack, and 15 years after hundreds of victims' family members sued the government of Iran for directing the powerful car bombing by Hezbollah extremists that killed 241 U.S. Marines, the victims are closing in on an unprecedented multibillion-dollar recovery.

Paul Clement.

High-Profile Litigator Enlisted for Military Court Case

Bancroft partner Paul Clement has argued more than 80 cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, and dozens of cases in federal appeals court across the country. But on Wednesday he found himself on new turf: the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens (2014)

Stevens Recounts His Clashes With Scalia

Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens on Monday reminisced about the "legendary" collegiality of his late colleague Antonin Scalia, while also recounting their sharp disagreements over the right to bear arms and other issues.

City Hall

City Budget Has Yet to Add Increased Funds for DAs

By Andrew Denney |

Mayor Bill de Blasio's $82.2 billion executive budget for New York City's 2016-17 fiscal year does not contain the increases requested by the city's district attorneys, though the chair of the City Council's Public Safety said she will work to get additional funds.

Retiring New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico

Cuomo Names Panel to Pick Next State Police Head

By Joel Stashenko |

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has created a seven-member committee to search for the next New York State Police superintendent to replace Joseph D'Amico, who announced his retirement earlier this month.

Rikers Island jail complex

Conviction of Former Rikers Guard Is Affirmed by Circuit

The Second Circuit found no major errors in the trial and conviction of a former New York City jail guard who was found to have ignored the pleas of a dying inmate in 2012 was upheld Thursday.

Brooklyn Supreme Court at 360 Adams St.

Brooklyn Judge Declines Jurisdiction Over Tenn. Man

By Andrew Keshner |

Although a defense contractor's computer and executive offices were in Brooklyn, a Brooklyn judge has declined to hear the company's case against a Tennessee ex-employee who allegedly misused proprietary information.

Criminal Court Judge Erika Edwards, seated left, hears from Legal Aid attorney Olayinka Dan-Salami, center, and a defendant at the November

Warrant Forgiveness Offered in Manhattan

By Andrew Keshner |

Manhattan prosecutors, the New York City Police Department and the Legal Aid Society are teaming up with the state court system to hold a "Clean Slate" event Saturday, where New Yorkers will be able to clear a variety of open summons warrants.

DA Returns Ancient Statue

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced the return of a Second Century Buddhist sculpture to Pakistan Wednesday. The sculpture, worth $1.1 million, had been missing since 1982 when it was stolen from an archeological dig.