This Weeks News

Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse at 40 Foley Square

Circuit Finds Faulty Warrant Was Executed in Good Faith

Mark Hamblett | March 3, 2015

The Second Circuit Monday held that evidence of access to child pornography on a single occasion, absent deliberate intent, does not support an inference that the suspect is hoarding the illegal images. A divided court, however, held that agents who conducted the raid were acting in good faith reliance on the invalid search warrant.

1664 Third Avenue

Housing Court Rulings Clash Over Building Shaftway Issue

By Ben Bedell |

Two Manhattan Housing Court judges have reached opposite conclusions regarding the same issue in the same eight-unit Upper West Side apartment building.

Justices Peter Moulton and Sherri Klein Heitler

Manhattan Supreme Civil Court Gets New Administrative Judge

By Jeff Storey |

Chief Administrative Judge A. Gail Prudenti Monday announced the appointment of Justice Peter H. Moulton as administrative judge of the Manhattan Supreme Court's civil term, succeeding Justice Sherry Klein Heitler, who is taking on the role of the court system's chief of policy and planning.

City and State Bar Support Spending Increase for Judiciary

By Joel Stashenko |

Six years of nearly flat budgets have created personnel shortages that persistently slow or stall proceedings in state courts, the New York City Bar Association argued in analyzing the judiciary's pending budget request.

Justices Question Independence of Electoral Map Creators

By Mark Sherman |

The U.S. Supreme Court is casting a skeptical eye on voter-approved commissions that draw a state's congressional district boundaries.

Monroe Freedman

Monroe Freedman, Former Hofstra Law Dean, Dies at 86

By Andrew Denney |

Monroe Freedman, a law professor and former dean at the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University considered by many to be the father of modern legal ethics as an academic discipline, died Feb. 26. He was 86.

Richard Schwartz

Head of Fried Frank's Environmental Unit Dies at 64

By Andrew Denney |

Richard Schwartz, an attorney at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson known for his work in environmental law and his dedication to sustainability and local food, died Feb. 21 from complications from cancer.

92nd Street in Rockaway, Queens, after Hurricane Sandy

FEMA Admissions Push Parties to Settle Sandy Cases

By Christine Simmons |

The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's flood insurance program, Brad Kieserman, admitted on "60 Minutes" Sunday that he has seen evidence of fraudulent reports relating to homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

Attica Correctional Facility and guards, from left, Sean Warner, Keith Swack and Matthew Rademacher

Attica Officers Plead Guilty in 2011 Inmate Beating

Three Attica prison guards charged with beating a jewelry thief until bones in his face and legs broke in 2011 pleaded guilty Monday in an agreement that will spare them jail time.

Attorney Who Failed to Return Fees Is Disbarred

By Ben Bedell |

The Appellate Division, First Department, has disbarred attorney Rafael Escalante, sustaining all 29 charges against him after hearing testimony from former clients.

Appellate Division, Third Department, courthouse in Albany

Panel Approves Benefits for Court Translator

By Joel Stashenko |

A state appeals court has limited the scope of an Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board decision about the eligibility of per diem state court translators for jobless benefits.

A New Home for the Urban Justice Center

By Rick Kopstein, Photographer |

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Urban Justice Center executive director Doug Lasdon and U.S. Treasury Department general counsel Christopher Meade attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new offices of the Urban Justice Center Monday.

On the Move

Nixon Peabody and Thompson & Knight announce promotions, while five other firms announce new additions.

Correction

Westchester Community College and former adjunct professor Carol Leitner

Community College Not Immune From Suit, Circuit Rules

By Mark Hamblett |

Westchester Community College and some of its administrators are not arms of the state shielded by sovereign immunity under the Constitution, the Second Circuit has ruled, allowing a lawsuit brought by a former adjunct professor, who lost her job for allegedly making offensive remarks in class, to continue.

Judge Dismisses Plaintiffs' Payday Loan Suit Against BofA

By Ben Bedell |

While acknowledging that governments have "sought to protect desperately poor people from the consequences of their own desperation" by prohibiting usurious loans, a federal judge dismissed the claims of a class of "payday loan" borrowers against a bank that processed the transactions.

Justice Heitler

Asbestos Defense Mobilizes Over Punitive Damage Claims

By Jeff Storey |

Defense attorneys in asbestos lawsuits are preparing to appeal a ruling by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Sheri Klein Heitler, coordinator of the New York City Asbestos Litigation court, allowing consideration of punitive damages for the first time in almost two decades.

Brooklyn Supreme and Family Court at 320/330 Jay St.

Not Disclosing Old Shoplifting Charge Leads to Censure

By Andrew Keshner and Andrew Denney |

A Second Department panel said that in determining the appropriate punishment for Natasha McDougall, the supervising court attorney for Brooklyn Family Court Supervising Judge Jeanette Ruiz, it took into account the "high regard" with which she is held and her "genuine remorse" for not reporting her shoplifting arrest when she was 16.

Malpractice Counterclaims Against Wachtell Dismissed

By Susan Beck |

Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz won a potentially crucial ruling this week in its battle with Carl Icahn and CVR Energy Inc., a company Icahn has controlled since a successful takeover in 2012.

Courts Honor Dinkins, Paterson

Former New York City Mayor David Dinkins received the Trailblazer Award from the Eastern District U.S. Attorney's Office Thursday, and former New York Gov. David Paterson was honored by the Nassau County Black History Committee and the Amistad Long Island Black Bar Association.

Alumna Honored for Excellence

By Rick Kopstein, Photographer |

Columbia Law School's 2015 Medal for Excellence, the school's highest honor, was awarded Friday to Southern District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum and to Paul Weiss partner Roberta Kaplan.

Jesse Friedman speaks as a June press conference, flanked by his wife, Elisabeth Walsh, and his attorney, Ronald L. Kuby.

Friedman Defamation Claim Against Rice Is Dismissed

By Jeff Storey |

A defamation lawsuit filed by Jesse Friedman against Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice and two information officers over a report that said he was disciplined in prison for writing and distributing pornographic stories has been dismissed by a Nassau County judge.

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

Panel Reverses Law Firm's Disqualification

By Ben Bedell |

Although it was uncontested that an attorney for the lead plaintiff in a Commercial Division case had represented the defendant in a prior matter, the First Department said the two matters were not substantially related.

Ira Rennert's complex in Sagaponack

Jury Awards Damages in Mining Firm Plunder

A Manhattan federal jury on Friday found that billionaire Ira Rennert plundered a now-bankrupt mining company to pay for personal luxuries, including a Hamptons mansion that's one of the world's largest private homes.

Con Ed Is Ruled Liable for Shock to Dog Owner

By Andrew Denney |

A lower court properly granted a motion for summary judgment filed by a man who sued Consolidated Edison and the city of New York after he and his dog both suffered electric shocks after stepping in a puddle, an appellate court affirmed on Feb. 25.

On the Move

Sheppard Mullin, Whiteman Osterman & Hanna, Paul Hastings, Baker & McKenzie, and Anderson Kill announce promotions, among other news.

NYPD logo

Circuit Restores NYPD Officer's Lawsuit Alleging Quotas

By Mark Hamblett |

A New York City police officer's lawsuit alleging he was punished for speaking out about quotas on the number of arrests, summonses and stop-and-frisks has been reinstated by a federal appeals court, which said he was speaking as a citizen, not an NYPD employee.

Martha Stewart branded merchandise in Macy's department store

Panel Finds for Macy's in Dispute With J.C. Penney

By Ben Bedell |

Macy's three-year-long lawsuit aimed at extracting damages from its leading competitor, J.C. Penney, for tortious interference with Macy's contract with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia garnered a victory Thursday from a unanimous panel of the First Department.

Alan Newton

Exonerated Man's $18M Verdict Against City Is Reinstated

By Christine Simmons |

The Second Circuit has reinstated an $18 million verdict that was awarded to a man exonerated by DNA evidence after an 11-year delay by law enforcement to find a rape kit.

Chief Administrative Judge A. Gail Prudenti addresses a joint legislative budget hearing in Albany Thursday.

Prudenti Meets Little Resistance in Defending Judiciary Budget

By Andrew Keshner |

Lawmakers at a joint legislative hearing on a proposed $1.85 billion general fund operations budget did not voice doubts about the proposal's price tag, but questioned Chief Administrative Judge A. Gail Prudenti on an increase in the age of criminal responsibility and grand jury reform.

Quentin Lewis

Inmate May Pursue Challenge to Conviction for Prison Death

By Melissa Hoffmann |

A prison inmate convicted of first-degree manslaughter for the stabbing death of another inmate during a mess hall fight can seek to have his conviction vacated by proving that a principal witness against him was coerced, the Third Department has ruled.

Eastern District Turns 150

More than 300 current and former members of the Eastern District U.S. Attorney’s Office attended the Eastern District Association’s annual dinner Wednesday.

Khalid al Fawwaz

Leading al Qaida Member Convicted in U.S. Embassy Attacks

By Mark Hamblett |

Khalid al Fawwaz was convicted Thursday of conspiring with Osama bin Laden and al Qaida to attack Americans and American facilities anywhere in the world.

Loretta Lynch during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee to replace Eric Holder Jr. as the next U.S. Attorney General.  January 28, 2015.

AG Nominee Lynch Clears Senate Judiciary Committee

By Mike Sacks |

Loretta Lynch's nomination to become U.S. attorney general was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday, clearing the way for a full Senate vote in the coming days.

NYPD officer

CCRB Refuses Disclosure of Police Officer's Records

By Andrew Keshner |

The Legal Aid Society is suing the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board over its refusal to disclose information about any prior complaints and dispositions for the officer involved in Eric Garner's death.

Chinese Muslim Seeking Asylum Loses Appeal

By Mark Hamblett |

An asylum seeker who claimed she was persecuted in China for being pregnant and faced future persecution in that country for being a Muslim has lost her appeal.

On the Move

Seven firms announce new additions.

John Yates, right, and friend, Luther Sasser, commercial fishermen, at Star Fish Company next to the dock at A.P. Bell Fish House in Cortez.

In 5-4 Ruling, Court Guts Fisherman’s Fraud Conviction

By Mike Scarcella |

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down the conviction of fisherman prosecuted under a financial-fraud statute for the destruction of an undersized red grouper.

Antitrust Immunity Denied for N.C. Dentist Group

By Jenna Greene |

Siding with the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that a North Carolina dental board that tried to corner the market on teeth-whitening services isn’t exempt from antitrust scrutiny.

New canopies bearing the Macy's logo hang at their State Street store in the former Marshall Field's building in Chicago, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2006. Federated Department Stores is converting more than 400 department stores across the nation to Macy's today, including Filene's in Massachusetts and the 154-year-old Marshall Field's store on Chicago's State Street.

Macy's Sues to Protect Claims on Old Retailers' Names

By Amanda Bronstad |

In its rapid expansion across the country, Macy's Inc. rebranded some of the nation’s most recognizable names in department stores, such as Marshall Field's and Filene's. Now the retail chain has filed suits staking a claim to those names.

Annie George and her home in Saratoga County

Circuit Upholds Mansion Forfeiture in Harboring Case

By Mark Hamblett |

A woman's claim that she did not illegally harbor an immigrant who worked in her Saratoga County home as a domestic servant for six years has been denied by the Second Circuit.

Protesters outside the Staten Island Supreme Court on Feb. 5.

DA Group Aligns With Cuomo Proposal on Grand Juries

By Joel Stashenko |

While prosecutors are cool to Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman's plan to alter grand jury practices when the improper use of police force toward civilians is alleged, they are receptive to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposal to appoint independent monitors in such controversial cases.

Avedon Foundation May Pursue Insurer Over Damaged Photo

By Andrew Denney |

A suit filed by the Richard Avedon Foundation against an insurance company over coverage of a water-damaged piece of artwork has withstood a motion to dismiss.

Judge Bans Consultant's Testimony in Bottle Injury Suit

By Andrew Denney |

A federal judge precluded a witness who had worked for a glass manufacturer but lacked expertise in glass bottle design from testifying at trial in a products liability suit filed by a bartender whose finger was injured by an exploding beer bottle.

Samantha Elauf, right, and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lead attorney Barbara Seely at the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Justices Sympathetic to Woman Denied Job Due to Headscarf

By Mark Sherman |

The U.S. Supreme Court indicated Wednesday it will side with a Muslim woman who didn't get hired by clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch because she wore a black headscarf that conflicted with the company's dress code to her job interview.

95 Reasons to Celebrate

Milton Mollen, a former presiding justice of the Second Department, celebrated his 95th birthday Tuesday with dozens of friends from the state and federal bench.

3 Men Charged With Plotting to Join Islamic State in Syria

Three men were arrested Wednesday on charges of plotting to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group and wage war against the U.S., and federal officials said one of them spoke of attacking President Barack Obama or planting a bomb on Coney Island.

Occidental Grand Aruba Resort

Widow Can Proceed With Suit Against Resort Chain

By Joel Stashenko |

A federal judge has declined to dismiss a suit against the operators of a Caribbean resort by the widow of an upstate New York man who died while on vacation when he had an allergic reaction to mislabeled salad dressing, finding that she made a plausible initial argument.

Judge Dismisses Foreclosure Action for Lack of Notice

By Ben Bedell |

A Brooklyn Commercial Division judge, ruling in a case of first impression, dismissed a foreclosure action because the tenants of a mixed-use building that was not owner-occupied were given no notice.

Airbnb's web site for rooms to rent in New York City.

Judge Rules Rental of Unit on Airbnb Was Profiteering

By Joel Stashenko |

Renting a regulated Manhattan apartment through Airbnb for $649 a night violated New York City prohibitions against tenant profiteering and warrants eviction of the leaseholder, a Housing Court judge has determined.

On the Move

Pryor Cashman has elected litigation partner David Rose to a three-year term on its executive committee, Michael Spencer and Brian Kerr have opened Spencer Kerr, along with other announcements.

NYPD officers enter a crowd of protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge in October 2011.

Circuit Dismisses Bridge Protestors' Suit Against City

By Mark Hamblett |

Reversing course and acknowledging a flaw in the logic of an earlier opinion, the Second Circuit said police arguably had probable cause to arrest some 700 Occupy Wall Street protestors on the Brooklyn Bridge in 2011 and therefore are shielded from suit under the doctrine of qualified immunity.

Rendering of NYU's expansion plan, with two proposed buildings bordered by LaGuardia Place and Mercer, West Houston and West 3rd streets.

Judges to Review Challenges to NYU's Expansion Proposal

By Joel Stashenko |

The Court of Appeals will hear a legal challenge brought by residents and preservation groups trying to halt New York University's ambitious expansion plans in Greenwich Village.

The Court of Appeals in Albany

Lawyers Granted Protection for Some Pre-Case Statements

By Joel Stashenko |

Statements by attorneys prior to the start of a case are protected by a qualified privilege—as long as they are made in "good faith" as part of the anticipated litigation, the state Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday, settling what it called an "open question" in New York case law.

Peter DiTommaso in October 2012.

Perjury Conviction Is Reversed for Contractor Tied to Kerik

By Andrew Keshner |

The perjury conviction of Peter DiTommaso, a businessman connected to former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, has been vacated by an appellate court that questioned using grand jury testimony from a forgetful witness.

Named partners of Schwartz Sladkus Reich Greenberg & Atlas: Back row, from left, Jeffrey Reich, Jeffrey Schwartz and Steven Sladkus. Front row, from left, Eli Greenberg and Jason Atlas

Lawyers From Wolf Haldenstein to Start New Firm

By Christine Simmons |

Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz is splitting into two law firms in May, when a group of real estate and health care lawyers leave to form their own practice which will bill by the hour. Wolf Haldenstein will continue to focus on contingency fee matters.

MFY employees and their supporters picketing in front of their offices at 299 Broadway.

MFY Legal Services Reaches Tentative Deal with Union

By Ben Bedell |

A settlement was reached Tuesday in the 22-day-long strike by attorneys and support staff at MFY Legal Services.

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's Attorney Attacks Comments by Prosecutor

Former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's lawyers asked a judge Tuesday to throw out a bribery case against him, saying the prosecutor went too far in discussing the case publicly.

Former Firefighter Settles Equipment Failure Suit

By Joel Stashenko |

A former firefighter who laid in burning wreckage for 20 minutes while other firemen tried to find him has reached a $10.6 million settlement with a safety equipment manufacturer.

Settlement Awards Weil $16M in Antitrust Litigation

By Scott Flaherty |

A judge has awarded Weil, Gotshal & Manges $16 million in class counsel fees and signed off on a $58.5 million settlement it negotiated with the performance rights organization SESAC LLC.

On the Move

Goldberg Segalla announces several promotions, while Stroock, Reed Smith, Latham & Watkins, Cozen O'Connor and Debevoise have new additions.

Correction