In an opinion Wednesday, Judge Engelmayer largely granted the plaintiffs summary judgment in a case challenging New York City’s failure to make signalized intersections accessible to the blind. Only a small percentage of intersections have Accessible Pedestrian Signals, which “are devices that communicate ‘walk’ and ‘don’t walk signals to pedestrians in a non-visual format, through audible tones, speech messages, and/or vibrating surfaces.” This makes crossing the street in New York “harrowing” and “dangerous” for those who are blind or visually impaired: Continue Reading Judge Engelmayer: City’s Crosswalks Do Not Provide Meaningful Access to the Blind, Violating ADA

In an opinion Friday, Judge Failla ruled that Venezuela’s state oil company was required to pay certain bonds, despite the Venezuela National Assembly having declared last year that the bonds violated the Venezuelan Constitution.  The declaration occurred against the backdrop of a power struggle in the Venezuelan government. The National Assembly’s President Juan Guaidó has been recognized by the United States as the Interim President of Venezuela, over the competing claims of Nicolás Maduro (see our prior coverage here).

Under the doctrine of international comity, the Court could have deferred to the National Assembly’s declaration, particularly if the Executive Branch supported that view. But the Executive Branch was “non-committal” in this case, and so the Court was “left to determine for itself whether it should extend comity to the National Assembly’s actions.”

Judge Failla ultimately concluded that the bonds should be enforced because, accepting a rule to the contrary would invite other governments to shortchange legitimate creditors after-the-fact: Continue Reading Judge Failla: Venezuela Cannot Void Bonds Based on Alleged Illegality Under Venezuelan Law

In an opinion today, Judge Vyskocil granted Fox News’s motion to dismiss a defamation claim centered on an episode of Tucker Carlson Tonight. In the episode, Carlson was responding to President Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen having pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations for arranging to pay settlements to two women alleged to have had affairs with Trump. Carlson was critical of media suggestions that Trump should be impeached or held criminally responsible for the payments:

Two women approached Donald Trump and threatened to ruin his career and humiliate his family if he doesn’t give them money. Now, that sounds like a classic case of extortion. Yet, for whatever reason, Trump caves to it, and he directs Michael Cohen to pay the ransom. Now, more than two years later, Trump is a felon for doing this. It doesn’t seem to make any sense.

Judge Vyskocil ruled that, in context, this was not a literal accusation of extortion, but intended to frame the debate in the guest commentary segment that followed: Continue Reading Judge Vyskocil: Tucker Carlson’s “Extortion” Jab Was Hyperbole, Not Defamation

In an opinion today, a three-judge SDNY panel comprised of Judge Furman and Circuit Judges Wesley and Hall invalidated a Presidential memorandum which stated that, in apportioning Congressional seats, “it is the policy of the United States to exclude from the apportionment base aliens who are not in a lawful immigration status.” (The three-judge structure was triggered by 28 U.S.C. § 2284(b), which governs cases about Congressional apportionment.)

The panel concluded that the memorandum conflicted with a statutory mandate to apportion Congressional seats based on the census results alone: Continue Reading Three-Judge SDNY Panel Invalidates President Trump’s Directive to Exclude Undocumented Immigrants in Apportioning Congressional Seats

On Friday, Judge Rakoff denied cross-motions for summary judgment in Sarah Palin’s defamation lawsuit against the New York Times. (See our earlier coverage here.) Palin argued that the “actual malice” standard for defamatory statements against public figures was no longer good law or did not apply to this case, while the Times argued that no reasonable jury could find that the allegedly defamatory statements were published with actual malice. The case will proceed to trial next Februrary.

Continue Reading Judge Rakoff Clears Sarah Palin’s Defamation Lawsuit Against NY Times for February Trial

In a 103-page opinion, Judge Marrero rejected President Trump’s latest attempt to block a grand jury subpoena issued to Trump’s accounting firm by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. In July, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that Trump could not obtain injunctive relief based on an assertion of categorical immunity from criminal process while in office. (See our previous coverage here.) On remand, Trump argued that the subpoena was overbroad and issued in bad faith.

Dismissing the amended complaint, Judge Marrero found that “the filing of the [amended complaint] to assert claims and reargue issues substantially addressed in earlier proceedings would prolong the President’s noncompliance with the grand jury’s demand for the documents in dispute.” Continue Reading Judge Marrero Upholds Manhattan District Attorney’s Subpoena for Trump Tax Records

In an opinion last week, Judge Caproni ruled unlawful a memorandum issued by the Department of Interior that interpreted a provision of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (“MBTA”) that prohibits killing “by any means whatever . . . at any time or in any manner, any migratory bird” to exclude incidental, unintentional killing.

The opinion begins: Continue Reading Judge Caproni: Agency Cannot Rewrite Statutory Prohibition on Killing Migratory Birds to Carve Out Unintentional Killings

In an opinion Monday, Judge Rakoff refused to vacate an antitrust arbitration ruling in Uber’s favor, even though the arbitrator joked at one point: “I must say I act out of fear. My fear is if I ruled Uber illegal, I would need security. I wouldn’t be able to walk the streets at night. People would be after me.”

Judge Rakoff found this was merely a poor attempt at humor by an arbitrator that had better jokes on other occasions in the case (e.g., “ARBITRATOR: I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but when surge prices go on, I check Lyft. [KALANICK]: That’s fair.”): Continue Reading Judge Rakoff: Arbitrator’s Joke About “Fearing” Uber Does Not Justify Vacating Award

Earlier today, Judge Oetken issued a decision invalidating several provisions of a Department of Labor rule implementing the paid sick leave and emergency family leave provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The Labor Department had excluded employees who were unable to work because their employers had no work available for them as a result of the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. It also adopted a broad definition of “health care provider,” which would have allowed “an English professor, librarian, or cafeteria manager at a university with a medical school” to be denied paid leave.

Continue Reading Judge Oetken Strikes Down Labor Department Restrictions on COVID-19 Paid Leave

Last week, Judge Cote ruled that a New York’s Penal Law Section 215.50 – a misdemeanor criminal contempt statute that prohibits shouting and display of signage within two hundred feet of a courthouse where that speech concerns a trial ongoing in that courthouse – violated the First Amendment.  The case arose when the defendant distributed pamphlets with information about jury nullification outside the Bronx County Hall of Justice and was arrested after refusing to move outside of the 200-foot perimeter.

Judge Cote found that the act was not sufficiently tailored to meet the state’s purported interest in protecting trial integrity: Continue Reading Judge Cote Strikes Down New York State Prohibition Against Trial Signage Outside Courthouses, Citing First Amendment