Magistrate Judge Wang: “Sheer Volume” of Deposition Objections Not Enough for Sanctions

In an opinion today, Magistrate Judge Wang denied a motion for sanctions premised on (among other things) the “sheer volume” of objections during two depositions, including, in one instance, a deposition with an objection on approximately 80% of the transcript pages.

Judge Wang concluded that the number of objections alone was not enough, given that the objections were largely appropriate: Continue Reading

Judge Engelmeyer Vacates HHS “Conscience Rule” In Its Entirety

In a 147 page opinion today, Judge Engelmayer vacated the so-called “conscience rule” that would have allowed health care providers who receive federal funds to decline to provide services to patients based on religious or moral grounds.  The plaintiffs, a group of state and local governments, challenged the regulation based on improper rulemaking, violations of the Establishment Clause, and because the threat of denying federal funds to health care providers who did not allow employees to decline care based on religious grounds was unconstitutionally coercive.

While Judge Engelmayer declined to invalidate the rule on Establishment Clause grounds, the opinion cited several fatal flaws with how the rule was enacted, including that the alleged reason the rule was drafted in the first place (a spike in health care workers raising “conscience” complaints) was factually untrue.  Given the pervasive nature of the issues, Judge Engelmayer concluded that the rule was so “shot through with glaring legal defects” that it had to be invalidated entirely: Continue Reading

Second Circuit Refuses to Block Manhattan DA Subpoena to Trump for Tax Returns

In an opinion this morning, the Second Circuit largely affirmed the decision by Judge Marrero (covered here) to allow the Manhattan DA to enforce a grand jury subpoena to President Trump’s accountants seeking (among other things) President Trump’s tax returns.

The Second Circuit acknowledged that the President, occupying “a unique position in the constitutional scheme,” could be shielded from certain types of judicial process, but concluded that a subpoena to his accountants did not merit that protection: Continue Reading

Copyright Lawyer Asks that Judge Kaplan Recuse Himself for Referring to Lawyer as “Troll”

In a motion this week, a lawyer representing photographers in copyright suits asked that Judge Kaplan recuse himself after a recent order observed that other judges in the District had referred to the lawyer as a “copyright troll.”  The order described the over one thousand cases filed by this particular lawyer as “strike suits, designed to extort settlements.”  According to the motion, the word “troll” was “meant to defame, degrade, and stereotype a person as a rotten miscreant or nefarious villian” and thus warranted recusal.  The motion also noted that no settlement offer had been made, and that the plaintiff had only sought judgment on the merits against the defendant (a media company that had allegedly infringed on the plaintiff photographer’s copyright).

In a short response, the defendant provided an email to the court showing that the plaintiff had offered to settle the action shortly after it was filed.

Judge Daniels Enjoins “Public Charge” Rule Aimed At Restricting Immigration

In an opinion Friday, Judge Daniels preliminarily enjoined a new regulation that would change the framework for determining when those applying for legal residency are denied admission as a “public charge.”  The new proposed rule would have focused on whether the applicant was likely to receive 12 months of public benefits within 36 months.  Judge Daniels concluded that the rule, which was set to go into effect on October 15, was arbitrary, in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act: Continue Reading

Judge Marrero Rejects Trump’s “Sweeping” Claim to Immunity from DA Subpoena Over Tax Returns

In an opinion this morning, Judge Marrero dismissed President Trump’s lawsuit (see prior coverage here) seeking to block enforcement of a grand jury subpoena from the Manhattan District Attorney that seeks (among other things) Trump’s tax returns.

Judge Marrero concluded that, while presidents may enjoy some measure of immunity from criminal process in some circumstances, Trump’s “sweeping” claim of absolute immunity from any criminal process went too far: Continue Reading

Judge Oetken Dismisses Constitutional Challenge to Cap on State and Local Tax Deductions

In an opinion today, Judge Oetken rejected a lawsuit (covered here) by which four states, including New York, sought to invalidate the newly-enacted cap on the deduction for state and local taxes (SALT) on a filer’s federal income tax returns.  The challengers argued the law “verg[es] into territory that is constitutionally reserved to the states.”  But Judge Oetken found that, while the law may alter what types of state tax laws are more or less attractive—for example, it creates disincentives for high state tax rates—the law nonetheless does not improperly infringe on states’ sovereign authority to exercise their taxing powers as they wish: Continue Reading

Second Circuit Revives Suit Against Fox News for “Campaign of Emotional Torture” Against Family of Murdered DNC Staffer

Last week, the Second Circuit vacated a decision by Judge Daniels that dismissed a suit against Fox News by the family of DNC staffer Seth Rich (see our coverage of that decision here).  The complaint alleged that Fox News and two contributors intentionally exploited the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich during the 2016 election season.  According to the complaint,  Rich was murdered in Washington in what authorities believed was a botched robbery; Fox News then allegedly reported a false story that Rich had been murdered after leaking thousands of DNC emails to Wikileaks.

According to the Second Circuit, the family members had plausibly plead their claims against the network for intentional infliction of emotional distress: Continue Reading

President Trump Sues to Halt Manhattan DA’s Grand Jury Subpoena for Tax Returns

In a complaint filed today (hat tip: Courthouse News), President Trump sued to enjoin the Manhattan District Attorney from enforcing a grand jury subpoena issued to his accountants seeking (among other things) various of President Trump’s tax returns.  President Trump also simultaneously sought a temporary restraining order, and the application will be heard by Judge Marrero next Wednesday.

The complaint alleges that President Trump is immune from all criminal process while in office, including a grand jury subpoena to a third party: Continue Reading

Second Circuit Revives Emoluments Case Against President Trump, Creating Circuit Split

Friday morning, the Second Circuit vacated the district court’s dismissal of a suit challenging President Trump’s business dealings under the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses of the U.S. Constitution.  (See our prior coverage here.)  In December 2017, Judge Daniels found that Plaintiffs had failed the causation and redressability prongs of the Article III standing inquiry, and lacked prudential standing because they fell outside the “zone of interests” that the Emoluments Clauses were intended to protect.

In a 2-1 decision, the Second Circuit held that Plaintiffs had satisfied the requirements for standing: Continue Reading

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