Judge Nathan: Refusal to Provide List of Inactive Voters at Polling Locations Serves No Legitimate State Interest

New York regularly places voters on inactive status if it believes that the voter has moved, but it does not provide the names of these inactive voters to poll workers at polling locations.  In an opinion last week, Judge Nathan ruled, following a bench trial, that the refusal to maintain the inactive list at polling locations violates the the Equal Protection Clause.

Judge Nathan found that the refusal to provide the inactive list served no legitimate state interest.  The State argued that not having the inactive list would ensure that people vote in the location in which they were registered, but, as Judge Nathan concluded, failed to explain how the practice would “actually advance” that interest.  The State claimed that the practice increased efficiency at the polls, but Judge Nathan found that the practice actually created delays which produced ripple effects that burdened all voters.

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Judge Rakoff: New York May Challenge ICE Policy of Making Immigration Arrests at Courthouses

In an opinion yesterday, Judge Rakoff refused to dismiss a case brought by New York State and the Kings County District Attorney challenging a policy by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, or ICE, of arresting suspected unauthorized immigrants when they show up for court proceedings.  The opinion introduces the case as follows:

Courts cannot be expected to function properly if third parties (not least the executive branch of the government) feel free to disrupt the proceedings and intimidate the parties and witnesses by staging arrests for unrelated civil violations in the courthouse, on court property, or while the witnesses or parties are in transit to or from their court proceedings. Accordingly, more than 500 years ago, the English courts developed a common law privilege against civil arrests on courthouse premises and against arrests of parties and other persons necessarily traveling to or from court.

This ancient privilege, incorporated into American law in the early years of our republic by virtually all state and federal courts, has remained largely intact over the centuries. But now, according to the State of New York, [ICE], in implementation of an Executive Order issued by the Trump Administration in January 2017 and a Directive to ICE agents promulgated in January 2018, has increased its civil arrests in or around New York state courthouses by a remarkable 1700 percent and more. By this lawsuit, plaintiff The State of New York, joined by co-plaintiff Eric Gonzalez (the District Attorney of Kings County), demand that these intrusions be halted.

Judge Rakoff rejected the government’s argument (among others) that the immigration laws trump any common law privilege, because there was no “clear” statutory language to that effect: Continue Reading

Judge Furman: Interlocutory Appeals More Appropriate In MDL Context, Where Cases Are More Commonly Settled, Precluding Ordinary Appellate Review

In an opinion today, Judge Furman certified for interlocutory appeal a question about calculating economic losses in the GM ignition switch litigation (covered here).  One reason for doing so, he ruled, was that in the context of an MDL, where there are powerful pressures to settle, these sorts of questions would never otherwise be the subject of a final judgment that would be heard in an ordinary appeal: Continue Reading

Second Circuit: Banks Must Comply with House Subpoena for Trump Financial Records

In a opinion today, the Second Circuit held that two financial institutions must comply with recent subpoenas issued by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Financial Services Committee seeking information related to the Trump Organization and Trump family businesses.  President Trump and others had filed a suit to prevent the banks from complying with the subpoenas (see our previous coverage here).

The Second Circuit affirmed in part Judge Ramos’ earlier denial of President Trump’s request for an injunction.  In part, the Second Circuit found that the public interest outweighed individual privacy concerns because the lead plaintiff was the President of the United States: Continue Reading

Judge Kaplan Denies Recusal Request Over “Troll” Reference

In an order last week, Judge Kaplan denied a serial plaintiff attorney’s request that the judge recuse himself for referring to the plaintiff’s attorney as a “troll” in an opinion (see our previous coverage here).  Judge Kaplan observed that the request was based on several inaccurate assertions: Continue Reading

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

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