On Thursday, Judge Castel sanctioned two lawyers and their law firm $5,000 in connection with their widely publicized submission of fake cases generated by ChatGPT.

The relevant events began on March 1, when the plaintiff’s lawyers submitted an “affirmation” in opposition to the defendant’s motion to dismiss, which first cited the fake cases. On March 15, the defendant a reply brief questioning the existence of many of the cases cited in plaintiff’s “affirmation.”

After reading the reply and being unable to locate a number of the cases himself, Judge Castel ordered plaintiff’s lawyers to produce the cases cited in their opposition. Plaintiff’s counsel submitted an affidavit attaching the excerpts of the “cases” on April 25th. Judge Castel reviewed the “purported decisions” and described them as showing “stylistic and reasoning flaws that do not generally appear in decisions” from federal courts and containing legal analysis that was “gibberish.” On May 4, he ordered plaintiff’s lawyers to show cause why they should not be sanctioned. On May 25, one of the lawyers finally admitted that he had used ChatGPT to conduct his legal research, not understanding that it could invent fake cases.

Continue Reading Judge Castel Sanctions Lawyers Who Submitted Fake Cases Generated By ChatGPT

In an Order yesterday, Judge Figueredo sanctioned a defendant for failing to show up for his deposition and thereby causing two lawyers for the plaintiff to waste two hours of their time, until they learned he was not coming. The sanction amount is notable for approving the hourly rate of $1,285.50 for a commercial litigation partner at a large law firm (Proskauer Rose) and also for approving an $800 rate for an associate (reduced from the requested $1,102.50).

Two hours of their time, plus the court reporter feeds, totaled $5,850.

Yesterday, the Second Circuit overturned Judge McMahon’s December 2021 decision rejecting the Purdue Pharma bankruptcy on the grounds that the Bankruptcy Code did not permit releases of third-party direct claims against non-debtors. As we previously covered, Judge McMahon’s opinion found that the bankruptcy court lacked authority to issue releases in favor of the Sackler family. 

While acknowledging that both sides put forth arguments “about fairness and accountability, particularly as it relates to the Sacklers, in releasing parties from liability for actions that cause great societal harm” the Second Circuit concluded that the only questions it needed to resolve were (1) whether the Bankruptcy Code permits nonconsensual third-party releases of direct claims against non-debtors, and (2) if so, were such releases proper here in light of all equitable considerations and the facts of this case. The Court answered both questions in the affirmative:

Continue Reading Second Circuit, Reversing Judge McMahon’s Order, Affirms Purdue Pharma Bankruptcy

On Wednesday, Judge Vyskocil denied a request by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg for a TRO enjoining the enforcement of the subpoena issued to Mark F. Pomerantz by Congressman Jim Jordan in his role as Chair of the House Committee on the Judiciary. We previously covered DA Bragg’s TRO and Complaint here.

Before addressing the merits of the TRO request, Judge Vyskocil faulted DA Bragg for filing the order to show cause for the TRO without notice to Defendants and before serving them with the Complaint. She characterized the first 35 pages of the Complaint as “nothing short of a public relations tirade against former President and current presidential candidate Donald Trump,” before concluding “that this action is merely a motion to quash a subpoena dressed up as a lawsuit.”

Continue Reading Judge Vyskocil Denies DA Bragg’s Request to Enjoin Pomerantz’s Testimony, but Second Circuit Grants Stay Pending Appeal

Today, Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg filed a complaint and motion for a TRO and preliminary injunction seeking to quash a subpoena that was served by a Congressional committee on former Special ADA Mark Pomerantz. The subpoena seeks testimony about the New York State criminal prosecution and investigation of former President Trump. Judge Vyskocil declined to issue a TRO, but ordered expedited briefing and set a hearing on the preliminary injunction motion for next week.

The subpoena target, Mr. Pomerantz, participated in the Manhattan DA’s investigation of former President Donald Trump and his businesses. Congressman Jim Jordan served the subpoena in his capacity as Chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary, and the subpoena seeks a deposition of Mr. Pomerantz on April 20.

DA Bragg’s Complaint argues that Mr. Jordan is seeking “highly sensitive and confidential local prosecutorial information that belongs to the Office of the District Attorney and the People of New York” and that “[b]asic principles of federalism and common sense, as well as binding Supreme Court precedent” forbid such a request from Congress, which has no authority to supervise state criminal prosecutions:

Continue Reading Judge Vyskocil Schedules Hearing Next Week in Challenge to Congressional Subpoena for Testimony About Manhattan DA’s Trump Investigation

In a decision Friday, Judge Koeltl ruled that the Internet Archive (“IA”), the nonprofit entity behind the popular “Wayback Machine,” committed copyright infringement through its program of scanning and lending digital copies of copyrighted books to the public. IA advanced a type of “fair use” defense that it called “controlled digital lending,” arguing that an entity that owns a physical copy of a book can digitize it and then lend out the digital copy, as long as it only loans out a single digital copy for each physical copy owned.

Judge Koeltl rejected IA’s fair use argument, finding “nothing transformative about IA’s copying and unauthorized lending.”

At bottom, IA’s fair use defense rests on the notion that lawfully acquiring a copyrighted print book entitles the recipient to make an unauthorized copy and distribute it in place of the print book, so long as it does not simultaneously lend the print book. But no case or legal principle supports that notion. Every authority points the other direction.

In an opinion Tuesday, Judge Carter issued an injunction against New York’s newly-enacted online hate speech law (see our prior coverage here).

The law would require social media platforms to develop policies for addressing, and responding to user complaints about, “hateful conduct.”  Judge Carter found that, in doing so, the law impermissibly compelled the challengers — Rumble and other “pro-free speech” online platforms — to engage in speech with which they disagreed:

Continue Reading Judge Carter Enjoins New York’s New Online Hate Speech Law on First Amendment Grounds

A jury returned a verdict yesterday of approximately $130,000 against Mason Rothschild, the creator of a series of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, associated with digital images of Hermés’s “Birkin” handbags covered in fake fur (see our prior coverage here).

Rothschild argued that the NFTs were protected artistic expression under the First Amendment.  Judge Rakoff denied both sides summary judgment as to that and other issues, and ultimately instructed the jury that the First Amendment question turned on whether Rothchild was intentionally trying to confuse customers and thereby capitalize on Hermés famous brand, or instead created the project for artistic reasons:

Continue Reading Jury: “MetaBirkins” NFTs Violate Trademark Rights of Handbag Maker Hermés

Judge McMahon issued a written Order on Friday, answering the parties’ questions ahead of a bench trial in an ERISA case, and, in doing so, offered helpful guidance as to her practices in bench trials.

First, she was clear she does not want opening statements, and perhaps not even closing statements:

Continue Reading Judge McMahon Ahead of Bench Trial: “Last Thing I Need Is Opening Statements”