Chief Judge McMahon issued a Notice to the Bar today barring entry into the courthouses by various people at risk for spreading the coronavirus, including:

  • People who in the prior two weeks have visited China, South Korea, Japan, Italy or Iran
  • People in close contact with people who have traveled to those countries
  • People who are under self-quarantine
  • People with “fever, cough or shortness of breath”

Earlier today, the Second Circuit reversed a decision by Judge Ramos that had invalidated an executive order targeting “sanctuary cities” that did not cooperate with federal law enforcement on immigration issues (see our previous coverage here).

Judge Ramos had held that the order was arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedures Act, and impinged on the powers of state and local governments.  The Second Circuit disagreed, noting that the federal government has broad power to enforce immigration policy: Continue Reading Second Circuit Reverses Judge Ramos on “Sanctuary Cities,” Allows Executive Order Cutting Funding

In an order last week, Judge Sullivan (sitting by designation in the Southern District) dismissed claims brought by former Knicks star Charles Oakley against Knicks owner James Dolan and several Madison Square Garden entities.  The complaint alleged a claim for defamation as well as several state law tort claims, all stemming from a 2017 incident at Madison Square Garden where Oakley was forcibly removed from the stands during a Knicks game by the arena’s security.  After the incident, Dolan and the Knicks’ official Twitter account made several statements that Oakley claimed were defamatory, including claims that Oakley had been “drinking beforehand” and that he “behaved in an highly inappropriate and completely abusive manner.”

A key deficit for the defamation claim was the lack of actual malice:

A public figure cannot recover damages for defamation unless he proves, by clear and convincing evidence, that the relevant statements were made with actual malice at the time that they were spoken or written.  A statement is made with “actual malice” where it is made “with knowledge that the statement[] [is] false or with reckless disregard as to [its] falsity . . . Oakley fails to satisfy this requirement.  Indeed, he does not offer any facts beyond the conclusory allegations that the MSG Defendants or Dolan acted with actual malice.  The Amended Complaint asserts repeatedly that the MSG Defendants and Dolan were “fully aware that [their] comments were and are entirely without basis in fact and/or” that their comments were made with “a reckless disregard for their truth.”  But the Amended Complaint does not provide any factual grounds to support those conclusory allegations.  These are they type of “labels and conclusions” and “formulaic recitation[s] of the elements of a cause of action” that must be disregarded under Iqbal and Twombly.

Judge Sullivan also dismissed the state law tort claims, as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act claims that Oakley was denied access to Madison Garden Square (a place of public accommodation) based on what the defendants perceived was the disability of alcoholism.  Judge Sullivan also denied Oakley leave to amend, citing Judge Lynch’s observation that “[w]hile pleading is not a game of skill in which one misstep may be decisive to the outcome, neither is it an interactive game in which the plaintiffs file a complaint, and then bat it back and forth with the Court over a rhetorical net until a viable complaint emerges.”

A mentally disabled man named Karl Taylor died in prison, and his estate has sued, accusing prison guards of beating and choking him to death.  In defending the case, New York State proposed to offer expert testimony “that in the time leading up to and at the time of his death, Mr. Taylor was experiencing acute symptoms of his psychotic illness.”

In an order today, Chief Judge McMahon granted a motion in limine to exclude the testimony, and, in doing so, warned the defendants about trying to devalue the life of Mr. Taylor: Continue Reading In Case Over Inmate Death, Judge McMahon Tells NY: Good Luck Arguing that Mental Disabilities Reduced the Value of the Inmate’s Life

In an order yesterday, the Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, stayed a nationwide preliminary injunction Judge Daniels issued against a new rule redefining when those applying for legal residency can be denied admission as a “public charge” (see our prior coverage here).

Justice Gorsuch issued a concurring opinion, joined by Justice Thomas, expressing an interest in resolving the broader procedural question of whether District Judges should issue nationwide injunctions at all: Continue Reading Supreme Court Stays Judge Daniels’ Nationwide Injunction Against “Public Charge” Rule

In a class action lawsuit filed Thursday, a fantasy sports contestant alleged that the cheating scandals that have recently engulfed Major League Baseball fatally compromised the fairness of fantasy contests promoted by the league.  The complaint alleges that contestants would not “have wagered on fantasy baseball contests if they had known that the players’ performance statistics on which their wagers were based were not honest.” Continue Reading Class Action Alleges MLB Cheating Scandal Tainted Fantasy League

In a complaint filed today, congresswoman and presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard sued Hillary Clinton for defamation over Clinton having referred to Gabbard as a “Russian asset” during a podcast.  The complaint accuses Clinton of harboring a grudge ever since Gabbard endorsed Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election: Continue Reading Tulsi Gabbard Sues Hillary Clinton for Defamation Over “Russian Asset” Comment

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.

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