31 Oct

Second Circuit Affirms Judge Torres’ Denial of Police Unions’ Request to Intervene in Stop-and-Frisk Cases

The opinion’s introduction summarizes the holding as follows:

We hold that the police unions’ motions to intervene are untimely and do not assert an interest that the law seeks to protect. The unions knew, or should have known, of their alleged interests in these controversial and public cases well before they filed their motions in September 2013. For years now, “stop‐and‐frisk” has been the subject of extensive public filings and intense media scrutiny. Whatever the merit of the unions’ claim that Judge Scheindlin’s rulings were incorrectly premised “upon statistical evidence purporting to place 4.4 million stops at issue,” allowing the unions to revive a now‐settled dispute by intervening at this late juncture would substantially prejudice the existing parties and unduly encroach upon the City’s inherent discretion to settle a dispute against it. In other words, granting the unions’ motions in the wake of the November 2013 mayoral election would essentially condone a collateral attack on the democratic process and could erode the legitimacy of decisions made by the democratically‐elected representatives of the people.

Furthermore, the police unions’ interests in their members’ reputations and collective bargaining rights are, as a matter of law, too remote from “the subject of the action” to warrant intervention as a “party.” We stress that our holding is limited to the particular and highly unusual circumstances presented here and should in no way be construed to encourage premature intervention in cases of public concern where government defendants have discretion to settle.

Judge Torres’ prior ruling was covered here, and other posts on stop-and-frisk are here.

30 Oct

Judge Furman Dismisses Class Action Accusing Match.Com of Using Photos It Does Not Own to Make Phony Dating Profiles

In an opinion today, Judge Furman dismissed a class action brought by a company called Meltech, which owns the rights to certain pictures of an adult movie actor known professionally as Melissa Midwest, against against Match.com and various affiliated dating websites.  Meltech alleged that Match and the other websites used photos of Ms. Midwest without authorization to make fake dating profiles.

Meltech withdrew its copyright claims because it had not actually registered any copyrights for the photos, and Judge Furman found that Meltech could not use the Lanham Act as an “end-run” around the copyright laws:

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24 Oct

The SDNY Celebrates its 225th Anniversary

This November marks the 225th anniversary of the District Court for the Southern District of New York, and the court has announced a series of events to commemorate and celebrate that anniversary. Events kick off on November 4 with a special session and reception, and will include a reenactment of the Pentagon Papers case, a performance of a patent trial – “American Pin v. National Button” – and panels on the judicial lives of Judges Edward Weinfeld, Learned Hand, and Constance Baker Motley. A full listing of events is here.

The Southern District – which convened for the first time on November 3, 1789 – is the oldest federal court in the United States, pre-dating by several weeks the organization of the U.S. Supreme Court, which did not hold its first session until February 1790. A history of the court, published in 1962 by the Federal Bar Association of New York, New Jersey & Connecticut, can be found here.

21 Oct

Herbalife Case Raises Second Challenge to Constitutionality of SEC ALJs

A complaint filed yesterday is the second SDNY suit (see our post on the first one, here) to argue that SEC ALJ’s are too insulated from accountability to the executive branch, in violation of Article II of the Constitution.

The underlying case involves administrative charges against Jordan Peixoto, who allegedly shorted Herbalife stock in advance of a presentation by the hedge fund Pershing Square accusing Herbalife of being a pyramid scheme. Peixoto allegedly received the information from a friend (Filip Szymik) who was roommates with an analyst at Pershing Square.

Peixoto argues that the case was brought administratively to avoid having a jury rule on weak evidence and on a novel application of the insider trading laws:

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10 Oct

NYLJ Publishes Q&A With Judge Berman

The article includes the following answer detailing Judge Berman’s most interesting cases:

The most rewarding part of the job has to do with the breadth and sometimes the significance of the cases. Mine have included: a) two “three judge” cases (election redistricting and a challenge to the Communications Decency Act); b) two cases which were ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, one involving the importation of wine into New York State and another relating to civil RICO (Yes, I went to both oral arguments in Washington, D.C.); c) the New York City “subway search” case which was resolved after a compelling bench trial; d) the case that authorized the use of credit cards in New York City taxis (You’re welcome); e) the trial of a non-U.S. national for attempting to kill U.S. government officials (CIA, FBI and military officers) in Afghanistan; f) overseeing the District Council of New York City Carpenters Union trusteeship which calls upon my undergraduate degree in Industrial and Labor Relations; and g) the recent trial involving counterfeit wine which sold for $20-$30 thousand per bottle.

09 Oct

Justice Kagan Wonders: Should Clerks to Former SDNY Judge Weinfeld Have Been Paid Extra For Breakfast Prep?

During argument yesterday in a Supreme Court case considering whether the labor laws require compensation for time spent in security screenings, Justice Kagan asked the following question:

Can I give you a different hypo, which is similar to some of the ones that have been floating around in a brief, but it’s actually based on real life circumstances. There was a judge ages ago in the Southern District of New York who had his clerks   — all that they did was help him with his opinions and his cases and that was their principal activity, but had his clerks come early in order to cut his grapefruit and otherwise make breakfast for him.  And would that be compensable?

As the National Law Journal reports, the judge in question was legendary Southern District Judge Edward Weinfeld:

[T]he 1998 book Closed Chambers by Edward Lazarus states that clerks for Southern District Judge Edward Weinfeld “knew they had to be in the office at 7 a.m. to cut the judge’s morning grapefruit.” After that, he added, the clerks “learned a lifetime’s worth of civil procedure and good lawyering.”

01 Oct

New Suit Challenges Constitutionality of SEC Administrative Proceedings Based on ALJs’ Insulation From Executive Oversight

Attorneys at Skadden Arps and Post & Schell, on behalf of a client named Joseph Stilwell and his firm, today filed a complaint arguing that SEC administrative proceedings are unconstitutional:

SEC administrative proceedings violate Article II of the U.S. Constitution, which states that the “executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.”

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01 Oct

Judge Oetken Certifies Liability-Only Class in MBS Case Against JP Morgan

In an opinion yesterday, Judge Oetken certified a class, for purposes of liability only, in a case alleging that certain JP Morgan mortgage-backed securites offering documents falsely represented (among other things) that the underlying loans complied with certain underwriting standards when, in fact, those standards were abandoned.

Judge Oetken rejected JP Morgan’s argument (among many others) that there were too many underwriting standards — 8,196 according to JP Morgan — to address on a class wide basis:

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30 Sep

Judge Gardephe Allows DOJ to Proceed With Suit Accusing Novartis of Using “Sham” Speaker Events to Pay Doctors Kickbacks

In a 90-page opinion today, Judge Gardephe largely denied Novartis’ motion to dismiss a government suit alleging that it paid doctors kickbacks by hosting sham speaker events that allegedly “served as little more than upscale social outings designed to induce doctors to write prescriptions for Novartis drugs.”  He rejected Novartis’ argument that the complaint lacked sufficient detail under Rule 9(b):

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