In the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Judge Jack B. Weinstein held that the government contractor defense bar recent claims by Vietnam veterans against manufacturers of Agent Orange. Judge Charles P. Sifton held that the Department of Education guidelines for holiday displays in public schools do not violate the Establishment Clause. And Judge Arthur D. Spatt declined to dismiss claims against Nassau County under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act.
The firm’s lawyers write for the New York Law Journal and for other print and online publishers. In particular, Harvey Stone and Richard Dolan write the Eastern District Roundup, a monthly New York Law Journal column summarizing notable decisions in the Eastern District of New York.
In the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, in a decision relating to the $1.25 billion settlement between the Swiss banks and Holocaust victims, Chief Judge Edward R. Korman excoriated the banks for persistently denying the extent of their misconduct during and after the war, and resisting the effort to open up all relevant records. Judge Arthur D. Spatt dismissed a Bivens suit alleging inadequate medical care in prison. Judge Raymond J. Dearie applied the "discretionary function exception" defense to liability under the Federal Tort Claims Act. Judge David G. Trager remanded a collection action involving consideration of HUD regulations. And Judge John Gleeson awarded attorneys' fees exceeding $220 million in a class action.
In the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, two decisions granted writs of habeas corpus for ineffective assistance of trial counsel in state court criminal proceedings. One, by Judge Frederic Block, dealt with counsel's inexplicable failure to use a police officer's complaint report in cross-examining a robbery victim. The other, by Judge Jack B. Weinstein, cited counsel's failure to call expert witnesses to rebut claims of sodomy and sex abuse. Judge Arthur D. Spatt held that a particular attorney was not a "state actor" under § 1983. In another case Judge Spatt took steps to impose restrictions on a vexatious litigant.
An article in the June issue of the Federal Bar Council News discussed Padilla v. Bush, 233 F. Supp. 2d 564 (S.D.N.Y. 2002), and Padilla v. Rumsfeld, 243 F. Supp. 2d 42 (S.D.N.Y. 2003), decided by Chief Judge Michael Mukasey, and Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, 316 F.3d 450 (4th Cir. 2003), cases that concern the right of the U.S. military to detain U.S. citizens indefinitely and the amount of process due in connection with habeas corpus petitions brought by U.S. citizen detainees labeled "enemy combatants" following September 11, 2001.
In the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Judge Frederic Block dealt with an issue undecided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit: Whether federal drug laws preempt state tort claims. Amid another slew of decisions ruling on habeas petitions challenging state court convictions, Judge Jack B. Weinstein granted the writ in a case where petitioner's expert psychiatric testimony had been erroneously precluded. And Judge Nina Gershon declined to dismiss shareholder claims alleging violations of the Williams Act's "Best Price" provision.
In the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Judge Nina Gershon concluded that defendants' guilty plea to willful securities fraud foreclosed any sentencing benefit from the "no knowledge" provision of 15 USC § 78ff(a). Judge David G. Trager held that New York, not Israel, was a child's "habitual residence" for purposes of the Hague Convention on child abduction. And Judge Jack B. Weinstein granted a habeas petition where the trial judge had erroneously declined to give a "justification" charge in a homicide case, and the defense lawyers' citation of the wrong cases to support the charge amounted to "ineffective assistance.'
In two recent decisions, Second Circuit panels have considered when a conflict of interest arising from stock ownership by a district judge mandates recusal. In one, Chase Manhattan Bank v. Affiliated FM Insurance Co., 343 F.3d 120 (2d Cir. 2003), the panel determined that recusal was required and in the other, United States v. Lauersen, 343 F.3d 604 (2d Cir. 2003), the panel determined that recusal was not required.
In the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis held that an attorney's prior representation of a cooperating witness precluded his representation of a defendant at trial, despite defendant's claims that there would be no need for the attorney to cross-examine the witness if he testified. Judge David G. Trager denied defendant's motion for summary judgment with respect to plaintiff's claims that she, as an African-American, had been the victim of racial discrimination by other African-Americans at a State University of New York (SUNY) agency. In another case Judge Trager, though denying a habeas petition, disagreed with respondent's strict interpretation of the "relation back" doctrine in applying the statute of limitations. And Judge Jack B. Weinstein issued a 14-inch stack of decisions ruling on habeas challenges to state court convictions.
In the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, amid a slew of newly issued decisions by Judge Jack B. Weinstein denying habeas corpus relief to petitioners challenging state convictions, Judge Weinstein granted the writ in two cases where the record showed ineffective assistance of counsel–in one case, for failing to call an important witness; in another, for failing to use medical evidence as impeachment. In a decision critical of the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) overreaching, Judge Thomas C. Platt granted the SEC's motion for damages, but limited the recovery to one dollar.
In the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, in one case, Judge David G. Trager precluded a defendant from heading off a class action by offering to pay the named plaintiff in full before the class could be certified. In another, Judge I. Leo Glasser rejected plaintiff's assertion that his claim challenging his demotion did not accrue until he later applied for pension benefits. Judge Arthur D. Spatt, on still another case, saw no constitutional problem regarding a state judge's imposition of consecutive sentences for murder, robbery and assault committed during an intrusion into a Long Island home. Finally, Judge Trager also held that plaintiff was estopped from asserting Rehabilitation Act claims for a period when he had received Social Security disability benefits.