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In the movie “A Civil Action”, the protagonist says Lawsuits are war. And they begin the same way. With a declaration of war: the complaint. Examples of the litigation/war analogy are everywhere: war/fighting-related language and logo imagery are common features of attorney websites; law firms often have “war rooms”; tales of litigation exploits by experienced attorneys…

Read More Lawyer Demands “Trial by Combat”
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In People v. Gonzalez, 2015 Slip Op 05515 (June 25, 2015), the New York Court of Appeals held that a motion to suppress an illegal knife should have been granted, where the basis for the initial police stop – “disorderly conduct”, codified at NY Penal Law § 240.20(3) – was not supported by probable cause.…

Read More “Rant” Against Police Officers Was Not “Disorderly Conduct”
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In Obergefell v. Hodges, No. 14-556, 2015 WL 2473451 (U.S. June 26, 2015), the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that “a State has no constitutional obligation to license same-sex marriages or to recognize same-sex marriages performed out of State.” Justice Kennedy reversed that decision, holding that the…

Read More SCOTUS Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage
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An upstate appellate court recently held – despite contrary suggestions in popular culture – that chimpanzees are not “persons” (at least not in the legal sense). In People ex rel. Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc. v. Lavery, the court affirmed the dismissal of a habeas corpus proceeding to secure the release of a chimpanzee named Tommy. Specifically, it addressed…

Read More Court Explains Why Chimpanzees Aren’t “Persons” For Purposes of New York’s Habeas Corpus Statute
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As illustrated by a recent federal court decision, a plaintiff may be able to assert false arrest claims against a private individual who makes a false report to the police, resulting in plaintiff’s arrest. In Sanders-Peay v. NYC Dept. of Educ., decided Nov. 18, 2014, the Eastern District of New York held that plaintiff, a Department…

Read More False Arrest Claims, Based on False Statements to Police, Sufficiently Pled
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In Pittman v. Incorporated Village of Hempstead, the Eastern District of New York held that plaintiff’s excessive force claim survived summary judgment. The “Fourth Amendment protects individuals from the government’s use of excessive force when detaining or arresting individuals. … A police officer’s use of force is excessive in violation of the Fourth Amendment[] if it…

Read More Injury to Arrestee’s Head and Ear Results in Denial of Summary Judgment to Officer on Excessive Force Claim
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In O’Hara v. City of New York et al. (Summary Order dated June 18, 2014), the Second Circuit upheld a jury’s verdict that defendant police officer (McAvoy) used excessive force in arresting plaintiff (O’Hara) in violation of the Fourth Amendment (asserted through 42 USC 1983) and committed state-law battery. It held: [I]f we assume, as…

Read More Second Circuit Upholds Jury Verdict that Repeatedly Punching Unarmed, Non-Menacing Teenager is Excessive Force
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“‘You’re an asshole[]’ is not how an attorney should address her adversary.” That is the opening line of federal judge James C. Francis IV’s Order in Alexander Interactive v. Adorama, 12-6608, 2014 WL 2968528 (SDNY June 26, 2014). This decision serves as a reminder to attorneys to conduct themselves in a civil manner. This case arises…

Read More Don’t Call Your Adversary an Asshole, Federal Court Warns
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