Good morning. After a number of lawsuits challenging Biden administration policies were filed in Texas, the chief judges in those districts are facing new pressure to end the practice of “judge shopping.” Plus, Elon Musk and Wachtell’s court fight ratchets up, and the 6th Circuit asks the Ohio Supreme Court to weigh in on a $650 million opioid judgment. Welcome to Wednesday.
The federal judiciary is facing new calls to end the practice of “judge shopping” by state attorneys general and activists who sue over government policies in courthouses where a single judge seen as likely sympathetic to their cases is almost guaranteed to hear their lawsuits, reportsNate Raymond.
Nine civil rights and abortion advocacy groups, including the National Immigration Law Center and NARAL Pro-Choice America, sent letters to the chief judges of Texas’ four federal district courts, where many Biden administration policies have been challenged, asking them to amend local rules to provide for the random, district-wide assignment of any cases brought by a state that seeks to enjoin or vacate federal statutes or agency actions. The current rules in Texas’ federal districts virtually guarantee civil cases in single-judge divisions will be assigned to those lone judges.
The letters came after the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School asked federal judicial policymakers to adopt a similar rule on a nationwide basis. That proposal has been referred to the Judicial Conference’s Advisory Committee on Civil Rules, which holds its next meeting on Oct. 17.
Federal courts will allow remote public access to civil and bankruptcy proceedings to continue as they did during the COVID-19 pandemic, but with new restrictions. The U.S. Judicial Conference adopted a policy that will allow judges overseeing such cases to provide live audio access to the public in non-trial proceedings that have no witness testimony. (Reuters)
New York’s highest state court weighed whether to remove a town judge who brandished his loaded gun at a defendant in his courtroom in 2015, pressing his lawyer why his conduct should not be grounds for removal from the bench. Whitehall, New York, village Justice Robert Putorti drew a loaded semi-automatic handgun on a man as he presided over the court. (Reuters)
John Roesser, a former international arbitration lawyer who practiced as a partner at Alston & Bird, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer and Dechert, pleaded guilty to making false statements in U.S. bankruptcy court in an effort to keep his multi-million dollar house and luxury sports car, the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office said. (Reuters)
The FDA warned eight companies, including CVS and Walgreens, against manufacturing or marketing unapproved eye products that treat conditions like conjunctivitis, cataracts and glaucoma. The U.S. health regulator said in letters sent to the companies that failure to correct violations may result in legal action (Reuters).
Law firm Wachtell has filed a motion to force a $90 million lawsuit by Elon Musk’s X Corp out of court and into confidential arbitration. The motion contends that Musk’s attempt to recoup some of the millions that departing Twitter board members paid to Wachtell just before Musk took control of the company must be arbitrated under the terms of Wachtell’s retainer agreement with Twitter. If Wachtell’s motion is granted, the case will proceed in secret, which means the motion may be the firm’s last chance to address claims by Musk and X in public. The law firm, writes Alison Frankel, made the most of its opportunity.
“Impossible Foods’s arguments before us should amount to a nothingburger.“
—9th Circuit Judge Lawrence VanDyke, who dissented from the appellate court’s ruling reinstating Impossible Foods’ lawsuit seeking to head off an Austin, Texas, wellness entrepreneur’s trademark-infringement allegations. The majority held that the entrepreneur, Joel Runyon, had enough ties to California for the case to proceed in the state, but VanDyke said the decision could push the boundaries of jurisdiction too far.
Coming up today
The state of Georgia faces a noon deadline to respond to former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows’ request for a stay of the lower court’s order rejecting his bid to remove his criminal case to federal court. Meadows, who was one of several Trump aides charged alongside the former president in the Georgia election interference case, has argued that federal law gives federal officials the right to move civil or criminal actions against them from state court to federal court. The appellate court also wants an answer to whether that federal law applies to former federal officials from both Georgia and Meadows by the end of the day.
Google and plaintiffs who claim antitrust violations in the way the NFL crafts and sells its “Sunday Ticket” package of televised games will duke it out before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins in San Jose as the plaintiffs seek more documents from Google and YouTube’s negotiations with the NFL. Google, which is represented by lawyers from Wilson Sonsini, says it has turned over enough about YouTube’s deal with the NFL to air “Sunday Ticket.”
The House Oversight Committee will take up third-party funding of litigation at a hearing. J&J assistant general counsel Aviva Wein and National Ocean Industries Association president Erik Milito are among the scheduled witnesses.
Court calendars are subject to last-minute docket changes.
In the courts
The 6th Circuit, which is weighing whether to uphold a $650 million judgment against pharmacy operators CVS, Walmart and Walgreens for fueling the opioid epidemic in parts of Ohio, has asked the Ohio Supreme Court to weigh in first. The federal appellate court said that the pharmacies’ appeal of the judgment won by two Ohio counties raised “novel and unresolved questions” of whether state law permits the public-nuisance claim the case was centered on. (Reuters)
A day after they filed a similar lawsuit against ChatGPT maker OpenAI, a group of writers including Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon sued Meta Platforms accusing the tech giant of misusing their works to train its Llama artificial-intelligence software. Chabon, Tony-winning playwright David Henry Hwang and authors Matthew Klam, Rachel Louise Snyder and Ayelet Waldman in a lawsuit said Meta taught the Llama large-language model to respond to human text prompts with datasets that included pirated versions of their writings. (Reuters)
U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos in Manhattan sentenced Karl Sebastian Greenwood, the co-founder of the purported cryptocurrency OneCoin, to 20 years in prison for what prosecutors called a $4 billion fraud. Greenwood pleaded guilty last year to fraud and money laundering charges for selling a fake cryptocurrency alongside one of the United States’ most-wanted fugitives, a woman referred to as the “Cryptoqueen.” Greenwood’s lawyer declined to comment. (Reuters)
Apple and its counsel from Fish & Richardson convinced the Federal Circuit to uphold U.S. Patent Office tribunal decisions invalidating parts of about a dozen patents owned by health-monitoring company Masimo in their dispute over Apple Watch technology, including patents that Masimo has accused the tech giant of infringing. The court affirmed that the relevant parts of Masimo’s patents were invalid, handling Apple a win as the two companies fight over patents in multiple courts. (Reuters)
Clifford Chance hired technology partners Vipul Nishawala, Meighan O’Reardon, and James McPhillips in New York and Washington, D.C. The trio arrives from Pillsbury. (Reuters)
O’Melveny rehired former acting U.S. Comptroller of the Currency Brian Brooks as a partner in its financial services practice and fintech industry group. Brooks, working from Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., most recently was at Valor Capital Group. (Reuters)
Shook, Hardy & Bacon picked up partner Amy Kuo Alexander for its general liability litigation group in San Francisco. Alexander was previously with Gordon & Rees. (Shook Hardy)
Hunton Andrews Kurth brought on corporate and M&A partner Valarie Ney in Washington, D.C. Ney joins from Holland & Knight. (Hunton Andrews Kurth)
Goodwin hired Leon Johnson as a private equity partner in San Francisco. He arrives from Kirkland. (Goodwin)
Vedder Price added Rich Tilghman as a Chicago-based litigation partner. Tilghman previously was at Nixon Peabody. (Vedder Price)
Manatt hired litigation and antitrust partner Dylan Carson in Washington, D.C. He most recently was at Bona Law. (Manatt)