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SDNY Judge Engelmayer Tells Online Journalist To Get Counsel For SLAPP Suit Scoffing at Twitter

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - The Source

SDNY COURTHOUSE, May 21 –  A man named in an SEC investigation sued Dow Jones and another online journalist who reported about it.

On May 21 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Paul A. Engelmayer heard the case. He stayed discovery, but he advised the online journalist to "expedite her efforts to secure representation by counsel," while discouraging her from pursuing sanctions in connection with the seemingly retaliatory or SLAPP suit. Does this chill reporting?

  Inner City Press, once ordered to stop tweeting from the back row of Judge Engelmayer's courtroom in a #6ix9ine related proceeding which despite a request was not live streamed to the SDNY Press Room, covered this proceeding. 

        A lawyer said without irony to Judge Paul "Meme" Engelmayer, I don't know how much you know about Twitter.

    Judge Engelemayer asked, Does someone who republishes have a safe harbor? 

A lawyer replied, Section 74 of the NY Civil Rights Act - there is privilege to report on judicial proceedings... And a headline is a fair reflection of article.

   Next, Judge Engelmayer asked plaintiff's lawyer if his client left his law firm BEFORE the Barron's article.

    The lawyer replied, I'm just the second chair.

     Judge Engelmayer admonished him, This is the big leagues. You have to be prepared. My time is worth something. You can't just make stuff up.  

The online journalist said, I stand by what I reported. But I have something else to say.     Judge Engelmayer cut her off, Only if it's related to what I asked. Who moved to change venue from Florida to New York?

     Defendants did. "The case has nothing to do with Florida. Judge Smith transferred it."   

Judge Engelmayer ruled, Citing venerable pandemic exception, I will stay discovery until I rule on motion to dismiss. Staying discovering in a SLAPP suit, especially one implicating the right to report, is the right move. As was Judge Engelmayer's move to allow an audio feed of a confidential witness in a criminal trial now canceled but on which we'll have more. This case is Kesner v. Barron's, Inc. et al., 20-cv-3454 (Engelmayer).  


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