In a brush-back pitch to DOJ opioid initiatives, the U.S. Supreme Court this past June issued an important decision clarifying the mental state the government must establish to convict a licensed medical professional of illegal drug distribution under the federal Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”). No longer can a doctor be convicted of such a crime based on objectively unreasonable prescribing practices alone. The government now must show that the medical professional subjectively, knowingly, and intentionally prescribed a controlled substance with no legitimate medical purpose. While unlikely to materially impact the number of DOJ opioid prosecutions, the case will no doubt inform charging decisions in marginal cases and will support important defense arguments at trial.

Continue Reading Will the Supreme Court’s Latest Decision on Mens Rea Leave Medical Professional Prosecutions Ruan-ing on Empty?

The last two years have provided legal professionals with a crash course in the remote practice of law. Attorneys and judges have been forced to navigate COVID-19 protocols and adapt to the rapidly changing legal landscape in the digital age. While the pandemic created an abundance of new technological challenges, it also impacted one of the oldest standards in our judicial system—service of process.

Continue Reading Service of Process: An Overlooked Challenge of Litigation During COVID-19

Due to the large-scale shutdowns triggered by the Coronavirus pandemic (“COVID-19”), many businesses were unable to operate fully, or not at all. Litigants across the country have sought to be relieved of their obligations under contracts as a result of the pandemic-related disruptions, under legal theories including impossibility, frustration of purpose, and force majeure. As recently decided cases demonstrate, proponents of these theories have faced uphill battles.

Continue Reading Mission (Im)possible: Recent Cases Hold That Pandemic-Related Disruptions Do Not Relieve Contractual Performance

Last month, former attorney Michael Avenatti was sentenced to four years in prison for stealing about $300,000 from his client, Stormy Daniels. But Mr. Avenatti was already serving a thirty-month prison sentence for attempting to extort a “settlement” from Nike.

Continue Reading Don’t Go to Prison for Extortion: Lessons from Michael Avenatti

Recent New York legislation will afford a class of sexual abuse victims the opportunity to sue their abusers, where they previously would have been time-barred. On May 24, 2022, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law the Adult Survivors Act (“ASA”) (S.66A/A.648A), which creates a one-year lookback window for alleged survivors of sexual assault that occurred when they were over the age of 18 to sue their alleged abusers regardless of when the abuse occurred. The one-year window will begin six months from signing – on November 24, 2022 and will close on November 23, 2023. In 2019, New York extended the statute of limitations to 20 years for adults filing civil lawsuits for  certain enumerated sex offenses. However, that legislation only affected new cases and was not retroactive. In contrast, the ASA permits individuals who were over the age of 18 when any alleged abuse occurred to sue for civil damages regardless of the statute of limitations.

Continue Reading The Time to Prepare for the Litigation Following New York’s Enactment of the Adult Survivors Act

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) recently announced its long awaited proposed changes to its Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (the “Endorsement Guides”). The Endorsement Guides were first enacted in 1980 and are intended to help businesses ensure that their endorsement and testimonial advertising conforms with Section 5 of the FTC Act, which prohibits “unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce,” including false advertising. Among the proposed changes to the Endorsement Guides, are those related to social media platforms and their users, deceptive endorsements by online “influencers,” businesses’ use of consumer reviews, and the impact of advertising on children.

Continue Reading FTC’s Proposed Changes to Endorsement Guides: Social Media, “Influencers,” Consumer Reviews, and the Impact of Advertising on Children

Recently I was going back and forth with a colleague about training programs for our developing lawyers. This colleague, a respected friend, looked at the list I proudly provided of the various advocacy, writing, presentation and positioning lessons filling the educational schedule, and responded with the pith of perception “Not a word about listening.” I immediately saw the gap absent in my perception only moments before. And, I knew the truth of which Oliver Wendell Holmes (not the judge, but the judge’s father) wrote in Chapter X of The Poet At The Breakfast Table (1872), when he said “It is the province of knowledge to speak. And it is the privilege of wisdom to listen.” What a great lesson for lawyers, especially trial lawyers, to remember.

Continue Reading It Is the Privilege of Wisdom to Listen: Remembering an Underappreciated Legal Skill

Interesting question: Can someone trademark another person’s name without that person’s consent? The answer to that is usually “no,” but, hey, we would not be the first people to say that we live in interesting times. And if we said that, we would not be infringing on anyone’s rights. That aside, the answer to the first question this week is “yes,” at least when the person is a public figure, and the trademark is viewed as an exercise of free speech critical of that public figure.

Continue Reading Does TRUMP Trademark Ruling Create First Amendment Exception That Is TOO BIG or TOO SMALL?

Last week, FINRA published its 2022 Report on its Examination and Risk Monitoring Program (the “Report”), identifying key areas of focus for broker-dealer exams this year. The Report contains many of the same areas of focus as last year’s report, including anti-money laundering, cybersecurity, Reg BI and Form CRS, communications with the public, best execution and segregation of customer funds. Although the Report again identifies these general areas, it identifies new concerns and recent examination findings in those areas. In an effort to be user friendly, the Report highlights that new content in bold and identifies new areas for 2022. A key takeaway from the Report is the continued challenges posed by technology.

Continue Reading FINRA Issues 2022 Report on Examination and Risk Monitoring Program – Technology Among the Areas for Focus

Appellate aficionados have undoubtedly heard the news that the distinctively Jerseyan Courier New 12-point font may be on its way out of New Jersey appellate practice. On January 28, 2022, the Supreme Court Rules Committees published proposed amendments to the New Jersey Court Rules, including a number of appellate rules (such as required font). Appellate practitioners should be aware of these potential changes that may be adopted for the New Jersey Appellate Division and Supreme Court.

Continue Reading Proposed NJ Appellate Rule Changes Signal the Death Knell for Courier New 12