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(Reuters) – There is no doubt that lawyers for embattled NFL Washington Commanders majority owner Dan Snyder conducted an exceptionally aggressive campaign to obtain evidence from Snyder’s perceived enemies via a U.S. law that authorizes federal judges to order U.S. discovery related to foreign litigation.
But did Snyder and his lawyers go too far? Did they misuse the U.S. discovery law, known as Section 1782, to fish for evidence way beyond the scope of Snyder’s defamation lawsuit in India against an India-based website, MEA WorldWide?
A Congressional committee said they did indeed, in a report issued on Wednesday. The report accused Snyder and his lawyers of “abusing” Section 1782, alleging that they improperly cited the defamation lawsuit in India to justify demands for discovery from people whom Snyder suspected of assisting The Washington Post’s investigation of his football team’s toxic and sexualized workplace culture.
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Snyder and his lawyers attempted to use Section 1782 as a tool “to uncover the sources of the Washington Post’s exposés, undermine their credibility and impugn their motives,” wrote House Committee on Oversight and Reform chair Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat.
Here’s an important caveat: Snyder’s lawyers from Reed Smith said in an email statement that the committee’s accusation of impropriety in the use of 1782 petitions “is categorically false.” The law firm said it had “properly and effectively prosecuted” discovery petition “to seek evidence directly supportive of Dan Snyder’s Indian High Court litigation.”
Committee report aside, I suspect that Snyder’s Section 1782 tactics are going to become increasingly common. As you know, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that the U.S. discovery statute does not extend to foreign commercial arbitration. The ruling means that parties engaged in private arbitration overseas are not entitled to seek discovery orders from U.S. courts. But the Supreme Court did not close the door on Section 1782 petitions based on foreign litigation, like Snyder’s defamation lawsuit in India.
So for civil litigators, the lesson of Snyder’s Section 1782 campaign may well be that Snyder and his lawyers were able to obtain troves of discovery from a wide array of U.S. witnesses by claiming their connection to foreign litigation.
Snyder filed at least 13 ex parte petitions for Section 1782 discovery from federal courts in seven different states. His petitions sought evidence not just from U.S. businesses with ties to the Indian website that published the allegedly defamatory article about Snyder but also from former employees of the Washington football team, from an investment bank engaged by the team’s minority owners, even from a sports agent who represents former Washington football players.
Broadly speaking, when Snyder asked for discovery on communications between U.S. journalists and the people he was targeting in Section 1782 petitions, his lawyers justified the requests by arguing that such evidence could help prove ties to the Indian news site.
The far-flung federal judges who oversaw Snyder’s Section 1782 cases, for the most part, granted the petitions – although, as I’ll explain, a couple of judges subsequently expressed misgivings. Snyder’s Indian defamation suit is not yet resolved, but I don’t think there’s any doubt his team regards the discovery campaign as a success.
“The goal is to ensure that the full weight of the law comes down heavily on those responsible,” said Snyder counsel Joseph Tacopina of Tacopina Seigel & DeOreo in a podcast interview with sports journalist JP Finlay in August 2020. “And then make sure that people understand, if they even think about doing something as stupid as this, they’re going to have hell to pay.”
That said, Snyder’s Section 1782 campaign has not been without controversy in the courts. In March 2021, U.S. Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter of Denver concluded that Snyder’s ongoing demands for discovery from Jessica McCloughan, the wife of a former general manager of the Washington football team, appeared to be “an effort to burden and harass individuals formerly associated with the Washington football team who may have acted as sources for The Washington Post.”
Neureiter had granted Snyder’s ex parte petition for discovery from McCloughan the previous November, based on Snyder’s assertion in his Section 1782 petition that McCloughan had close ties to a former executive assistant for Snyder. The petition argued that the ex-assistant may have been paid for the defamatory information in the Indian website report on Snyder, and that Snyder needed to know more about McCloughan’s contacts with her.
The Denver judge balked, however, when Snyder complained about McCloughan’s alleged failure to turn over everything he had demanded. The giveaway, Neureiter wrote, was Snyder’s “completely irrelevant” push for evidence of communications between McCloughan and the Post.
“Efforts to learn whether Mrs. McCloughan communicated with The Washington Post are improper, unnecessarily invasive, and being done for what the court perceives is an improper purpose — to discover the sources for the embarrassing and damning The Washington Post story — rather than the proper purpose of discovering evidence about the defamatory Indian website publications,” Neureiter wrote.
A judge in another of Snyder’s Section 1782 cases, this one seeking discovery from the investment firm advising the Washington football team’s minority owners, refused to grant Snyder’s motion for sanctions for the alleged destruction of evidence encompassed in the subpoenas. U.S. Magistrate A. David Copperthite of Baltimore said there was “no support” for Snyder’s claim that the firm or its principal “had documents that were relevant to the India action and deleted those documents.”
And in a third Snyder discovery case, U.S. District Judge Steven Logan of Phoenix ordered an evidentiary hearing when Snyder’s target, former Washington football team executive Bruce Allen accused Snyder of using the Section 1782 proceeding as “pretext” to get hold of Allen’s personal information “for unstated purposes here in the United States, not ‘for use’ by the tribunal in New Delhi.” (The two sides agreed to a dismissal of Snyder’s petition before the hearing date.)
Would you take those mild admonishments as the price of getting Section 1782 discovery? I bet a lot of litigators would.
U.S. House panel to subpoena NFL’s Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder
Supreme Court slams door on U.S. discovery in private overseas arbitration
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Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Opinions expressed are those of the author. They do not reflect the views of Reuters News, which, under the Trust Principles, is committed to integrity, independence, and freedom from bias.
Alison Frankel has covered high-stakes commercial litigation as a columnist for Reuters since 2011. A Dartmouth college graduate, she has worked as a journalist in New York covering the legal industry and the law for more than three decades. Before joining Reuters, she was a writer and editor at The American Lawyer. Frankel is the author of Double Eagle: The Epic Story of the World’s Most Valuable Coin.
President Biden Signs Bipartisan Gun Safety Bill into Law
On Saturday, President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan gun control bill into law.
According to USA Today, the law, called the Safer Communities Act, urges states to create “red flag” laws that would prevent people deemed dangerous from being able to legally obtain a firearm. It further eliminates the “boyfriend loophole” by adding “dating partners” to the list of violent domestic abusers banned from purchasing a gun and increases background checks of 18 to 21-years-olds seeking to buy a firearm.
Additionally, it includes “the first-ever federal law that makes gun trafficking and straw purchases distinct federal crimes.”
“At a time when it seems impossible to get anything done in Washington, we are doing something consequential,” Biden said at the White House.
“While this bill doesn’t do everything I want, it does include actions I’ve long called for that are going to save lives,” he added before calling the bill the “most significant [gun control] law to be passed” over “the last 30 years.”
Noting that people have been calling on lawmakers to do something since the Columbine mass shooting in 1999, Biden said their cries have now been answered.
“From Columbine to Sandy Hook, to Charleston, Orlando, Las Vegas, Parkland, El Paso, Atlanta, Buffalo, Uvalde, and for the shootings that happen every day in the streets that are mass shootings — and we don’t even hear about them, the number of people killed every day in the streets — their message to us was: ‘Do something.’ How many times have we heard that? ‘Just do something,’” he said. “Well, today, we did.”
The new law came after a string of deadly mass shootings last month, including a shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children and two adults were killed, and another at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket where 10 were killed, and three were wounded.
As Christian Headlines previously reported last Thursday, the Senate voted 64 to 34 in favor of the bill. The House then passed the bill on Friday with a 234 to 193 vote, sending it to Biden’s desk.
Fourteen Republican representatives joined all House Democrats in passing the bill.
U.S. Senate Pushes Forward Bipartisan Gun Control Bill
Bipartisan Group of Senators Reach Agreement on Framework for New Gun Control Legislation
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/jirkaejc
Kayla Koslosky has been the Editor of ChristianHeadlines.com since 2018. She has B.A. degrees in English and History and previously wrote for and was the managing editor of the Yellow Jacket newspaper. She has written on her blog since 2012 and has also contributed to IBelieve.com and Crosswalk.com.
‘Just an Innocent Man’: Texas Pastor Shot, Killed in Suspected Road Rage Incident
A beloved pastor in Houston, Texas, was shot and killed in a suspected road rage incident on Friday afternoon.
The Reverend Dr. Ronald K. Mouton Sr., who led East Bethel Missionary Baptist Church for 30 years, was shot and killed by another driver at around 4:19 pm while he was driving on the Gulf Freeway.
Rep. Sheila Jackson, R-Texas, and Crime Stoppers of Houston have released a $5,000 reward regarding information leading to an arrest of the suspected shooter, who remains at large as of Monday. According to Click 2 Houston, police say the suspect was believed to be driving a black sedan.
Surveillance video from Pusch and Nguyen Injury Lawyers showed what happened before Mouton was killed.
As reported by The Christian Post, Mouton’s church and friends are aggrieved over his death.
“Dr. Mouton was known and loved by many. If you knew him, you would know him to be a gracious servant, a leader, and a friend. As we begin to cope with the reality of his passing, we ask that you would respect our family’s privacy during this time,” East Bethel Missionary Baptist Church wrote on Facebook.
“I am deeply saddened by the loss of Pastor Mouton. I got to know him when he worked with my late husband, Lonal Robinson, as he developed youth sports programs in the ’90s. His benevolence was meaningful to the children of the community,” one church member wrote.
Lee, a longtime friend of Mouton, remembered the reverend as a loving man who loved to serve others.
“This was just an innocent man traveling on a road near his church where he worked all the time,” the congresswomen said. “He loves ministry. He was just doing the work of a pastor.”
Mouton, a graduate of Baylor University and Stephen F. Austin State University, leaves behind his wife of nearly 40 years, four children, 10 grandchildren, a twin brother, and other siblings.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Stephen Barnes
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.
Christian Leaders Celebrate the Overturning of Roe but Caution: ‘Our Work Is Just Beginning’
Christian leaders across the denominational spectrum on Friday celebrated the overturning of Roe v. Wade but cautioned that much work – in states and in local communities – remains to be done.
The court’s overruling of Roe sends the issue back to the respective 50 states, where legislatures and governors now will decide – and in some instances already have decided – what to do.
Here are how seven Christian leaders reacted to Friday’s opinion:
Lila Rose, President and Founder of Live Action
“Roe v. Wade is over. Children will live because of this decision to overturn the constitutional fiction of Roe v. Wade,” Rose said. “… This decision is an important step forward for the protection of innocent life in our nation, but the work of the pro-life movement is just getting started. While overruling Roe is a necessary first step, giving states the prerogative to regulate abortion is not a final victory. While this decision will give states the right to protect their youngest citizens, many of our nation’s largest states, such as California, Illinois, and New York will still legalize and even subsidize the killing of our youngest children. We will not have true justice until the Supreme Court acknowledges the truth that under our Constitution, every American – born or preborn – has an inherent right to life protected by the 14th Amendment.
“Science conclusively proves that a unique and biologically distinct human life begins at the moment of fertilization,” Rose added. “Every child regardless of their age, should be protected from the horrors of abortion and the abortion industry. Going forward, the pro-life movement must advocate for the Supreme Court to grant equal protection under the law to all humans, even from the very beginning of every human’s life. Starting today, every single state in our nation must act swiftly to codify protections for preborn children into state law and resource mothers and fathers to ensure the American family is healthy and ready to flourish without the grave violence of abortion.”
Rose wrote in a tweet, “Our work is just beginning.”
Our work is just beginning
— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) June 24, 2022
Roland Warren, President and CEO of Care Net
“For all who value the sanctity of human life, today marks a monumental day in our efforts to protect the unborn. In upholding Mississippi’s pro-life law and overturning Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court has paved the way for states to make laws regulating abortion based on the values of their own citizens,” Warren said. “But changed laws don’t equal changed hearts, and the Supreme Court can’t outlaw unplanned, unexpected, and unexpectedly complicated pregnancies. Accordingly, regardless of how the laws of our land play out over the next several years, women and men will continue to face tough pregnancy decisions. In an environment in which abortion is more difficult to access, Care Net’s work has become more critical than ever.
“Care Net will continue to support our network of more than 1,200 affiliated pregnancy centers, a national hotline, and a growing network of churches in their irreplaceable efforts to offer compassion, hope, and help to women and men at risk for abortion.”
Franklin Graham, President of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
“Roe v. Wade, passed 49 years ago, has resulted in the deaths of over 63 million innocent children in this country. Sadly, this decision is not an end to abortion — it pushes the battle back to the states,” Graham said.
“My prayer is that every state will enact protections for children in the womb and that our nation will value life and recognize the rights of our most vulnerable,” Graham said.
Karen Swallow Prior, Author and Professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
“Our work now is just starting: we must help and support moms, dads, and babies. Love them all – and in so doing making abortion unimaginable,” Prior said.
Our work now is just starting: we must help and support moms, dads, and babies. Love them all—and in so doing making abortion unimaginable. #RoeVsWade
— Karen Swallow Prior (Notorious KSP) (@KSPrior) June 24, 2022
Bart Barber, President of the Southern Baptist Convention
“Southern Baptists rejoice at the ruling that the United States Supreme Court has delivered today in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization,” Barber said. “Since 1980, the Southern Baptist Convention has passed more than 20 resolutions on the question of abortion.
“… As we stated just days ago in a resolution at our 2022 Annual Meeting, in a post-Roe United States, ‘We commit to stand with and pray for abortion-vulnerable women, to eliminate any perceived need for the horror of abortion, and to oppose Planned Parenthood and other predatory organizations or institutions who exploit vulnerable women for profit.’ State-by-state, mother-by-mother, heart-by-heart, we will continue our sacred work toward this goal.”
Kristen Day, Executive Director of Democrats For Life of America
“DFLA is excited about the political opportunities this decision creates for pro-life Democrats,” Day said. “We have made significant contributions to advancing justice for the preborn and their mothers, and will continue to do so. Today is a wonderful day and we enthusiastically recommit ourselves to the mission of protecting all human life from womb to tomb.”
Day urged states to assist women facing an unplanned pregnancy.
“What are they going to do to support those women who no longer can [have an] abortion in those states?” Day told NBC. “How are we going to provide them with the opportunity and the support to parent, feed their families, keep their jobs and … have affordable health, health care, affordable childcare? … Let’s put women and children first and let’s provide the support, compassion to help them with a real choice to become parents.”
A news release said Democrats for Life “celebrates” the overturning of Roe.
Roe Overturned!!! Read the DFLA Press Release here! https://t.co/7Ist7G15PN
— Kristen Day (@ProLifeDem) June 24, 2022
Alveda King, Founder of Speak for Life and Niece of the late Martin Luther King Jr.
“For 49 years, ‘we the people’ have had to endure a flawed and unconstitutional ruling from the Supreme Court that allowed unelected judges to create a national right to abortion that ultimately led to extreme actions, like late-term abortions, against the unborn,” King said. “Today, the Supreme Court has rightfully overturned that decision, sending the power to regulate abortion back to the elected officials at the state level. I have longed for and prayed for this day. And I will continue to fight for human dignity for everyone – from the womb to the tomb.”
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Pool
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.
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