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Celli Publishes Article on History, Progressive Lawyering, and Marjorie Taylor Greene

Statue of Abraham Lincoln (Lincoln Memorial in D.C.)

 

In December 2022, ECBAWM partner, Andrew G. Celli, Jr., published an article in the inaugural edition of the Fordham Voting Rights and Democracy Forum entitled “Taking History Seriously: Marjorie Taylor Greene, Reflections on Progressive Lawyering, and Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment.” The article explores the use of history in the Greene disqualification proceeding that ECBAWM and other voting rights lawyers conducted in April 2022. It argues that progressive lawyers should embrace a nuanced and multifaceted vision of history to support cases that press for social justice and change.

The article is available via link to the FVRDF here.

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ECBAWM Wins First Amendment Challenge in the Second Circuit

ECBAWM successfully defended a government official’s First Amendment right to strongly criticize the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun groups. The victory came when the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a trial court decision and dismissed all claims against former New York Department of Financial Services Superintendent Maria Vullo brought by the National Rifle Association of America.

In a 3-0 decision, the Second Circuit held that the NRA failed to plausibly allege that Ms. Vullo violated its First Amendment rights and that Ms. Vullo was entitled to qualified immunity in her role as DFS Superintendent. The court held that Ms. Vullo was “simply executing her duties as DFS Superintendent and engaging in legitimate enforcement action” when she prosecuted insurance companies’ violations of New York’s insurance law related to the NRA’s CarryGuard product. Ms. Vullo also “was doing her job in good faith” when she advised financial institutions to evaluate the reputational risks of affiliating with the NRA in the wake of the tragic Parkland shooting.

“The ruling validates the work done by a superb public servant who did her job with integrity and passion,” said ECBAWM partner Andrew G. Celli, Jr., who argued the appeal on behalf of former Superintendent Vullo. Ms. Vullo also lauded the Second Circuit’s decision. “For four years, the NRA has proceeded with this baseless case while I remained steadfast in my position,” she said. ECBAWM partner Debra L. Greenberger and associate Marissa R. Benavides also represented Ms. Vullo in the appeal and underlying litigation.

Read the decision

Press
“2nd Circuit rejects NRA claims against ex-NY state official,” Associated Press
“NRA free speech lawsuit against New York regulator is dismissed,” Reuters
“NRA Loses First Amendment Suit Against N.Y. Insurance Regulator,” Bloomberg Law
“2nd Circ. Overturns NRA’s Free Speech Win,” Law360.com

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17 ECBAWM Attorneys Named to 2022 Super Lawyers Lists

The firm is pleased to announce that 17 of its attorneys have been named to the 2022 Super Lawyers lists.

Firm partners Jonathan S. Abady, Matthew D. Brinckerhoff, Andrew G. Celli, Jr., Richard D. Emery, Debra L. Greenberger, Daniel J. Kornstein, Hal R. Lieberman, Ilann M. Maazel, Zoe Salzman, Sam Shapiro, Earl S. Ward, and O. Andrew F. Wilson were named 2022 Super Lawyers.

Associates David Berman, Nick Bourland, Andrew Jondahl, Vivake Prasad, and Max Selver were named 2022 Super Lawyers Rising Stars.

The Super Lawyers list is issued by Thompson Reuters. A description of the selection methodology can be found on the Super Lawyers website.

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Rochester Beacon Publishes Feature on ECBAWM Founding Partner Andrew G. Celli, Jr.

In “The Celli Principle,” Rochester Beacon reporter Will Astor presents an in-depth profile of ECBAWM founding partner Andrew G. Celli, Jr. The article spans Celli’s career to date, including his service as the Chief of the Civil Rights Bureau of the New York State Attorney General’s Office, his role as Special Counsel Investigator for the City of Rochester in the arrest and death of Daniel Prude, and his involvement in recent federal election law cases. Of his more than thirty years with ECBAWM, Celli says, “These friends of mine who are my law partners, these are the kind of people I’d leave my kids with. These are dear, dear friends. All of my partners are people who are deeply ethical and just care about the world. To spend every day working with them is a joy.”

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Nine ECBAWM Partners Named to Lawdragon’s “500 Leading Plaintiff Employment & Civil Rights Lawyers” 2022 List

ECBAWM is pleased to announce that nine firm partners have been named to the “2022 Lawdragon 500 Leading Plaintiff Employment & Civil Rights Lawyers” list. The list was created “through nominations and independent journalistic research vetted by peers and adversaries,” legal media company Lawdragon explained on its website.

Matthew D. Brinckerhoff, Andrew G. Celli, Jr., Debra L. Greenberger, Ilann Margalit Maazel, Katherine Rosenfeld, Zoe Salzman, Sam Shapiro, Earl S. Ward, and O. Andrew F. Wilson were each recognized as attorneys “who have dedicated their careers to standing up for our rights in workplaces and in society.”

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ECBAWM Questions Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene Under Oath

On April 22, 2022, ECBAWM attorney Andrew G. Celli, Jr., supported in court by ECBAWM partner Sam Shapiro and ECBAWM paralegal Dymond Wells, questioned Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene under oath for approximately 5 hours about her role in the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

ECBAWM, together with the national advocacy organization Free Speech for People, represented four Georgia voters who challenged Rep. Greene’s qualifications to run for re-election to the House of Representatives. The challenge, which was filed with the Georgia Secretary of State, alleged that the 14th Amendment bars Rep. Greene from seeking re-election because she engaged in insurrection as a member of Congress by urging, instructing, and supporting the people who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

An administrative law judge heard the voters’ challenge on April 22, 2022. During the hearing, Mr. Celli, Jr. questioned Rep. Greene about statements she made on social and traditional media calling for violence against politicians, disparaging the results of the 2020 election as fraudulent, rallying her supporters to act to overturn President Biden’s election, and invoking phrases associated with the January 6 insurrection, including “1776.” It was the first time a member of Congress had been questioned under oath about the events of January 6, 2021. The hearing was broadcast live on multiple media outlets, including C-SPAN and CNN, and widely covered in the international news media.

The voters are represented by ECBAWM attorneys Mr. Celli, Jr., Mr. Shapiro, and Andrew Jondahl, and ECBAWM paralegal Ms. Wells, along with co-counsel at Free Speech for People and Bryan Sells.

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Marjorie Taylor Greene TRO Application Fails; Challenge Seeking to Disqualify Her from Re-Election Will Proceed

Judge Amy Totenberg of the U.S. District for the Northern District of Georgia has denied Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene’s application for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order that, if granted, would have halted disqualification challenge proceedings against Rep. Greene and allowed her to be included on the ballot for the May 24 primary elections. In its 73-page ruling, the Court cited Rep. Greene’s “failure to cite persuasive legal authority or even include a developed legal argument” in holding that she “failed[ed] to establish a substantial likelihood of success on the merits.”

The challenge to Rep. Greene’s re-election was filed by a group of Georgia voters in late March on 14th Amendment grounds – specifically, that Rep. Greene was disqualified under the Insurrectionist Disqualifications Clause of the 14th Amendment because she engaged in insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

The instant lawsuit, Greene v. Raffensperger et al, was filed by Rep. Greene in an attempt to end the challenge to her candidacy without allowing it to proceed through Georgia’s established legal process.

The underlying disqualification challenge is scheduled to be heard by a state administrative law judge on April 22.

The group of Georgia voters are represented in Greene v. Raffensperger et al by ECBAWM attorneys Andrew G. Celli, Jr., Sam Shapiro, and Andrew Jondahl, along with co-counsel at Free Speech for People and Bryan Sells.

Related
“ECBAWM Represents Arizona Voters in Candidacy Challenges Under Fourteenth Amendment’s Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause”

Press
“Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene testifies for more than 3 hours in hearing on whether to disqualify her from seeking reelection,” CNN
“Effort to Remove Marjorie Taylor Greene from Ballot Can Proceed, Judge Says,” The New York Times
“Legal effort to remove Greene from Ga. ballot can proceed, judge rules,” The Washington Post

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ECBAWM Defeats Motion by White Nationalists to Silence Civil Rights Group Supporting Charlottesville Lawsuit

Following the hateful, violent, white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017, a group of community members who were injured filed a federal lawsuit against the hate groups and leaders who organized the violence, seeking compensatory and injunctive relief. Integrity First for America (IFA), a non-profit civil rights organization, is supporting the litigation, including security costs for plaintiffs and their counsel. The court in this case just rejected defendants’ attempt to silence IFA and plaintiffs, after ECBAWM filed an opposition on IFA’s behalf.

Three defendants in the case filed a motion asking the court to issue an order forbidding the plaintiffs and their counsel from making any extrajudicial public statements about this case. They also asked the court to include IFA — which is not a party to the case — in the gag order, specifically forbidding IFA from carrying out its core, constitutionally protected mission, which is to advocate around and raise funds to pay for security and logistics for the plaintiffs and their trial team. The petitioners offered no evidence or legal authority in support of their position, despite the fact that they asked the court for a prior restraint on the First Amendment rights of plaintiffs, their counsel, and a non-party.

On behalf of Integrity First for America, ECBAWM filed a memorandum of law in opposition to petitioners’ motion. As explained in the filing, “Petitioners are not concerned about the impact of pre-trial publicity on the venire pool; rather, they are seeking to use the powers of this Court to prevent IFA from raising money, which will be used to keep Plaintiffs and their lawyers safe and to support the trial in Charlottesville later this month.”

The court has now agreed with ECBAWM and denied defendants’ motion to silence IFA in its entirety.

ECBAWM attorneys Andrew G. Celli, Jr. and Noel León, along with Matthew W. Evans of Gravitt Law Group PLC, represent IFA.

For more information on Integrity First for America and the Charlottesville lawsuit it’s supporting, please visit www.IntegrityFirstForAmerica.org or contact press@integrityfirstforamerica.org.

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19 ECBAWM Attorneys Named to 2021 Super Lawyers Lists

The firm is pleased to announce that 19 of its attorneys have been named to the 2021 Super Lawyers lists.

Firm partners Richard D. Emery, Andrew G. Celli, Jr., Matthew D. Brinckerhoff, Jonathan S. Abady, Earl S. Ward, Ilann Margalit Maazel, Hal R. Lieberman, Daniel J. Kornstein, O. Andrew F. Wilson, Debra L. Greenberger, and Sam Shapiro were named 2021 Super Lawyers.

Firm partner Zoe Salzman and associates Emma Freeman, David Berman, Scout Katovich, Andrew Jondahl, Nick Bourland, Ananda Burra, and Vivake Prasad were named 2021 Super Lawyers Rising Stars.

The Super Lawyers list is issued by Thompson Reuters. A description of the selection methodology can be found on the Super Lawyers website.

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ECBAWM Partners with The Intercept on FOIA Project

ECBAWM recently partnered with non-profit investigative news organization The Intercept to compel access to public records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The project was born out of the need Intercept’s global journalists have for access to documents and their frustration with red tape and delays. When journalists are unable to timely access government records, stories are unable to be written and the public’s ability to be informed is jeopardized.

To date, ECBAWM has filed three lawsuits against the federal government on behalf of The Intercept, seeking to compel the National Institutes of Health to release information about a potential conflict of interest involving an American doctor who is part of the World Health Organization’s investigation into what caused the coronavirus pandemic, seeking the release of information relating to force-feeding procedures on a detainee at a border immigration facility by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, and seeking information that the U.S. Department of State has refused to release about a citizen journalism group covering abuses during the Syrian civil war.

“There’s nothing like an Article III federal judge with life tenure, looking down from the bench at lawyers and saying ‘you have to do this’ to make things happen,” said ECBAWM partner Andrew G. Celli, Jr.

Through litigation, ECBAWM aims to ensure that government records are provided to reporters when they need them, while also helping the courts understand the need for timely access.

“In each of these cases, the hope is that there’s broader change and that the agencies start being more responsive,” said ECBAWM partner Debra L. Greenberger. “But there’s also the specific result in the cases, which is we get to know information that we want to know.”

You can read more about ECBAWM’s work with The Intercept in Law360’s interview with Celli and Greenberger.

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