A decision just issued from New York Acting Supreme Court Justice L.B. Sullivan that might make Donald Trump’s hair stand up. Via Eric Turkewitz, the order comes as a lagging indicator in Trump’s lawsuit against Univision for its decision not to air the Miss Universe Pageant.
In reaction, Trump sued Univision under the legal theory of quia non potest. Turk wasn’t impressed:
At the time it happened, I ripped the defamation claim to shreds as frivolous. As didPopehat, albeit more colorfully than I (Donald Trump’s Lawyers Don’t Know Or Don’t Care What Defamation Is)
Now, it appears, a New York judge agrees. Even though the case was removed a couple weeks later to federal court, it was filed in New York’s Supreme Court (our main trial level court). And because it was filed there, the court apparently retains jurisdiction over anything that happened while still under its roof.
Justice Sullivan’s ruling is, how to put this gently, rather remarkable in a state that lacks a anti-SLAPP and rarely, if ever, sanctions anybody for anything. Yet Justice Sullivan not only imposed sanctions, but $500,000,000 in sanctions, based upon Trump’s assertion that he’s worth more than $10 billion. After all, it will take a big hit to make someone like Trump take notice.
But if any judge was likely to be inclined to impose sanctions, it would be Justice Sullivan, given his pre-bench experience at the now-defunct all-pro-bono firm of Brandenburg, Schenk & Sullivan. What were the chances that perhaps this case would end up on his docket?
What remains to be seen is whether Justice Sullivan retains jurisdiction over the case, given that Trump, a New Yorker, will likely have another case or two before the campaign is over.
Trump, it seems, is a walking, talking bar exam question. Every time he does something he opens more cans of legal issues.
The next few months could prove very busy for Judge Sullivan.
Update: As you have already figure out, this was my small contribution to Turk’s April Fool’s gag, along with Public Citizen’s Paul Alan Levy. It was my pleasure to be a laboring oar in some fun, especially given that there was actually a point behind it. It’s unfortunate that so few other bloggers, of the handful remaining, decided to join in. It’s gotten awfully chilly around here.