case dismissed
July 27, 2019

The Washington Post can breathe a bit more easily.

A federal judge in Kentucky on Friday dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed against the Post by Nicholas Sandmann, a student at Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Kentucky. Sandmann and his family sought $250 million in damages over the newspaper's reporting about Sandmann's confrontation with a Native American activist on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in January during an anti-abortion rally in the capital. The report, Politico writes, caused Sandmann, who is white and appeared to be wearing a Make America Great Again hat at the time, to be "castigated" for "apparently intimidating a person of color."

The lawsuit alleged that the Post smeared Sandmann as part of its "war" against President Trump. The paper did later acknowledge it made several errors in its coverage of the incident.

The judge, William O. Bertelsman, ruled that the Post's reporting was projected as free speech and that the paper did not factually report Sandmann had behaved in a violent or menacing way, relying instead on a recounting from Nathan Phillips, the activist, who said the teenager blocked his path. The ruling elaborated that although the reporting may have been inaccurate it was not defamatory.

Bertelsman added that, "while unfortunate," the treatment Sandmann faced on social media was not relevant to the lawsuit. Read more at Politico and The Washington Examiner. Tim O'Donnell

March 7, 2019

A federal judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit brought by adult film star Stormy Daniels against President Trump.

Daniels filed the suit in March 2018 in an attempt to end the $130,000 hush-money agreement she signed ahead of the 2016 presidential election, a deal which kept her from publicly discussing a sexual encounter she says she had with Trump. Wanting to get the suit dismissed, Trump and his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, both agreed not to penalize Daniels for breaching the nondisclosure agreement.

Because of this, U.S. District Judge James Otero in Los Angeles said the suit should be sent back to California Superior Court, ruling that it "lacks subject matter jurisdiction." This may entitle Daniels to legal fees, but the litigation is basically finished. Catherine Garcia

December 18, 2018

A panel of eight federal judges on Tuesday dismissed 83 complaints filed against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh by "lawyers, doctors, professors, and concerned citizens, among others."

Most of the complaints lodged against him stem from his heated Senate confirmation hearings, with petitioners accusing Kavanaugh of misconduct and making disrespectful statements to senators, Reuters reports. The panel threw out the complaints because the federal law governing judicial conduct does not apply to Supreme Court justices, only lower court judges.

Kavanaugh was a federal appellate court judge when President Trump announced in July he was nominating him for the Supreme Court. Before he was confirmed in October, Kavanaugh was accused by several women of sexual misconduct, allegations that he denied. Catherine Garcia

October 15, 2018

On Monday, a federal judge dismissed a defamation lawsuit adult film star Stormy Daniels filed against President Trump, and ordered her to pay his legal fees.

Daniels, who said she had sex with Trump in 2006, claimed that in 2011, after she agreed to discuss the affair in an interview, she was threatened by a man in a Las Vegas parking lot. Trump tweeted this was a "total con job," and she was "playing the Fake News Media for Fools."

Daniels sued, saying Trump suggested she was a liar, but Judge S. James Otero said Monday the tweet "constitutes 'rhetorical hyperbole' normally associated with politics and public discourse in the United States," and is protected by the First Amendment. Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, said he will appeal. Catherine Garcia

July 6, 2018

The D.C. U.S. attorney's office has dropped charges against all Inauguration Day protesters who haven't yet been tried.

Of the 234 people arrested in Washington on President Trump's Inauguration Day, 38 were still awaiting trial. Defendants were charged with rioting that caused more than $100,000 in damage, BuzzFeed News' Zoe Tillman reports. But a statement from the U.S. attorney's office released Friday now says those charges will be dismissed.

Twenty-one of the 234 arrested people did plead guilty, though those pleas happened before defendants went to trial, per The Washington Post. Everyone who went to trial was either acquitted or jurors could not agree on a guilty verdict. These "results," as the statement puts it, led the U.S. attorney's office to drop all remaining charges. Kathryn Krawczyk

January 31, 2018

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) is done fighting a nearly three-year-long bribery case. Politico reported Wednesday that the Department of Justice filed a motion to drop all remaining charges against the New Jersey senator, who was accused of trading political favors for cash and gifts from Florida doctor Salomon Melgen.

Less than two weeks ago, the Justice Department had announced its intention to retry Menendez, after a trial last year ended in a hung jury. But last week, a federal judge partially acquitted Menendez and Melgen of the charges against them. The Justice Department cited the judge's decision in its Wednesday announcement, saying that "given the impact" of the acquittal, it "has determined that it will not retry the defendants on the remaining charges."

Prosecutors alleged that Menendez had traded political influence for campaign donations, plush hotel rooms visits, and flights from Melgen. Menendez has long maintained his innocence. In a statement Wednesday, he said, "I am grateful that the Department of Justice has taken the time to re-evaluate its case and come to the appropriate conclusion." Kelly O'Meara Morales

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