New York State

The 2022 Law Power 100: New York’s biggest legal developments

Here are a few of the cases of local and national importance that landed in the Empire State in the past year.

Audrey Strauss, Former Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, speaks to the press at the annoucement of the arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell in 2020.

Audrey Strauss, Former Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, speaks to the press at the annoucement of the arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell in 2020. JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images

New York is where countless cases of national and global importance get decided. And the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t stopped that trend. Here are some of the most high-profile and notable legal developments that took place over the past year in the Big Apple, or with a major effect on the region.

Ghislaine Maxwell found guilty in sex trafficking case

Judge: U.S. District Court Judge Alison Nathan

Prosecutors: Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alex Rossmiller, Alison Moe and Maurene Comey

Defense: Jeffrey Pagliuca, Laura Menninger, Christian Everdell and Bobbi Sternheim 

Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite, was found guilty of luring and trafficking teenage girls to be sexually abused by deceased convicted sex offender and millionaire Jeffrey Epstein. Maxwell’s defense team pushed for a retrial after a juror in the case revealed he was a suvivor of sexual abuse. A federal judge ordered a hearing to determine whether the juror lied during jury selection.

Presidential pardon helps Steve Bannon in fraud case

Judge: U.S. District Court Judge Analisa Torres

Prosecutors: Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicolas Roos, Alison Moe and Robert Sobelman

Defense: Robert Costello

Once one of former President Donald Trump’s top advisers, Steve Bannon secured a last-minute presidential pardon from his previous boss in January 2021. That pardon allowed Bannon to bypass a fraud case federal prosecutors had brought against him, which alleged that he and other organizers siphoned money from a private fundraising campaign claiming to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Cuomo’s nursing home deaths cover-up

Judge: Acting state Supreme Court Justice Kimberly A. O’Connor

Attorney for Petitioner: Cameron “Cam” MacDonald and Tyler Patterson 

Attorney for Respondent: Assistant Attorney General Melissa Latino

Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned last year after the state attorney general’s report found sexual harassment accusations against him to be credible. But it wasn’t the only major scandal Cuomo faced in 2021. The governor and his administration faced criticisms that they obscured the number of COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents during the pandemic. The Empire Center for Public Policy played a key role shedding light on the issue after filing a lawsuit that got the state Department of Health to release additional information on those deaths.

Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy deal

Judge: U.S. District Court Judge Colleen McMahon

Appellants: The Department of Justice’s U.S. Trustee Program, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia

Last year, Purdue Pharma negotiated a settlement with state, local and tribal governments that would protect the company from opioid lawsuits in exchange for $4.5 billion in payments to address the opioid crisis. But eight states and other entities appealed the case, arguing that the Sackler family, who owned Purdue Pharma, should not be insulated from those opioid claims. U.S. District Court Judge Colleen McMahon rejected the settlement in December. By March, Purdue Pharma reached a new settlement with the holdout states.

New York’s gun law in peril

Judges: U.S. Supreme Court

Attorney for Petitioner: Paul Clement

Attorney for Respondent: State Solicitor General Barbara Underwood

New York’s gun law restricting licenses to carry handguns won’t likely survive in the coming months, at least based on the questions asked by the conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court when they heard arguments for the case in November. The court’s ruling will be expected in the coming months.

Rudy Giuliani loses his law license

Judges: State Supreme Court Justices Rolando Acosta, Dianne Renwick, Sallie Manzanet-Daniels, Judith Gische and Barbara Kapnick

Attorneys for Petitioner: Jorge Dopico and Kevin Doyle

Attorneys for Respondent: Barry Kamins and John Leventhal

An appeals court suspended Rudy Giuliani from practicing law in New York in June because the former New York City mayor repeatedly made false statements that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. It illustrated how far Giuliani – who had served as the U.S. attorney in Manhattan – has fallen from grace in recent years. And it’s hardly the worst of his legal woes, as he faces a federal investigation into his dealings in Ukraine.