from the sorry-charles dept
Lawyer Charles Harder (who, yes, was once the lawyer for the guy who sued us) has built up a nice reputation now of the lawyer who tries and fails to stop people from saying stuff that upsets President Trump. You may recall that Harder, representing the president, threatened former Trump adviser Steve Bannon for his supposed quotes to author Michael Wolff. More recently, Harder, representing the Trump Campaign, has sued the NY Times, the Washington Post and CNN over various articles (often opinion pieces) that portray the President negatively.
His latest move, representing Donald Trump’s brother, Robert Trump, is to sue Mary Trump, Donald Trump’s niece, over her new book that is quite critical of the President. The argument in the lawsuit? That Mary Trump was violating a confidentiality clause that was part of the settlement of a legal dispute over the estate of Fred Trump — another of Donald’s brothers, and Mary’s father. It took all of about a day for the judge to reject the lawsuit, basically because Charles Harder messed up the filing.
At the outset, the court finds that the submissions suffer from several improprieties. First, a preliminary injunction is an order obtained by motion in a pending action or special proceeding… The caption utilized refers to a probate proceeding which terminated in 2001 by entry of a decre and is, therefore, non-existent. Consequently, a motion seeking injunctive relief may not be made in that proceeding. To the extent the accompanying petition, bearing the same caption, is supposed to provide the jurisdictional basis for said motion, it cannot do so as that petition is fatally defective.
Beyond that, they picked the wrong forum for this request:
Insofar as the petition seeks a declaratory judgment, this forum is presumptively improper as such relief should be obtained by means of an action in the Supreme Court and not a special proceeding in this court….
Of course, it appears that Harder is planning to just keep going and try again by fixing his mistakes:
“Today, the Surrogate’s Court ruled that it does not have jurisdiction over the dispute,” Harder said in a statement. “Therefore, Robert Trump will proceed with filing a new lawsuit in the New York State Supreme Court.”
Mary Trump’s lawyer, Ted Boutrous, said he hoped that Harder would stop, but recognizing that’s unlikely, points out that no court may violate the 1st Amendment by imposing prior restraint and blocking publication of a book that is “core political speech.”
of utmost public importance and concern. We hope this decision will end the matter. Democracy thrives on the free exchange of ideas, and neither this court nor any other has authority to violate the Constitution by imposing a prior restraint on core political speech.” 2/2
— Ted Boutrous (@BoutrousTed) June 25, 2020
Given Harder’s history, it seems unlikely that he much cares about the 1st Amendment.