News


Sher Tremonte Wins Landmark Expansion of Prisoners’ Free Speech Rights

On May 9, 2018, Sher Tremonte won a precedent-setting victory for prisoners’ constitutional rights in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Prison guards at a New York State prison placed Sher Tremonte’s client, Mark Burns, in segregated confinement for nearly nine months because he refused their demands to provide information about other prisoners on an ongoing basis. Mr. Burns filed suit pro se in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York alleging retaliation for the exercise of his constitutional rights. The district judge held that Mr. Burns had no right to refuse to become an informant for the guards. On appeal, the Second Circuit appointed Sher Tremonte as pro bono counsel to brief a novel legal issue: whether an incarcerated individual has a constitutional right to refuse to become a prison informant. Although no appellate court in the country had previously recognized such a “right not to snitch,” Sher Tremonte attorneys Noam Biale and Michael Gibaldi successfully argued that the First Amendment’s “right not to speak” protected Mr. Burns’s refusal to provide information. In an opinion by Circuit Judge Pooler, the Second Circuit adopted Sher Tremonte’s First Amendment theory and, breaking new legal ground, held that “the First Amendment protects both a prisoner’s right not to serve as an informant, and to refuse to provide false information to prison officials.” In reaching that conclusion, the court drew on authorities from John Adams to Justice Gorsuch, reasoning that “compelled speech presents a unique affront to personal dignity” and that “forcing an inmate to serve as an informant on an ongoing basis is not reasonably related to a legitimate penological purpose.” The court held that the guards’ “arbitrary incursion” on Mr. Burns’s “strong First Amendment interest . . . cannot be countenanced under our constitutional system.” Read the full decision here and Sher Tremonte’s opening brief here.

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Sher Tremonte Wins Rare Petition for Interlocutory Appeal before the Third Circuit in IPO Class-Action Fraud Suit

On February 21, 2018, Sher Tremonte LLP won a motion for interlocutory appeal before Judge Michael Vazquez of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey allowing its client to petition the Third Circuit for immediate relief.  Class-action Plaintiffs, shareholders of a publicly-traded company specializing in Tibetan medicine, seek to hold the Company’s non-director, non-voting, board observers (including Sher Tremonte’s client who was appointed as an observer to the Board of Directors) strictly liable for alleged misrepresentations in the Company’s IPO registration documents.  Sher Tremonte lawyers Michael Tremonte, Justin Gunnell and Scott Cargill requested the District Court’s permission to present to the Third Circuit the question of whether a non-voting board observer can be held strictly liable under Section 11(a)(3) of the Securities Act of 1933 as a person “named in the registration statement” as “performing similar functions” to a director.  In granting Sher Tremonte’s motion, Judge Vazquez found that the “Third Circuit’s resolution of what the correct legal standard is regarding liability of nondirectors under Section 11 would help facilitate the development of law.”  Read the District Court’s full opinion here. On April 4, 2018, over Plaintiff’s opposition, the Third Circuit granted Sher Tremonte’s petition, permitting it to file the interlocutory appeal. Read the Third Circuit order granting the petition here.

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Sher Tremonte Files Second Circuit Amicus Brief on Behalf of Public Health Advocacy Groups

On Wednesday, February 28, 2018, Sher Tremonte LLP filed an amicus curiae brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on behalf of six of the nation’s leading public health advocacy groups, including the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (the lead amicus), the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network American, the American Lung Association, New York State American Academy of Pediatrics, Chapters 2 & 3, the Public Health Law Center at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law, and Truth Initiative Foundation. The amicus brief was filed in State of New York v. United Parcel Service, Inc., in support of plaintiffs and appellees, i.e. the State and City of New York, who were awarded, among other remedies, a total of $157.1 million in statutory civil penalties against the nation’s leading courier for violating various state and federal tobacco-control laws in transporting and delivering unstamped cigarettes (i.e., cigarettes that evade taxes).  On appeal, the defendant is challenging the penalty award, including the statutory penalties, as excessive. In its amicus brief, Sher Tremonte argues that the statutory penalties assessed are proportional and constitutionally permissible in light of the devastating nature and scope of the smoking epidemic and the vital public health interest in reducing smoking through cigarette taxation. The amicus brief was authored by partner Kimo S. Peluso and associate Heather Y. Han with substantial contributions from Dennis Henigan and Mark Greenwold of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

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Sher Tremonte Names Mark Cuccaro as Partner

Sher Tremonte is pleased to announce that Mark Cuccaro has become a partner with the Firm.  Mr. Cuccaro practices in all areas of commercial litigation, with an emphasis on complex contractual disputes and securities litigation. Mr. Cuccaro has represented clients in state and federal courts and in arbitration.  Mr. Cuccaro also serves as an arbitrator for FINRA.  Mr. Cuccaro began his career at Mayer Brown LLP, where he was a member of its Electronic Discovery and Record Management Group.  Mr. Cuccaro came to Sher Tremonte from Penson Worldwide, Inc. a public company, where he served as Vice President & Associate General Counsel.      

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Firm Wins Full Dismissal of Federal Criminal Charges for UN Economist

Attorneys Justine Harris and Noam Biale secured an outright dismissal of all charges against their client, Hamidur Rashid, in a case brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York.  Mr. Rashid, a preeminent economist at the United Nations, was accused of visa fraud, fraud in foreign labor contracting, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft in connection with his hiring of a domestic worker from Bangladesh.  At the time it filed the criminal complaint, the U.S. Attorney’s Office issued a sensational press release alleging that Mr. Rashid “took cruel advantage of his position of power.”  Multiple news sources reported on his arrest, comparing the case to a 2014 incident in which an Indian diplomat faced similar charges and left the country under diplomatic immunity. But Mr. Rashid was completely innocent of the charges.  In a series of meetings with prosecutors and agents from the State Department, Ms. Harris and Mr. Biale carefully laid out facts establishing that the accusations against Mr. Rashid were false.  After reconsidering its charging decision at the highest levels, the U.S. Attorney’s Office dropped the case entirely and updated its press release to reflect that the charges had been dismissed. Click here to read more.

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Sher Tremonte Files Brief in Supreme Court on Important Sentencing Issue in the Case of Rod Blagojevich

On Monday, December 4, 2017, Sher Tremonte LLP filed an amicus curiae brief in the United States Supreme Court on behalf of the Center on the Administration of Criminal Law, based at the New York University School of Law.  The brief was filed in support of Petitioner Rod Blagojevich, the former governor of Illinois, who was convicted of various offenses stemming from the appointment of a Senator in the seat vacated by former President Barack Obama.  At his sentencing, Blagojevich argued that the 168-month sentence urged by the Government would result in an unwarranted disparity between him and other public officials charged with similar misconduct, who had been sentenced much more leniently.  The trial court and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals refused to consider this argument because his sentence was within the range recommended under the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which themselves attempt to account for sentencing disparities among similarly-situated defendants.  In its amicus brief, Sher Tremonte argued that the Court should adopt the view of the majority of courts of appeals, which holds that a court must address all factors relevant to sentencing regardless of whether the sentence ultimately imposed is within the Sentencing Guidelines.  That view, the brief argued, is consistent with the goals of fairness and uniformity in sentencing, in addition to the relevant congressional statute and Supreme Court precedent.  The Center on the Administration of Criminal Law at NYU Law is dedicated to defining and promoting good government practices in the criminal justice system through academic research, litigation, and formulating public policy. The amicus brief filed on its behalf was authored by partners Justin M. Sher and Michael Tremonte, associate and pro bono coordinator Noam Biale, and associate Emily Burgess.

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Sher Tremonte Welcomes Three New Lawyers

Sher Tremonte is delighted to announce the addition of Tasha Branford, Heather Yu Han and Emma Spiro to the firm. Read more about our new colleagues here.

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Sher Tremonte listed among “Best Law Firms” by U.S. News

Sher Tremonte is proud to be recognized in the 2018 Edition U.S. News – Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms" rankings for Criminal Defense: White Collar. The firms named to this list have been surveyed through a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client evaluations and peer review from leading attorneys.

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12 Sher Tremonte Attorneys Named 2017 Super Lawyers

Twelve Sher Tremonte attorneys have been selected as 2017 New York Metro Super Lawyers or Rising Stars. Published annually, Super Lawyers selects leading professionals who have attained a high degree of peer recognition, as well as excellence in their practice area. Additionally, Michael Tremonte has been named to the Top 100: 2017 New York – Metro Super Lawyers List for the third consecutive year; and Justine Harris has been named to the Top 50: 2017 Women New York – Metro Super Lawyers List. We are proud to have our dedicated, thoughtful team of Sher Tremonte lawyers recognized for their superior expertise in white collar criminal defense, securities, business, environmental and intellectual property litigation. Sher Tremonte 2017 New York Metro Super Lawyers and Rising Stars: Justin Sher, Partner Business Litigation Michael Tremonte, Partner Business Litigation Top 100: 2017 New York – Metro Super Lawyers Robert Knuts, Partner Securities Litigation Theresa Trzaskoma, Partner Criminal Defense: White Collar Justine Harris, Partner Criminal Defense: White Collar Top 50: 2017 Women New York – Metro Super Lawyers Kimo Peluso, Partner Business Litigation Mark Cuccaro, Of Counsel Rising Star in Business Litigation Noam Biale, Associate Rising Star in Criminal Defense Michael Gibaldi, Associate Rising Star in Criminal Defense: White Collar Justin Gunnell, Associate Rising Star in Business Litigation Yonatan Jacobs, Associate Rising Star in Business Litigation Erica Wolff, Associate Rising Star in Civil Litigation

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Sher Tremonte Files Amicus Brief in US Supreme Court Opposing De Facto Life Sentences for Juveniles

On Monday, August 28, 2017, Sher Tremonte LLP filed an amicus curiae brief in the United States Supreme Court on behalf of the Fair Punishment Project at Harvard Law School.  The brief was filed in two consolidated cases, Timothy Willbanks v. Missouri Department of Corrections and Ledale Nathan v. State of Missouri, both of which involve the Eighth Amendment’s protection of juveniles in the criminal justice system.  In two recent decisions, Graham v. Florida (2010) and Miller v. Alabama (2012), the Supreme Court limited the circumstances in which juveniles may be sentenced to life-without-parole. Petitioners Mr. Willbanks and Mr. Ledale were each sentenced to lengthy terms of incarceration for crimes they committed when they were under eighteen, for which they will not be parole-eligible until they are in their eighties.  They argued to the Missouri courts that these were effectively life sentences and therefore violated Graham and Miller.  The Missouri courts held that because both youths were sentenced to consecutive terms for multiple crimes (all arising out of the same single incident), the Supreme Court’s decisions did not apply to them.   In an amicus brief supporting the petitioners, Sher Tremonte argued that the Eighth Amendment’s protections apply equally to children convicted of multiple crimes as those convicted of one crime, and that any criminal sentence for a juvenile that exceeds the period of time necessary for rehabilitation amounts to disproportionate punishment.   The brief was filed on behalf of the Fair Punishment Project, a joint initiative of Harvard Law School’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice and its Criminal Justice Institute, that advocates for a fair and accountable justice system through legal action, public discourse, and educational initiatives.  The brief was authored by partner Justin M. Sher and associate and pro bono coordinator Noam Biale, who, before joining Sher Tremonte, worked on the merits brief in the Miller case.

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