Pro Se, defined as “Latin for “in one’s own behalf.” The right to appear pro se in a civil case in federal court is defined by statute 28 U.S.C. § 1654. Thus, with some limitations, anyone can appear pro se, and anyone who appears before the Court without an attorney is considered pro se.
Powerful words which mean a lot to me, who had to go pro se many years ago when my mom died in her sleep and our church took her ashes and withheld them from me, the Executrix of her Will, for 8 days. I could not find a lawyer, so I sued using the tort the Intentional Infliction of Emotional Harm, and the jury granted me $500,000. Then Judge Lottie Wilkins took the money away, saying I would never get a penny, she would make sure of that.
But what came out of this experience was a firm belief that if someone reads the law online, at a Law Library (I spent alot of time at the NYU Lw Library), or at home on Google, they can do a good job – sometimes better – than an attorney. I advocate for this.
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Law.com, November 23, 2021 at 04:33 PM, Tom McParland
Andrea Tantaros, who initially sued the network and executives in New York state court, fired her previous attorney in October.
A former Fox News Network host who accused the network of harassment and employment discrimination could wind up representing herself in a civil lawsuit after firing her counsel for the third time last month.
A Manhattan federal judge said in an order Tuesday that the plaintiff, Andrea Tantaros, would have until Dec. 6 to find a new attorney or proceed pro se in the case.
Tantaros, (pictured at left) who initially sued the network and certain executives in New York state court, fired her most recent attorney in October, as she pushed behind the scenes to take her case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
U.S. District Judge Andre L. Carter Jr. of the Southern District of New York allowed Tantaros’ former attorney, Donnelly Stehn partner Joseph Donnelly, to withdraw from the case, and stayed the litigation until Nov. 22 so that she could secure new counsel. According to court filings, it was her third request to change representation in federal court.
But as of Tuesday, Carter said, he still had not received any notice of appearance on Tantaros’ behalf.
“The court has given petitioner ample time to obtain counsel. If petitioner does not retain counsel by December 6, 2021, she must proceed pro se,” the judge wrote in a one-page order.
According to Carter’s order, the Fox News defendants are expected to file a motion to dismiss the case by that same date.
A spokeswoman for the network did not immediately provide a comment on Tuesday. The defendants have denied the allegations.
Tantaros’ lawsuit seizes on a recently enacted state statute, passed in the wake of the #MeToo movement, to invalidate an arbitration agreement with the network that mandated Tantaros’ sexual harassment claims be resolved in private.
The defendants then removed the suit to federal court, prompting a dispute over whether the law, Section 7515 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rule, contained an exception that would allow some employers still to arbitrate disputes involving federal law.
Carter, however, denied Tantaros’ motion to remand the case to state court, in a decision that was later upheld by a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
In a majority opinion, U.S. Circuit Judge John M. Walker Jr. agreed that the matter belonged in federal court because the case implicated the Federal Arbitration Act, which favors arbitration.
“We conclude that because § 7515 requires a threshold showing that the plaintiff’s claim complies with the FAA, it necessarily raises a substantial federal issue that may be resolved in federal court without threatening the federal-state balance,” Walker said in an opinion joined by U.S. Circuit Judge José A. Cabranes.
One judge, however, wrote in a dissent that it was “far from ‘plain’” that Section 7515 required Tantaros to plead that her claim is consistent with federal law, and said that question should be left to the New York Court of Appeals.
“Indeed, I am hard-pressed to believe the New York State Legislature intended to make virtually every § 7515 claim, a purely state-law right, removable to federal court,” U.S. Circuit Judge Richard C. Wesley wrote.
The panel did not certify the question to the state’s highest court.
According to court filings, Tantaros has said that she wants to hire a new attorney who is admitted to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court to appeal the decision.
Any new counsel would also need to be admitted in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, where the litigation is proceeding before Andrews.
The case is captioned Tantaros v. Fox News Network.
The case pitted a new state law versus the Federal Arbitration Act.
Law.com, August 27, 2021 at 04:43 PM
What You Need to Know
- Andrea Tantaros sought to avoid arbitration under a statute enacted by the state Legislature in 2018.
- The divided panel decided federal courts have jurisdiction to resolve a conflict between state law and the Federal Arbitration Act.
- Fox News is represented by Kirkland & Ellis partner C. Harker Rhodes.
A former Fox News Network LLC host’s lawsuit against the network challenging the arbitration of her sexual harassment claims belongs in federal court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled Friday.
The divided panel of three judges rejected Andrea Tantaros’ argument that her case should proceed in state court, where she originally contended her sexual harassment claims should not be in arbitration because they arise under a New York statute passed in the wake of the #MeToo movement that prohibits mandatory arbitration of employment discrimination. Both sides’ attorneys disagreed over whether the statute has an exception in it that would let some employers still arbitrate disputes involving federal law.
In a majority opinion, Judge John M. Walker Jr. agreed with a lower court that the matter belongs in federal court. Walker Jr. wrote that Tantaros’ case implicates the Federal Arbitration Act, which favors arbitration, and that the conflict between the New York statute and FAA policy should be resolved in federal court.
“We conclude that because § 7515 requires a threshold showing that the plaintiff’s claim complies with the FAA, it necessarily raises a substantial federal issue that may be resolved in federal court without threatening the federal-state balance,” he wrote in an opinion joined by Judge José Cabranes.
“While New York state has a competing interest in deciding the meaning of its own laws, the New York legislature drafted § 7515 clearly mindful of federal law and the possibility that such §7515 claims may be removed to federal court,” he continued.
Tantaros first brought the challenge against Fox News and certain executives in New York state court to invalidate an arbitration agreement with the network mandating her claims to be resolved in private. Tantaros argued that given the then-newly enacted Section 7515 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rule, arbitration of her sexual harassment claims granted by a judge in 2017 should not be valid.
The defendants then removed the suit to federal court, “contending that the case necessarily raises an issue of federal law” and Tantaros filed a motion to remand the case back to state courts.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Carter Jr. of the Southern District of New York denied Tantaros’ motion to remand the case, but asked for the Second Circuit to take that ruling up on interlocutory appeal.
In Friday’s decision, Judge Richard Wesley dissented, saying it is “far from ‘plain’” that Section 7515 requires Tantaros to plead that her claim is consistent with federal law, and said that question should be left to the New York Court of Appeals.
“Indeed, I am hard-pressed to believe the New York State Legislature intended to make virtually every § 7515 claim, a purely state-law right, removable to federal court,” he wrote. “Because the New York Court of Appeals is the umpire better suited to make this call, I would reserve decision and certify the question of whether § 7515 requires plaintiffs to plead that their claim is not inconsistent with federal law to the New York Court of Appeals.”
In a statement, a Fox News spokesperson said the network plans to file a motion to dismiss Tantaros’ lawsuit.
In 2018, a federal judge in Manhattan dismissed a separate suit filed by Tantaros in which she accused Fox News of illegally surveilling her after she lodged complaints of sexual harassment against network executives. U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels of the Southern District of New York said the litigation was “based primarily on speculation and conjecture.”
“After five years of litigation and seven different sets of counsel, Andrea Tantaros has yet to advance her baseless claims. We will file a motion to dismiss her lawsuit,” the spokesperson said in an email Friday.
Meanwhile, the attorney representing Tantaros, Bruce Fein, of Fein & Del Valle, said he plans to file a petition for rehearing and rehearing en banc. In an email, Fein said Friday’s decision will “eliminate state courts in New York from interpreting a novel state law designed specifically to help victims” of employment discrimination.
“With this ruling, companies with a proven pattern and practice of fostering workplaces filled with rampant abuse, sexual harassment, and retaliation, like Fox News Channel, will be able to remove cases involving all forms discrimination to federal court as a tactic to forum shop, causing costly delay and undue burden on victims and denying Plaintiff’s their rightful choice of forum to have their claims heard,” Fein said.
Fox News Network LLC was represented by Kirkland & Ellis partner C. Harker Rhodes.
By Daniel Wiessner, AUGUST 23, 2016
(Reuters) – A former Fox News anchor claims in a lawsuit that former network Chairman Roger Ailes, who resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment and is reportedly advising Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump, fueled a misogynistic culture at the top-rated channel enforced by other executives.
Andrea Tantaros said she was taken off the air in April in retaliation for rebuffing Ailes’ advances and complaining to top officials at Fox News, a unit of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc FOXA.O, in a lawsuit filed Monday in New York state court in Manhattan.
The defendants include Fox, Ailes, William Shine, who was named co-president of the network when Ailes resigned last month, and three other company officials.
Fox in a statement said it does not comment on pending litigation. Two lawyers for Ailes did not respond to requests for comment.
Former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson in July filed a lawsuit making similar harassment allegations against Ailes, but unlike Tantaros she did not claim she was silenced by other Fox executives. Carlson’s lawsuit led Ailes to resign on July 21, and Fox has said it launched an internal investigation.
Tantaros in Monday’s lawsuit said that Ailes, beginning in 2011, made numerous comments about her appearance and asked her to “twirl” for him. She said that Shine, then a senior executive, and the company’s top in-house lawyer shrugged off complaints about Ailes’ conduct.
“Fox News masquerades as defender of traditional family values, but behind the scenes, it operates like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult,” the lawsuit said.
The claims came a week after the New York Times reported that Ailes, 76, was helping Trump prepare for debates with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The Trump campaign said Ailes had no formal or informal role.
Tantaros first made her claims in a New York magazine article published two weeks ago. In response, Shine through a representative denied that Tantaros ever complained to him about harassment.
Two lawyers for Tantaros were not immediately available for comment on Tuesday.
Ailes in July moved in federal court in Manhattan to send Carlson’s lawsuit to arbitration, but both sides later agreed to keep the case in New Jersey, where it was filed and where Ailes owns a home. His lawyers at the time said they planned to seek arbitration in that court.
Ailes in court documents said Fox employees routinely sign arbitration agreements that include confidentiality provisions.
The case is Tantaros v. Fox News Network LLC, New York State Supreme Court, New York County, No. 157054/2016.
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