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N.Y. Judge Files $10 Million Defamation Suit

•  Headline Legal News     updated  2008/05/05 09:06


A Brooklyn judge has filed an unusual $10 million defamation suit against attorney Ravi Batra and the New York Daily News.

The suit, Martin v. Daily News, 100053/08, filed earlier this year in Manhattan Supreme Court by Justice Larry D. Martin, alleges that Batra was the source of two Daily News columns and related blog postings falsely accusing the judge of improperly presiding over a case involving a lawyer who had defended him before the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Martin maintains that Batra "requested and urged" Daily News columnist Errol Louis to publish "defamatory statements" about him. He claims the articles were "outrageous, grossly irresponsible, malicious and evinced a complete and utter indifference" to his "rights and reputation."

Both Batra and the Daily News have filed motions to dismiss.

On Jan. 28, 2007, Louis wrote that the "complicated world of judicial corruption in Brooklyn -- a snakepit filled with bribery and back-room political deals" -- was on the verge of being "blown wide open."

He cited an action brought by Batra, relating to Singer v. Riskin, 015812/01, an ongoing multimillion-dollar real estate dispute between Batra's clients, Martin and Grace Riskin, and Ted Singer. That dispute has spawned 11 lawsuits.

In November 2006, Batra filed Riskin v. Karp, 34131/06, on behalf of his clients against attorney Jerome M. Karp. The suit alleges Karp represented Singer "in secret" in Riskin v. Belinda, 048555/98, a mortgage foreclosure action and offshoot of Singer v. Riskin.

Batra alleged that Karp's failure to disclose his representation of Singer in Belinda, over which Martin presided, created an undisclosed conflict since Karp had served as the judge's attorney before the judicial conduct commission.

The commission, in a determination issued in December 2001 and modified in June 2002, admonished Martin for sending ex parte letters seeking favorable consideration on behalf of defendants awaiting sentencing in other courts.

In an interview, Batra called Martin's pending action "a frivolous lawsuit [that] ill serves one who sits on the noble bench."

The suit is before Supreme Court Justice Martin J. Schulman.




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