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Lawrence Kahn

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Lawrence Kahn
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Current Court Information:
United States District Court for the Northern District of New York
Title:   Senior Judge
Service:
Appointed by:   Bill Clinton
Active:   08/01/1996 - 07/31/2007
Senior:   08/01/2007 - Present
Preceded by:   Neal McCurn
Succeeded by:   Glenn Suddaby
Past post:   Supreme Court of the State of New York, Justice
Past term:   1980 - 1996
Personal History
Born:   1937
Hometown:   Troy, NY
Undergraduate:   Union College, A.B., 1959
Law School:   Harvard Law School, J.D., 1962

Lawrence E. Kahn is a federal judge for the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York. He joined the court in 1996 after being nominated by President Bill Clinton. He is serving on senior status.

Early life and education

Kahn graduated from Union College with his bachelor's degree in 1959, and later from Harvard Law with his Juris Doctor degree in 1962. Kahn also undertook studies at the University of Oxford for some time.[1]

Professional career

Kahn began his legal career as a private practice licensed in the State of New York from 1963 to 1973 before becoming assistant corporation counsel for the City of Albany from 1963 to 1968. Kahn began his judicial career as a surrogate judge for the Albany County Surrogate's Court from 1973 to 1979 before being appointed by New York Governor Mario Cuomo as a Justice of the New York Supreme Court from 1980 to 1996.[1]

Judicial career

Northern District of New York

On the recommendation of U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Kahn was nominated by President Bill Clinton on April 18, 1996, to a seat vacated by Neal McCurn. Kahn was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on July 16, 1996 on a majority voice vote and received commission on August 1, 1996.[1]

Notable cases

Indian tribes, U.S. Governments, & taxes (2009-2013)

     United States District Court for the Northern District of New York (State of New York, et al., v. Kenneth Salazar, and Oneida Nation of New York, 6:08-cv-00644-LEK-DEP)

Judge Kahn presided over parts of a historic and decades-long land dispute involving the Native American tribe known as the Oneidas and United States governments. The tribe is federally recognized as the Oneida Indian Nation, and resides in New York State. The central issue in the dispute was the taxation rights to 13,000 acres of land owned by the tribe. These parcels were mostly paid for with revenues from The Turning Stone Resort and Casino; the casino is located on land granted to the tribe subsequent to the United States government taking ownership of their territory. The Oneida Indians had been involved in litigation over the land since the 1970's.[2]

In April of 2005, the Oneida Indian Nation (OIN) applied to the Department of the Interior to have the land taken into federal trust on its behalf, in which case the parcels would not be subject to local and state laws and taxes (although it would still be to most federal ones). The agency subsequently granted this request. The surrounding municipalities of Madison and Oneida counties, and the State of New York immediately sued the United States Department of the Interior, claiming that Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthome had exceeded his authority and challenged the action as a violation of the U.S. Constitution.[2][3]

Kahn found that the Department of Interior (DOI) did not over-step its authority by putting the land into trust for the OIN, and dismissed the causes by the State and municipalities.[2][2]

A citizens group called Upstate Citizens for Equality then joined the long-running action as a plaintiff against the OIN, and challenged the land-into-trust action by the DOI on the same basis. In September of 2012, Judge Kahn held that the question that would resolve whether the agency had authority to put the land into trust was whether the tribe was federally recognized in 1934, when the Indian Reorganization Act was enacted, not whether it is federally recognized at the time they applied to have the land held in trust. He remanded the review of the land-into-trust application to the DOI and ordered them to reconsider. The OIN commented that the ruling was merely procedural, and only asked the DOI for a supplemental finding to support its decision--which it already enacted--to put the land into federal trust.[2][4]

In May of 2013, the OIN reached a tentative revenue sharing deal with the state and municipalities.[2][5]

Religious expression in schools (2010)

     United States District Court for the Northern District of New York (R.H., by and through his parent and next friend, Chantell Hosier, v. Schenectady City School District, et al., 1:10-cv-00640-LEK-DRH)

Judge Kahn presided over a case concerning freedom of speech and expression, and religious speech, in 2010. In May of that year, Raymond Hosier, of Schenectady, New York, was suspended from Oneida Middle School of the Schenectady City School District for wearing prayer beads--a rosary--to school. According to Karen Corona, a representative of the School District, the boy was suspended because the school had a code of conduct that restricted the beads, which the school alleged were often identifiers for gangs in the area. Hosier's brother had died while holding on to the beads, and he contended that he wore the beads as religious expression and to keep his brother's memory alive.[6] The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a public interest law firm founded by evangelical minister and attorney Pat Robertson, then filed the lawsuit on Hoiser's behalf, charging that the school's action was a violation of Hosier's constitutional rights of free speech and expression.

In June of 2010, Judge Kahn granted the plaintiffs a preliminary injunction, reinstating the seventh-grader (from his suspension), and ordering the school to refrain from suspending him for wearing the prayer beads.[6][7]

In September, the school district changed their policy banning Hosier's beads, but the case wasn't finally resolved at that point because of the issues regarding liability and damages. That same month, Judge Kahn approved a settlement between the School District and Hosier and the ACLJ; the school agreed to pay $22,500 in damages, legal fees, and costs, and to expunge Hosier's permanent school record for the infractions from the relevant time period.[8]

  • Judge Kahn's order granting a temporary injunction may be found here.
  • Plaintiff's complaint may be found here.
  • Plaintiff's amended complaint may be found here.


Judge blocks proposed NY State employees furlough (2010)

     United States District Court for the Northern District of New York (Danny Donohue, et al., v. David A. Paterson, et al., 1:10-cv-00546-LEK-DRH)

Judge Kahn issued a ruling on May 12, 2010 that blocked an order from former New York Governor David Paterson to furlough state employees for one day in order to save the state money. Paterson claimed that it was necessary to keep the state from running out of money at the end of May 2010. Unions representing state employees and public university teachers filed suit, claiming that the furloughs were illegal.[9]

Governor Paterson publicly criticized the judge's decision, saying the ruling was dissappointing, and a mistake. He added that Judge Kahn usurped his gubernatorial power by compelling the state to include a previous proposal for a four percent pay raise for employees into any emergency spending bill the state enacted subsequent to his decision. The Governor indicated that his central concern was that the judge wrote the order without holding a hearing on the issue.[10]

On May 28, 2010, Judge Kahn affirmed his previous ruling banning Governor Paterson from ordering furloughs on state employees in New York. Kahn wrote that the Governor's plan violated the contract clause of the U.S. Constitution, which forbids governments from actions that would interfere with pre-existing governmental contracts, and explained that furloughs have serious consequences. Kahn added that the furlough plan relied on the false assumption that all other measures to provide cost savings for the State of New York would fail.[11]

See also

External links

References

Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
Neal McCurn
Northern District of New York
1996–2007
Succeeded by:
Glenn Suddaby


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