Zoe Tillman Profile picture
Senior reporter @BuzzFeedNews covering courts, justice, and the intersection of law and politics. zoe.tillman@buzzfeed.com
Cigman Freud ❌ #WeAreTheNewsNow Profile picture Joseph Behan ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Text TRUMP to 88022) Profile picture eDo Profile picture R K Profile picture Becky Werner Profile picture 23 added to My Authors
27 Jul
New: Trump filed his amended complaint challenging the New York grand jury subpoena for his tax returns. After SCOTUS rejected his absolute immunity argument but said he could try the normal route for contesting a GJ subponea, Trump is trying again.

Doc: assets.documentcloud.org/documents/7007…
For a refresher on what SCOTUS ruled in Trump's fight with the NY DA's office over a grand jury subpoena for his tax returns: buzzfeednews.com/article/zoetil…

tldr: No one is getting Trump's tax returns yet.
Read 2 tweets
24 Jul
NEW: A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order tonight barring federal law enforcement officers deployed to Portland from using force or arresting journalists and legal observers.
buzzfeednews.com/article/zoetil…
Judge Simon rejected DOJ's argument that the journalists and legal observers lacked standing because they hadn't alleged ongoing harm: "The actions by the federal agents described by Plaintiffs are part of a pattern of officially sanctioned conduct."
buzzfeednews.com/article/zoetil…
The judge said DOJ engaged in "circular logic" when it argued journalists didn't have a right to stay when federal officers closed streets. The point of journalists was to observe and report if those officers were acting lawfully, he wrote.
buzzfeednews.com/article/zoetil…
Read 4 tweets
16 Jul
Following up on yesterday's filing from Trump's lawyers in the NY grand jury subpoena case making clear Trump plans to keep fighting post-SCOTUS (see: ), there was a hearing this morning. It just ended, here's a thread summarizing what happened:
The one concrete thing to come out of today's hearing is that SDNY Judge Victor Marrero adopted the schedule that both sides proposed — Trump's amended complaint is due July 27, the NY DA's answer/motion to dismiss is due Aug. 3, and briefing on any motion will conclude Aug. 14
The lawyer from the NY DA's office, Carey Dunne, made clear that this schedule was a compromise, and that they want a resolution as quickly as possible. They contend any amended complaint will be facially deficient. He concluded by saying his office's position is: "Bring it on."
Read 9 tweets
14 Jul
Shortly after 2am, the Supreme Court issued an order that would allow the Trump administration to proceed with the first federal execution since 2003: documentcloud.org/documents/6988…

The order isn't signed (it's per curiam), but Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan dissented.
Lawyers for Daniel Lewis Lee, the man scheduled for execution first, immediately went back to the district court to ask for a new injunction on grounds not addressed in yesterday's order (which SCOTUS vacated)

Per that motion, the execution was set for 4am, but no updates yet.
It appears there was also some early morning legal wrangling by Lee's lawyers in the 8th Circuit, where he'd been trying to renew ineffective assistance of counsel claims. The court denied Lee's petition for en banc review
Read 4 tweets
13 Jul
The judge in Roger Stone's case would like to see Trump's commutation order — she wants clarification about whether it only keeps him out of prison, or if it affects the terms of supervised release that she imposed at sentencing as well.

Previously: buzzfeednews.com/article/zoetil…
Recall that in addition to 40 months in prison, Roger Stone was also sentenced to 24 months of supervised release and a $20,000 fine
Read 2 tweets
13 Jul
NOW: A federal judge in DC has once again blocked the Trump administration from carrying out federal executions by lethal injection — the first one was scheduled for this afternoon assets.documentcloud.org/documents/6987…
Judge Tanya Chutkan: "...the public is not served by short-circuiting legitimate judicial process, and is greatly served by attempting to ensure that the most serious punishment is imposed in a manner consistent with our Constitution"
Previously on the last-ditch legal effort to stop the Trump admin from resuming federal executions: buzzfeednews.com/article/zoetil…

Before this morning's order, the execution of Daniel Lewis Lee was scheduled to go ahead at 4pm today after the 7th Circuit rejected a set of challenges.
Read 5 tweets
9 Jul
BREAKING: The Supreme Court ruled prosecutors in New York can subpoena Trump's tax returns. This is a blow to Trump, who argued for immunity, and DOJ, which argued for a higher standard for this type of subpoena — the majority rejected both arguments. buzzfeednews.com/article/zoetil…
BREAKING PT. II: SCOTUS revived the fight over congressional subpoenas for Trump's records, finding lower courts didn't properly consider separation of powers issues. This kicks it back for more proceedings — so House Dems don't get Trump's records for now
buzzfeednews.com/article/zoetil…
Keep in mind that just because Trump lost the grand jury subpoena case, this does not mean the public will get to see his tax returns — grand jury proceedings remain secret buzzfeednews.com/article/zoetil…
Read 4 tweets
25 Jun
The judge in Roger Stone's case is taking a close look at his request — which DOJ does not oppose — to delay his surrender date to the Bureau of Prisons. Here are the minute orders detailing what info Judge Amy Berman Jackson wants, incl. a new one she just entered
Taken together, Jackson wants info that gets at whether the way that DOJ and BOP have dealt with Roger Stone so far squares with how they've been handling the surrender and incarceration of federal defendants generally during the COVID-19 pandemic
Read 3 tweets
20 Jun
NOW: AG Barr says in a letter to Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman that Trump has now officially fired him, and that's that, rejecting any argument by Berman that a judicial appointment means he can't be removed.

Previously: buzzfeednews.com/article/zoetil…
Barr to Berman: "Unfortunately, with your statement of last night, you have chosen public spectacle over public service."

Note that Barr's letter changes the succession plan from last night — deputy US atty Audrey Strauss will take over as acting US atty buzzfeednews.com/article/zoetil…
Berman's statement last night 100% ruled out any kind of voluntary departure, but wasn't totally clear on what Berman would do if Trump directly fired him. He said: "I will step down when a presidentially appointed nominee is confirmed by the Senate." buzzfeednews.com/article/zoetil…
Read 6 tweets
18 Jun
BREAKING: The US Supreme Court has ruled the Trump administration violated federal law when it rescinded the DACA program supremecourt.gov/opinions/19pdf…
Roberts writes the 5-4 decision: "Here the agency failed to consider the conspicuous issues of whether to retain forbearance and what if anything to do about the hardship to DACA recipients." The case is remanded back to DHS "so that it may consider the problem anew."
This outcome is similar to what happened in the census citizenship question case — in both cases, Roberts wrote for the majority of the court that the Trump admin *could* in theory do what they were trying to do, but that officials had gone about it in an unlawful way
Read 6 tweets
12 Jun
Good morning from my dining table, where I'll be listening to DC Circuit arguments this morning in Michael Flynn's case — he's asking the court to cut off Judge Emmet Sullivan's inquiry into DOJ's decision to drop the criminal case against Flynn.

Prev: buzzfeednews.com/article/zoetil…
Flynn's lawyer Sidney Powell is up first. She begins by arguing that the DC Circuit must stop Judge Sullivan's "intrusion" into the exec branch's sole power to decide whether to dismiss a case and that the district judge has "has no authority to do anything further in the case."
The first Qs come from Judge Robert Wilkins, who brings experience with all of this - he was a district judge before he was confirmed to the DC Circuit. He asks how Powell can argue Sullivan has no role when SCOTUS said courts can review of these types of dismissal motions by DOJ
Read 30 tweets
10 Jun
Some takeaways from the brief filed by John Gleeson, the former judge tapped to argue why DOJ shouldn't be allowed to drop Michael Flynn's case. He writes that DOJ's explanations "are so irregular, and so obviously pretextual, that they are deficient"
assets.documentcloud.org/documents/6940…
This is the latest case where Trump's tweets show up to potentially cause problems for DOJ. Gleeson writes the tweets make clear Trump "is personally invested in ensuring that Flynn’s prosecution ends, and has deep animosity toward those who investigated and prosecuted Flynn"
Gleeson notes that there were other ways the Trump admin could have helped Flynn that no court would have authority to interfere with (for ex: a decision *not* to bring charges, or a presidential pardon). But once charges were filed, the court became a player, he argues
Read 5 tweets
5 Jun
New qualified immunity opinion from the 11th Circuit: A man reluctantly agrees to help cops after they threaten him w/ charges (he acknowledges he'd violated the law) and he's worried they may hurt him. He gets caught in crossfire and is shot (he survives) media.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/pub/f…
Panel upheld qualified immunity for the cops, saying there wasn't evidence they specifically told the guy what charges they'd throw at him or that he'd face false charges, and the evidence was "thin" that the cops had physically threatened him
Previously on qualified immunity and what it has to do with the moment we're in and why a lot of people want to get rid of it: buzzfeednews.com/article/zoetil…
Read 3 tweets
5 Jun
Voting-related legal action of note from last night and this morning:
- A state court judge in Tennessee ordered the state to provide mail-in ballots to anyone who wants one to avoid COVID-19: aclu.org/legal-document…
(The judge in Tennessee makes clear she is not ordering the state to automatically mail absentee ballots to eligible voters — people still have to apply)
- In Minnesota, the ACLU announced today that it had filed a lawsuit in state court to have the state send all registered voters an absentee ballot and to waive the witness requirement: aclu.org/legal-document…
Read 3 tweets
4 Jun
NEW: Mass Arrests Take Hours. The Legal Mess That Follows Can Take Years And Millions Of Dollars To Resolve.
buzzfeednews.com/article/zoetil…
A set of lawsuits filed over mass arrests in DC during Trump's inauguration are pending three years later. And that's nothing compared to the 14 years (and $13.25 million) it took for DC to settle lawsuits over mass arrests in Pershing Park in 2002 buzzfeednews.com/article/zoetil…
It's not just DC. Other cities have spent years and millions of dollars to untangle lawsuits accusing police of unlawful arrests and excessive force during demonstrations buzzfeednews.com/article/zoetil…
Read 3 tweets
2 Jun
NEW: As videos continue to surface documenting police violence during anti-racist demonstrations, the legal doctrine that has long protected cops in court — qualified immunity — is getting fresh attention buzzfeednews.com/article/zoetil…
Even in cases where judges concluded that what officers did was unconstitutional, they’ve still granted immunity because the violation wasn’t “clearly established” at the time — a standard that the Supreme Court is considering revisiting buzzfeednews.com/article/zoetil…
The cases before SCOTUS include allegations that law enforcement officers shot a child while aiming for a dog; threw a flashbang into a room where people were sleeping; and used a police dog on a suspect who had surrendered buzzfeednews.com/article/zoetil…
Read 4 tweets
27 May
NEW: The coronavirus pandemic has wrecked hospital budgets. A Trump administration plan that's been tied up in legal challenges for years could leave them in a bigger hole. buzzfeednews.com/article/zoetil…
A deep dive into the Trump admin's plan to drastically cut how much hospitals are reimbursed when they prescribe drugs to Medicare patients. Hospitals say they use millions earned from the program each year to serve lower income/underserved patients buzzfeednews.com/article/zoetil…
The govt, aligned with the pharma industry, said the program gives hospitals an incentive to overprescribe, and wasn't meant to generate so much $ for hospitals. A judge found the feds exceeded their authority in cutting the rate; an appeal is pending buzzfeednews.com/article/zoetil…
Read 5 tweets
27 May
Blast from the past: Former DAG Rod Rosenstein will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week about Crossfire Hurricane, the FBI's counterintel investigation into whether the Trump campaign was coordinating with Russia in 2016
Statement from Rod Rosenstein about his upcoming testimony: "We can only hope to maintain public confidence if we correct mistakes, hold wrongdoers accountable, and adopt policies to prevent problems from recurring."
Read 2 tweets
20 May
White House announced a new judicial nominee: Alabama's solicitor general Edmund LaCour has been tapped for a district court seat
(my screenshotter isn't working for some reason or I'd post the full announcement!)
Fun fact: Public records show LaCour was born in Feb. 1985, which makes him 35. If confirmed, he'd be the first judge born that year on the federal bench, per FJC records (he wouldn't be the youngest judge ever confirmed — recall Kozinski turned 35 the year he was confirmed)
(An eagle-eyed reader has correctly pointed out that Kozinski was actually 32 when he first became a federal judge — he was on the Court of Federal Claims for three years before being confirmed to the 9th Circuit at age 35)
Read 3 tweets
15 May
NEW: It was already hard for many people to navigate the civil justice system if they couldn't afford a lawyer. Here's how the coronavirus pandemic is making it even harder. buzzfeednews.com/article/zoetil…
Most courts across the US have restricted public access, which means the in-court resources that people without a lawyer have long relied on to figure out how to fight an eviction or get a restraining order, for instance, are suddenly gone buzzfeednews.com/article/zoetil…
Courts have shifted operations online, but they're up against a digital divide that was a problem pre-pandemic — how do you reach people who don't have a computer or internet at home? Or who don't have data/cell minutes to do a virtual hearing? buzzfeednews.com/article/zoetil…
Read 4 tweets
14 May
NEW: The emoluments fight between Trump and DC/MD is back on, with the full 4th Circuit ruling that a panel was wrong to take up Trump's appeal when it did — this isn't about the merits of the fight, it revives the case. More to come, here's the opinion: assets.documentcloud.org/documents/6890…
TODAY: A court fight over whether Trump can profit from his businesses while he's in office is back on — an appeals court revived the case after a panel of judges dismissed it last year.

Trump's lawyer has already said they're taking it to SCOTUS. buzzfeednews.com/article/zoetil…
Courts in DC, Maryland, and New York have been kicking around cases accusing Trump of violating the Constitution's prohibition against accepting "emoluments" for three years, stemming from his refusal to divest from his businesses when he became president buzzfeednews.com/article/zoetil…
Read 7 tweets