At Judge’s Urging, NBBL Attorney Jim Walden Withdraws Round of Subpoenas

Gibson Dunn attorney Jim Walden grabbed headlines earlier this month after issuing a flurry of subpoenas to city officials in the Prospect Park West case. Streetsblog reported at the time that the subpoenas were not yet sanctioned by the court and were unusual for the type of suit, known as an Article 78 proceeding, filed by opponents of the PPW redesign. Before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Bert Bunyan decided whether to allow those subpoenas, Walden issued another round of subpoenas last week to at least six people, including Council Member Steve Levin, Transportation Alternatives director Paul Steely White, and Community Board 6 District Manager Craig Hammerman.

Today, at the urging of Judge Bunyan [PDF], Gibson Dunn withdrew the second round of subpoenas. City attorneys had gone to court seeking a temporary restraining order against the plaintiffs for trying to subpoena more people. After Bunyan recommended that Gibson Dunn withdraw the subpoenas, the city stopped pursuing the restraining order.

“The judge called the petitioners’ counsel out on this harassing strategy in court today,” said city attorney Karen Selvin, “rebuking them and prompting them to withdraw all the subpoenas issued under the petitioner’s direction over the last week.”

In response to the attempt by the plaintiffs’ attorneys to drag more people before the court, including CB 6 members Richard Bashner and Tom Miskel, Park Slope residents announced the formation of two YIMBY counterweights to the bike lane opponents. The new groups are known as “Neighbors for Better Neighbors” and “Seniors for Civility.”

“These subpoenas were clearly meant to silence and intimidate good, hard-working neighborhood advocates,” said NBN member and PPW resident Bill Carey. “I believe community members ought to talk to each other and work together rather than using a $700/hour corporate attorney to beat each other up.”

TA’s White called the lawsuit “not only frivolous, but reckless.” He added, “Removing the street safety improvements on Prospect Park West would put local residents in harm’s way. Streets with protected bike lanes have about 40 percent fewer crashes ending in death or serious injury for all street users: drivers and pedestrians included. The opponents of this bike lane are playing a dangerous game with people’s lives for the sake of a PR stunt.”

Bunyan is scheduled to decide on August 3 whether to allow Walden’s first round of subpoenas, issued to NYC DOT staff and Council Member Brad Lander.

You can read the full “Neighbors for Better Neighbors/Seniors for Civility” press release below:

Noah Kazis contributed to this post.

  • car free nation

    Neighbors for Better Neighbors… Awesome! Where do I sign up?

  • Flack

    Is Linda Gross going to sue Seniors for Civility for appropriating her 1990s-style fonts?

  • Danny G

    The one question I have about this case that intrigues me more than anything else is how those fonts were chosen for SFS and NBBL’s logos. I’m sure the process is familiar to all of us (i.e. hmm, try that one, nah, maybe that one, ah, this one’s nice too) but I wonder how and why those two were arrived at.

  • Design Expert

    The amateurish-looking fonts were chosen to make “Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes” and “Seniors for Safety” appear to be grassrootsy and homegrown rather than the product of a politically-powerful litigation and lobbying firm.

  • Danny G

    @70346f316ca847978d0e4249c9829786:disqus I hope there’s an alternate universe out there where they went with Comic Sans. I would like to see that universe.

  • Eliot

    The amateurish logos speak to NBBL’s laziness and disregard for democracy. 

    Why bother engaging in a multi-year community process in your own neighborhood?  It’s much easier to call in favors with a few powerful friends.

    Why bother forming an actual organization — with a website, an e-mail address, and a logo?  It’s much easier to hire a PR firm to do your work for you.

    Why work with your neighbors at all?  It’s easier to sue.

  • Excellent idea.  This counteroffensive was a long time in coming, but then again, the reason is that the ‘bike lobby” is nothing like the agile, hegemonic force that NBBL portrayed it to be.  My only comment on the press release is that Jim Walden’s hourly rate has got to be at least $1,000.

  • After months of hyperbole coming from NBBL this press release is a breath of fresh air.  It’s nice to see people injecting some much-needed sanity into this “debate.”

    Sadly, I doubt the Brooklyn Paper, NY Post, or any of the blogs that have practically copied and pasted each inane Jim Walden quote will copy and paste this one.

    Many thanks to the these better neighbors and true seniors for safety for taking this step.

  • Anonymous

    Awesome.

  • dporpentine

    On the Gibson Dunn front, don’t forget Georgia Winston, the other tool here. She (Georgia Winston, attorney, lawyer, Gibson Dunn) needs to have her name associated with this anti-democratic, injury- and death-encouraging lawsuit for Googleternity.

  • Larry Littlefield

    So there is, perhaps, a limit.   Let’s get this over with and move on to the appeal and appeal and appeal, and eventually the Supreme Court.

    Remember, there is no chance of “winning,” if winning means a court finds your claims have any merit.  But that is not the goal.  

    These are politicians we are talking about.  The only facts that matter are the relative value of different people.  They don’t understand anything else, and are not interested.

  • That press release is a little over the top, isn’t it?  “Brooklyn community members are cheering”?  Or is this how you write a press release nowadays?

  • That press release is a little over the top, isn’t it?  “Brooklyn community members are cheering”?  Or is this how you write a press release nowadays?

  • Gibby Dunn

    Did you go to any of the community board meetings?  In January, community members cheered and applauded after DOT reps presented the findings from their safety and traffic studies.  In March, community members cheered and applauded as speaker after speaker lauded the benefits of the PPW redesign.

    Are quotes like Gibson Dunn attorney Georgia Winston saying “The DOT can bike but it can’t hide” examples of restraint?

  • Gibby Dunn

    Did you go to any of the community board meetings?  In January, community members cheered and applauded after DOT reps presented the findings from their safety and traffic studies.  In March, community members cheered and applauded as speaker after speaker lauded the benefits of the PPW redesign.

    Are quotes like Gibson Dunn attorney Georgia Winston saying “The DOT can bike but it can’t hide” examples of restraint?

  • Eric McClure

    @c532664ee53360b077c1c21f04fb7920:disqus , you can join Neighbors for Better Neighbors here:  http://www.facebook.com/groups/260169820665926

  • Eric McClure

    @c532664ee53360b077c1c21f04fb7920:disqus , you can join Neighbors for Better Neighbors here:  http://www.facebook.com/groups/260169820665926

  • FJH

    Matthew: I think I you need to re-read the press release as a parody of a Jim Walden / Linda Gross production. You have to be somewhat familiar with the Gross/Walden/NBBL oeuvre to enjoy it as a piece of humor writing.

  • Dave Holland

    The bike lobby is much greater, the City employees and contractors plus Transportation Alternatives vastly outnumber the opposition.

  • Dave Holland

    And “Witch Hunt”.

  • Dave Holland

    Why would anyone not welcome a subpoena in this case?

  • @e510bf9638c5b925cb7fae57dcab1c63:disqus  Yeah, the contractors who work on these dirt-cheap bike/ped projects are really knocking some heads and throwing their weight around. Together with TA’s free access to thousand-dollar-an-hour litigators, that must be why all the major papers in New York City have totally called out this transparent attempt by a U.S. Senator’s wife to discredit her successor. The “bike lobby” is omnipotent.

  • Dave Holland

    Fried, Okay this was a “dirt-cheap” project, so $1000 per hour attorneys are “dirt-cheap”. In TA’s “35,000” people they represent there isn’t a single attorney? -That’s got to be beating the odds for NYC.- I guess safety, design and cost doesn’t matter anyway, it’s all about  Sadik-Khan.

  • Anonymous

    @e510bf9638c5b925cb7fae57dcab1c63:disqus “Vastly outnumber” = democracy.

    And since this was put in place by an admirably democratic process, I’d say it’s probably true that supporters vastly outnumber opponents.

    My question is whether you actually think that somehow besmirches the goal of keeping the lane and all its associated goodness in place.

  • Jealous of Your Subpoena

    Seriously. I would love to get a subpoena so I could represent myself at these closed door hearings with the judge, rebut everything Jim Walden is saying and just make a mockery of the whole entire farce.

  • Streets with bike lanes have been reduced to protect about 40% end in death or serious injury crashes all street users: drivers and pedestrians included.

  • Guest

    Rewritten Article
    In these cases,
    allotment to accompany the amount in a acknowledged ambience is added
    than account the investment, decidedly because a majority of claimed
    abrasion attorneys plan on a accident basis—meaning you’re not
    amenable for any acknowledged fees unless a adjustment is awarded.

     

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