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Lawsuits & Litigation

Judge Scraps National Rifle Association’s Ploy to Avoid Litigation

— January 24, 2021

The New York-based judge rejected the NRA’s attempts to move the case to a venue more favorable to its position.

A New York judge will not grant the National Rifle Association, or NRA’s, request to dismiss a state lawsuit seeking its permanent dissolution.

According to The Associated Press, Judge Joel Cohen’s ruling will allow New York Attorney General Letitia James to continue pursuing her case against the NRA. James’s complaint is now expected to move ahead in a Manhattan court.

The National Rifle Association had, conversely, hoped the lawsuit could be dismissed on technical grounds; the organization had also tried to change the venue to a federal court.

As LegalReader has reported before, Attorney General James’s lawsuit seeks the NRA’s dissolution on grounds its leadership violated New York state law governing the use of nonprofit funds. Upper-level NRA administrators allegedly spent millions of dollars—all sourced from donors—on luxurious getaways, designer clothes, and gourmet meals.

In total, James—along with several independent sources—have estimated prominent NRA leaders misappropriated about $64 million.

Cohen, says The Associated Press, said the NRA’s request for change of venue did not make much sense.

New York Attorney General and former city council member Letitia James. Image via Wikimedia Commons/user:Matthew Cohen. (CCA-BY-2.0).

“It would be inappropriate to find that the attorney couldn’t pursue her claims in state court just because one of the defendants wants to proceed in federal court,” Cohen said in a virtual hearing.

Cohen also remarked upon the NRA’s contention that the lawsuit should be dismissed because it was filed in New York City, rather than Albany, the city in which the National Rifle Association lists an incorporation address.

In his ruling, Cohen noted that such an argument for dismissal does nothing to address the merits of James’s case.

“Today’s order reaffirms what we’ve known all along,” James said, “the NRA does not get to dictate if and where they will answer for their actions.”

National Public Radio observes that the NPR had further tried to halt the lawsuit by filing for bankruptcy in Texas.

Last week, the NRA’s leadership announced that, if it can escape James’s complaint intact, it will dissolve its New York holding and move to reincorporate in Texas—a plan the organization made sure to clearly communicate to the Texas judiciary.

Declaring bankruptcy can, in many cases, exempt an individual or organization from ongoing litigation. But James has since asked the courts to grant an exception, since she is enforcing her “police and regulatory power.”

Despite the setback, the NRA has held firm, claiming the attorney general is making a “baseless premeditated attack on our organization and the Second Amendment freedoms it fights to defend.”


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