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A Brooklyn judge has unfriended a top Manhattan law firm.
Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis went on an epic rant Thursday against the white-shoe firm Kirkland & Ellis for sending a rookie lawyer to defend media giant Facebook against two lawsuits filed by more than 20,000 plaintiffs accusing the social network of facilitating terrorism.
Thomas Aulden Burcher II slunk out of the courtroom looking like a sad emoji after receiving a blistering dressing down from the judge that was actually aimed at the firm’s clueless partners who blew off the initial conference for the cases.
Burcher was admitted to the bar in 2014 and has been at the firm for one year.
“You tell your folks back at Kirkland & Ellis that if they think so little of this court that they didn’t send a partner here to talk about this kind of problem which implicates international terrorism and the murder of innocent people in Israel and other places,” Garaufis said. “I think it’s outrageous, irresponsible and insulting.”
The suits allege that Facebook’s algorithms “connect the terrorists to the inciters” and that Facebook sometimes refuses to take down pages exhorting violent attacks by Hamas against Jews. The plaintiffs are Israelis, some American citizens living in Israel, who have been “living in the crosshairs of a murderous terrorist rampage carried out by terrorists” since 2015.
Garaufis suggested that Facebook has a “social responsibility” to solve the problem raised in the suits. But when Burcher blandly replied that a lawsuit was not the proper vehicle, the judge unliked that answer.
“I’ve been a lawyer for 41 years and a judge for 16 years and I’m not having this discussion with you,” he said.
Burcher sputtered that the lead counsel on the case was called away to Texas yesterday on a legal emergency.
“Maybe Kirkland & Ellis can scrounge up a partner who isn’t busy in Texas to come see a lowly judge in the Eastern District of New York,” Garaufis shot back.
The judge abruptly ended the conference and told the parties to return on Sept. 28.
“I want to talk to someone (at the law firm) who talks to senior management at Facebook,” he said.