A judge assigned to hear two consolidated lawsuits challenging COVID-19 vaccine mandates in New York City today said she would not step down from the case as requested by the plaintiffs. Two other judges did recuse themselves this week after financial disclosures revealed they had investments in Pfizer and other vaccine makers.
A judge assigned to hear two consolidated lawsuits challenging COVID-19 vaccine mandates in New York City today said she would not step down from the case as requested by the plaintiffs.
Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald denied the plaintiffs’ motion to disqualify her from the case. Plaintiffs filed the motion Tuesday after financial disclosures revealed the judge owned $250,000 in Pfizer stock and $100,000 in Johnson & Johnson.
In her denial, Judge Buchwald said the plaintiffs’ motion was based on “outdated information.”
Although plaintiffs do not have access to current financial disclosures, Sujata Gibson, attorney for the plaintiffs, told The Defender said she is “hopeful” Judge Buchwald’s ruling means that any financial interest in the case “has been resolved and that any future potential conflicts by any presiding judges on the case are promptly disclosed going forward.”
Federal law prohibits federal judges from taking part in a case in which they have any financial interest, “no matter how small,” Gibson said.
Judge Buchwald’s decision came after two other judges assigned to the case, who also were asked by plaintiffs to disqualify themselves because of financial conflicts of interest, earlier this week recused themselves.
Judge Valerie E. Caproni, whose most recent financial disclosures revealed ownership of between $50,000 and $100,000 of Pfizer stock, was the first to recuse herself after plaintiffs on June 9 filed a joint motion seeking to disqualify her.