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Devin Nunes' lawyer is warned about 'forum shopping' as judge moves CNN lawsuit to NY

Kate Irby, The Sacramento Bee on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- A Virginia judge on Friday moved Rep. Devin Nunes' lawsuit against CNN to New York and wrote that there was no "logical connection" for the California congressman to sue the media company in Virginia.

The lawsuit is one of seven defamation cases Nunes and attorney Steven Biss filed since 2019 against news organizations, Twitter, his critics and the investigative research firm that created the so-called Steele dossier. Nunes, R-Calif., had filed all but two of the lawsuits in Virginia courts.

Judge Robert E. Payne, of the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia, granted CNN's request to move the case to the Southern District of New York. It's the first time in the set of lawsuits that a judge has moved one of Nunes' lawsuits to another state.

Payne also delivered two warnings to Biss.

One centered on whether the case should have been filed in Virginia in the first place. "The Eastern District of Virginia is not Nunes' home forum, and there is no logical connection between the events in this case and this district," Payne wrote.

"Lastly, the Court has significant concerns about forum shopping. As the Court has explained to (Nunes') counsel on numerous occasions," Payne wrote, "the "Court cannot stand as a willing repository for cases which have no real nexus to this district."


The second referred to a rebuke Biss received last year over "ad hominem attacks" in a lawsuit against Jason Goodman, who runs the Crowdsource the Truth channel on YouTube. Biss in court documents wrote that the case was about "the conscious and deliberate destruction of a man's untarnished name and impeccable reputation by social media vigilantes and trolls."

Payne, in moving the CNN case, wrote, "Unfortunately, that circumstance also reflects some of the papers filed in this case." He did not sanction Biss.

That's the fourth warning over the past two years that Biss has received from a judge about his conduct possibly resulting in sanctions. No judges have actually sanctioned him, though he has previously had his law license suspended for a year over misconduct.

In the CNN lawsuit, Biss wrote, "CNN is the mother of all fake news. It is the least trusted name. CNN is eroding the fabric of America, proselytizing, sowing distrust and disharmony."


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