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JoeFinnerty

Partner

"Defense of press First Amendment rights is the most important work and greatest privilege of my career."

Overview

Biography

Joe is Barclay Damon’s Media & First Amendment Law Practice Area chair. With almost 40 years of legal experience, Joe represents print, electronic, and internet-based news media organizations in all aspects of news gathering and dissemination, First Amendment issues, and defamation defense. He has also been centrally involved in multiple high-profile, commercial-litigation career cases.

Bar Associations

  • American Bar Association
  • Bar Association of Erie County
  • New York State Bar Association, Committee on Media Law

Selected Memberships & Affiliations

  • Media Law Resource Center
  • National Press Club
Experience

Representative Experience

  • Successfully defended Erie County, along with late law partner John Stenger, against $620 million of lost-profits breach-of-contract damages claims resulting from an aborted domed-stadium project in Buffalo. The county prevailed on all profits claims after two jury trials—one of which lasted 13 months, which was then thought to be the longest civil-jury trial in NY history—and two trips to New York’s highest appellate court. These Court of Appeals decisions, known simply as Kenford I and Kenford II, still stand as the principal NY authorities on lost profits damages in breach-of-contract actions.
  • Represented one of the world’s largest petrochemical companies in a breach-of-contract action against domestic and foreign general-liability-insurance carriers and reinsurers to recover its expenditures for environmental cleanups at, among other sites, the Love Canal. Coordinated and supervised a massive discovery effort that involved constructing a screening facility and employing over 100 document screeners and more than 12 lawyers to review over 23 million documents. Eventually, 9 million documents were produced. Oversaw the litigation of over 300,000 document-privilege claims on the way to a favorable confidential settlement.
  • Won a decision declaring New York’s statutory ban on cameras in the courtroom inapplicable to bar photographic coverage. The ruling came in the nationally infamous trial of James Kopp for the sniper murder of abortion provider Dr. Barnett Slepian in his Amherst, New York, home.

Prior Experience

  • Hiscock & Barclay, LLP, Partner
  • Stenger & Finnerty, Founding Partner
  • Jaeckle, Fleischmann & Mugel, Partner
  • Jaeckle, Fleischmann & Mugel, Associate

Selected Community Activities

  • Campaign for Buffalo History, Architecture, and Culture, Former Board Member
  • Landmark Society of the Niagara Frontier, Former Trustee
  • St. Bonaventure University Graduate School of Communications, Former Guest Media Law Issues Lecturer

Selected Honors

  • Selected to Super Lawyers Upstate New York: Media/Advertising Law, 2016-2018
  • ALM Top-Rated in Energy, Environmental, and Natural Resources Law, 2013
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated for Very High to Preeminent Ethical Standards and Legal Ability
Knowledge

Selected Speaking Engagements

  • Investigative Post, "The State of Investigative Reporting," Panel Moderator

Selected Publications & Media

  • MediaLawLetter, “Buffalo News Wins Summary Judgment: Strong Headline Makes for Strong Headline Law”
  • MediaLawLetter, “Old Public Figures Never Die, Nor Do They Fade Away: A Multi-Factor Approach to Public Figure Analysis”
  • MediaLawLetter, “Where You Stand Is Decisive–People v. Kopp: New York’s Statutory Courtroom Camera Ban Does Not Apply to Still Photography”
  • Media Law Resource Center Committee Report, “Media Liability for Breach of Promise to Maintain a Source’s Confidentiality After Cohen v. Cowles Media Co.”

Featured Media

Alerts

Start Delayed for Required Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Contributions

Alerts

NY Court of Appeals Expands Optional Safety Equipment Defense for Design Defect Claims

Alerts

EEO-1 Component 2 Data Update

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