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Federal Court Declines to Protect Smith & Wesson from New Jersey Subpoena

  • Acting New Jersey AG Andrew Bruck obtained a ruling from the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey dismissing a lawsuit brought by gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc. and related entities (collectively, “Smith & Wesson”) challenging the constitutionality of a subpoena issued by the AG’s office.
  • The amended complaint sought to enjoin enforcement of a New Jersey Superior Court order upholding the validity of the AG’s office’s subpoena seeking documents relating to Smith and Wesson advertisements concerning home safety, concealed carry, and personal protection, among other things. The amended complaint asserted constitutional challenges to the subpoena, including on First Amendment grounds, and alleged that the AG’s office’s subpoena enforcement action in state court was retaliation for Smith & Wesson’s federal suit.
  • In dismissing the suit, the District Court held that all relevant factors supported its abstention from exercising jurisdiction over Smith & Wesson’s claim because doing so would interfere in ongoing state proceedings and thereby offend the principles of comity. The court noted that, because Smith & Wesson appealed the Superior Court’s order to the New Jersey Supreme Court, the state proceedings were ongoing, and that the state proceedings provided an adequate avenue to present constitutional arguments.