Court Denies Sotheby's Request for Discovery Conference in Cambodian Statue Forfeiture Case

Tuesday, May 15, 2012
A federal judge sitting in the southern district court of New York yesterday denied a request by Sotheby's for a discovery conference.  That decision came in the matter of United States v. A 10th Century Cambodian Sandstone Sculpture Located at Sotheby's in New York, New York.

The case involves an effort by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara to forfeit a Khmer statue known as the Duryodhana, claiming that the statue was stolen from a temple.  Sotheby's placed the statue up for auction this spring.  Now Sotheby's and Ruspoli di Poggio Suasa, who alleges that her husband purchased the statue in 1975 in the United Kingdom, are claimants in the forfeiture action.

In a case seemingly dominated by letters to the court--which are not easily accessible to the public as compared with the filing of formal motions--Sotheby's Inc. reportedly sent a letter to the court to ask for a discovery conference under Rule 37.  That Federal Rule of Civil Procedure is generally used to compel discovery.  The judge ruled: "Claimant Sotheby's Inc.'s letter request for a Rule 37.2 conference to seek the court's assistance with a discovery dispute regarding the production and translation of foreign law is DENIED."

The motions deadline in the case has been set for June 5, 2012.

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