Sonia Sotomayor Rules in Favor of Fashion

Since being nominated to the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor’s past has been put under a magnifying glass. The latest find? Sotomayor was on a crusade against counterfeit fashion! According to WWD, Sotomayor spent eight years in private practice as a civil litigator from 1984 to 1992, with much of her work focused on representing European fashion and luxury brands—and helping to eradicate the counterfeiting of these goods.

As a young attorney, Sotomayor also partook in what’s termed the “Fendi Crush” in 1986, where phony Fendi bags were smashed by a garbage truck in front of Tavern on the Green as a message to those who sell and buy these fake goods. Working for Pavia & Harcourt, Sotomayor fought hard for her clients, including Fendi, Bulgari and other Italian fashion companies. Sotomayor then positioned herself as a key player in drafting anti-counterfeiting legislation that became part of the New York state penal code. Working on the project with her was Veronica Hardy, who is now VP and general counsel at Chanel, and Heather McDonald, who was an attorney with another law firm at the time, and now is a partner at Baker Hostetler, specializing in intellectual property enforcement and anti-counterfeiting litigation.

“We spent a lot of time together in the back of police vans with the windows blacked out,” McDonald tells WWD. “Frankly, it was a little bit like the Wild West in those days. Counterfeiting had just become illegal with the passage of a federal law in 1984, and this was the early days of enforcement. There was the possibility of violence and we had bodyguards that stuck to us like glue. But as in her entire career, Sonia was a worker: she got right into those dirty basements—you can imagine what they looked like—and took inventory of the counterfeit merchandise.”

But the best story involving Sotomayor's crackdown on counterfeiting involved a crazy spin on the back of a motorcycle around Shea Stadium in an attempt to catch some criminals selling bootleg merchandise. Sotomayor has since said of the incident, “I have never gotten back on a motorcycle after that day, when I belatedly realized that cars were much bigger than motorcycles, and that I had lost reason in the heat of pursuit by ever getting on the motorcycle as a passenger at all.”