Thursday, March 31, 2005

Cross-post. It's been a while since I've done a cross-post with this blog's sister blog, The FAPE Page, but another Second Circuit case in the area of special education law just came down. The Court, in Murphy v. Arlington Central School District Board of Education, has held that expert fees are compensable as costs under the Individuals with Disabilities Act, but that such fees will not generally be approved unless the application is accompanied by time records contemporaneously maintaned by the person performing the services. The decision can be found here.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Offer of judgment and mootness. Trans Union, L.L.C. issued a credit report about Peter McCauley that was incorrect and prevented him from getting a certain student loan. He had to borrow that money and accrued damages of $240. He sued Trans Union. Trans Union made an offer of judgment for the entire $240 plus court costs, but it was rejected. It moved for summary judgment, claiming that there was no longer any case or controversy between the parties. The District Court noted McCauley, at the time the offer was made, had potentially been entitled to punitive damages, but determined that he was no longer entitled to such damages (presumably because Trans Union was willing to pay) and that if Trans Union repeated its offer, and McCauley declined to accept it, another summary judgment could be made. Trans Union made another offer in the same amount. The offer stated that there was no admission of guilt and that the judgment should be confidential. McCauley rejected it and, upon a second summary judgment, the Court dismissed the case. McCauley appealed the case pro se and won. The Court held that the dismissal made no sense. Trans Union admitted that it owed McCauley $240. It made a conditional offer. McCauley was not obligated to agree to the conditions, but in not doing so, he wound up with nothing even the amount that Trans Union admitted it owed. The Court concluded that the rejected settlement offer did not moot the case so as to warrant judgment in favor of Trans Union. The Court remanded the case to the District Judge for the purpose of entering a default judgment. Both parties had agreed at oral argument that such a solution would satisfactorily resolve the case. The decision in McCauley v. Trans Union, L.L.P. can be found here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Changing a copyrighted program. That's what Titleserv did to a program created by a former employee who left without signing over his copyrights. He told Titleserv that it could only use the program as is, but that did not stop Titleserv, since modifications were required to make the programs work. The employee sued for breach of copyright, and Titleserv moved for summary judgment, which was granted. On appeal, the Second Circuit affirmed, holding that, under 17 U.S.C. 117, it was entitled to adapt the programs because it was an owner of the programs, the copy was created as an essential step in the utilization of the computer program in conjunction with a machine and the program was ued in no other way. The decision in Krause v. Titleserv, Inc. can be found here.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Judge Frederic Block of the Eastern District of New York has asked the Second Circuit for guidance on a case where blacks were disproportionately excluded from a jury that convicted a man of three robberies. An article on this case (Anderson v. Superintendent) can be found in today's New York Law Journal. You may need a password to get the article. The decision can be found here.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Finality of Criminal Judgment. In Moshier v. United States, the Second Circuit held that a criminal judgment was final for purposes of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 when the time for filing a direct appeal expires. The decision can be found here.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Supreme Court bound? I couple of posts ago, I blogged on the case of United States v. Doe. See that post for the details (or check the decision for the full details). I should note that, according to footnote 4 thereof, the decision is in conflict with a Seventh Circuit decsion and in sharp tension with decisions of the Eighth and D.C. Circuits. The Court stated: "We are mindful that uniformity among the circuits fosters predictability in the invocation of the privilege and supresses forum shopping. We are in no position, however, to resolve this tension in the law." Could this case be heading to the Supreme Court?

Monday, March 07, 2005

The Relitigation Exception. Woolsely had given up his parental rights to his child, and then changed his mind. The Texas Court had ruled in favor of the adoptive parents and against Woolsey. Woolsely had brought an action in the District Court of the Western District of Pennsylvania, seeking a declaratory judgment that his parental rights had been invalidly terminated and an order setting aside the adoption decree entered by the Texas court. The District Court dismissed the action as time barred. Woolsley later brought an action in a Connecticut court, seeking visitation rights and contending that the Texas decree was void. The Smiths, the adoptive parents, brought an action in federal courts, seeking damages for this vexatious litigation and for intentional infliction of emotional distress and sought an injunction to prevent Woolsley from further attempts to challenge the Texas decree. The District Court granted the injunction.

The Anti-Injunction Act generally prohibits federal courts from enjoining state court proceedings. There is a relitigation exception, which provides authority to federal courts to issue an injunction to protect its judgments from further litigation in state courts. In Smith v. Woosley, the Second Circuit stated that "the purposes of the relitigation exception -- precluding relitigation in state courts of issues determined by a federal court -- appears to be better served by allowing a district court that has subject matter and personal jurisdiction to issue an injunction that protects the judgment of another federal court than by forcing the litigants to a likely inconvenient forum for an identical result." The Court further noted that if one were to limit the relitigatiojn exception to courts that had entered the judgment rather than other federal courts, such a limitation on the exception would be one of venue, not subject matter jurisdiction. That objection had been waived by Woolsley's failure to object. The Court also asserted that the equities favored granting the injunction to the Smiths.

The last question was whether the Pennsylvania judgment was entitled to protection. The Pennsylvania court never reached the merits of the case, but dismissed the case on statute of limitatons grounds. In that the judgment left Woolsley with no forum to bring his claim (as the statute of limitations had appeared to have passed in all relevant jurisdictions), the relitigation exception applied. The Court, however, modified the injunction to allow Woolsley to bring an action in a forum whose statute of limitations had not paseed in which personal jurisdiction could be obtained over the Smiths and where he would otherwise be entitled to challenge the Texas decree. In other words, Woolsely lost.

The decision can be found here.