Monday, October 03, 2011

Incarcertation Is Not Withdrawal. The Second Circuit has held that a party to a conspiracy can be held responsible for losses caused by the conspiracy after his incarcertation. In United States v. Leslie, the defendant arguedthat his sentence had been incorrectly calculated because certain losses caused by the conspiracy in which he had been engaged had been imputed to him and used to establish his sentence even though he had already been incarcerated at the time those loses were incurred. The defendant took the position that incarceration should be seen as withdrawal from the conspiracy. The Court held that withdrawal from a conspiracy required an affirmative act; cessation from participation in the conspiracy was not enough. Accordingly, the defendant, because he had not shown any affirmative act constituting withdrawal, had not withdrawn from the conspiracy, and the entire loss caused by the conspriacy was imputable to him for purposes of sentencing.

The decision in this case can be found here.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Seventh Circuit. OK, it's not from the Second Circuit, but you have to read this opinion just for the first line, especially if you are an appellate lawyer.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Certified question. The Second Circuit has certified two questions to the Virginia Supreme Court. The questions are:

1. Does Virginia law permit equitable tolling of a state statute of limitations due to the pendancy of a putative class action in another jurisdiction?

2. Does Va. Code Ann. 8.01-229(E)(1) permit tolling of a state statute of limitations due to the pendency of a putative class action in another jurisdiction?

In Casey v. Merck & Co., the plaintiffs had filed a products liability claims that were governed byVirginia law after the limitations period had elapsed, but argued that the statute should have been tolled because of the existence of a class action asserting the same claims in Tennessee under the doctrine of American Pipe & Constr. Co. v. Utah. The plaintiffs claimed that Virginia recognized this doctrine. The Second Circuit felt unsure of this issue and certified the questions. The decision in Casey can be found here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

No baseball caps. The Second Circuit has upheld a District Court decision, dismissing an action by an attorney who was ordered not to wear a baseball cap and casual attire when appearing in Court. The attorney had asserted claims under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution. The Second Circuit held that the restriction was content neutral (which the plaintiff acknowledged) and was appropriate to support the legimate goal of maintaining decorum in Court proceedings. Assuming that a constitutionally-protected liberty interest in one's personal appearance existed, the Court held that such a right was not "fundamental" and the restriction was not subject to strict scrutiny. Since there was a rational basis for the restriction, that claim was properly dismissed.

The decision in Todd v. Katz can be found here.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Defaulted. Defendant was charged with murder. The jury was hung on his first trial. On his second trial, the testimony of a state's witness at the first trial was admitted without informing the jury at the second trial that the witness had since recanted his testimony. The Defendant sought habeas corpus relief from the district court, which was granted. On appeal, however, the Second Circuit held that the issue had not been raised and preserved before the trial court and was procedurally defaulted under New York law.

The decision in Whitley v. Ercole can be found here.
Waiving Penalties. The Second Circuit has held that only the Attorney General, not a district court, has the authority towaive all or part of any delinquency or default penalties properly assessed under 18 U.S.D. 3612(g) for failure to pay restitution.

The decision in United States v. Lauersen can be found here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

School paper. The Second Circuit held that a school can prohibit a student newspaper from publishing a sexually explicit stick-figure cartoon.

R.O. v. Ithica City School District can be found here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cigarette taxes on Indian reservations. The Second Circuit has held that the District Court improperly enjoined the state from enforcing a cigarette tax on sales in Indian reservations. Because the tax was paid by the consumer, not by the Indian retailer, the law did not violate tribal immunity or the tribal immunity for state taxation. And while the retailers would bear an economic burden from the prepayment of the tax, that is only because they chose to participate in the taxable cigarette market.

The decision in Oneida Nation of New York v. Cuomo can be found here.

UPDATE: After losing before the Second Circuit, the tribes went to state court and obtained a temporary restraining order enjoining New York frommtaxing reservation cigarette sales to non-Indian customers. A hearing on the tribes' motion for an injunction will be held on June 1, 2011.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Certified Question. In Connecticutt, there is a common law "make whole" doctrine, under which an insurer's right of subrogation may only be enforced after the insured has been fully compensated for his loss. In Fireman's Fund Ins. Co. v. TD Banknorth Ins. Agency Inc., an insured argued that the insurer could not collect from the escrowed funds containing the settlement of its claims against third-parties until it had recovered its deductible ($150,000) under the "make whole" doctrine. The District Court held that the subrogation clause in the insurance contract abrogated the "make whole" doctrine. On appeal, the Second Circuit disagreed. However, the Court noted that the Connecticut courts had not decided whether the "make whole" doctrine applied to deductibles. The Court certified this question to the Connecticutt Supreme Court.

The Second Circuit's decision in this case can be found here.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sanctions for frivolous and vexatious litigation. When April Gallop commenced an action claiming that Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld orchestrated the September 11, 2001 attacks for their own political purposes, you could predict that the case was not long for the world. And, of course, it was dismissed. But unwisely, Ms. Gallop and her attorneys chose to appeal, and now they face an award of sanctions. The Second Circuit held that under Rule 38 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, 28 U.S.C. 1927 and its inherent power, it had the authority to impose such sanctions, provide adequate notice and an opportunity to be heard is afforded. The Court gave Ms. Gallop and her attorneys 30 days to show cause why they should be ordered to pay double costs and damages in the amount of $15,000.

The decision in Gallop v. Cheney can be found here.

Monday, April 11, 2011

No private right of action. The Second Circuit, in M.F. v. State of New York Executive Department Division of Parole has held that the Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision does not create a private right of action. M.F., an individual who had been convicted of endangering the welfare of children in New Jersey sought to move to New York, where he worked. New Jersey made a request to New York that it take over the lifetime supervision imposed upon him. New York agreed, but required him, among other things to inform his employer of his conviction. M.F refused and decided not to relocate to New York. It brought an action against the New York Division of Parole, claiming that it had violated the Interstate Compact by placing requirements on him that would not be placed on a New York offender. The District Court granted summary judgment to New York, holding that M.F. had failed to show that a New York offender would have been treated differently. On appeal, M.F. argued that New York, on a motion for summary judgment, had the initial burden of showing that the same restriction would have been placed on a New York offender, and that because New York failed to make such a showing, an issue of material fact existed, precluding summary judgment. (M.F. also claimed for the first time that the District Court did not have jurisdiction over the action and requested that the Court remand the case to the District Court with instruction to dismiss the action so that M.F. could refile in state court.) The State on appeal claimed that the restrictions placed on M.F. were no different than those that could have been placed on a New York offender. It also argued, for the first time, that the Interstate Compact created no private right of action. The Second Circuit affirmed. First, the Court held that the District Court did have jurisdiction to hear the action. The Court then held that the Interstate Compact did not create a private right of action, so that even if the State had violated the Interstate Compact, M.F. had no remedy under it to bring an action for damages. The decision can be found here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Standing. The Second Circuit has reversed the District Court's grant of summary judgment to the Government in a case involving the constitutionality of a provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillane Act of 1978, which provides the Government unregulated authority to monitor international communications. The action had been brought by attorneys, journalists, and labor, legal, media and human rights organizations, who had reason to believe that their international communications might be monitored. The District Court held that the plaintiffs did not have standing to bring the action. The Second Circuit reversed, holding the because the plaintiffs have reason to fear that they will be injured by the statute and that they have incurred expenses to avoid such injury, they have standing to bring the action. The Court did not address the merits of the action.

The decision in Amnesty International USA v. Clapper can be found here.