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Federal New Releases

New Releases
from Federal Courts

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Criminal law -- Double jeopardy -- A defendant who agrees to have multiple charge considered in two trials cannot later successfully argue that the second trial offends the Fifth Amendment's Double Jeopardy Clause -- Because defendant consented to severance of charges and agreed to trial on burglary and larceny charges first, his second trial and conviction on felon-in-possession charge did not violate Double Jeopardy Clause -- Civil issue preclusion principles cannot be imported into the criminal law through Double Jeopardy Clause to prevent parties from retrying any issue or introducing any evidence about a previously tried issue
VIEW OPINION

Criminal law -- Search and seizure -- Cell phones -- Cell-site location information -- Government's access of wireless carriers' historical cell phone records that provided comprehensive chronicle of defendant's past movements was a search within meaning of Fourth Amendment and violated the defendant's reasonable expectation of privacy in the whole of his physical movements -- Third-party doctrine -- Fact that CSLI is held by third party does not by itself overcome user's claim to Fourth Amendment protection -- Government must generally obtain warrant supported by probable cause before acquiring such records, although case-specific exceptions may support warrantless search of individual's cell-site information under certain circumstances -- Court order issued under Stored Communications Act is not permissible mechanism for accessing historical cell-site records
VIEW OPINION

Military -- Court-martial -- Judges -- Petition by airman convicted of crimes in military justice system contending that judge's service on both Air Force appeals court and Court of Military Commission Review violated 10 U.S.C. section 973(b)(2)(A), which provides that “unless otherwise authorized by law,” an active-duty military officer “may not hold, or exercise the functions of,” certain “civil office[s]” in federal government, and the Constitution's Appointments Clause -- Appeals -- Jurisdiction -- Supreme Court has jurisdiction to review decisions of the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, even though it is not an Article III court -- CAAF properly determined that judge's simultaneous service on both Air Force appeals court and the Court of Military Commission Review was lawful
VIEW OPINION

Patents -- Infringement -- Damages -- Award for lost foreign profits was permissible domestic application of Section 284 of Patent Act -- The case involves a permissible domestic application of statute because the focus of Section 284 in a case involving infringement under Section 271(f)(2) is on the act of exporting components from the United States and the conduct that is relevant to the statutory focus clearly occurred in United States, as it was defendant's domestic act of supplying the components that infringed plaintiff's patents
VIEW OPINION

Aliens -- Cancellation of removal -- Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act -- Nonpermanent residents who are subject to removal proceedings and have accrued 10 years of continuous physical presence in U.S. may be eligible for cancellation of removal -- Under “stop-time” rule, period of continuous physical presence is deemed to end when alien is served notice to appear under 8 U.S.C. section 1229(a) -- “Stop-time” rule is not triggered when government serves noncitizen with document that is labeled “notice to appear” but fails to specify either the time or place of removal proceedings
VIEW OPINION

Appointments Clause -- Officers of the United States -- Administrative law judges of Securities and Exchange Commission qualify as “officers” of the United States subject to the Appointments Clause -- Appropriate remedy for an adjudication tainted with appointments violation is new hearing before properly appointed official -- In instant case, that official cannot be the ALJ who heard and decided case without a constitutional appointment, even if he has received, or receives sometime in the future, a constitutional appointment because he cannot be expected to consider the matter as though he had not adjudicated it before -- Accordingly, to cure constitutional error, another ALJ, or the Commission itself, must hold the new hearing
VIEW OPINION

Bankruptcy -- Dischargeable debts -- Attorney's fees -- Attorney's fees directly attributable to nondischargeable civil theft claim of underlying state lawsuit are nondischargeable -- Balance of requested attorney's fees, which were attributable to both nondischargeable and dischargeable state law claims and undifferentiated, were not a nondischargeable claim -- Because balance of charges was attributable to both civil theft and fraudulent inducement counts of underlying state lawsuit and are indistinguishable, court cannot determine whether those charges would have been incurred even if plaintiff had only pursued relief for civil theft in state lawsuit -- Argument that under Florida law undifferentiated fees should all be attributed to cause of action for which fees are awardable “if the matters are inextricably intertwined” is misplaced
VIEW OPINION

Bankruptcy -- Secured creditor filed adversary complaint against Chapter 11 debtor and law firm that served as debtor's bankruptcy counsel, asking court to determine that it had valid, enforceable, and perfected lien in funds used by debtor to pay counsel's prepetition security retainer, and seeking injunctive and declaratory relief -- Jurisdiction -- Adversary proceeding was “core” matter in its entirety, subject to entry of final orders and judgment by bankruptcy court, where all of requested relief, although presented in various forms, was aimed at disposition of retainer that was undisputedly property of bankruptcy estate -- Jury trial -- Where relief requested was limited to declaratory and injunctive relief with regard to property of estate, and was thus entirely equitable in nature, none of claims presented were subject to trial by jury -- Secured creditor retained no interest in funds from debtor's deposit account used to pay prepetition retainer to debtor's counsel, where allegations in complaint do not support a finding that debtor's counsel colluded with the debtor in violating the rights of secured creditor -- Under Florida law, transferee of money, or funds from deposit account, takes free of any security interest unless transferee acts in collusion with the debtor in violating the rights of the secured party -- Requesting prepetition retainer for services to be rendered in bankruptcy case does not, by itself, constitute “collusion” with debtor in violating rights of secured creditor, even if counsel knows that debtor is in default of its loan obligations and that secured creditor claims lien on funds used to pay retainer -- Secured creditor did not have a security interest in the cash transferred from debtor's deposit account to debtor's counsel for counsel's prepetition security retainer, because although secured creditor had security interest in debtor's deposit account at time retainer was paid, that security interest was not perfected where secured creditor had only filed financing statement and did not have control over deposit account -- Even if secured creditor had perfected its interest in deposit account, when retainer was paid secured creditor lost any and all interest in funds used to pay retainer, as counsel's conduct in requesting and receiving retainer was insufficient to support a finding that counsel colluded with debtor to violate secured creditor's rights -- Conversion -- Secured creditor's distant connection with deposit account funds used to pay counsel's retainer was insufficient to sustain claim for conversion under Florida law -- Tortious interference with contract -- Secured creditor failed to state a claim for tortious interference with loan agreement between creditor and debtor by causing debtor to pay the retainer, where creditor does not allege a specific default under its loan agreements arising from payment of retainer or that counsel acted intentionally with the aim, at least in part, of interfering with secured creditor's rights -- Unjust enrichment -- Secured creditor failed to state a claim for unjust enrichment under Florida law, absent allegation that secured creditor, as opposed to debtor, conferred any benefit on debtor's counsel, or that debtor's counsel was unjustly enriched by the retainer -- Secured creditor could not evade collusion standard required under statute governing transfer of money or funds from deposit account by cloaking its claims in alternative theories such as conversion, tortious interference with contract, or unjust enrichment
VIEW OPINION

Civil rights -- Disabled persons -- Americans with Disabilities Act -- Website accessibility -- Jurisdiction -- Claims for declaratory and injunctive relief pursuant to Title III of Americans with Disabilities Act requiring defendant to make its website accessible to visually impaired individuals are not moot due to fact that defendant entered into remediation plan as result of settlement between defendant and unrelated plaintiff in almost identical earlier-filed suit -- When a plaintiff sues a defendant for certain relief, the defendant's agreement with a third party to take actions which grant the plaintiff some of the relief he seeks, plaintiff's suit is not moot -- Defendant's assurance to an unrelated third party to remediate its website to make it accessible to, and usable by, visually impaired individuals does not alone moot plaintiff's claims for relief -- Where defendant has not successfully updated the accessibility of its website, some of relief requested by plaintiff remains outstanding and could be granted by court, and plaintiff will have no way of enforcing remediation plan between defendant and third party because he was not a party to that agreement, plaintiff's claims are not moot
VIEW OPINION

Civil rights -- Search and seizure -- Arrests -- Arresting officer is not entitled to qualified immunity on claim that he violated plaintiff's Fourth Amendment right to be free from unlawful arrest because officer violated plaintiff's clearly established Fourth Amendment right in arresting plaintiff without arguable probable cause -- Under totality of circumstances, officer lacked arguable probable cause to arrest plaintiff where officer “unreasonably disregarded” evidence establishing that plaintiff was not the perpetrator of the crimes by failing to look at or inquire about plaintiff's single tattoo, despite receiving easily verifiable exculpatory information prior to the arrest that plaintiff's tattoo did not match perpetrator's multiple tattoos
VIEW OPINION

Railroads -- Pension plans -- Employee stock options -- Railroad Retirement Tax Act -- Employee stock options are not taxable “compensation” under Railroad Retirement Tax Act of 1937 because they are not “money remuneration”
VIEW OPINION

Taxation -- State sales tax -- Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, 504 U.S. 298 and National Bellas Hess, Inc. v. Department of Revenue of Ill., 386 U.S. 753, which held that a state cannot require out-of-state sellers to collect and remit sales tax on goods the seller ships to consumers in the state, are overruled -- Physical presence rule of Quill is unsound and incorrect interpretation of Commerce Clause
VIEW OPINION

Civil rights -- Employment discrimination -- Retaliation -- Judicial estoppel -- Inconsistent positions -- Omission in bankruptcy disclosures -- Failure to disclose employment discrimination claims plaintiff was pursuing in federal court -- District court abused discretion in its application of judicial estoppel doctrine where court did not consider any of factors for determining whether plaintiff's inconsistent statements in form of omissions in bankruptcy disclosures were calculated to make a mockery of judicial system
VIEW OPINION

Criminal law -- Conspiracy to exchange counterfeit currency -- Dealing in counterfeit currency -- Knowledge -- Sufficiency of evidence -- Viewing evidence in light most favorable to government and drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of jury verdict, evidence sufficiently established that defendant knew the unlawful object of the conspiracy and intended to deal in counterfeit currency -- Where defendant had ample opportunity to discover that he was dealing in counterfeit money, plainly demonstrated awareness of transaction's unlawful nature, and was instrumental to transaction's success, evidence was sufficient to support inference that he knew he was dealing in counterfeit currency and to allow reasonable jury to find the critical element of knowledge beyond a reasonable doubt -- Under prudent smuggler doctrine, a reasonable jury could infer that defendant's co-conspirator would not have entrusted defendant to close a deal of $632,000 in counterfeit currency without telling defendant not only that he was buying counterfeit currency but also how much he was to receive in exchange for $5,000 in non-counterfeit currency -- Defendant was no mere bystander or peripheral player -- No error in denying motion for judgment of acquittal -- Conviction affirmed
VIEW OPINION

Garnishment -- Eleventh Amendment immunity -- District court did not err in denying motion for garnishment of state funds paid to state employee under indemnification agreement for purposes of satisfying plaintiff's judgment on ground that Georgia has not waived sovereign immunity with respect to garnishment actions -- District court lacked jurisdiction to grant the motion where garnishment actions are “suits” under Eleventh Amendment, Georgia has not waived its immunity to type of garnishment sought, and Congress has not clearly abrogated the states' immunity to such garnishments -- That plaintiff sought garnishment in a document styled as a motion, rather than as a separate lawsuit naming the State of Georgia as a defendant, has no bearing on sovereign immunity inquiry
VIEW OPINION

Civil rights -- Speech -- Free exercise -- Retaliation -- Arrest -- Existence of probable cause does not defeat a First Amendment claim for retaliatory arrest under section 1983 under facts of instant case in which plaintiff did not dispute the existence of probable cause, but alleged that city, through its legislators, formed a retaliatory policy to intimidate plaintiff because of his criticisms of city officials and his open-meetings lawsuit, and that city executed its plan, through the same high officers, by ordering plaintiff's arrest at a city council meeting
VIEW OPINION

Criminal law -- Appeals -- Federal sentencing guidelines -- Miscalculation of advisory sentencing range -- Issue first raised -- Under Rule 52(b), a court of appeals may consider plain errors that affect substantial rights, even though they are raised for first time on appeal -- Under four-prong test set out in U.S. v. Olano, court may consider exercising its discretion under Rule 52(b) if error was not intentionally relinquished or abandoned, error is plain, error affected defendant's substantial rights, and error seriously affects fairness, integrity or public reputation of judicial proceedings -- In the ordinary case, the failure to correct a plain Guidelines error that affects a defendant's substantial rights will seriously affect the fairness, integrity, and public reputation of judicial proceedings, warranting relief under Rule 52(b) -- Court of Appeals abused its discretion in applying unduly burdensome articulation of Olano's fourth prong and declining to remand for resentencing
VIEW OPINION

Criminal law -- Sentencing -- Federal guidelines -- Reduction of sentence -- Sentencing judge's explanation for petitioner's sentence reduction was adequate where record as a whole demonstrates that judge considered the parties' arguments and had a reasonable basis for his decision -- Given simplicity of this case, judge's awareness of arguments, his consideration of relevant sentencing factors, and the intuitive reason why he picked a sentence above the very bottom of the new sentencing range, judge's explanation, though minimal, fell within scope of lawful professional judgment that law confers upon sentencing judge
VIEW OPINION

Elections -- Congressional districts -- Gerrymandering -- Under circumstances of case at issue, district court did not abuse its discretion by denying motion for preliminary injunction filed by several Republican voters who alleged that Maryland's Sixth Congressional District was gerrymandered in 2011 for purpose of retaliating against them for their political views -- District court reasonably could have concluded that preliminary injunction would have been against public interest given court's decision to wait for Supreme Court's disposition of partisan gerrymandering claims in case pending before the Court
VIEW OPINION

Elections -- Redistricting -- State legislative districts -- Wisconsin Democratic voters, who alleged that they suffered injury from partisan gerrymandering, which works through the “cracking” and “packing” of voters, failed to demonstrate Article III standing where certain of plaintiffs alleged that they had a personal stake in outcome of case, but never followed up with requisite proof -- Remand to District Court so that the plaintiffs may have an opportunity to prove concrete and particularized injuries using evidence that would tend to demonstrate a burden on their individual votes
VIEW OPINION