Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

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The DC Circuit reversed the denial of summary judgment to BNA and remanded with directions that the district court grant summary judgment to BNA on plaintiff's defamation claims. Plaintiff was convicted of murdering two U.S. Marshalls, and BNA subsequently summarized plaintiff's mandamus petition in one of its publications. Plaintiff filed suit against BNA for falsely reporting that the sentencing judge had said that plaintiff lacked contrition and believed the murders were justified. The DC Circuit held that the inaccuracy of the report alone does not constitute sufficient evidence of actual malice for plaintiff to overcome summary judgment, and the remaining evidence in the record does not suffice for plaintiff to overcome summary judgment. View "Kahl v. Bureau of National Affairs" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from the parties' dispute over the precise language used in "corrective statements" cigarette manufacturers were ordered to disseminate. The district court's remedy requiring the manufacturers to issue corrective statements complied with the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1964(a), because the manufacturers would be impaired in making false and misleading assurances about cigarettes if simultaneously required to tell the truth. In this case, the court held that the modified preambles satisfy RICO. Therefore, the court rejected the manufacturers' argument that the only reason to prefer the government's proposal is to taint manufacturers with implications of past wrongdoing. In regard to the manufacturers' First Amendment challenge, the court concluded that the preamble requirements are reasonably related to the government's interest in preventing deception of consumers. Here, the preambles are confined to purely factual and uncontroversial information, geared toward thwarting prospective efforts by manufacturers to either directly mislead consumers or capitalize on their prior deceptions by continuing to advertise in a manner that builds on consumers' existing misperceptions. In regard to the manufacturers' challenge to the topic descriptions in the preambles to Statements C and D, the court concluded that the manufacturers waived its argument as to Statement D, but the language in Statement C was not previously considered and is indeed backward-looking, because it implies that the manufacturers previously sold and advertised cigarettes in such a way. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part, remanding for further proceedings. View "United States v. Philip Morris USA Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, a group of individuals who resolved their misdemeanor charges using the District of Columbia's post-and-forfeit procedure, filed suit challenging the procedure and the statute authorizing it as unconstitutional. The district court dismissed the claims. The court concluded that the post-and-forfeit statute does not deprive arrestees of their procedural due process rights under the Due Process Clause. The court could not say that the post-and-forfeit procedure offends some principle of justice so rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental, and does not transgress any recognized principle of fundamental fairness in operation. The court explained that offering arrestees an option to participate in the voluntary post-and-forfeit procedure does not unfairly deprive any arrestee of an opportunity for a hearing. The court concluded that plaintiffs' vagueness challenge to the post-and-forfeit statute is likewise unavailing. The court explained that the fact that the post-and-forfeit statute gives police the discretion to offer an arrestee an opportunity to post and forfeit does not render the statute unconstitutionally vague. Therefore, the post-and-forfeit statute complies with the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. The court affirmed the judgment. View "Kincaid v. Government of the District of Columbia" on Justia Law

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This appeal and cross-appeal relate to the district court's orders releasing video recordings made at Guantanamo Bay, depicting military personnel removing a detainee, Abu Wa'el (Jihad) Dhiab, from his cell, transporting him to a medical unit, and force-feeding him to keep him alive while he was on a hunger strike. The government classified these recordings as "SECRET" because disclosing them could damage the national security, but the district court determined that the public had a constitutional right to view the recordings because the detainee's attorney filed some of them under seal, at which point the recordings became part of the court's record. The government appealed, arguing that the public has no such constitutional right. The Intervenors cross-appealed, arguing that several categories of redactions the court approved prior to public release were too extensive. The court concluded that Press-Enterprise Co. v. Superior Court did not apply to this case and neither the intervenors nor the public at large have a right under the First Amendment to receive properly classified national security information filed in court during the pendency of Dhiab's petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The court further explained that, even if the intervenors had a qualified First Amendment right of access to the Dhiab recordings, the court would still reverse the district court's decision, because the government identified multiple ways in which unsealing these recordings would likely impair national security. Because the recordings will remain sealed, the intervenors' cross-appeal about the extent of the redactions was dismissed as moot View "Dhiab v. Trump" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit seeking to hold the Palestinian Authority vicariously liable for an attack of a holy site in the West Bank by an armed gunman. The court rejected plaintiffs' claim that the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause imposes personal jurisdiction restrictions that are less protective of defendants than those imposed by the Fourteenth Amendment, explaining that precedent foreclosed this claim. Therefore, the court concluded that plaintiffs failed to carry their burden of demonstrating that personal jurisdiction over the Palestinian Authority in this case would meet the requirements of the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiffs' motions for jurisdictional discovery and its grant of the Palestinian Authority's motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. View "Livnat v. Palestinian Authority" on Justia Law

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NAAMJP and two of its members filed suit alleging that bar admission conditions for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, established in the identical text of Local Civil Rule 83.8 and Local Criminal Rule 57.21 (collectively, the "Local Rule"), violate statutory and constitutional legal standards. The district court granted defendants' motion to dismiss. On appeal, NAAMJP argued that the Local Rule (1) violates the Rules Enabling Act, 28 U.S.C. 2071 and 2072; (2) runs afoul of the Supreme Court's decision in Frazier v. Heebe; (3) improperly applies rational basis review; and (4) violates 28 U.S.C. 1738, admission requirements of other federal courts and administrative agencies, and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The court concluded that the district court properly concluded that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate all claims brought by Patent Lawyer Doe and all claims asserted against the Attorney General; NAAMJP has failed to identify any substantive right that has been infringed by the Local Rule; the Supreme Court in Frazier exercised its own unique supervisory authority to overturn a local rule regarding bar admission in the Eastern District of Louisiana and, in so doing, made no constitutional ruling; and the Principal Office Provision embodies a reasonable assumption: local licensing control is better positioned to facilitate training sessions, conduct monitoring programs, and field complaints from the public—all rational bases for the Local Rule. The court rejected NAAMJP's remaining claims and affirmed the judgment. View "National Association for the Advancement of Multijurisdiction Practice v. Howell" on Justia Law

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In 1963, the Republic of Guinea entered into an agreement with Halco establishing the Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinée (CBG) for the purpose of developing Guinea's rich bauxite mines. Nanko filed suit against Alcoa, alleging breach of the CBG Agreement, asserting that it was a third-party beneficiary thereof, and another for racial discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C.1981. Nanko later added Halco as a defendant and asserted an additional claim against Alcoa for tortious interference with contractual relations. The district court dismissed the case under Rule 12(b)(7) for failure to join Guinea as a required Rule 19 party. The court concluded that the district court's Rule 19 holding failed to fully grapple with Nanko's allegations and that those allegations, accepted as true, state a claim for racial discrimination under section 1981. The court reasoned that, insofar as the existing parties' interests are concerned, evidence of Guinea's actions, views, or prerogatives can be discovered and introduced where relevant to the parties' claims and defenses even if Guinea remained a nonparty. At this stage in the pleadings, the court did not believe that the allegations could be reasonably read to show that Guinea was a necessary party. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Nanko Shipping, USA v. Alcoa" on Justia Law

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Defendants were arrested after interrupting an oral argument session of the United States Supreme Court. On appeal, defendants challenged their conviction under 40 U.S.C. 6134, the statue that prohibits making a "harangue" or "oration" in the Supreme Court building. The district court struck the words "harangue" and "oration" from section 6134 as unconstitutionally vague, and the Government appealed. The court concluded that the district court erred in striking these words as unconstitutionally vague where the core meaning of these words was delivering speeches of various kinds to persons within the Supreme Court's building and grounds, in a manner that threatens to disturb the operations and decorum of the Court. In the context of the Supreme Court's building and grounds, the court explained that the terms' core meaning proscribes determinable conduct. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. Bronstein" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit seeking damages under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, alleging that IRS employees barred him from representing taxpayers before the Service without due process in violation of the Fifth Amendment. The district court dismissed the case because the Internal Revenue Code's remedial scheme for tax practicitioners foreclosed a Bivens action. The court did not reach the issue and ruled on the alternative ground that plaintiff failed to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) because his complaint contains no allegation that defendants deprived him of a constitutionally protected interest. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Bowman v. Iddon" on Justia Law

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Two nonprofit organizations, ANSWER and MASF, challenge the District's sign-posting rule that requires removal of signs relating to an event within 30 days of the event, whether the 180-day period for signs on public lampposts had expired or not. The court concluded that the regulation does not impose a content-based distinction because it regulates how long people may maintain event-related signs on public lampposts, not the content of the signs’ messages; the "event-related" category itself is not content based; and therefore, under the intermediate First Amendment scrutiny that is applicable, the rule is a reasonable time, place, and manner restriction. The court explained that the regulation is narrowly tailored to further a well-established, admittedly significant governmental interest in avoiding visual clutter, and the regulation’s definition of event-based signs also guides officials’ enforcement discretion sufficiently to avoid facial invalidation on due process grounds. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for MASF and remanded for entry of summary judgment in favor of the District. However, the court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of ANSWER’s 42 U.S.C. 1983 damages claim that the District retaliated against it in violation of the First Amendment, and MASF’s claim that the District’s regulation imposes a system of strict liability the First Amendment does not allow. Finally, the court vacated the district court’s imposition of discovery sanctions against the District for seeking discovery without leave of court. View "Act Now to Stop War and End Racism Coalition v. District of Columbia" on Justia Law