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The DC Circuit denied UPS Ground's petition for review challenging the certification of a union at its Kutztown Pennsylvania distribution facility. The court held that UPS Ground failed to identify a defect in the Board's decision to certify the union where the Board certified an appropriate bargaining unit and reasonably determined that one of the drivers employed at the Kutztown center was an "employee" under the National Labor Relations Act and not a statutory "supervisor" who would be excluded from the Act's protections. The court held that UPS Ground's remaining objections to the application of the Board's rules and regulations all lacked merit. View "UPS Ground Freight, Inc. v. NLRB" on Justia Law

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This case arose when a member of the House of Representatives asked the House-appointed Chaplain, Father Patrick J. Conroy, to invite Daniel Barker—a former Christian minister turned atheist—to serve as guest chaplain and deliver a secular invocation. After Conroy denied the request, Barker filed suit alleging that Conroy unconstitutionally excluded him from the guest chaplain program because he is an atheist. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of Barker's Establishment Clause claim. The court held that, although Barker had Article III standing to challenge his exclusion from the program, he failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The court held that Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783 (1983), and Town of Greece v. Galloway, 572 U.S. 565, 570 (2014), leave no doubt that the Supreme Court understands our nation's longstanding legislative-prayer tradition as one that, because of its "unique history," can be both religious and consistent with the Establishment Clause. The court noted that, although the Supreme Court has warned against discriminating among religions or tolerating a pattern of prayers that proselytize or disparage certain faiths or beliefs, it has never suggested that legislatures must allow secular as well as religious prayer. Therefore, in the sui generis context of legislative prayer, the court held that the House does not violate the Establishment Clause by limiting its opening prayer to religious prayer. View "Barker v. Conroy" on Justia Law

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In 2004, defendants were indicted by a grand jury in Washington, D.C. for conspiracy to traffic cocaine, but the government moved to dismiss the charges in 2013 without prejudice because of the age of the case, government resources, and other factual and legal issues which indicated that the case was no longer viable. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendants' motion to alter the dismissal without prejudice to a dismissal with prejudice. The court was bound by the Supreme Court's decision in Parr v. United States, 351 U.S. 513 (1956), which held that, without more, a criminal defendant whose indictment is dismissed without prejudice is not aggrieved and thus has no standing to appeal. Furthermore, even assuming arguendo that the threat of subsequent prosecution might be sufficient in some cases to support an appeal of a dismissal without prejudice, the statute of limitations has run on the charges against defendants and therefore the question was moot. Finally, defendants lacked standing to pursue claims of reputational injuries because dismissing the indictment with prejudice would not redress such harms. View "United States v. Scantlebury" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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These petitions concern the conduct of a military judge, Colonel Vance Spath, who presided over a current Guantanamo Bay detainee, Abd Al-Rahim Hussein Muhammed Al-Nashiri, who faces capital charges before a military commission. After receiving a job offer but before retiring from the military, Spath found himself locked in a dispute with Al-Nashiri's defense lawyers, three of whom sought to leave the case. The DC Circuit granted Al-Nashiri's petition for a writ of mandamus and held that Spath's job application to the Justice Department created a disqualifying appearance of partiality. In this case, the average, informed observer would consider Spath to have presided over a case in which his potential employer (the Attorney General) appeared. The court vacated all orders issued by Spath after he applied for the job, and dismissed counsels' petition as moot. View "In re: Abd Al-Rahim Hussein Muhammed Al-Nashiri" on Justia Law

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Oceana challenged the Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology adopted in 2015 by the Fisheries Service, claiming that the methodology violated the Magnuson–Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the Fisheries Service, holding that the Fisheries Service has met its obligation under the Sustainable Fisheries Act to establish a standardized methodology. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by not requiring that the agency produce or include on a privilege log documents covered by the deliberative-process privilege. View "Oceana, Inc. v. Ross" on Justia Law

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In this redacted appeal, the DC Circuit affirmed the district court's decision refusing to enjoin the FEC from releasing information identifying a trust and its trustee in connection with a misreported federal campaign contribution. Plaintiffs claim that the Commission's release of documents identifying them would violate the First Amendment to the Constitution, the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The court held that FECA's provisions and the regulations thereunder did not bar the disclosure and authorized the Commission's action; Citizens United v. FEC, 558 U.S. 310 (2010), foreclosed plaintiffs' claim that the First Amendment barred the Commission from publicly identifying them; and FOIA could not be used to prevent the Commission from publicly revealing plaintiffs' identities. View "Doe 1 v. FEC" on Justia Law

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After the DC Circuit affirmed defendant's convictions, the court remanded his ineffective assistance of counsel claims because he had previously raised them in district court. In this case, the court affirmed the district court's conclusion that defendant's claims lack merit. The court held that defendant failed to establish the second prong of Strickland v. Washington, because he failed to establish that he was prejudiced even if trial counsel did render ineffective assistance by failing to lay a proper foundation for an advice-of-counsel defense at trial. Furthermore, because the failure to secure funds for an accountant was defendant's fault rather than that of his attorneys, and given the damaging cross-examination that an accountant would have endured, the district court correctly found that trial counsel did not render deficient performance. Finally, defendant's contention that trial counsel failed to properly prepare him to testify failed both prongs of Strickland. View "United States v. Gray-Burriss" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Plaintiff, a historian, appealed the district court's order denying his petition to release grand jury records from the 1957 indictment of a former FBI agent. The court held that the district court has no authority outside Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e) to disclose grand jury matter. In this case, plaintiff pointed to nothing in Rule 6(e)(3) that suggested that a district court has authority to order disclosure of grand jury matter outside the enumerated exceptions. Because the court held that the district court has no such authority, the court need not determine whether the district court abused its discretion denying plaintiff's petition as overbroad. View "McKeever v. Barr" on Justia Law

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D.C. Code 22-1307(a), the anti-obstructing statute, is not unconstitutionally vague on its face. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of a complaint by three DC residents who were arrested under the statute. The court held that the statute conferred no sweeping power; its terms are clear enough to shield against arbitrary deployment; it bars only blocking or hindering others' use of the places it identifies; a person is not subject to arrest unless he refuses to move out of the way when an officer directs him to do so; and the statute does not criminalize inadvertent conduct, nor does it authorize the police to direct a person to move on if he is not currently or imminently in the way of anyone else’s shared use of the place at issue. Accordingly, the court rejected plaintiffs' claims to the contrary and upheld the statute. View "Agnew v. Government of the District of Columbia" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs challenge the ATF's rule classifying bump-stock devices as machine guns under the National Firearms Act. The ATF promulgated the rule after a mass shooting at a concert in Las Vegas in October 2017. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiffs' motions for a preliminary injunction to halt the rule's effective date, holding that plaintiffs failed to establish a likelihood of success both for their challenge to Acting Attorney General Whitaker's appointment and for their objections to the substantive validity of the rule. In this case, Plaintiff Codrea failed to show a likelihood of success on his appointment-based challenges due to Attorney General Barr's independent and unchallenged ratification of the Bump-Stock Rule; the Bump-Stock rule was a legislative rule that sets forth a permissible interpretation of the statute's ambiguous definition of "machinegun" and therefore merited the court's deference; the rule was not arbitrary in applying the definition of "machinegun" to bump stocks and the ATF has articulated a satisfactory explanation for the rule; and Codrea forfeited his claim that the rule was impermissibly retroactive. View "Guedes v. ATF" on Justia Law