Justia U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

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The Secretary of Homeland Security promulgated the challenged OPT Rule pursuant to the Executive’s longstanding authority under the INA to set the “time” and “conditions” of nonimmigrants’ stay in the United States. Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (Washtech) argues that the statutory definition of the F-1 visa class precludes the Secretary from exercising the time-and-conditions authority to allow F-1 students to remain for school-recommended practical training after they complete their coursework. The district court sustained the OPT Rule’s authorization of a limited period of post-coursework Optional Practical Training if recommended and overseen by the school and approved by DHS, for qualifying students on F-1 visas.   The DC Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment. The court explained that Washtech is right that section 1324a(h)(3) is not the source of the relevant regulatory authority; it just defines what it means for an alien to be “unauthorized” for employment. But that was never the government’s point. What matters is that section 1324a(h)(3) expressly acknowledges that employment authorization need not be specifically conferred by statute; it can also be granted by regulation, as it has been in rules promulgated pursuant to DHS’s statutory authority to set the “conditions” of nonimmigrants’ admission to the United States. The OPT Rule’s authorization for F-1 students to work in jobs that provide practical training related to their course of study is just such a rule. Washtech’s claim that the OPT Rule conflicts with the congressional prohibition against unauthorized aliens’ employment therefore fails. View "WA Alliance of Tech. Workers v. DHS" on Justia Law

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Petitioner petitioned for review of the Securities and Exchange Commission order granting him a whistleblower award for providing original information leading to successful enforcement action against Citigroup, Inc. Although the SEC agreed the original information Petitioner and his team provided to the Commission warranted an award equal to 15 percent of the fine levied against Citigroup, Petitioner objected to the Commission’s determination that he and his former co-worker were to divide the award equally as joint whistleblowers.   The DC Circuit dismissed Petitioner’s petition for want of jurisdiction insofar as he challenges the amount of the award granted to his co-worker. The court denied the petition insofar as it challenges the co-worker’s eligibility for an award because the Commission’s decision was not arbitrary and capricious, or otherwise contrary to law, nor was its finding of fact unsupported by substantial evidence.   The court explained that the SEC whistleblower statute does not ask who developed the original information that led to a successful resolution of a covered action; instead, it asks who provided that information to the Commission. The SEC did not err as to the law, nor did it lack substantial evidence as to the facts, in determining that both parties acted as joint whistleblowers when they provided information to the Commission, making the co-worker eligible for an award. View "Michael Johnston v. SEC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff worked as a secretary for the Navy. In 2017, Plaintiff filed a charge alleging that a Navy contractor, had subjected her to a hostile work environment. In 2018, the Navy issued a final decision concluding that Plaintiff failed to prove that the contractor harassed her. On appeal, the EEOC agreed with the Navy’s conclusion, but it raised two distinct claims that Plaintiff had not charged. A motions panel denied Plaintiff’s motion in full and granted the Navy’s motion as to the first three claims.   On appeal, the relevant question was whether the employee may pursue a retaliation claim in court without first exhausting it before the Navy. The DC Circuit affirmed the order dismissing Plaintiff’s claims, holding that an employee may not pursue the relevant claim without first exhausting it before the Navy. Here, Plaintiff failed to present her retaliation-by-disclosure claim to the Navy before filing a lawsuit. The court explained that the fact that the EEOC told Plaintiff she had a right to sue does not change this analysis. The EEOC itself recognizes that an employee must describe in her charge “the action(s) or practice(s) that form the basis of the complaint.” View "Katrina Webster v. Carlos Del Toro" on Justia Law

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Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc., a generation and transmission cooperative, admitted Mieco, Inc., a natural gas supplier, as a member. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) concluded that owing to the admission of Mieco (1) Tri-State was subject to its jurisdiction and (2) the Commission has exclusive jurisdiction over the exit charge levied by Tri-State upon a member that leaves the cooperative. United Power, Inc., (United) a utility and member of Tri-State, opposed the admission of Mieco and wants United’s exit charge adjudicated in a state forum. United challenged the FERC’s conclusions as ultra vires and arbitrary and capricious.   The DC Circuit dismissed the petitions for review insofar as they raise objections that have not properly been exhausted before the agency, and denied the petitions in all other respects. The court first explained that it was reasonable for the FERC to conclude that providing such clarity was a prudent and efficient use of a declaratory order. Further, the FERC has exclusive jurisdiction over an exit charge. A state proceeding adjudicating whether an exit charge is just and reasonable is therefore preempted because it is “unmistakably and unambiguously directed” at something that is in “the FERC’s exclusive domain.” View "United Power, Inc. v. FERC" on Justia Law

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Appellant was working as a bus ticketing agent in Washington, D.C. when a person attempted to sneak onto a bus headed to New York without a ticket. After Appellant ordered the person off the bus the two women got into a scuffle. District of Columbia Metropolitan Police officers arrived in response to the unticketed person’s call reporting Appellant for assault.   Officers grabbed Appellant, pressed her against the wall, and then forced her to the floor and handcuffed her. The police charged her with simple assault on the person attempting to get on the bus and with assaulting a police officer while resisting arrest. Appellant subsequently sued the District of Columbia and the police officers, alleging civil rights violations during this arrest and a second arrest that occurred in April 2016. She appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the District and its officers.   The DC Circuit agreed in part and reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment for the District and its officers on Appellant’s 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 wrongful arrest, common law false arrest, and respondeat superior claims. The court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment as to Appellant’s other claims. The court explained that the district court erred in granting summary judgment to the District on Appellant’s wrongful arrest and common law false arrest claims because there is a genuine dispute of material fact over whether probable cause for the simple assault arrest had dissipated and required the police officers to release Appellant. View "Xingru Lin v. DC (PUBLIC)" on Justia Law

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Appellants were charged with conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (“RICO”) statute and various other crimes. After a three-week trial, the jury returned guilty verdicts as to all three Appellants. Appellants now challenge their convictions and sentences on various grounds.   The DC Circuit affirmed the district court’s rulings finding none of Appellants’ challenges persuasive. The court explained that because “the factors upon which the probative value/prejudice evaluations were made are readily apparent from the record, and there is no substantial uncertainty about the correctness of the ruling,” reversal is not required. Further, the court found that the district court abused its discretion by allowing the Agent to testify regarding specific distances and ranges of distances because such testimony was neither disclosed pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 16 nor vetted as required by Federal Rules of Evidence 702 and 403. Nevertheless, because the error was harmless, reversal is not warranted. View "USA v. Noe Machado-Erazo (AMENDED)" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a lawsuit alleging that all members of the DC Circuit court violated his First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights based on the actions and inactions he alleges they took in the prior litigation. The district court dismissed the case sua sponte. Plaintiff appealed.   The DC Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s claims. The court explained that the district court properly denied Plaintiff’s request for a change of venue. The court wrote that the case was properly dismissed on the independent ground that Plaintiff had an adequate remedy at law and was therefore not entitled to injunctive or declaratory relief. Moreover, Plaintiff’s claims would be barred by issue preclusion, a form of res judicata also known as collateral estoppel. Additionally, the district court correctly dismissed this case because it lacked jurisdictionFurther, because two of the named Defendants sit as judges on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Plaintiff argues that all the judges of that court should have been recused or disqualified on the basis that their “impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” He argued that because every judge of the district court should have been recused or disqualified, his complaint should have been transferred to another judicial district. First, the mere fact that this case challenges rulings made by other judges of the same court would not “lead a reasonable, informed observer to question the District Judge’s impartiality. Moreover, Plaintiff cites no authority for the proposition that recusal or disqualification of all judges in a judicial district is a basis for transfer of venue. View "Larry Klayman v. Neomi Rao" on Justia Law

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An al-Qaeda suicide bomber killed nine people at Camp Chapman, a secret CIA base in Afghanistan. Plaintiff and other family members of the bombing victims sued HSBC Holdings PLC and several of its foreign and domestic affiliates under the Antiterrorism Act. Plaintiffs allege that HSBC helped foreign banks evade U.S. sanctions and thereby provided material support to al-Qaeda’s terrorist activities. Plaintiff claims that HSBC is liable for aiding and abetting and conspiring to bring about al-Qaeda’s terrorist attack on Camp Chapman. The district court dismissed the claims against the foreign HSBC defendants for lack of personal jurisdiction and dismissed Plaintiffs aiding and abetting and conspiracy claims for failure to state a claim.   The DC Circuit affirmed. The court explained that while the ATA creates liability for those who materially assist acts of terrorism, a successful claim requires a plausible connection between HSBC and al-Qaeda. The court explained that Plaintiffs allege no common objective between HSBC and al-Qaeda. The complaint states that HSBC was trying to make “substantial profits” by evading sanctions, whereas al-Qaeda sought to “terrorize the U.S. into retreating from the world stage”; “use long wars to financially bleed the U.S. while inflaming anti-American sentiment”; “defend the rights of Muslims”; and “obtain global domination through a violent Islamic caliphate.” These objectives are wholly orthogonal to one another. The court wrote it cannot infer from the complaint the necessary connection to maintain the ATA aiding and abetting and conspiracy claims. View "Dana Bernhardt v. Islamic Republic of Iran" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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After Appellant violated his supervised release conditions, the district court placed him in home detention and later imposed a revocation sentence of imprisonment and a new term of supervised release. Appellant contends that the court lacked the authority to impose both home detention and imprisonment for the same violations, but he waived this argument below. Appellant also contended that the court’s written judgment improperly contains various discretionary conditions of supervised release that were not orally pronounced at sentencing.   The DC Circuit affirmed Appellant’s term of imprisonment. Because the written judgment contains discretionary release conditions that were not orally pronounced at sentencing, the court remanded for the district court to conform the written judgment to the orally pronounced one (plus the unchallenged mandatory conditions. In so doing, the court wrote it does not disturb the district court’s independent authority to prospectively modify Appellant’s release conditions under section 3583(e)(2). View "USA v. Keith Matthews" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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After Appellant, a ticketing agent ordered a non-ticketed individual off of the bus, the two women got into a physical altercation. When DC Metropolitan Police officers arrived, they grabbed Appellant, pressed her against the wall, and then forced her to the floor. The police charged her with simple assault on the non-ticketed individual and with assaulting a police officer while resisting arrest.   Appellant sued the District of Columbia and the police officers, alleging civil rights violations during this arrest and a second arrest that occurred two months after the first. Appellant appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the District and its officers.   The DC Circuit agreed in part and reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment for the District and its officers on Appellant’s Section 1983 wrongful arrest, common law false arrest, and respondeat superior claims. The court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment as to Appellant’s other claims. The court explained that there is a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether probable cause for the simple assault charge dissipated before Appellant was handcuffed a second time and taken involuntarily to the police station. Second, there is a genuine issue of material fact as to the existence of probable cause to arrest Appellant for assaulting a police officer. View "Xingru Lin v. DC (REDACTED)" on Justia Law