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Plaintiffs, former correctional officers that had separated from service in good standing, sought to invoke the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) so that they could be able to carry concealed firearms as "qualified retired law enforcement officers." Plaintiffs filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief to require the District to recognize them as "qualified retired law enforcement officers" for purposes of the Act. In DuBerry I, the DC Circuit found that the Act's plain text, purpose, and context show that Congress intended to create a concrete, individual right to benefit individuals like plaintiffs and that is within the competence of the judiciary to enforce. Therefore, the court held that plaintiffs had sufficiently alleged that the federal right they seek to enjoy has been unlawfully deprived by the District of Columbia to be remediable under section 1983. On remand, the district court granted summary judgment for plaintiffs. The court affirmed the district court's judgment on remand and held that the law of the case doctrine controls the disposition of the District's principle argument that plaintiffs lacked the proper identification and thus have no enforceable right that is remediable under section 1983. Rather, the court held that the Act creates an individual right to carry that is remediable under section 1983. The court also held that the District's causation argument was meritless. View "DuBerry v. District of Columbia" on Justia Law

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The LNC filed suit alleging that the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), which imposes limits on both donors and recipients of political contributions, violates its First Amendment rights. This case stemmed from a dispute regarding how the LNC can spend the $235,000 Joseph Shaber left to it when he passed away. The LNC argued that FECA violates its First Amendment rights in two ways: first, by imposing any limits on the LNC's ability to accept Shaber's contribution, given that he is dead; and second, by permitting donors to triple the size of their contributions, but only if the recipient party spends the money on specified categories of expenses. The DC Circuit held that the current version of FECA—both its application of contribution limits to Shaber's bequest and its use of a two-tiered contribution limit—has achieved a constitutionally permissible balance. Although the court denied the Commission's motion to dismiss for lack of standing, the court rejected LNC's constitutional challenges on the merits. View "Libertarian National Committee v. FEC" on Justia Law

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After originally hearing this appeal, the DC Circuit certified to the DC Court of Appeals the following question regarding plaintiffs' intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) claims: "Must a claimant alleging emotional distress arising from a terrorist attack that killed or injured a family member have been present at the scene of the attack in order to state a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress?" The DC Court of Appeals answered the question in the negative. The court rejected Sudan's arguments and affirmed the default judgments with respect to plaintiffs' IIED claims. In this case, Sudan's objections to the DC court's exception to the presence requirement all presume that DC law treats state actors differently from non-state actors. The court rejected Sudan's interpretation of the DC court's holding and did not reach the substantive question whether it would be impermissible for the DC court to single out certain foreign sovereigns for IIED liability in terrorism cases. View "Owens v. Republic of Sudan" on Justia Law

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After plaintiffs prevailed in a long-running Individuals with Disabilities Education Act class action, the district court relied on the USAO's new matrix in awarding attorney fees. The DC Circuit vacated the award and held that the new matrix departs from the statutory requirement in 20 U.S.C. 1415(i)(3)(C) that reasonable fees be tethered to "rates prevailing in the community" for the "kind and quality of services furnished." Accordingly, the court remanded for the district court to recalculate the hourly rate based on evidence that focuses on fees for attorneys practicing complex federal litigation in the District of Columbia. View "DL v. District of Columbia" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics

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After plaintiff was eliminated as part of a reorganization from his job of nearly 30 years, he filed suit against DC Water, alleging claims under various federal and D.C. civil rights statutes. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of DC Water, holding that petitioner's Americans with Disabilities Act and DC Human Rights Act claims were time-barred; plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to bringing his Title VII and Age Discrimination in Employment Act claims; it was within the district court's discretion to conclude that further discovery on plaintiff's only potentially viable claim—the one brought under 42 U.S.C. 1981—was unwarranted, given the lack of detail in plaintiff's Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d) declaration; and summary judgment on plaintiff's section 1981 claim was appropriate given the record before the district court. View "Haynes v. District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority" on Justia Law

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After Esther Klieman was killed in a terrorist attack on an Israeli public bus, plaintiffs filed suit under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), among other laws. The district court dismissed the case against the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) for want of personal jurisdiction. The DC Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in agreeing, in light of the intervening Supreme Court case of Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. 117 (2014), to reconsider its earlier ruling that the district court had general personal jurisdiction over defendants. The court held that Daimler, and circuit precedent, effectively foreclosed a ruling that the district court had general jurisdiction over the PA/PLO; plaintiffs' prima facie case for specific jurisdiction did not meet the Constitution's requirements; and plaintiffs have neither established the circumstances rendering section 4 of the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act of 2018 applicable nor facts justifying a remand for discovery on the issue. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's decision. View "Estate of Esther Klieman v. Palestinian Authority" on Justia Law

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As a result of newly discovered evidence of a Brady violation, the district court vacated defendant's narcoterrorism conviction and resentenced him to concurrent terms of 300 months on the two remaining convictions for conspiracy to distribute heroine and distributing heroin. The DC Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying defendant's motion for a continuance where the denial did not present a legal bar to prevent him from accessing jury selection records. However, the court agreed with defendant that there was insufficient evidence to support a two-point sentencing enhancement for possession of a firearm during a drug offense. Finally, defendant acknowledged that he could not prevail on his contention that the sentence was unconstitutional because the district court considered uncharged and acquitted conduct in calculating the base offense level. Accordingly, the court remanded for resentencing, but otherwise affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Bagcho" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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At the second prong of the McDonnell Douglas framework, an employer must proffer admissible evidence showing a legitimate, nondiscriminatory, clear, and reasonably specific explanation for its actions. Plaintiff filed suit alleging that one aspect of the Department's promotion process had a disparate impact on Hispanic and Latino candidates who applied for the position he sought, and that the Secretary in 2008 denied him a promotion because of his Hispanic ethnicity. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Secretary. The DC Circuit affirmed in part and held that plaintiff's disparate impact claim lacked merit where there were no genuine issues of material fact and plaintiff failed to establish causation as a matter of law. However, the court held that the district court misapplied the second step of the McDonnell Douglas framework as to the disparate treatment claim by accepting the Department's vague reason for the denial of the promotion. In this case, none of the presented evidence sheds light on how the selection boards applied the core precepts to defendant's case. Accordingly, the court reversed in part, vacated the denial of plaintiff's cross-motion in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Figueroa v. Pompeo" on Justia Law

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In this consolidated opinion, the DC Circuit addressed cases arising from the Beirut, Nairobi, and Dar es Salaam terrorist attacks. On appeal, plaintiffs challenged the district court's dismissals of their claims against Iran, contending that the district courts erred in raising the statute of limitations sua sponte and in dismissing their complaints as untimely. One group of plaintiffs challenged the denial of motions for relief from judgment that they filed after their claims were dismissed. The DC Circuit did not reach the statute of limitations issue or the postjudgment motions. Rather, the court held that the district court lacks authority to sua sponte raise a forfeited statute of limitations defense in a Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) terrorism exception case, at least where the defendant sovereign fails to appear. Accordingly, the court reversed the district courts' judgments, vacated the dismissals of the complaint, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Maalouf v. Islamic Republic of Iran" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for three counts of bank robbery, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by declining to appoint substitute counsel for defendant, nor was it an error of law to conclude that defendant could voluntarily choose to proceed pro se. Furthermore, the district court's Faretta colloquy was not otherwise defective where the district court confirmed that defendant knew he was entitled to counsel regardless of his financial status and that he understood the nature of the charges against him and the maximum penalties he faced. View "United States v. Wright" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law