Justia U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendants alleging that she was terminated for exercising her First Amendment right to free speech when she spoke to local leaders about what she saw as a "scam" occurring in the police department. The district court held that the officials had not shown entitlement to summary judgment of qualified immunity because, accepting plaintiff's facts as true and drawing all permissible factual inferences in her favor, she had shown that they had violated her clearly established constitutional rights. The court concluded that, under plaintiff's version of the facts, there was no doubt that under the prevailing decisions, plaintiff's speech was not made "pursuant to" her official duties as a patrol officer. Therefore, defendants failed to show entitlement to fire plaintiff or entitlement to qualified immunity under her version of the facts. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Ricciuti v. Gyzenis" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed the revocation of his supervised release on his 2010 conviction for conspiring to traffic in cocaine and marijuana and sentence of 24 months in prison. The court concluded that where, as here, post‐supervision charges involve conduct related to the requisite timely charge and the defendant is afforded adequate notice and opportunity to be heard, the district court is empowered to consider the related violations and to base revocation thereon. The court also concluded that defendant's sufficiency challenge fails on the merits. Therefore, the court affirmed the revocation judgment. View "United States v. Edwards" on Justia Law
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Plaintiffs filed suit under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), 28 U.S.C. 1350, seeking to hold LCB, a Lebanese bank headquartered in Beirut, liable for providing international financial services to Hezbollah that they claim facilitated Hezbollah’s 2006 attacks that injured them or killed family members. The district court dismissed the ATS claims under Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., reasoning that plaintiffs failed to displace the presumption against extraterritorial application of the ATS. The court concluded, however, that plaintiffs have surpassed the jurisdictional hurdle set forth in Kiobel II where the complaint alleges conduct by LCB that touched and concerned the United States, and that the same conduct, upon preliminary examination, states a claim for aiding and abetting Hezbollah’s violation of the law of nations, with sufficient force to displace the presumption against extraterritoriality. Nevertheless, Kiobel I forecloses plaintiffs’ claims against LCB where corporations are immunized from liability under the ATS. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part the judgment of the district court. View "Licci v. Lebanese Canadian Bank" on Justia Law

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Defendants Hisan Lee, Delroy Lee, Selbourne Waite, and Levar Gayle appealed from convictions on various charges of racketeering, narcotics conspiracy, Hobbs Act conspiracy, and substantive counts of Hobbs Act robbery and associated firearms and murder counts. The evidence at trial showed that Hisan Lee, his brother Delroy Lee, and their cousin Selbourne Waite were all members of a criminal organization centered around DeKalb Avenue in the northern Bronx (the “DeKalb Avenue Crew” or the “Crew”), which engaged in extensive drug dealing, violence, robberies of drug dealers, and murders. The court rejected most of defendants' challenges to their convictions in an accompanying summary order. In this opinion, the court held that, following the Supreme Court's recent decision in Taylor v. United States, the evidence offered at trial to prove the interstate commerce element of the challenged Hobbs Act robbery convictions was sufficient to support the guilty verdicts, because the evidence permitted the jury to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the robberies targeted suspected marijuana dealers for their drugs or the proceeds from the sale of drugs. The court also rejected defendant Gayle's due process and evidentiary challenges to his conviction on charges arising from the robbery and murder of Oneil Johnson. View "United States v. Lee" on Justia Law
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Petitioner suffers from a hearing impairment that requires him to use hearing aids, but those aids were broken during petitioner's trial for murder. Although petitioner told his trial counsel that he could not hear during his trial, counsel never requested an accommodation. Petitioner filed a petition for habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254, contending that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. The district court declined to address the merits, concluding that the claim was procedurally barred because petitioner could have brought it on direct appeal. The court held, however, that this falls within the limited category of exceptional cases where the “exorbitant application of a generally sound rule renders the state ground inadequate to stop consideration of a federal question.” Therefore, the district court was not precluded from reviewing the merits of petitioner's ineffective assistance of counsel claim. The court vacated the judgment and remanded for the district court to consider the claim on the merits. View "Pierotti v. Walsh" on Justia Law
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Plaintiff appealed the district court's partial grant of summary judgment to his former employer, Rockbestos, on his claims of hostile work environment and discriminatory discharge. The court held that it lacked appellate jurisdiction to review so much of the district court's judgment as involves plaintiff's claim under the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. 46a‐60. In regard to plaintiff's discriminatory-discharge claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq., Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq., the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. 621 et seq., the court concluded that, although the district court's explanation of why plaintiff was judicially estopped from asserting that he was qualified for his position was erroneous, the decision was nevertheless correct because plaintiff failed to proffer a sufficient explanation in light of the record why his assertion that he was qualified for his position was consistent with his earlier sworn statement to the SSA that he was “unable to work.” Therefore, the court agreed with the district court that plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case of discriminatory discharge on summary judgment under the ADA, Title VII, and the ADEA. Finally, the court held that to the extent plaintiff pleaded hostile-work-environment claims in his amended complaint, he has subsequently abandoned these claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment and dismissed for want of appellate jurisdiction in regard to the CFEPA claim. View "Kovaco v. Rockbestos-Surprenant Cable Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, citizens of the United States and Haiti, filed suit against the UN, asserting various causes of action sounding in tort and contract, seeking to hold defendants responsible for injuries directly resulting from the cholera epidemic in the Republic of Haiti in 2010. Principally at issue on appeal is whether the UN’s fulfillment of its obligation under Section 29 of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations (CPIUN), Apr. 29, 1970, 21 U.S.T. 1418, to “make provisions for appropriate modes of settlement of . . . disputes arising out of contracts or other disputes of a private law character to which the [UN] is a party,” as well as “disputes involving any official of the [UN] who by reason of his official position enjoys immunity, if immunity has not been waived by the Secretary‐General,” is a condition precedent to its immunity under Section 2 of the CPIUN, which provides that the UN “shall enjoy immunity from every form of legal process except insofar as in any particular case it has expressly waived its immunity.” The court held that the UN’s fulfillment of its Section 29 obligation is not a condition precedent to its Section 2 immunity. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal against named defendants for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. View "Georges v. United Nations" on Justia Law

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Defendant Eric Stevenson is a former Member of the New York State Assembly representing a district in the Bronx. Stevenson was convicted of conspiracy to commit honest servies wire fraud, conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery and to violate the Travel Act, 18 U.S.C. 371, accepting bribes, and extortion under color of official right. On appeal, defendant challenged his 36 month sentence, the district court's order of forfeiture in the amount of $22,000, and the district court's designation of defendant's contributions to the New York State pension fund as a substitute asset for forfeiture. The court concluded that the application of sentencing enhancements under both USSG 2C1.1(a)(1) and 2C1.1(b)(3) did not constitute double counting; the court rejected Stevenson's claim of sentence disparity and concluded that the district court did not commit procedural error in its computation and application of the sentencing guidelines; the court declined to reverse the district court's forfeiture order where the calculation of the amount of forfeiture is not subject to any statutory thresholds that increase penalties and remains within the province of the sentencing court; and Article V, Section 7 of the New York State Constitution is preempted to the extent that it would prevent forfeiture of Stevenson’s contributions to or benefits from a state pension or retirement system up to $22,000, the amount ordered forfeited. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Stevenson" on Justia Law

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Mago appealed from an order in which judgment was entered in favor of LHB after resolution of cross‐motions for summary judgment. Principally at issue is whether Mago complied with terms of a standby letter of credit issued by LHB - specifically whether the submission of unsigned copies of bills of lading complied with the letter’s requirement that Mago provide a photocopy of a bill of lading evidencing shipment of the goods to the applicant. The court agreed with the district court's conclusion that the unsigned copies did not evidence shipment and thus Mago did not strictly comply. The court considered Mago's remaining arguments and found them to be without merit. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Mago Int’l, LLC v. LHB AG" on Justia Law
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Defendants Russell and Lange were found guilty of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and securities fraud (Count Two) and substantive securities fraud (Count Three). The jury also found Russell guilty of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with a separate but related scheme (Count One). On appeal, the Government challenges the district court's order vacating Lange's conviction on Count Three. Both defendants challenged their convictions on several grounds. The court affirmed defendants' convictions and concluded, inter alia, that there was sufficient evidence to support the charges. The court reversed the district court's order acquitting Lange on Count Three because the district court erred by concluding that the Government was required to present evidence that Lange aided and abetted the specific acts carried out by other BSMI employees in the district of venue. The court remanded with instructions for the district court to reinstate Lange's conviction on Count Three and to resentence him accordingly. Defendants raised a number of additional arguments which the court considered and rejected. View "United States v. Lange" on Justia Law