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

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's order granting Defendants Mattis and Rahman's release on bail pending trial. Amidst city and nationwide protests against police brutality, defendants were arrested after an incident in which Rahman allegedly threw a Molotov cocktail into an unoccupied police vehicle and Mattis allegedly acted as the getaway driver. The court cannot say that it is left with a "definite and firm conviction" that the district court erred in determining that the conditions imposed are adequate to reasonably assure that defendants do not constitute a danger to the community. The court noted that defendants' actions were undertaken during a massive public protest, in which emotions ran high. Furthermore, there is no indication that defendants are likely to engage in similar acts outside of the context of that particular night. In this case, neither defendant had a prior criminal record, both had engaged in responsible careers and are dedicated to caring for their families, both demonstrated they had deep ties to the community, and both had friends and family explain that they were willing to post $250,000 bonds as bail. The court held that the conditions of release contain provisions that impede defendants' ability to engage in criminal activity, and the evidence to which the government points the court and which the court has otherwise gleaned from the record is inadequate to leave it with a firm conviction that the district court erred in finding those conditions sufficient to assure public safety. Accordingly, the court vacated the stay previously entered in this matter. View "United States v. Mattis" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Plaintiffs, current and former inmates of the DOC incarcerated within Garner Correctional Institution, filed a putative class action alleging that they were exposed involuntarily to indoor radon gas, a recognized human carcinogen, far in excess of any published safe level while incarcerated at Garner. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment to the extent that it determined that defendants violated clearly established law as of the date of the Supreme Court's decision in Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 29 (1993). In Helling, the Supreme Court held that an inmate can state a claim under the Eighth Amendment by alleging that prison officials have, with deliberate indifference, exposed him to levels of environmental tobacco smoke that pose an unreasonable risk of serious damage to his future health. Therefore, as of the date of the Supreme Court's decision in Helling, the court held that reasonable officials would recognize that a failure to take any reasonable steps to abate the risk of excessive radon exposure, of which risk they were actually aware, would constitute deliberate indifference to a serious medical need that violated inmates' clearly established Eighth Amendment rights. The court affirmed in part to the extent that the judgment denied defendants' motions to dismiss plaintiffs' federal claims for injunctive and declaratory relief; reversed in part to the extent that the judgment denied defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiffs' state-law claims for prospective relief against the official-capacity defendants; and remanded for further proceedings. View "Vega v. Semple" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit denied a petition for review, under the Administrative Procedure Act, of Regulation Best Interest, which creates new standards of conduct for broker-dealers providing investment services to retail customers. Petitioners claimed that Regulation Best Interest is unlawful under the 2010 Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The court held that Ford Financial Solutions has Article III standing to bring its petition for review. The court also held that the SEC lawfully promulgated Regulation Best Interest pursuant to Congress's permissive grant of rulemaking authority under Section 913(f) of the Dodd-Frank Act. Finally, the court held that Regulation Best Interest is not arbitrary and capricious, holding that the SEC's interpretation of the scope of the broker-dealer exemption was not so fundamental to Regulation Best Interest as to make the rule arbitrary and capricious, or otherwise not in accordance with law. Furthermore, the SEC gave adequate reasons for its decision to prioritize consumer choice and affordability over the possibility of reducing consumer confusion, and it supported its findings with substantial evidence. View "XY Planning Network, LLC v. Securities Exchange Commission" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed two actions arising from defendants' provision of mental health services to him, alleging violations of his First and Ninth Amendment rights and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The district court dismissed the suits. The Second Circuit dismissed plaintiff's appeals because they lack an arguable basis either in law or in fact and denied his motions to proceed in forma pauperis for the appointment of counsel and for a writ of certiorari. In this case, plaintiff failed to plausibly allege that defendants engaged in state action by violating his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Furthermore, there is no private cause of action, express or implied, under HIPAA. View "Meadows v. United Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit reversed the district court's grant of defendant's motion for judgment as a matter of law on qualified immunity grounds in an action brought by plaintiff, alleging that defendant, a police officer, used excessive force against plaintiff when he deployed two taser cycles against plaintiff. The court held that, at the time of the incident, the law was clearly established that a police officer cannot use significant force against an individual who is no longer resisting arrest and poses no safety threat. In this case, the evidence allowed the jury to reasonably conclude that plaintiff was no longer resisting arrest and was not a safety threat to the officers or others at the time of defendant's second use of the taser against him. View "Jones v. Treubig" on Justia Law

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SM Kids filed suit against Google and related entities, seeking to enforce a 2008 agreement settling a trademark dispute over the Googles trademark. The agreement prohibited Google from intentionally making material modifications to its then-current offering of products and services in a manner that is likely to create confusion in connection with Googles. The district court concluded that the trademark assignment was invalid, and dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. The Second Circuit vacated the district court's judgment and held that the validity of the trademark was not a jurisdictional matter related to Article III standing but was instead a merits question properly addressed on a motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a motion for summary judgment, or at trial. In this case, the district court erroneously resolved Google's motion as a fact-based motion under Rule 12(b)(1) and considered evidence beyond the complaint, as well as placed on SM Kids the burden of proving subject-matter jurisdiction. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "SM Kids, LLC v. Google LLC" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit granted a petition for review of the BIA's denial of petitioners' third motion to reopen. Petitioners argued that the BIA abused its discretion in denying their motion to reopen because it failed to address their primary evidence of changed country conditions for Christians in Indonesia and incorrectly concluded that their failure to submit a new asylum application with their motion made the motion procedurally deficient under 8 C.F.R. 1003.2(c)(1). The court held that the BIA's one-and-a-half page order failed to account for relevant evidence of changed country conditions. The court also held that section 1003.2(c)(1) does not require the submission of a new asylum application for motions such as this one. Accordingly, the court vacated the BIA's decision and remanded for explicit consideration of the changed country conditions evidence. View "Tanusantoso v. Barr" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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Plaintiffs appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants in an action claiming that Connecticut's Public Act 17-2, as amended by Public Act 18-81, which transfers money from the state's legislatively created energy funds to the general purpose fund, violates the Contract and Equal Protection Clauses of the United States Constitution. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's determination that plaintiffs had no contractual right to prevent the transfer of money to the general purpose fund and that the Act is an allocation of state revenue, not a tax, so that the taxpayer standing doctrine bars plaintiffs' claim. In this case, plaintiffs do not have a contractual right to control transfers from the Energy Fund and thus plaintiffs have failed to plead a violation of the Contract Clause. The court also held that because the transfer of previously collected revenue from the Energy Funds to the General Fund is not a transfer of plaintiffs' property to the state, it cannot constitute a tax. The court explained that, at its core, plaintiffs' argument is that funds previously collected for green energy and conservation initiatives will now be expended for another use, but taxpayers do not have standing to challenge such expenditures. Therefore, the court held that plaintiffs have no standing to proceed with their Equal Protection claim. View "Colon de Mejias v. Lamont" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed Defendants Napout and Marin's convictions for multiple counts of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud. Defendants were former officials of the global soccer organization Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). The court held that defendants' convictions rest upon permissible domestic applications of the wire fraud statute, 18 U.S.C. 1343. Furthermore, the court cannot conclude in light of binding precedent that the district court committed plain error with respect to the issue of whether the honest services wire fraud statute, 18 U.S.C. 1346, is unconstitutionally vague as applied to defendants. The court also held that the evidence presented at trial was sufficient to affirm the district court's judgment of conviction; and that the challenged evidentiary rulings of the district court were not error. Finally, the court held that defendants' remaining arguments are without merit. View "United States v. Napout" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for bank robbery, entering a bank with the intent to commit larceny, and bank larceny. The court held that, in the circumstances presented, dismissal of criminal charges is not the appropriate remedy for a violation of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 5(c) and the magistrate judge's failure to sign the affidavit attached to the criminal complaint did not render the complaint invalid. Rather, the appropriate remedy for a violation of Rule 5(c)(2) is suppression of any post-arrest evidence illegally obtained as a result of the violation of the rule's requirement. In this case, defendant failed to show that his transfer for an initial appearance in violation of Rule 5(c)(2) caused him any prejudice. Furthermore, even though the magistrate judge failed to sign the jurat on the last page of the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, the magistrate judge signed the jurat on the complaint itself, to which the affidavit was attached. Finally, the court held that defendant's remaining evidentiary challenges do not warrant vacatur of his conviction. View "United States v. Peeples" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law