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

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Appellant, a law firm, challenged the district court’s order affirming the bankruptcy court’s denial of the firm’s request for appellate attorneys’ fees. The bankruptcy court determined that it lacked the authority to award appellate attorneys’ fees, and the district court agreed.The Second Circuit vacated the order of the district court with instructions to remand to the bankruptcy court to consider whether appellate fees ought to be awarded. The court held that a bankruptcy court’s traditional power to impose contempt sanctions carries with it the authority to award damages and attorneys’ fees – including appellate attorneys’ fees. The court reasoned that it is well settled that a bankruptcy court may compensate a debtor for a creditor’s violation of its discharge order. Further, the failure to compensate the victim of contempt with appellate fees could leave the victim worse off for seeking to enforce a discharge order and would, at the very least, discount any compensatory damages award. Thus, the court found that the bankruptcy court’s denial of Appellant’s request for appellate fees was based on an erroneous view of the law and was, therefore, an abuse of discretion. View "In re: DiBattista" on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy
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Defendant appealed the district court’s judgment revoking his term of supervised release and sentencing him to a total term of 28 months imprisonment for violations of multiple conditions of his supervised release. On appeal, Defendant challenged his revocation on Specification Four, which alleged that, on May 12, 2019, Defendant committed the state crime of second-degree assault in violation of New York Penal Law Section 120.05(2) by striking his ex-girlfriend (“J.D.”) with a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument—namely, a glass bottle.The Second Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that Defendant committed Specification Four by a preponderance of the evidence or by finding good cause to admit the out-of-court statement under Rule 32.1(b)(2)(c). In addition, the majority disagreed with the dissent’s conclusion that because the charged supervised release violations subjected Defendant to imprisonment for more than one year based on new conduct for which he was never federally indicted, the violation proceedings constitute a new prosecution that violated Defendant Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights. Finally, as to Specification Nine, the court agreed with the parties that the written judgment conflicted with the district court’s oral ruling that the alleged violation had been proven, and that the oral ruling controls. View "United States v. Peguero" on Justia Law

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Petitioner appealed the district court's order entered dismissing his petition to vacate an arbitration award. The Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA") requires that notice of a motion to vacate an arbitration award be served within three months of the date the arbitration award is filed or delivered. Counsel sent notice of the petition to vacate the arbitration award to Respondent late on the last day of the three-month period, but counsel did so by email. The district court granted Respondent’s motion to dismiss, concluding that service was improper and untimely. On appeal, Petitioner contended that service was proper because Respondent had agreed to email service in the underlying arbitration and that the consent carried over to the judicial proceedings to vacate the award.     The Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling dismissing the petition and held that email service of a notice of a petition to vacate was ineffective under 9 U.S.C. Section 12 and Fed. R. Civ. P. 5. The court reasoned that Section 12 contains no exception to the three-month limitations period. Further, under Rule 5, a party may serve papers by email only if the person being served has "consented" to service by email "in writing."  Here, Petitioner’s counsel had not asked Respondent’s counsel for consent to email service, and Respondent’s counsel had not provided consent to email service in writing, as required by Rule 5. Further, AAA Employment Arbitration Rules and Mediation Procedures 38(a)-(b) does not contemplate email service. View "Dalla-Longa v. Magnetar Capital LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sued Nassau County (the “County”) and five “John Doe” law enforcement officers (the County and the individuals together, “Defendants”) for alleged constitutional violations arising from their enforcement of New York Penal Law Section 400.00(11)(c). Plaintiff alleged that the County’s policy interpreting and applying Section 400.00(11)(c) is broader than the law itself and unconstitutional as it was applied to him. The district court disagreed finding that the County acted to enforce a mandatory provision of state law and as a result was not a proper defendant under Vives v. City of New York, 524 F.3d 346 (2d Cir. 2008). It granted Defendants’ motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff’s First, Second, and Fourth Amendment claims, related Monell claims, and Section 1983 conspiracy claim.   The Second Circuit affirmed in part, except to the extent that it failed to reach an adequate determination on the County’s longarms possession policy, the district court’s order granting Defendants’ motion for summary judgment. The court reasoned that in requiring Plaintiff to surrender his longarms after his conviction, Nassau County was reasonably applying state law, not crafting its own independent firearm surrender policy untethered to the Penal Law.  Further, Plaintiff’s Fourth and Second Amendment claims fail because the County is not the proper defendant to Plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment claim and even if the County were the proper defendant to this challenge, it is uncertain that the County “seized” his longarms within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, much less unreasonably seized them. View "Juzumas v. Nassau County" on Justia Law

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Petitioner sought review of a Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) decision finding her ineligible for cancellation of removal because of her 2014 New York conviction for attempted second-degree money laundering. Petitioner entered the United States without inspection in 1995. In 2014, she pleaded guilty under a plea agreement to attempted money laundering in the second degree. The agreement provided that she would receive a sentence of “time served.” Days later, the Department of Homeland Security served Petitioner with a Notice to Appear, charging her as removable for having entered the United States without inspection. Petitioner did not contest removability.   The Second Circuit granted Petitioner’s review of the Board of Immigration Appeals decision affirming the denial of Petitioner’s application for cancellation of removal. The court held that because the crime of conviction lacks the requisite scienter, it is not a crime involving moral turpitude. The court reasoned that the INA provides that aliens convicted of, or who admit having committed, or who admit committing acts that constitute the essential elements of a crime involving moral turpitude are ineligible for cancellation of removal. To determine whether a crime is a CIMT, the agency asks whether the act is accompanied by a vicious motive or a corrupt mind. Both the circuit court and the BIA have made clear that the indispensable component of a CIMT is evil intent. Here, the knowledge required for conviction under Petitioner’s crime falls well short of the depravity described by the BIA as requisite for a CIMT. View "Jang v. Garland" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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Movant, IJK Palm LLC filed a motion in the district court seeking discovery under 28 U.S.C. Section 1782 from several companies and individuals for use in a suit it intended to file in the Cayman Islands. After IJK filed its request under Section 1782, the company on behalf of which IJK intended to sue, entered liquidation proceedings.   In the Cayman Islands, only a company’s official liquidator may ordinarily sue on the company’s behalf. IJK proposes three avenues through which it might nevertheless use the material it requests. The district court granted IJK’s discovery request. The Second Circuit reversed the district court’s ruling granting Movant’s discovery request. The court held that Movant has not established that it is an “interested person” with respect to its first proposed suit and that it has not established that the material it requests is “for use” in any of its proposed suits within the meaning of Section 1782. View "IJK Palm LLC v. Anholt Services USA, Inc. et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, who deliver baked goods in designated territories in Connecticut, brought an action on behalf of a putative class against the manufacturer of the baked goods that Plaintiffs deliver. The district court compelled arbitration pursuant to an arbitration agreement that is governed by the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) and Connecticut law. Plaintiffs claimed that they are not subject to the FAA because Section 1 of the FAA excludes contracts with “seamen, railroad employees, [and] any other class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce.” 9 U.S.C. Section 1. The exclusion is construed to cover “transportation workers.”   The Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision ordering arbitration and dismissing Plaintiff’s lawsuit against Defendant for unpaid or withheld wages, unpaid overtime wages, and unjust enrichment. The court held that Plaintiffs did not qualify as transportation workers.The court reasoned that though Plaintiffs spend appreciable parts of their working days moving goods from place to place by truck, the stores and restaurants are not buying the movement of the baked goods, so long as they arrive. The charges are for the baked goods themselves, and the movement of those goods is at most a component of the total price. The commerce is in breads, buns, rolls, and snack cakes--not transportation services. View "Bissonnette v. LePage Bakeries" on Justia Law

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Petitioner was convicted of manslaughter for administering a fatal dose of prescription medication to her son. The courtroom was closed to spectators for fifteen minutes, during which the prosecutor addressed a website and an email detailing complaint by Petitioner that her trial was unfair. Petitioner moved to set aside her conviction on the ground that her Sixth Amendment right to a public trial had been violated. The district court, on a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, concluded that the Appellate Division had unreasonably applied clearly established federal law in holding that there was no Sixth Amendment violation.   The Second Circuit reversed the district court’s order granting Petitioner’s writ and remanded with instructions to the district court to deny the petition. The court held that the ruling of the New York Appellate Division was not "contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States.”  The court reasoned that Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA") claims are "adjudicated on the merits" if the state court ruled on the substance of the claim rather than on a procedural ground. Further, a writ cannot be granted "simply because . . . the relevant state-court decision applied clearly established federal law erroneously or incorrectly." The court concluded that based on the relevant Supreme Court decisions, there are at least reasonable arguments supporting the Appellate Division's ruling, which is enough to preclude habeas relief. View "Jordan v. Lamanna" on Justia Law

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Petitioner challenged an order of removal based on his violation of a court protection order and moved for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, appointment of counsel, and a stay of removal. Respondent, in turn, moved to expedite the petition.The Second Circuit dismissed Petitioner’s petition for review of a removal order based on his violation of a court protection order. The court held that removability under 8 U.S.C. Section 1227(a)(2)(E)(ii) is determined by a circumstance-specific inquiry as to whether a court found a particular alien’s conduct to violate a protection order then applicable to him, and whether that violation pertained to a provision of the order involving protection against credible threats of violence, repeated harassment, or bodily injury to the person for whom the protection order was issued. Here, because Petitioner’s arguments to the contrary lack any arguable basis in law or fact, and because his other challenges to removability and to the denial of cancellation of removal are similarly frivolous, the court dismissed his petition and denied all motions, both by the Petitioner and the Respondent, as moot. View "Alvarez v. Garland" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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Appellants, heirs to the late songwriter and record producer Hugo Peretti, appealed from the district court’s order dismissing Appellants’ action, which sought a declaratory judgment that Appellants had validly terminated a 1983 grant of rights in the copyright to the hit song “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” The district court dismissed the action, holding that the grant was not “executed by the author” under Section 203 of the Copyright Act of 1976 and therefore that Appellants had no statutory right to terminate the grant.   The Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling and held that Section 203 of the Copyright Act of 1976 applies only to grants executed by the author. While Hugo Peretti’s signature is affixed to the grant document at issue, the interests at issue are the contingent rights held and transferred to the Appellees’ predecessors-in-interest by Peretti’s spouse and children, the grant of which was not and cannot be executed by the author.  The court reasoned that while Hugo Peretti’s signature is on the 1983 Assignment, he cannot have executed a grant transferring rights, such as those owned by his family members, that he did not hold. Rather, his signature on the grant document transfers only his own contingent right to the renewal term, while his wife’s and daughters’ signatures transferred their respective contingent rights. Thus, because Hugo Peretti died before his contingent right vested, the rights transferred to Appellee’s predecessors-in-interest were the contingent rights held by his wife and daughter. View "Peretti v. Authentic Brands Group, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Copyright