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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's grant of a petition for a writ of habeas corpus based on ineffective assistance of counsel. The court held that, given the strong evidence of petitioner's guilty, he failed to show that his defense was constitutionally prejudiced by trial counsel's conduct. In this case, there was no basis for concluding that petitioner established a substantial likelihood of a different result, even if his attorney had obtained the phone records at issue prior to trial. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Garner v. Lee" on Justia Law

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Under the circumstances of this case, copyright registration, without more, does not trigger accrual of an ownership claim under section 205(c) of the Copyright Act. The Second Circuit denied a petition for rehearing in a dispute over ownership of the renewal term copyrights of certain musical compositions and sound recordings. The court had previously vacated the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss for untimeliness under section 205(c) and remanded for further proceedings. View "Wilson v. Dynatone Publishing Co." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' motions for judgment on the pleadings in an action alleging malicious prosecution and denial of equal protection of the laws. The court held that New York State law could not alter the standard that applied to the "favorable termination" element of a federal constitutional claim of malicious prosecution, which required that plaintiff show that the proceedings ended in a manner that affirmatively indicated his innocence. In this case, plaintiff has not plausibly pleaded that the criminal proceedings against him were terminated in a manner that indicated he was innocent of the charges. The court also held that plaintiff failed to state a claim under the equal protection clause. View "Lanning v. City of Glens Falls" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated defendant's conviction of charges related to his involvement in an insider trading scheme where he provided material, nonpublic information to his father. At issue was the so-called "silver platter statement," where defendant purportedly told his father that he expected his father to invest based upon information to which defendant had access through his work as an investment banker. The court held that excluding the father's post-arrest FBI interview was not harmless. In this case, defendant should not have been precluded from impeaching the silver platter statement. The court held that, because the impeachment material might have undermined the silver platter statement in the eyes of the jury, it risked leaving the government with a substantially weaker case as to defendant's intent such that a guilty verdict would be far from assured. View "United States v. Stewart" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for conspiring to engage in racketeering in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The court held that the government was not precluded from using acquitted substantive offenses as racketeering predicates in the second RICO conspiracy charge; the government was not precluded from using acquitted non-RICO conspiracy offenses as racketeering predicates in the second RICO conspiracy charge; and the district court properly admitted evidence from the first trial because the evidence was used for different, non-precluded purposes in the second trial. The court also held that the district court did not err by allowing a transcript that identified defendant as the speaker to serve as a jury aid with respect to the properly-admitted recording, and in allowing the transcript to be reviewed by the jury during its deliberations. Finally, the court rejected defendant's claim of cumulative error. View "United States v. Zemlyansky" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence issued on remand, holding that the district court effectively complied with the court's instruction to significantly reduce defendant's sentence and the sentence was now within the realm of reasonableness. In this case, defendant pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of children and receipt of child pornography, and was originally sentenced primarily to 30 years in prison and a lifetime of supervised release. After remand for resentencing, the district court disagreed with the court's analysis but found that defendant's exemplary record as an inmate justified a reduction to 25 years. View "United States v. Sawyer" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's motions for supervised release or bail pending resolution of his motion to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. 2255. The court held that a certificate of appealability was not required when appealing from orders in a habeas proceeding that are collateral to the merits of the habeas claim itself, including the denial of bail. In this case, the absence of a COA was not a bar to petitioner's appeal from the district court's order denying his motion for supervised release or bail pending resolution of his habeas petition. The court also held that petitioner's motion lacked merit because it did not present substantial questions and petitioner failed to demonstrate extraordinary circumstances. View "Illarramendi v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit held that a petition filed in New York Supreme Court under N.Y. C.P.L.R. 3102(c) was not a "civil action" removable to federal court under 28 U.S.C. 1441, 1446. The court affirmed the district court's grant of petitioner's motion to remand the case to state court. In this case, the district court held that it lacked federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1331 over a New York Civil Practice Law and Rules 3102(c) special proceeding for pre‐action disclosure and that diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1332 was barred under 28 U.S.C. 1441(b)'s "forum defendant" rule. View "Teamsters Local 404 Health Services & Insurance Plan v. King Pharmaceuticals, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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A 1988 consent order settled a suit brought by plaintiff against past and then present members of the rock band known as Lynyrd Skynyrd, seeking to clarify each party's rights with respect to the use of the name "Lynyrd Skynyrd" and their rights to make films about the band and their own lives. In this case, the Second Circuit vacated the district court's judgment and vacated its permanent injunction prohibiting distribution of a film about the band and other related activities, holding that the terms of the consent order were inconsistent, or at lease insufficiently precise, to support an injunction. The court reasoned that, even though the injunction has allegedly been imposed as a result of private contract rather than government censorship, it nonetheless restrained the viewing of an expressive work prior to its public availability, and courts should always be hesitant to approve such an injunction. The court held that the injunction restricted the actions of an entity that was not a party to the contract that was alleged to be the source of the restriction; Cleopatra in this case. Furthermore, the film told a story about the history of the band, as well as the experience of Artimus Pyle with the band. The court held that provisions of a consent decree that both prohibit a movie about such a history and also permit a movie about such an experience were sufficiently inconsistent, or at least insufficiently specific, to support an injunction. View "Ronnie Van Zant, Inc. v. Cleopatra Records, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of the government's motion under Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 35 for a reduction in sentence. The court held that the district court applied the proper two-step test in evaluating the Rule 35(b) motion. In this case, although defendant provided substantial assistance to the government, he had already received the benefit of his cooperation, he continued to engage in criminal activity while on presentence release, and he lied to the court with respect to his substantial additional criminal conduct. The court also held that the district court did not err in considering the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors in step two in deciding whether to reduce defendant's sentence in light of his cooperation. View "United States v. Katsman" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law