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

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Plaintiff, the Clerk of Erie County, filed suit alleging that he could be prosecuted under federal immigration law for performing certain duties under New York's Driver's License Access and Privacy Act (the "Green Light Law"), which establishes certain policies and procedures related to standard licenses. The Green Light Law directs the New York State DMV to accept various foreign documents as proof of identification and age for standard licenses, and prohibits DMV from inquiring about the immigration status of standard-license applicants; restricts DMV’s retention and use of certain applicant information; and requires that within three days of receiving a request for information or records from federal immigration authorities, DMV provide written notification to the subject of the request and inform the person of the identity of the requesting agency. New York law designates certain county clerks as agents of the DMV Commissioner and assigns them discrete functions in that regard. Plaintiff challenges the licensing, nondisclosure, and notification provisions of the Green Light Law.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the suit based on lack of Article III standing, holding that compliance with the state law would not expose plaintiff to a credible threat of prosecution under federal law. The court explained that the REAL ID Act permits states to issue noncompliant licenses provided that they meet certain requirements, which do not include the verification of lawful status. Furthermore, 6 C.F.R. 16 37.71(a), promulgated by DHS, permits states that issue REAL ID Act-compliant licenses also to issue licenses "that are not acceptable by Federal agencies for official purposes," provided they meet certain requirements. The court concluded that the theory that issuing standard licenses constitutes criminal harboring is directly at odds with federal law that expressly permits the issuance of such licenses, and thus plaintiff lacks standing to challenge the licensing provisions of the Green Light Law. The court also concluded that plaintiff lacks standing to challenge the nondisclosure and notification provisions of the Green Light Law. Finally, the court concluded that the threat that plaintiff will be removed from office is speculative. For largely the same reasons that he lacks standing in his individual capacity, plaintiff lacks standing in his official capacity. The court considered plaintiff's remaining arguments and found them to be without merit. View "Kearns v. Cuomo" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for one count of escape. The court held that venue was proper in the Western District of New York where, on the undisputed facts of this case, the extended limits of defendant's confinement required him to report to the VOA RRC in Rochester, New York by a designated time and his failure to appear there as required constituted an escape from the custody of the Attorney General under 18 U.S.C. 751(a) and 4082.The court also held that the district court's statements regarding defendant being in custody did not violate his right to a fair and impartial trial in violation of due process, and the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying a mistrial. Finally, the court held that defendant failed to show a reasonable probability that a lower criminal history category and advisory range would have affected the ultimate sentence imposed; defendant also failed to show plain error in the district court's calculation of his guidelines range; the court upheld special conditions of supervised release that relate to substance abuse and mental health programs, construing the conditions to provide that the requirement that defendant contribute to services rendered is contingent upon a finding that he is able to pay such a contribution; and the court declined to consider defendant's challenge to the standard risk-notification condition. View "United States v. Rasheed" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's 55-year sentence imposed for his conviction of participating in a pattern of racketeering activity evidenced by his role in the murder of four teenagers. Defendant was 15 years old at the time of the offense and a member of the MS-13 gang when he participated in the execution-style murders of four members of a rival gang.The court assumed, for purposes of this appeal, that the district court was required to consider the factors in Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), in determining that a sentence of 55 years, not subject to parole, was warranted for a defendant fifteen years old at the time of the homicide crimes. Even with this assumption, the court concluded that the district court considered the Miller factors and reasonably concluded that a further departure was not warranted. Acknowledging the broad scope of a sentencing judge's discretion and taking into account the care taken by the sentencing judge in exercising that discretion, the court concluded that defendant's sentence is not unreasonable in any legally cognizable sense. Finally, the court noted that defendant's sentence illustrates the unfortunate consequences of eliminating parole. Nevertheless, it is a sentence that a conscientious district judge concluded was appropriate and, upon review, the court affirmed. The court considered defendant's remaining arguments and found them to be without merit. View "United States v. Portillo" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of the Oneida Indian Nation of New York's motion for judgment on the pleadings for its claims asserting a tribal right to possession of land under the Indian Commerce Clause (ICC), federal treaties and statutes, and federal common law. This action arose from a disputed tract of 19.6 acres of land in the Town of Vernon in Oneida County, New York, over which both the Nation and defendant assert ownership.The court granted the district court's decision and order granting the Nation's motion to dismiss defendant's counterclaim. The court held that: (1) the district court correctly granted the Nation's motion for judgment on the pleadings because title was not properly transferred to defendant, and defendant's defenses do not raise any issues of material fact that would preclude the requested declaratory and injunctive relief sought by the Nation; and (2) the district court did not err by declining to apply an immovable property exception to tribal sovereign immunity in dismissing defendant's counterclaim. View "Oneida Indian Nation v. Phillips" on Justia Law

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The district court granted summary judgment for plaintiff in a derivative suit on behalf of 1-800-Flowers.com against Master Fund, ruling that Master Fund was the beneficial owner of more than ten percent of the shares of 1-800-Flowers, Inc., which were bought and sold within a period of six months, and requiring Master Fund to disgorge $4,909,393 in short-swing profits for violating section 16(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Master Fund appealed and plaintiff cross-appealed.The Second Circuit concluded that factual questions remain on the issue of Master Fund's beneficial ownership and therefore remanded. In this case, RCM is a registered investment advisor; Master Fund, Offshore, and QP are customers of RCM; and William C. Martin holds positions in RCM, Master Fund, and Offshore, and indirectly has a role in QP. The relationship among RCM, Master Fund, Offshore, and QP is governed by an Investment Management Agreement (IMA), which was signed by Martin on behalf of all four parties to the agreement.The court concluded that it would be inconsistent with principles concerning section 16(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to accept the district court's first reason for rejecting Master Fund's delegation of voting and investing authority to RCM. The court explained that, although Rule 13d-3(a) includes within the definition of a beneficial owner "any person who, directly or indirectly, through any contract, arrangement, understanding, relationship, or otherwise has" voting or investment authority, 17 C.F.R. 240.13d-3(a), using generalized wording such as "intertwined" or "not unaffiliated" to bring a person within the coverage of Rule 13d-3(a) would extend the reach of section 16(b) beyond the text of both the statute and the rule. The court also concluded that making an investment advisor a customer's agent for the specified purpose of carrying out the advisor's traditional functions for a customer does not make the advisor an agent for all purposes. Finally, the court concluded that there remains to be determined as a factual matter whether, under all the relevant circumstances, Martin is in control of Master Fund and the feeder funds with authority to commit these entities to altering or terminating the IMA. View "Packer v. Raging Capital Management, LLC" on Justia Law

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CFC appealed the district court's dismissal based on summary judgment of its complaint alleging trademark infringement, trademark dilution, and unfair competition by Energizer. CFC contends that its trademark for automobile air fresheners, consisting of the words "Black Ice," is infringed and diluted by Energizer's sale of products labeled with the words "Midnight Black Ice Storm" and that its trademark, consisting of the words "Bayside Breeze," is infringed and diluted by Energizer's sale of products labeled with the words "Boardwalk Breeze."The Second Circuit concluded that the record developed by CFC sufficed to withstand Energizer's motion for summary judgment with respect to CFC's mark "Black Ice" but not its mark "Bayside Breeze." Accordingly, the court reversed the grant of summary judgment for Energizer on CFC's federal trademark infringement claim with respect to its "Black Ice" mark; affirmed the grant of summary judgment for Energizer on CFC's federal trademark infringement claim with respect to the "Bayside Breeze" mark; affirmed the grant of summary judgment for Energizer on CFC's federal trademark dilution claim with respect to both marks; reversed the grant of summary judgment for Energizer on CFC's state law claims with respect to the "Black Ice" mark; and affirmed the grant of summary judgment for Energizer on CFC's state law claims with respect to the "Bayside Breeze" mark. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Car-Freshner Corp. v. American Covers, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit originally resolved the motions that are the subject of this opinion in an order entered November 9, 2020. Except in unusual circumstances, the court resolves such motions by order, not opinion. The court converted the original order and the dissent into opinions per the dissent's request.These appeals challenge Governor Andrew Cuomo's issuance of an executive order directing the New York State Department of Health to identify yellow, orange, and red "zones" based on the severity of COVID-19 outbreaks and imposing correspondingly severe restrictions on activity within each zone. Appellants, Agudath Israel and the Diocese, each challenged the executive order as a violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. After the district court denied appellants' motion for a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the order, appellants moved for emergency injunctions pending appeal and to expedite their appeals.Preliminarily, the Second Circuit concluded that Agudath Israel did not move first in the district court for an order granting an injunction while an appeal is pending before filing with this court its present motion for an injunction pending appeal. Rather, Agudath Israel moved for a preliminary injunction pending the district court’s final judgment. Furthermore, Agudath Israel has not explained or otherwise justified its failure to comply with the straightforward requirement of Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 8(a). Agudath Israel has also failed to demonstrate that moving first in the district court would be impracticable, or even futile, particularly in light of the fact that a full eleven days elapsed after the district court's ruling before Agudath Israel sought relief from this court. Therefore, the court denied Agudath Israel's motion for procedural reasons.The court also denied the Diocese's motion, concluding that appellants cannot clear the high bar necessary to obtain an injunction pending appeal. The court stated that, while it is true that the challenged order burdens appellants' religious practices, the order is not substantially underinclusive given its greater or equal impact on schools, restaurants, and comparable secular public gatherings. To the contrary, the executive order extends well beyond isolated groups of religious adherents to encompass both secular and religious conduct. View "Agudath Israel of America v. Cuomo" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against the county, the sheriff's department, and Defendant Foti and Santacroce, alleging claims in connection with Foti's alleged sexual harassment and sexual assault of female inmates at the Suffolk County Correctional Facility.Construing the evidence in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, the Second Circuit held that summary judgment on the Monell claim was unwarranted because there was sufficient evidence in the record to create a material issue of disputed fact as to whether supervisory officials at the Riverhead Facility consistently ignored Foti's widespread pattern of sexual assaults and sexual harassment of female inmates, such that it constructively supported the inference that policymakers, at the very least, had a custom or practice of acquiescing to Foti's sexual misconduct. The court vacated the district court's dismissal of Plaintiffs Lucente and Culoso's claims against Suffolk County and the individual defendants. In this case, there is evidence upon which the continuing violation doctrine can apply as to all of the 42 U.S.C. 1983 claims and there is evidence of sexual assault and/or sexual harassment by Foti against Lucente and Culoso within the limitations period. However, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment as to Plaintiff Viola's claims for failure to exhaust administrative remedies under the Prison Litigation Reform Act. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Lucente v. County of Suffolk" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit reversed in part the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's amended complaint, alleging claims of unreasonable force applied by security personnel endeavoring to remove a plaintiff, a former professional basketball player and spectator, from Madison Square Garden.The court held that plaintiff's allegations sufficed to defeat a motion to dismiss the assault and battery claims in the amended complaint. In this case, plaintiff alleges that he was "thrown to the ground" by actions that "greatly exceeded the amount of force that was necessary" and "clearly exceeded the bounds of reasonable behavior," and that he "has suffered and continues to suffer harm." The court explained that the reasonable inference to be drawn is that plaintiff has been subjected to an unreasonable amount of force. The court reversed as to the causes of action for assault and battery and affirmed as to other causes of action in a summary order filed this date, remanding for further proceedings. View "Oakley v. Dolan" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for international parental kidnapping and passport fraud. After determining that defendant's vagueness challenge fails insofar as it is premised on deficient notice, the court held that the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act (IPKCA) is not unconstitutionally vague as applied to him. In this case, the IPKCA is not unconstitutionally vague as applied to someone who retains children abroad without first abducting them, when the children had not been in the United States for several years prior to the unlawful retention.The court also held that the district court properly applied two Sentencing Guidelines enhancements for substantial interference with the administration of justice and for fraudulent use of a United States passport. View "United States v. Houtar" on Justia Law