Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit alleging that two Monroe County Assistant District Attorneys (ADA), and others, violated his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by failing to timely arraign him on four of six identity fraud and larceny charges. The Second Circuit reversed the district court's denial of absolute immunity to the ADAs, holding that they were performing a traditional prosecutorial function when they determined that they would initiate plaintiff's prosecution via grand jury indictment and thus delay his arraignment on separate individual charges. The court held that it lacked appellate jurisdiction to consider the district court's denial of Monroe County's motion to dismiss because these claims against the county were not inextricably intertwined with the issue of the ADA's immunity. View "Ogunkoya v. Drake" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs appealed the district court's holding that the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) preempted a two-tiered security bond provision contained in New York City Local Law 62 for the Year 2015, entitled the Car Wash Accountability Law. The law reduced the required bond amount when an applicant seeking a license to operate a car wash in New York City was a party to a collective bargaining agreement providing certain protections. The Second Circuit vacated the district court's order, holding that the district court erred in granting summary judgment on federal preemption prior to the completion of discovery. Accordingly, the court remanded the case so that the parties could take discovery. View "Association of Car Wash Owners Inc. v. City of New York" on Justia Law

by
The Second Circuit reversed the district court's denial of defendant's motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity. Defendant, a police officer, tased a student at the American School for the Deaf after giving the student warnings that he would be tased if he did not follow the officer's instructions. The court held that defendant was entitled to qualified immunity because it was objectively reasonable for him to believe that, given the undisputed facts, his conduct complied with clearly established law. In this case, the student was a threat to himself and others, and the officer had a reasonable basis to believe that his instructions and warnings were being conveyed to the student by faculty and the student was ignoring them. View "Muschette v. Gionfriddo" on Justia Law

by
The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's complaint under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that defendants retaliated against him in violation of his First Amendment rights after he filed a report that a fellow sergeant in the Sheriff's Department had misused a digital repository of criminal justice information, and infringed his right to intimate familial association with his sister. The court held that defendants were entitled to qualified immunity because a reasonable officer would not have known that it was clearly established law that defendant's speech constituted a matter of public concern. The court also held that defendant failed to allege any facts that would allow a reasonable jury to infer that defendants intentionally interfered with defendant's relationship with his sister. View "Gorman v. Rensselaer County" on Justia Law

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
The Second Circuit vacated the district court's grant of defendant's 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion and resentence to a lesser term of imprisonment than was initially imposed. The court held that defendant failed to meet his heavy burden of demonstrating a miscarriage of justice where frustration of a sentencing judge's subjective intent did not, by itself, render a sentence a miscarriage of justice to support a cognizable collateral challenge to that sentence. In this case, defendant pleaded guilty to one count of knowingly and intentionally distributing cocaine base, a schedule II controlled substance. In accordance with the plea agreement, defendant was sentenced to 112 months in prison. After defendant was sentenced, his conviction on a predicate offense was vacated and then became the basis of his section 2255 motion. View "United States v. Hoskins" on Justia Law

by
Miller and Jenkins entered into a civil union in Vermont in 2000. In 2002, Miller gave birth to IMJ. Miller took IMJ to Virginia. Jenkins remained in Vermont. In 2003, a Vermont court dissolved the union and awarded custody to Miller. Miller repeatedly refused to respect Jenkins’ visitation rights. Following several contempt citations, the Vermont court awarded sole custody to Jenkins in 2009. While the litigation was pending, Miller kidnapped IMJ, fleeing to Nicaragua. The government issued subpoenas under the Stored Communications Act 18 U.S.C. 2703(c)(2), rather than a court‐approved warrant, to a cell phone company, seeking billing records spanning 28 months and other information. As confirmed by Zodhiates’ cell phone and email records, which were introduced at trial, Zodhiates drove Miller and IMJ from Virginia to Buffalo, where they crossed into Ontario. Miller remains a fugitive. Zodhiates coordinated delivery of Miller's personal items to Nicaragua. Zodhiates was convicted of conspiring with and aiding and abetting Miller to obstruct the lawful exercise of parental rights, International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act, 18 U.S.C. 371, 1204, and 2. The district court declined to suppress inculpatory location information garnered from his cell phone records. The Second Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments under the Fourth Amendment and that the charge to the jury, referring to Vermont family law, denied Zodhiates a fair trial. The court noted that in 2011 a warrant was not required for cell records so the government acted in good faith. View "United States v. Zodhiates" on Justia Law

by
The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants in an action alleging that defendants took adverse employment action against plaintiff in violation of the First Amendment in retaliation for her giving advice to a co-worker who was being arrested by campus police. The court declined to apply the law of the case doctrine where the district court initially entered an order denying defendants' motion for summary judgment before changing its mind, because plaintiff did not point to any prejudice she suffered by reason of the change of ruling and the court saw no impropriety in the district court's exercise of its discretion to revisit its earlier denial of summary judgment. On the merits, the court held that defendants were protected from both liability and the obligation to defend the case because of qualified immunity. In this case, there was no clearly established law to the effect that plaintiff's speech was on a matter of public concern. View "Colvin v. Keen" on Justia Law