Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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After receiving the answer to two certified questions from the Nevada Supreme Court, the Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's defamation suit. The Nevada Supreme Court held that a hyperlink to source material about a judicial proceeding may suffice as a report within the common law fair report privilege, and that the online petition, as it existed when plaintiff's complaint was filed, fell within the purview of Nevada's fair report privilege. The state court also held that, pursuant to Delucchi v. Songer, 396 P.3d 826 (Nev. 2017), Nevada's anti-SLAPP statute covers communication that is aimed at procuring any governmental or electoral action, result or outcome which is truthful or is made without knowledge of its falsehood, even if that communication was not addressed to a government agency. In this case, plaintiff failed to allege knowledge of falsity, much less facts to support such a conclusion. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiff's request for additional discovery and the district court's application of the anti‐SLAPP statute to this case. View "Adelson v. Harris" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a petition for writ of habeas corpus. Petitioner argued that the introduction at his trial, during the testimony of an expert lab analyst, of a case file concerning DNA testing of petitioner's buccal cheek swab and containing notations made by the expert's coworkers, analysts whom the State did not call to the stand, violated petitioner's Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses against him. The court held that the Supreme Court cases on which petitioner relied neither clearly established his entitlement to cross‐examine the analysts who prepared the informal, unsworn documents in the case file introduced as evidence at his trial, nor provided a basis for concluding that the state court judgment was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established law. View "Washington v. Griffin" on Justia Law

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Although the Second Circuit agreed with the district court that defendant's substantive due process rights were violated when prison officials assigned plaintiff, who was then a pretrial detainee, to Administrative Segregation, the court held that defendants were entitled to qualified immunity. In this case, defendant was discharged from Administrative Segregation and released, arrested again on new drug-related offenses, and then re-admitted into Administrative Segregation. The court held that the law was not clearly established at the time that a substantive due process violation would result from plaintiff's placement in Administrative Segregation based solely on his prior assignment to (and failure to complete) that program. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's judgment for plaintiff. View "Allah v. Milling" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants on his claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and the Fourth and Fifth Amendments for false arrest, malicious prosecution, and violation of due process. Plaintiff's claim stemmed from his arrest and charge in connection with a bar brawl that resulted in one dead victim and another severely injured victim. The Second Circuit held that the district court's grant of summary judgment on the false arrest and malicious prosecution claims was premature, because disputed questions of material fact remained regarding key aspects of the criminal investigation and subsequent prosecution. The panel concluded that those same questions of material fact preclude a grant of qualified immunity at the summary judgment stage. However, the court agreed with the district court that plaintiff's due process claim failed as a matter of law. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, and vacated and remanded in part. View "Dufort v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit reversed the district court's denial of qualified immunity for federal law enforcement authorities in an action for money damages pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), based on alleged Fourth and Fifth Amendment violations in procuring and executing a search warrant. The court held that plaintiff failed to plead a plausible Fourth Amendment claim of unreasonable search and seizure because a corrected affidavit supports both probable cause for and the scope of the challenged search; plaintiff failed to plead a plausible Fifth Amendment claim that fabricated evidence (in the search warrant affidavit) deprived him of property without due process because the warrant would have issued on a corrected affidavit and thus any deprivation of the seized property was not the result of the fabricated evidence; plaintiff could not plausibly plead that defendants' alleged failure to intercede in the challenged search caused him preventable constitutional harm; plaintiff failed to plead any clearly established right to have federal officials state in a search warrant affidavit whether each referenced person is or is not then a target of investigation, nor a right to have federal officials so state after the fact if the search becomes public knowledge; and plaintiff failed to plead sufficient facts as to the supervisor defendants' personal involvement in the submission of any misstatements to the magistrate judge. Accordingly, the court remanded for entry of judgment for defendants. View "Ganek v. Leibowitz" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit reversed the district court's denial of the police's motion for qualified immunity. Plaintiff, a teenaged train enthusiast, was stopped and handcuffed after the police department received a 911 report that someone holding an electronic device was bending down by the tracks at a rail crossing. The court held that it could not be said that every reasonable officer in their circumstances would know that the conduct complained of violated clearly established law. In this case, plaintiff's unlawful arrest claim failed because his handcuffing was an investigatory detention that never ripened into an arrest and was supported by reasonable suspicion; if Officers McVeigh and Farina had a duty to intervene, that duty was not clearly established and defendants were entitled to qualified immunity on the failure to intercede claim; and defendants were entitled to qualified immunity on a supervisory liability claim. View "Grice v. McVeigh" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a former West Point cadet who alleged that she was sexually assaulted by a fellow cadet, filed suit against the United States and others, pleading four causes of action, including a claim against Lieutenant General Hagenbeck and Brigadier General Rapp brought pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), on the basis of their alleged violation of equal protection rights protected by the Fifth Amendment. The Second Circuit reversed the district court's determination as to the viability of the Bivens claim and joined the DC Circuit and the Fourth Circuit in holding that no Bivens remedy was available in this case. The court explained that the Supreme Court has made clear that it is for Congress to determine whether affording a money damages remedy is appropriate for a claim of the sort that plaintiff asserted. The court remanded to the district court with instructions to dismiss the equal protection claim. View "Doe v. Hagenbeck" on Justia Law

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Oyster Bay's ordinance regulating the roadside solicitation of employment violates the First Amendment. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's order granting injunctive relief to two entities that work to advance the interest of day laborers in the area. As a preliminary matter, the court held that plaintiffs had standing. On the merits, the court held that the ordinance restricted speech based on content and was subject to the First Amendment. Applying the Central Hudson test, the court held that the ordinance was a content-based restriction on commercial speech that was not narrowly drawn because it broadly impacted protected speech and only narrowly addressed the Town's stated interest. The ordinance did not require any connection between the prohibited speech—solicitation of employment—and the asserted interest—traffic and pedestrian safety. The court also held that arguments as to severability were waived where, as here, a party failed to raise the issue. View "Centro de la Comunidad Hispana de Locust Valley v. Oyster Bay" on Justia Law

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The notice of termination itself constitutes an adverse employment action, even when the employer later rescinds the termination. The Second Circuit held that plaintiff's notice of termination in this case was itself an adverse employment action, despite its later revocation; likewise, the court saw no reason to construe plaintiff's Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) claim differently from her Title VII claim with respect to whether the rescission of a notice of termination given to a pregnant employee establishes as a matter of law that the notice may not constitute an adverse employment action; the facts alleged were insufficient to establish constructive discharge nor a hostile work environment; plaintiff's retaliation claim was properly dismissed; and because plaintiff did state a plausible claim of discriminatory termination, and interference with her FMLA rights, the district court should reconsider on remand its decision to decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state and city law claims. Accordingly, the court vacated in part and remanded, and affirmed in all other respects. View "Shultz v. Shearith" on Justia Law

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Defendants, the City of New York and NYPD officers, filed an interlocutory appeal challenging the district court's denial of their motion for judgment on the pleadings. At issue was whether the NYPD officers were entitled to qualified immunity from plaintiff's false arrest and imprisonment claim under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and whether the court should exercise pendant jurisdiction over plaintiff's state law claims against defendants. The court held that, because the officers had arguable probable cause to arrest plaintiff for obstructing governmental administration, 19 N.Y. Penal Law 195.05, and refusing to comply with a lawful order to disperse, N.Y. Penal Law 240.20(6), they were entitled to qualified immunity. Accordingly, the court reversed as to the federal and state false arrest and imprisonment claims, and dismissed the remainder of the appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction. View "Kass v. City of New York" on Justia Law