Justia U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Military Law
Persad v. Barr
Petitioner, a legal permanent resident, sought review of an agency order of removal based on a finding that he committed an "aggravated felony" within the meaning of 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43)(G). Under section 1101(a)(43)(G), to establish an aggravated felony, the government must show by clear and convincing evidence that a noncitizen committed a "theft offense" that resulted in a term of imprisonment of "at least one year." Petitioner was a member of the U.S. Army when he pleaded guilty to four violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), one of which was larceny of military property. Under the military's customary practice of unitary sentencing at the time, the military judge issued a general sentence that imposed a punishment for all four of petitioner's convictions for 30 months' confinement. The Second Circuit held that, under the military's traditional unitary sentencing scheme, a military judgment in which a single sentence of confinement is imposed in connection with multiple counts of conviction may not be presumed to be equivalent to equal, full‐term, concurrent sentences as to each count of conviction. Because the government has not carried its burden, the court granted the petition for review and remanded for further proceedings. View "Persad v. Barr" on Justia Law
American Civil Liberties Union v. United States Department of Defense
The Army took photographs of detainees at military detention facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq after September 11, 2001. The ACLU sought records related to the treatment of detainees with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request submitted to the Department of Defense (DoD) and filed suit in 2004, after receiving no response. The district court ordered the government to produce or identify all responsive documents and ordered the release of the photographs with redactions, rejecting arguments that the photographs could be withheld under three FOIA exemptions. A third party released the photographs without authorization. During the pendency of an appeal, the government identified additional photographs potentially responsive to the FOIA request and attempted to withhold them under the same three exemptions. The district court again rejected these arguments. The Second Circuit reversed, in favor of DoD. The Protected National Security Documents Act of 2009 (PNSDA), 123 Stat. 2142, permits the government to withhold disclosure of any photograph “taken during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, through January 22, 2009.” Regardless of whether PNSDA is an exemption under FOIA, the Secretary of Defense’s certification, following an extensive, multi-step review process including recommendations of several senior U.S. military commanders, and the information provided by the DoD, satisfied PNSDA. View "American Civil Liberties Union v. United States Department of Defense" on Justia Law
Turkmen v. Hasty, et al.
Plaintiffs, eight male, "out-of-status" aliens who were arrested on immigration charges and detained following the September 11th attacks, filed a putative class action asserting various claims arising out of the discriminatory and punitive treatment they suffered while confined at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) or the Passaic County Jail (Passaic). The district court granted in part and denied in part defendants' motion to dismiss. The court concluded that: (1) the MDC plaintiffs have plausibly alleged a substantive due process claim against the DOJ defendants, against Hasty with regard to both official and unofficial conditions, and against Sherman with regard to official conditions only, and these defendants are not entitled to qualified immunity on this claim; (2) the MDC plaintiffs have plausibly alleged an equal protection claim against the DOJ defendants, Hasty, and Sherman, and these defendants are not entitled to qualified immunity on this claim; (3) the free exercise claim is dismissed as to all defendants; (4) the MDC plaintiffs have plausibly alleged their Fourth Amendment strip search claim against Hasty and Sherman, and these defendants are not entitled to qualified immunity on this claim; (5) the MDC plaintiffs have plausibly alleged the Section 1985(3) conspiracy claim against the DOJ defendants, Hasty, and Sherman, and these defendants are not entitled to qualified immunity on this claim; and (6) the MDC plaintiffs have not plausibly alleged any claims against Zenk. The court affirmed the dismissal of the claims brought by the Passaic plaintiffs. View "Turkmen v. Hasty, et al." on Justia Law
Center for Constitutional Rights v. CIA
CCR seeks disclosure of certain videos and photographs of a high-profile Guantanamo Bay detainee, Mohammed al-Qahtani (the so called "20th hijacker" in the September 11, 2001 attacks), under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552. The court held that the government has met its burden of establishing that these images are exempt from disclosure under FOIA Exemption 1, which authorizes non-disclosure of records that are properly authorized by Executive order to be kept secret in the interest of "national defense or foreign policy." The court found that the declarations submitted by the government establish with adequate specificity that release of images depicting the detainee could logically and plausibly harm national security because these images are uniquely susceptible to use by anti-American extremists as propaganda to incite violence against United States interests domestically and abroad. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants. View "Center for Constitutional Rights v. CIA" on Justia Law
United States v. Stewart
In 1995, Sheikh Abdel Rahman was convicted of soliciting the murder of Egyptian President Mubarak while he was visiting New York; attacking American military installations; conspiring to murder President Mubarak; conspiring in the successful 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center; conspiring to bomb other New York structures; and conspiring to commit sedition. His conviction was affirmed in 1999. Stewart was a member of his legal team and agreed to "Special Administrative Measures." Despite those obligations, Stewart smuggled messages to and from the incarcerated Sheikh, mostly relating to continuance of a ceasefire that an Egyptian militant group had declared on violent efforts to overthrow the Egyptian government. Stewart was convicted of conspiring to defraud the U.S., 18 U.S.C. 371; providing and concealing material support to a conspiracy to kill and kidnap persons in a foreign country, 18 U.S.C. 2339A and 18 U.S.C. 2; conspiracy to provide and conceal such support, 18 U.S.C. 371; and making false statements, 18 U.S.C. 1001. The Second Circuit affirmed but remanded for resentencing. On remand, he court determined that the Guidelines sentence was 360 months, which was also the statutory maximum, and imposed a sentence of 120 months. The Second Circuit affirmed. View "United States v. Stewart" on Justia Law
American Civil Liberties Union v. Dept. of Justice
The Government appealed from the district court's judgment requiring the Government to disclose, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552, information redacted from two memoranda prepared by the OLC. The Government contended that the redactions were justified under FOIA because the information pertained to a highly classified, active intelligence method. The court concluded that the Government could withhold this information under FOIA Exemption 1. Plaintiffs challenged the judgment insofar as it sustained the Government's withholding of certain records relating to the use of waterboarding and a photograph of a high-value detainee in custody. The court agreed with the district court that the materials at issue were exempt from disclosure. The district court erred, however, in requiring the Government to disclose the classified information redacted from the two memoranda. View "American Civil Liberties Union v. Dept. of Justice" on Justia Law
United States v. Twenty MilJam-350 IED Jammers
Claimant appealed from a judgment of the district court ordering the forfeiture to plaintiff United States, pursuant to 22 U.S.C. 401(a), of certain communication-jamming devices, to wit, the defendant-in-rem Jammers, owned by claimant and a company of which he was the majority shareholder and CEO. On appeal, claimant contended that the district court erred in dismissing his claim, arguing principally that the stipulation he signed was void on the grounds that it was signed under duress and without consideration. The court held that, as a matter of New York law, no consideration for claimant's agreement to the release was needed; and thus, if consideration was absent, its absence did not make the stipulation invalid. The court also held that claimant's assertions did not meet any part of the test of duress. The court further held that the district court correctly granted the government's motion to strike or for summary judgment on the ground of claimant's lack of Article III standing. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed.
United States v. al Kassar, et al.
Defendants appealed their convictions for conspiring to kill U.S. officers, to acquire and export anti-aircraft missiles, and to provide material support to a known terrorist organization. Two defendants were additionally convicted of money laundering and conspiring to kill U.S. citizens. The court held that the United States had federal subject-matter jurisdiction to prosecute defendants; the district court did not err in denying defendants' motion for a hearing on certain issues; because the court concluded that defendants' proffered evidence was inadmissible under Rule 404 and that the district court did not commit manifest error by excluding it under Rule 403, defendants' evidentiary challenge to the exclusion was rejected; defendants' remaining challenges were rejected and their convictions were affirmed under 18 U.S.C. 2332(g); the district court's jury instruction was correct and that 18 U.S.C. 2339B did not violate the Fifth Amendment, notwithstanding that no proof was required that a defendant intended his aid to support the terrorist activity of a terrorist group; and one defendant's insufficiency challenge was rejected. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court.
Serricchio v. Prudential Securities Inc.
This was an appeal from three orders: (1) denying summary judgment to Wachovia on the ground that appellee had adequately requested reinstatement to his prior employment position following a period of active military duty; (2) awarding liquidated damages, in an amount equal to the award of backpay and granting equitable relief to appellee following a bench trial on damages after a jury found Wachovia liable for violating the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), 38 U.S.C. 4313, in failing to reemploy appellee promptly to a position of like seniority, status, and pay following his military services; and (3) denying Wachovia's motion for judgment as a matter of law, or, in the alternative, for a new trial. The court held that because it found no error in the district court's thoughtful and well-reasoned opinions, the court affirmed.
Hart v. Family Dental Group, PC
Plaintiff appealed from a judgment entered by the district court granting an oral motion of defendants, plaintiff's former employer, for judgment as a matter of law pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50 with respect to plaintiff's claims arising under section 4312(a) of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act ("USERRA"), 38 U.S.C. 4301 et seq, where plaintiff was eventually terminated by defendants after returning to work upon completion of his call to active duty by the Army. At issue was whether the district court erred in granting the motion where plaintiff claimed that defendants discriminated against him on account of his military service. The court affirmed the judgment and held that there was no reasonable basis to find a violation of section 4312(a) where plaintiff was rehired with the same title, salary, and other conditions of employment after his immediate return from military service.