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Mr. Markels is an associate in the Firm’s General Litigation and Trial, Professional Responsibility, and Real Estate Practice Groups, where he handles a wide variety of civil lawsuits and appeals. Previously, James was a litigator in McLean, Virginia, where he represented businesses before state and federal courts in matters involving contracts, trade secrets, employment law, landlord-tenant law, and bankruptcy. He also has experience in litigating insurance coverage and tort matters.

James was selected as a Super Lawyer® for Appellate, Civil Litigation, and Real Property Law by Super Lawyers magazine, published by Thomson Reuters, in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 was a Super Lawyer®: Rising Star in 2014. James also has an AV Preeminent™ rating from Martindale-Hubbell®.

James is an active member of the Fairfax Bar Association (FBA) and a Fairfax, Virginia native. He has organized and moderated dozens of continuing legal education (CLE) courses, served as Chairman for the FBA’s CLE Committee, and received the FBA’s 2013 President’s Award for outstanding service to the bar. Pursuant to his love of appellate practice, he publishes same-day summaries of noteworthy opinions issued by the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the District of Columbia and Fourth Circuits, and the Virginia Supreme Court for the public, which are available on the Jackson & Campbell blog.

James joined Jackson & Campbell, P.C. in 2010. He received his J.D., cum laude, from George Mason University School of Law, where he was an associate editor of the Civil Rights Law Journal and a member of the Moot Court Board. He also served as the school’s Honor Committee Chairman for two years. James received a Bachelor of Science in telecommunications from Ohio University.

  • August 2019
    Virginia Code Expands Uses for Discovery Depositions and Affidavits

    On July 1, 2019, an amendment to the Virginia Code took effect which allows discovery depositions and affidavits to be “used in support of or in opposition to a motion for summary judgment in any action when the only parties to the action are business entities and the amount at issue is $50,000 or more.” See Va... Read More >

  • June 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Police May Take Blood Test Of Unconscious Driver Without Warrant Under Exigent Circumstances Doctrine

    After Gerald Mitchell was arrested for driving while intoxicated, his breath test came out three times over the legal limit. He then became unconscious. Wisconsin law presumed that an unconscious person consents to a blood test, so the police took him to a hospital where a blood test revealed his BAC well over the legal limit. During his prosecution, Mitchell... Read More >

  • June 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Court Decides That Federal Courts Cannot Address Partisan Gerrymandering Claims

    The case of Rucho v. Common Cause combined two different gerrymandering claims: one from North Carolina where the claim was that the redistricting plan hurt Democrats, one from Maryland which claimed that the plan hurt Republicans. In both cases, the district courts ruled that the plans violated the Constitution. The Court, in a 5-4 opinion by Chief Justice Roberts,... Read More >

  • June 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Court Blocks The Citizenship Question From The 2020 Census Questionnaire For Now

    The Constitution requires a census to be taken every 10 years, and Congress delegated that task to the Secretary of Commerce. In 2018, the Secretary announced that he would reinstate a citizenship question on the 2020 census questionnaire, a question that had been included in almost every census up through 2000. Opposition to the question claimed that the question would... Read More >

  • June 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: State Residency Requirement For Liquor Store Licenses Struck Down

    Tennessee law required that to get a license to sell alcohol, the seller had to first be a Tennessee resident for two years. The state agency tasked with enforcing the law declined to do so after the state’s attorney general opined that the law violated the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. When two non-resident businesses applied for licenses, a... Read More >

  • June 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Auer Deference To An Agency’s Interpretation Of Its Own Regulations Survives, Barely

    In Kisor v. Wilke, the underlying case concerned a Vietnam War veteran’s quest for disability benefits. The Department of Veterans Affairs interpreted its internal rule to deny the veteran benefits going back to when he first applied. The Federal Circuit affirmed the determination using Auer deference, established by the Court in Auer v. Robbins, 519 U.S. 452 (1997),... Read More >

  • June 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Court Strikes Supervised Release Statute That Permitted Additional Prison Time Without A Jury Determination

    In United States v. Haymond, Andre Haymond was found guilty by a jury of possessing child pornography, a crime that permitted a prison term of zero to 10 years. After serving his term and while on supervised release, Haymond was found with what appeared to be images of child pornography on his devices. Under 18 U.S.C. sec. 3583(k), a... Read More >

  • June 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Court Strikes Down Violent Felony Residual Clause As Vague

    Under 18 U.S.C. sec. 924(c)(3)(B), a defendant may receive a longer prison sentence for using a firearm in connection with a felony “that by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense.” In prior cases, the Supreme Court struck down residual... Read More >

  • June 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Court Clarifies What “Confidential” Information is not Subject to a Freedom of Information Act Request

    In Food Marketing Institute v. Argus Leader Media, a newspaper filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to the Department of Agriculture requesting information about retail stores who participate in the national food stamp program. The Department declined to provide store-level data on the basis that it was “confidential” and thus precluded from disclosure under... Read More >

  • June 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Court Strikes Down Law Against Immoral or Scandalous Trademarks

    The Lanham Act prohibits registration of any trademark that contains “immoral[] or scandalous matter.” In Iancu v. Brunetti, an applicant sought to trademark FUCT (pronounced F-U-C-T), but was denied by the Patent and Trademark Office. The applicant appealed, arguing that the Act’s restriction violated the First Amendment. The Federal Circuit struck down the restriction as unconstitutional. The Court,... Read More >

  • June 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Seamen Are Not Entitled To Punitive Damages Under Claims Of Unseaworthiness

    In Dutra Group v. Batterton, a sailor was injured when a hatch blew open. He sued the vessel’s owner claiming unseaworthiness, seeking compensatory and punitive damages. The owner moved to strike the punitive damages claim, which was denied by the district court and affirmed by the Ninth Circuit. The Court, in a 6-3 opinion by Justice Alito, reversed and... Read More >

  • June 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Court Vacates Murder Conviction Under Batson Challenge

    In Flowers v. Mississippi, Curtis Flowers, a black man, was tried six times for allegedly murdering four people in a small town furniture store. The first three times, he was sentenced to death but the convictions were overturned. The fourth and fifth trials ended in mistrials. Throughout those trials, the prosecution used their peremptory strikes to remove all black... Read More >

  • June 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Under Due Process Clause, State Cannot Tax Foreign Trust Solely Because A Beneficiary Resides In the State

    A family trust was created in New York state, with the trustee also located in New York, to distribute assets to the children of the trust creator under the trustee’s sole discretion. One of those children moved to North Carolina. The trustee then divided the trust into three separate trusts, one for each child, retaining full power and discretion over... Read More >

  • June 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Government Must Prove Immigrant Had Knowledge Of Unlawful Residence For Gun Possession Conviction

    Under 18 U.S.C. sec. 922(a)(2), it is illegal for an immigrant “illegally or unlawfully in the United States” to possess firearms and “knowingly violates” that prohibition. In Rehaif v. United States, an immigrant entered the country on a nonimmigration student visa, but was dismissed for poor grades, making his further residence unlawful. He then went to a firing... Read More >

  • June 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Court Permits Fifth Amendment Takings Claim Without First Seeking Compensation Under State Law

    In the prior case of Williamson County Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City, 473 U.S. 172 (1985), the Court ruled that before a property owner could bring a federal action against a state under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment, the owner had to first seek just compensation under state law in state court... Read More >

  • June 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Court Upholds Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act Against Delegation Challenge

    The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act required all convicted sex offenders to register with the government. For those offenders convicted of a sex offense before the Act was enacted, the Act authorized the Attorney General to “specify the applicability” of the Act’s registration requirements and prescribe rules therefore. The Attorney General issued a rule applying the Act’s requirements... Read More >

  • June 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Court Treats Fabrication Of Evidence Claim As Malicious Prosecution For Statute Of Limitations Purposes

    In McDonough v. Smith, a commissioner of a county board of elections in New York was indicted by the district attorney for forging absentee ballots. The district attorney used fabricated evidence to secure a grand jury indictment, and used fabricated testimony at trial. After a mistrial, the commissioner was ultimately acquitted on all charges. Just under three years later,... Read More >

  • June 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Court Permits The Bladensburg Peace Cross To Remain Standing

    The Bladensburg Peace Cross was erected in 1925 on public land as a tribute to the lives of 49 soldiers from the local area who died in World War I. Certain atheistic groups filed suit in federal court, arguing that the cross violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. The district court dismissed the case under the tests set forth in... Read More >

  • June 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Court Requires More Information Before Resolving “Junk Faxes” Case

    The Telephone Consumer Protection Act prohibits “unsolicited advertisements.” The Federal Communications Commission issued an order in 2006 interpreting that term to “include any offer of a free good or service.” However, under the Hobbs Act, the federal courts of appeals have the exclusive jurisdiction to enjoin, set a side, suspend . . ., or to determine the validity... Read More >

  • June 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Virginia’s House of Delegates Lacks Standing To Challenge Redistricting Order

    After Virginia redrew its districts following the 2010 census, 11 of those districts were held to be unconstitutionally drawn as being racially gerrymandered. Virginia’s Attorney General, a Democrat, declined to appeal the ruling. However, the Virginia House of Delegates, controlled by the Republicans, chose to appeal that ruling directly to the Supreme Court, arguing that the districts were constitutional. Justice... Read More >

  • June 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Court Retains Dual-Sovereignty Doctrine Exception To Double Jeopardy Rule

    Under the Fifth Amendment, defendants may not be indicted for the same crime twice—otherwise known as double jeopardy. However, the Court had, since Heath v. Alabama, 474 U.S. 82 (1985), held that double jeopardy did not occur when the same offense was prosecuted by different sovereigns, thus creating the “dual-sovereignty doctrine.” In Gamble v. United States, Terance Gamble was... Read More >

  • June 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Private Nonprofit Corporation Operating Public Access Channels Not A State Actor Subject To First Amendment

    New York City designated Manhattan Neighborhood Network, a privately owned nonprofit corporation, to operate its public access channels on the cable system in Manhattan. Two filmmakers produced a film attacking the Network to be run on the public access channels. The Network aired the film, but then suspended the filmmakers from the Network’s services and facilities. The filmmakers sued, alleging... Read More >

  • June 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Court Upholds Virginia Ban On Uranium Mining

    Virginia law flatly bans uranium mining in the Commonwealth. In Virginia Uranium, Inc. v. Warren, a company sought to circumvent that state law by arguing that the federal Atomic Energy Act preempted Virginia’s law, and put the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in charge of uranium mining. The company lost before the district court and the Fourth Circuit. The Supreme... Read More >

  • June 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Court Broadens Definition Of Generic Burglary Under Armed Career Criminal Act

    After Jamar Quarles pled guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm, prosecutors sought to give him an enhanced sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act because he had at least three prior “violent felony” convictions. The Act defines “burglary” as being a violent felony, meaning “unlawful or unprivileged entry into, or remaining in, a building or structure,... Read More >

  • June 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: The Government Is Not A “Person” That Can Institute A Patent Review Under America Invents Act

    The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act contains provisions allowing a “person” other than a patent owner to use three types of administrative review to challenge the validity of a patent after it has been issued, with appeal rights to the Federal Circuit. In Return Mail, Inc. v. United States Postal Service, Return Mail obtained a patent for processing undeliverable... Read More >

  • June 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Court Holds Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act Preempts State Employment Law

    Brian Newton worked on a drilling platform off the California coast, where his employer paid him for time on duty but not for his time on standby, when he could not leave the platform. He filed a class action in California state court, arguing that state law required the employer pay for standby time. The employer removed the case to... Read More >

  • June 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Court Sets “No Objectively Reasonable Basis” Standard For Violation Of Bankruptcy Discharge Orders

    After Bradley Taggart was civilly sued for violating a business operating agreement, but before the case went to trial, he filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and received a discharge. After the discharge was granted, the civil suit recommenced and Taggart lost. The winners sought their attorneys’ fees incurred after Taggart’s petition was filed, which normally were discharged unless Taggart had... Read More >

  • June 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Medicare Act Requires Notice And Comment Before Any Changes To “Medicare Fraction”

    Under the Medicare Act, the enforcing agency is required to go through a public notice and comment period before changing any “substantive legal standard” affecting Medicare benefits. 42 U.S.C. sec. 1395hh(a)(2). Under Medicare Part A, the federal government paid hospitals who served low-income patients through a “Medicare fraction,” which was calculated by dividing the time spent by a hospital... Read More >

  • June 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Title VII Claims Not Limited To Those Made To Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

    In Fort Bend County, Texas v. Davis, Lois M. Davis filed a charge of sexual harassment and retaliation for reporting the harassment with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). While the EEOC was investigating, the employer fired Davis when she went to a church function instead of work on Sunday. Davis handwrote “religion” on an intake questionnaire to... Read More >

  • June 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Time Served On A New Conviction Tolls The Supervised Release Period

    While on supervised release after serving time for violating federal law, Jason Mont was arrested under state law for drug trafficking. He entered into a plea agreement. After his supervised release period expired, he was sentenced in state court, and credited with time served. The federal court then issued a warrant based on his violation of his supervised release. Mont... Read More >

  • May 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Court Upholds Law Regarding Disposal Of Aborted Fetus Remains

    Indiana passed a law preventing abortion providers from treating aborted fetuses as waste that could be incinerated with surgical byproducts, and also barred abortion providers from conducting abortions when the mother’s reason for aborting was sex, race, or disability selective. The Seventh Circuit invalidated both provisions, holding that the first was not rationally related to a legitimate government interest, and... Read More >

  • May 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Third-Party Counterclaim Defendants Cannot Remove State Cases To Federal Courts

    In Home Depot U.S.A., Inc. v. Jackson, Citibank filed a state debt-collection action against George Jackson for charges on his Home Depot card. Jackson counterclaimed against Citibank and filed third-party class-action counterclaims against Home Depot and another company, alleging a scheme in which those companies induced consumers to buy water treatment systems at inflated prices. Citibank dismissed its claims... Read More >

  • May 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Probable Cause To Arrest Defeats A First Amendment Retaliatory Arrest Claim

    In Nieves v. Bartlett, during a winter sports festival, an intoxicated Russell Bartlett confronted Sergeant Nieves who was talking to other attendees, and told the officer to leave. Nieves backed off, but later Bartlett physically interfered with another officer’s questioning of an attendee, and Nieves initiated arrest. Bartlett was slow to comply and was handcuffed on the ground. Bartlett... Read More >

  • May 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Court Permits Judicial Review Of Social Security Benefits Appeal Dismissal

    After Ricky Lee Smith’s claim for disability benefits to the Social Security Administration was denied on merit after a hearing before an administrative law judge, he failed to timely appeal to the agency’s Appeals Council. The Council dismissed his appeal, and he sought judicial review of the dismissal in federal court. The district court denied review, stating that it lacked... Read More >

  • May 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Court Clarifies “Clear Evidence” Standard For Failure-To-Warn Claims

    Merck manufactured the drug Fosamax to combat osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. Merck’s scientists theorized that use of Fosamax might cause atypical femoral fractures, but the drug label approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1995 did not include a warning for those fractures. After 1995, evidence of such fractures started to develop. In 2008, Merck applied to the FDA... Read More >

  • May 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Court Preserves Indian Treaty Hunting Rights

    In 1868, the United States and the Crow Tribe entered into a treaty in which the U.S. got most of the Tribe’s land in modern-day Montana and Wyoming, in exchange for hunting rights in unoccupied land. In Herrera v. Wyoming, Tribe member Clayvin Herrera was charged with off-season hunting in the Bighorn National Forest, and Wyoming’s appellate courts affirmed... Read More >

  • May 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Trademark Rights Survive Contract Rejection In Bankruptcy

    Under bankruptcy law, a debtor may reject any executory contract, being a contract where performance remains due on both sides. In Mission Product Holdings, Inc. v. Tempnology, LLC, Tempnology entered into an executory contract giving Mission a license to use its trademarks. Tempnology then filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and asked the Bankruptcy Court to allow it to reject... Read More >

  • May 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Court Permits iPhone Customers To Make Monopoly Claim Against Apple For App Store

    Since 2008, Apple Inc. has established its App Store as the only lawful location that iPhone users could purchase apps for their devices. In Apple, Inc. v. Pepper, some of those iPhone customers sued Apple, alleging that it was using illegal monopolistic practices to overcharge them for the apps. At the initial stage of the litigation, Apple moved to... Read More >

  • May 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: States Are Immune From Private Suits Filed In Other States

    Gilbert Hyatt made millions from a technology patent he developed while living in California. Prior to receiving the patent, he moved to Nevada, which has no income tax. The Franchise Tax Board of California thought his move was a sham, and began auditing him. Hyatt sued the Board in Nevada, claiming that the Board had committed numerous torts during its... Read More >

  • May 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Court Expands Limitations Period For Qui Tam Actions

    Under the False Claims Act, a qui tam civil action must be brought either within six years of the alleged statutory violation, or three years after the U.S. official charged with responsibility to act knew or should have known the relevant facts, but not more than 10 years after the violation, whichever is later. The issue in Cochise Consultancy,... Read More >

  • May 2019
    Virginia Supreme Court: Collateral Source Rule Can Apply To Contract Cases

    In Dominion Resources, Inc. v. Alstom Power, Inc., the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut certified the following question to the Virginia Supreme Court: “Does Virginia law apply the collateral source rule to a breach of contract action where the plaintiff has been reimbursed by an insurer for the full amount it seeks in damages from the... Read More >

  • April 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Federal Tort Claims Act Does Not Shield The Tennessee Valley Authority From Tort Suits

    Congress created the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) as a wholly owned public corporation of the United States to promote the economic development of the Tennessee Valley, and established that it could “sue and be sued in its corporate name.” One day, TVA workers were raising a power line that had fallen into the Tennessee River when Gary Thacker speedily drove... Read More >

  • April 2019
    DC Circuit Applies Discovery Rule To Erroneous Land Surveys Of Commercial Land

    The case of Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company v. KCI Technologies, Inc., concerns a title insurance company’s suit against two surveyors whose surveys failed to find a 12-inch encroachment on a parcel of commercial real property. Before purchasing the property, ICG 16th Street Associates commissioned a land survey that found no encroachment. The next year, it purchased the property... Read More >

  • April 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Ambiguous Arbitration Provision Not Sufficient To Compel Class Arbitration

    In a 2010 case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a court could not compel class arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act when the agreement was silent on that issue, since class arbitration was fundamentally different from “traditional individualized arbitration.” In Lamps Plus, Inc. v. Varela, the arbitration provision did not expressly state that the parties agreed to... Read More >

  • April 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Refusal To Produce Vocational Data Not Preclusive Of Effect On Worker’s Social Security Claim

    In Biestek v. Berryhill, Michael Biestek applied for Social Security disability benefits, claiming he could no longer work due to physical and mental ailments. His case was heard by an administrative law judge (ALJ), who analyzed whether there was other work Biestek might be able to perform. The Social Security Administration offered the testimony of a vocational expert as... Read More >

  • April 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Court Rejects As-Applied Challenge To Execution By Pentobarbital

    After being convicted of murder in Missouri, Russell Bucklew was set to be executed through the lethal injection of the sedative pentobarbital. He raised an as-applied challenge, arguing that he suffered from a medical condition that would result in extreme pain if he received the pentobarbital. Bucklew suggested that he be executed through nitrogen hypoxia instead, which had never been... Read More >

  • March 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Supreme Court Broadens SEC’s Ability To Punish Disseminators Of False Information

    In Lorenzo v. SEC, Lorenzo disseminated false information that his boss provided to him, and which he knew was false, regarding the value of a company pursuant to a debenture offering. The SEC charged him with having violated Rule 10b-5 of the Securities and Exchange Commission, which makes it unlawful to (a) “employ any device, scheme, or artifice to... Read More >

  • March 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Foreign States Must Be Served On Home Soil With Process

    To gain personal jurisdiction over a foreign sovereign under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, service of process must be accomplished, among other options, “by any form of mail requiring a signed receipt, to be addressed and dispatched . . . to the head of the ministry of foreign affairs of the foreign state concerned.” 28 U.S.C. sec. 1608(a)(3). In... Read More >

  • March 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: National Park Service Cannot Regulate Navigable Waters

    For decades, John Sturgeon drove a hovercraft on the Nation River to get to a moose hunting ground in Alaska. A portion of that river ran through the Yukon-Charley Preserve, which was a designated a conservation unit under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. The Act designated as public lands only and being part of such a unit... Read More >

  • March 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Google Class Action Settlement In Danger Of Losing Standing

    When a person enters search terms on Google, and then selects a web page that comes up in the search results, Google sends the host of the web page the search terms the person used to locate the page. Certain plaintiffs filed suit as a class, arguing that Google’s practice violated the Stored Communications Act. The parties settled, with... Read More >

  • March 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Entity Conducting Non-judicial Foreclosure Not A Debt Collector Under Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

    After Dennis Obduskey went into default on his mortgage that was secured against his home, the lender hired the law firm of McCarthy & Holthus, LLP to conduct a non-judicial foreclosure of the property. The firm sent Obduskey a notice of its intent to so act, and Obduskey requested that the firm provide him with verification of the debt as... Read More >

  • March 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Manufacturers Have Duty To Warn Sailors Of Products That Require Asbestos Parts

    In Air & Liquid System Corp. v. DeVries, a company manufactured equipment for three Navy ships that, as shipped, contained no asbestos, but required asbestos insulation or parts to work as intended. The Navy added the asbestos parts later when the equipment was installed on the ships. The equipment was put into use, releasing asbestos into the... Read More >

  • March 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Fractured Court Upholds 1855 Indian Treaty Against State Gasoline Tax

    A company owned by the Yakama Nation Indian tribe transported gasoline from Oregon to the tribe’s land in the State of Washington, using the public highways. Washington sought to tax those imports. The Yakama Nation objected, citing to an 1855 treaty with the federal government granting the Nation the right to use the public highways. The Washington state courts held... Read More >

  • March 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Court Rejects Narrow Reading Of Immigration Detention Statute

    Federal immigration law provides that certain criminal aliens may be detained by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and not released until a determination on deportation is made. The statute in question, 8 U.S.C. § 1226(c)(1), directs the Secretary to arrest the alien “when the alien is released” from jail, and Section 1226(c)(2) mandates that the Secretary keep... Read More >

  • March 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: No Copyright Infringement Suit Until A Copyright Is Registered

    In Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com, LLC, Fourth Estate licensed works to a news website. The parties cancelled the licensing agreement, but the website did not remove the works. Fourth Estate sued for copyright infringement under the Copyright Act, but its lawsuit was dismissed because Fourth Estate had only applied to register the works—the Register of... Read More >

  • March 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Lost Wages Awarded Under Railroad Retirement Tax Act Are Compensation Subject To IRS Taxation

    Michael Loos was injured while working for BNSF Railway Company. He sued his employer, and after trial was awarded $85,000 in pain and suffering, $11,212.78 in medical expenses, and $30,000 in lost wages as a result of him not being able to work from the injury. BNSF then argued that the lost wages award was “compensation . . . for... Read More >

  • March 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Copyright Act’s Award Of Costs Limited To Those Available Under Typical Bill Of Costs

    Oracle accused Rimini Street, Inc. of violating various copyrights, and won at trial. Under the Copyright Act, the district court awarded Oracle $12.8 million in litigation expenses under the Act. The district court acknowledged that it was awarding Oracle costs that were not within the six designated categories set forth under 28 U.S.C. secs. 1821 and 1920,... Read More >

  • February 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Court Limits Immunity Afforded Under The International Organizations Immunity Act Of 1945

    Originally, the International Organizations Immunity Act of 1945 (IOIA) granted foreign corporations virtually absolute immunity from suit. In 1952, the State Department adopted a more restrictive view, carving out commercial acts from that immunity. Congress then passed the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) in 1976, which specifically excepted commercial activity with a sufficient nexus in the United States... Read More >

  • February 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Eighth Amendment Bars Execution Of Defendant Without “Rational Understanding” Of The Reason For Execution

    After he was sentenced to death for killing a police officer, Vernon Madison suffered a series of strokes and was diagnosed with dementia. In a prior series of appeals by Madison, the U.S. Supreme Court held that his mere inability to remember his crime did not establish that Madison was incompetent to be executed. When his execution was rescheduled on... Read More >

  • February 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Failure To File Appeal Is Constitutionally Deficient Even After Defendant Signs Appeal Waiver

    In Garza v. Idaho, Garza signed two plea agreements for state crimes, each of which included a waiver of his appeal rights. After he was sentenced, Garza told his counsel that he wanted to appeal. His counsel did not file any appeal, telling Garza that his waivers made any such appeal “problematic.” After the deadline to appeal passed, Garza... Read More >

  • February 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Deadline To Appeal Class Decertification Not Subject To Equitable Tolling

    Under Rule 23(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a party has 14 days to file with the federal circuit appeals court a petition for permission to appeal an order certifying or decertifying a class action. In Nutraceutical Corp. v. Lambert, when the district court decertified his class action, Troy Lambert chose to file a motion for... Read More >

  • February 2019
    SCOTUS Opinion: Judges Cannot Vote On Cases After Death

    In Yovino v. Rizo, the Ninth Circuit heard the case en banc (with 11 then-sitting judges) to restate that circuit’s interpretation of the Equal Pay Act. Judge Stephen Reinhardt authored the majority opinion that was joined by six of the judges, including Reinhardt himself. The other five judges filed concurrences that reached a similar result but under different... Read More >

  • February 2019
    Eighth Amendment Applies To State Civil Forfeitures

    Tyson Timbs pleaded guilty to dealing in heroin in Indiana, for which the maximum fine was $10,000. The State sought to use civil forfeiture to seize his SUV, which Timbs bought for $42,000, which was allegedly used to move the heroin. The state trial court denied the State’s request as violative of the Eighth Amendment’s protection against excessive fines, but... Read More >

  • February 2019
    Court Again Finds Man Ineligible For Death Penalty Due To Intellectual Disability

    In 2017, the Supreme Court held in Moore v. Texas, 581 U.S. ___ (2017), that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals used a flawed analysis to determine that Bobby James Moore was not intellectually disabled, and thus eligible to receive the death penalty. In part, the flaw was that the Texas court focused on Moore’s adaptive strengths instead of... Read More >

  • February 2019
    Court Applies Intergovernmental Tax Immunity In Favor Of Federal Retirees

    In Dawson v. Steager, West Virginia sought to tax a federal law enforcement retiree’s pension. Under 4 U.S.C. §111, the federal government permits this so long as the state tax does not discriminate on the basis of the source of the compensation, otherwise known as the intergovernmental tax immunity doctrine. However, West Virginia, by statute, did not tax... Read More >

  • February 2019
    In Two Orders, SCOTUS Stays Louisiana Abortion Law, Permits Execution—Both Over Four Dissenters

    In June Medical Services, LLC v. Gee, a five-Justice majority (the Chief Justice and Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan) granted a stay of the Fifth Circuit’s mandate upholding a Louisiana law that required abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital. The law is therefore on hold until the Court resolves the petition for certiorari of that... Read More >

  • January 2019
    Once Sold (Even Under Term Of Confidentiality), An Invention May Not Be Patented

    Under the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, an invention may not be patented if it has been “in public use, sold, or otherwise available to the public before the effective filing date of the claimed invention.” In Helsinn Healthcare S.A. v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., the issue was whether an invention had been “sold” within the ambit of the... Read More >

  • January 2019
    Virginia Supreme Court: Newly-Acquired Subsidiary Does Not Receive Coverage Under Owner’s Property Insurance

    After EPC MD 15, LLC purchased commercial property fire insurance from Erie Insurance Exchange, it purchased another company that owned a separate building on another property. The new subsidiary was not a named insured under the original policy. When that building sustained fire damage, EPC submitted a claim, claiming that the purchase of the subsidiary made the subsidiary’s property “newly... Read More >

  • January 2019
    Robbery Is A “Violent Felony” Under Armed Career Criminal Act

    The Armed Career Criminal Act provides a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence for anyone who had previously been convicted of three “violent” felonies. The Act defines a “violent felony” as “any crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year” that “has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another.”... Read More >

  • January 2019
    Federal Arbitration Act Does Not Compel Arbitration For Disputes With Interstate Drivers

    In New Prime Inc. v. Oliveira, a driver for an interstate trucking company filed a class action claiming that the company denied its drivers lawful wages. The company, citing the mandatory arbitration provision in the driver’s contract, asked the district court to transfer the case to arbitration. The driver argued that the case was exempt under Section 1 of... Read More >

  • January 2019
    Are Attorneys Conducting Nonjudicial Foreclosures “Debt Collectors?” U.S. Supreme Court To Decide.

    On January 7, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear argument in Obduskey v. McCarthy Holthus, LLP, in which Wells Fargo, through counsel, conducted a nonjudicial foreclosure on Obduskey’s home after he defaulted on a loan. The foreclosure notice did not request that Obduskey make any payments on the debt—it simply set forth the total amount due under the... Read More >

  • January 2019
    Court Rejects Cap On Aggregate Attorney Fees Under Social Security Act

    Under the Social Security Act, an attorney representing a claimant seeking past-due benefits is limited in the fees he or she may charge. Section 406(a) of the Act capped fees at the lesser of 25 percent of the past-due benefits, or $6,000 in proceedings before the agency. Section 406(b) of the Act capped fees at 25 percent of the... Read More >

  • January 2019
    Federal Arbitration Act Forbids Courts From Weighing In On Arbitrability

    The Federal Arbitration Act permits parties to enter into contracts agreeing that an arbitrator, rather than a court, will resolve disputes arising out of that contract. However, sometimes there are disputes as to whether a particular claim is subject to arbitration under the agreement. Even when contracts delegate the arbitrability question to an arbitrator, some federal courts had reserved... Read More >

  • January 2019
    Court Upholds Qualified Immunity For Officer Responding To Domestic Dispute

    In City of Escondido v. Emmons, Officer Craig and Sergeant Toth responded to a call reporting a domestic dispute at a home. After talking to the occupants from outside the home for a bit, one of the occupants exited and tried to brush past Officer Craig. The officer quickly took the man to the ground and handcuffed him. The... Read More >

  • January 2019
    Subsequent SCOTUS Decisions Are Not “Clearly Established Law” For Habeas Petitions

    After being convicted by Ohio’s state courts for murder and sentenced to death in 1986, Danny Hill challenged the judgment on the basis that the Eighth Amendment prohibits someone who is “mentally retarded” from receiving a death sentence, as established in Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002). When that failed in the state courts, he filed a federal... Read More >

  • December 2018
    Burglary Includes Structures Or Vehicles Adapted To Overnight Accommodation

    The criminal defendants in United States v. Sims and United States v. Stitt were both sentenced under the mandatory minimum 15-year prison term provided by the Armed Career Criminal Act, which applies where a defendant had three prior convictions for certain crimes, including “burglary.” Sims and Stitt had each been previously convicted of burglary under state laws, which... Read More >

  • November 2018
    Court Upholds Challenge To Designation Of A “Critical Habitat”

    Under the Endangered Species Act, when an animal is classified as “endangered,” the Secretary of the Interior must then designate the “critical habitat” of that animal for protection. In 2001, the dusky gopher frog was classified as endangered. The Secretary then designated the four areas where the frogs currently lived as critical habitats, along with another area, dubbed “Unit... Read More >

  • November 2018
    Court Rules ADEA Applies To All Governmental Entities Regardless Of Size

    When two firefighters were terminated to cut costs, they sued under the Age Discrimination Employment Act, alleging they were discriminated against based on their ages. The fire department argued that it did not have enough employees to qualify as an employer under the Act. The Act provides: “The term ‘employer’ means a person engaged in an industry affecting commerce... Read More >

  • September 2018
    Condo Liens Entitled To Super-Priority Status Regardless Of Number Of Months Sought

    Under D.C. Code sec. 42-1903.13, liens imposed by a condominium association for up to six months of unpaid condo fees were entitled to super-priority status ahead of all other liens on the condo. In two prior decisions, the D.C. Court of Appeals held that a foreclosure sale under such a super-priority lien necessarily wiped out all other liens of the... Read More >

  • August 2018
    Virginia: No Bona Fide Purchaser of an Easement; Terms of Revocable Trust May Permit Transfer by Non-Trustee

    The recent case of Kruck v. Krisak, 2018 WL 2386671 (Fairfax Cir. Ct. 2018) addressed two issues of first impression in Virginia regarding bona fide purchasers and how the transfer of real property to a trust might affect a grant of an easement. The case began with an easement for a septic field that was granted in 1974 by Austin Foster... Read More >

  • June 2018
    Justice Kennedy Announces His Retirement

    After 30 years as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy announced his retirement effective July 31, 2018. In a letter to President Trump, Kennedy wrote: “For a member of the legal profession it is the highest of honor to serve on this court. Please permit me by this letter to express my profound gratitude... Read More >

  • June 2018
    Court Rejects Overly Strict Standard Used By Special Master In State Dispute Over Water Rights

    In an original proceeding brought by Florida against Georgia in a dispute over water apportionment from an interstate river basin, the Court referred the matter to a Special Master for evidentiary proceedings. Florida, as the downstream state, argued that Georgia was using more than its fair share of the water from the basin, thereby harming wildlife in Florida. Ultimately the... Read More >

  • June 2018
    First Amendment Forbids Mandatory Union Fees From Public Sector Unions

    Illinois permits public employees to unionize, and Mark Janus was a state employee whose unit was represented by a public-sector union that engaged in collective bargaining on behalf of its members. The union required that Janus pay a union fee, but he objected since he opposed many of the collective bargaining positions the union took. In the previous case of... Read More >

  • June 2018
    Court Upholds President Trump’s Travel Ban

    In 2017, President Trump issued a proclamation restricting entry of people from eight countries, with exemptions for lawful permanent residents and case-by-case waivers under certain circumstances. The stated basis of the travel ban was that the named countries failed to provide the U.S. with sufficient information about the entrants, creating a security threat, although challengers to the ban (except as... Read More >

  • June 2018
    Court Strikes Down Abortion Notices Under First Amendment

    A number of pro-life crisis pregnancy centers mounted a First Amendment challenge to a California law that required licensed medical providers to provide a notice to its patients of the availability of free or low-cost services, including abortions, and required each unlicensed pro-life medical provider to notify patients that it was not licensed. The centers requested a preliminary injunction, which... Read More >

  • June 2018
    American Express’s “Antisteering” Provisions Survive Antitrust Scrutiny

    Like other credit card companies, American Express (AMEX) permits cardholders to purchase things on credit. However, AMEX encourages cardholder spending by providing more benefits to its members, and that results in higher fees charged to merchants. Merchants, in response, sometimes encouraged customers to use other cards, called “steering.” AMEX in turn put antisteering provisions into its merchant contracts. The government... Read More >

  • June 2018
    Narrow Majority Largely Upholds Texas Redistricting Plan Against Gerrymandering Challenge

    Abbott v. Perez presented the third opportunity for the Court to address gerrymandering claims under the Voter Rights Act, this time examining plans approved by the Texas legislature in 2013 that were largely in accordance with interim plans created by a three-judge Texas court. The 2013 plans evolved from earlier 2011 plans that did not meet with any court’s... Read More >

  • June 2018
    Supreme Court Has Appellate Jurisdiction To Hear Appeals From The Court Of Appeals For The Armed Forces

    There are a separate series of trial and appellate military courts that address criminal charges against service members, capped by the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF). After Keanu Ortiz was convicted of possession and distributing child pornography, he appealed to the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA). Colonel Martin Mitchell was part of the panel of... Read More >

  • June 2018
    Defendant Who Consents To Separate Trials Not Subject To Double Jeopardy

    After Michael Currier was indicted for burglary, grand larceny, and unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, he opted for separate trials, doing burglary and grand larceny first, unlawful possession second. He was concerned that his prior convictions for burglary and larceny, which would help prove the unlawful possession charge, would prejudice the jury’s consideration of his current... Read More >

  • June 2018
    Government Needs A Warrant To Obtain Cell-Site Records To Track Suspect’s Movements

    When the FBI suspected that Timothy Carpenter was involved in several robberies, it identified his cell phone number and obtained cell-site information from his wireless carriers without a warrant, which could be used to track the movement of his phone, and thus Carpenter himself. Carpenter moved to suppress the information as violating the Fourth Amendment’s requirement for a warrant supported... Read More >

  • June 2018
    Patent Act Permits Recovery Of Lost Profits From Foreign Patent Infringement

    In WesternGeco LLC v. ION Geophysical Corp., WesternGeco sued ION for patent infringement under the Patent Act for creating an identical ocean floor surveying system that ION assembled overseas from parts made in America. A jury awarded WesternGeco damages and lost profits. ION moved to set aside the lost profits since it argued the Patent Act did not... Read More >

  • June 2018
    Removal Notice Must Specify Time And Place Of Proceeding To Stop Ten-Year Period To Cancel Removal Proceedings

    Once a nonpermanent resident has been in the U.S. for a ten-year continuous period, they can cancel removal proceedings under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. That period is stayed if the resident receives a written notice to appear that specifies a time and place for the removal proceedings during the ten year period. A... Read More >

  • June 2018
    Securities And Exchange Commission Administrative Law Judges Are “Officers Of The United States” Under Appointments Clause

    The Constitution’s Appointments Clause sets forth certain requirements for appointing “Officers of the United States,” who are more than mere employees of the federal government. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) utilizes Administrative Law Judges (ALJ) to adjudicate administrative proceedings involving violations of securities laws. Those ALJs are not appointed in accordance with the Appointments Clause. When Raymond Lucia was... Read More >

  • June 2018
    Court Permits States To Impose Sales Taxes On Online Retailers Under The Commerce Clause

    In prior cases going back to 1992, the Court had ruled that the Commerce Clause precluded States from imposing sales taxes on sellers who did not maintain a physical presence in the State. But then the Internet exploded, and online retailers like Amazon regularly sell products in the various States while eluding sales taxes. In South Dakota v. Wayfair,... Read More >

  • June 2018
    Court Upholds District Court Judge’s Explanation For A Sentencing Modification

    A criminal drug offender was originally sentenced to 135 months’ imprisonment after the Sentencing Guidelines provided a range of 135 to 168 months. The U.S. Sentencing Commission thereafter revised the range for the same crime to 108 to 135 months. The defendant moved the district court to modify his sentence accordingly. The judge lowered the sentence to 114 months, not... Read More >

  • June 2018
    Courts Of Appeals Are Obligated To Correct Plain Sentencing Guideline Errors Under Federal Rule Of Criminal Procedure 52(b)

    Under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 52(b), a court of appeals “should exercise its discretion to correct”  an error in the district court’s application of the Sentencing Guidelines if the error “seriously affects the fairness, integrity, or public reputation of judicial proceedings.” In Rosales-Mireles v. United States, after the defendant was sentenced under a miscalculation under the Sentencing Guidelines... Read More >

  • June 2018
    Court Denies Injunctive Relief In Maryland Gerrymandering Case

    In Benisek v. Lamone, several Republican voters filed suit in 2017 challenging Maryland’s 2011 redrawing of its Sixth District as being gerrymandered against their constitutional rights. Those voters moved for a preliminary injunction in the district court, to allow the creation of a new districting map. The district court denied that relief and stayed the proceedings pending the decision... Read More >

  • June 2018
    Plaintiffs Lacked Standing To Bring Gerrymandering Claims

    In Gill v. Whitford, twelve Democratic voters brought claims arguing that the redrawing of Wisconsin’s districts after the 2010 census was an unconstitutional gerrymandering that made it harder for Democratic candidates to get elected. Specifically, the redrawing allegedly “cracked” Democratic voters into other districts where they could not reap a majority, and “packed” Democratic voters into a few districts... Read More >

  • June 2018
    Court Permits First Amendment Retaliation Claim Against Municipality Despite Probable Cause To Arrest

    Fane Lozman was something of a political gadfly to the City of Riviera Beach’s city council, and had filed a lawsuit against it. During a closed meeting, one of the council members suggested that the council “intimidate” Mr. Lozman, which the council supported. At a subsequent public meeting, when Lozman sought to discuss the recent arrest of a former county... Read More >

  • June 2018
    Minnesota Law Banning Political Insignias In A Polling Place Struck Down Under The First Amendment

    Under Minnesota law, a “political badge, political button, or other political insignia may not be worn at or about the polling place” where voters head to vote in elections. Election judges working the polls have authority to determine whether a particular item violates the prohibition, and those who refuse to remove offending items go through an administrative process that may... Read More >

  • June 2018
    Statements From Foreign Governments Entitled To Respectful Consideration Under Rule 44.1, But Not Conclusive

    In Animal Science Products, Inc. v. Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., American purchasers of Vitamin C accused the selling Chinese companies of fixing prices in violation of U.S. antitrust laws. The Chinese companies argued that Chinese law required them to fix the prices, and the Chinese government, through its Ministry of Commerce, filed a statement in support of that... Read More >

  • June 2018
    Contracts Clause Permits Retroactive Minnesota Law Changing Life Insurance Beneficiaries

    In Sveen v. Melin, Mark Sveen purchased a life insurance policy naming his wife, Kaye Melin, as the primary beneficiary, and his two children from a prior marriage as contingent beneficiaries, in 1998. In 2002, Minnesota enacted a law under which a divorce automatically removed a spouse as a beneficiary from such a policy. Sveen and Melin divorced in... Read More >

  • June 2018
    Court Limits Tolling Of Statute Of Limitations In Class Actions To Future Filers

    Under prior Court precedent, when a class action is filed but then fails to gain certification, the statute of limitations is tolled for those within the putative class, allowing them to intervene as individual plaintiffs in that action, or bring an individual suit. In China Agritech, Inc. v. Resh, instead of bringing a separate individual suit or intervening, the... Read More >

  • June 2018
    Closely Divided Court Upholds Ohio Law Maintaining Voter Rolls

    Under Ohio law, when a voter fails to vote for two years, the state sends the nonvoter a postage prepaid return card to verify his or her address. Voters who do not return the card and do not vote in any election for four more years are then presumed to have moved and are removed from the voting rolls. In... Read More >

  • June 2018
    Court Dismisses As Moot Lawsuit Over Unlawful Immigrant’s Abortion

    When a pregnant minor unlawful immigrant sought to get an abortion while in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the Office’s policy prohibited her from getting an abortion without the Director’s permission. The minor moved for a temporary restraining order of the policy, which the district court granted. The minor then attended preabortion counseling as required under Texas... Read More >

  • June 2018
    Criminal Defendants Sentenced Under Mandatory Minimums Not Entitled To Relief Under 18 U.S.C. sec. 3582(c)(2)

    In Koons v. United States, after several criminal defendants pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy charges, the district court discovered that the mandatory minimum sentence provided under 21 U.S.C. sec. 841(b)(1) was higher than the sentencing range provided under the Sentencing Guidelines. The district court decided that the mandatory minimums trumped the Guidelines, and sentenced the defendants under that range,... Read More >

  • June 2018
    Court Permits Bankruptcy Discharge Despite Oral Misrepresentation Over Ability To Pay Legal Bill

    When R. Scott Appling fell behind in paying his legal bills, he orally told his attorneys that he would repay them with a tax refund he was expecting to get. When he got the (lower than expected) refund, he used it to pay other expenses instead, lying to his attorneys so they would continue with the representation. After the attorneys... Read More >

  • June 2018
    Court Resolves Confusion In Certain Plea Agreements, Holds They Are Subject To Sentencing Guidelines

    In 2011, the Court had to decide whether a criminal defendant who entered into a plea deal under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C) could petition to reduce his or her sentence under 18 U.S.C. sec. 3582(c)(2) (which permits a reduction upon a change in the Sentencing Guidelines) if the Sentencing Guidelines were later amended to lower the sentencing range... Read More >

  • June 2018
    Court Sides With Baker Who Refused To Bake Custom Cake For Gay Wedding

    When Jack Phillips refused, on religious grounds, to make a custom wedding cake for a gay couple, the couple filed a charge with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission alleging the refusal violated Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act. Phillips maintained he had a First Amendment right to refuse to bake the cake, but the Commission found him in violation of the Act and... Read More >

  • May 2018
    Private Investigations Not Compensated Under Mandatory Victims Restitution Act

    The Mandatory Victims Restitution Act of 1996 requires defendants convicted of certain federal offenses to reimburse victims for “lost income and necessary child care, transportation, and other expenses incurred during participation in the investigation or prosecution of the offense or attendance at proceedings related to the offense.” 18 U.S.C. sec. 3663A(b)(4). When Sergio Lagos defrauded a lender for tens of... Read More >

  • May 2018
    Police Cannot Search Vehicle Within Curtilage Of A Home Without A Search Warrant

    The Fourth Amendment has long required that any police officer entering the curtilage of a home to have a search warrant. However, the Fourth Amendment also has an “automobile exception,” permitting warrantless searches of vehicles due to their ready mobility. In Collins v. Virginia, a police officer entered the curtilage of a home (its driveway) without a warrant to... Read More >

  • May 2018
    Private Arbitration Agreements Preclude Employee Class Actions

    In Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, employees sued their employer in a class action for violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Those employees each had signed an agreement to arbitrate employment disputes under the Federal Arbitration Act, and the employer invoked those agreements to preclude the class actions. The employees argued that the National Labor Relations Act triggered... Read More >

  • May 2018
    Prior Precedents Did Not Preclude Tribal Sovereign Immunity In A Property Dispute

    After the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe purchased a 40-acre parcel of land in Washington State, a survey of that parcel revealed that approximately an acre of it lay on the other side of a boundary fence, which the Tribe’s new neighbors, the Lundgrens, believed they had owned for decades. The Lundgrens file a quiet title action, and the Tribe asserted... Read More >

  • May 2018
    Complaints Of Use Of Full Restraints Moot After Criminal Cases Ended

    A group of criminal defendants challenged the policy of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, which permitted officers to put in-custody defendants in full restraints for nonjury proceedings in court. The district court denied the claims, but while the appeal before the Ninth Circuit was pending all of the cases involving those defendants resolved. The... Read More >

  • May 2018
    Drivers Have A Reasonable Expectation Of Privacy In A Car Rented By Another

    In Byrd v. United States, Terrence Byrd was pulled over while driving a car rented by Latasha Reed, although the rental agreement did not list Byrd as an authorized driver. The police searched Byrd’s car and discovered 49 bricks of heroin in the trunk. Byrd moved to suppress the evidence as fruits of an unlawful search, but the district... Read More >

  • May 2018
    Court Rejects Facial-Insufficiency Challenge To Overbroad Wiretap Orders

    A federal judge is only authorized to issue a wiretap order for wiretaps conducted within his or her jurisdiction. In Dahda v. United States, a Kansas federal judge issued wiretap orders authorizing wiretaps in Kansas, but also contained language permitting wiretaps in Missouri. Federal investigators conducted the wiretaps in Missouri, and the evidence they gathered led to Los and... Read More >

  • May 2018
    Court Strikes Down Federal Law Banning Sports Betting

    In a 7-2 opinion by Justice Alito, the Court reversed the Third Circuit and held that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was unconstitutional for violating the “anticommandeering rule” inherent in the Tenth Amendment, as it impermissibly sought to regulate state regulation of sports betting. The Act in question forbid states from authorizing betting schemes based on competitive sporting... Read More >

  • May 2018
    Sixth Amendment Permits Defendant To Insist On Not Conceding Guilt For First-Degree Murder

    Robert McCoy was charged with first-degree murder for killing his estranged wife’s mother, stepfather, and son. The evidence was damning, but McCoy insisted that he was innocent. His attorney at trial, Larry English, decided that the best strategy in the face of the evidence was to admit to the jury that McCoy committed the murders, but argue that his mental... Read More >

  • April 2018
    Court Strikes Portion Of Immigration and Naturalization Act as Void for Vagueness

    In one of Justice Scalia’s last majority opinions before his death, the Court held that part of a federal law defining “violent crime” was unconstitutionally void for vagueness in Johnson v. United States, 576 U.S. --- (2015). The Immigration and Nationality Act similarly provided that a person could be deported for committing an “aggravated felony,” which included a “crime of... Read More >

  • April 2018
    Court Awards Qualified Immunity To Officer Who Shot Woman Claiming Excessive Force

    In Kisela v. Hughes, officers reporting to a call of a woman acting erratically with a large knife discovered Ms. Hughes emerging from her house with a knife in her hand, heading toward another woman, Ms. Chadwick, who it turned out was Hughes’ roommate. Hughes stopped six feet from Chadwick, and the officers drew their firearms and told Hughes... Read More >

  • April 2018
    Service Advisors Are Exempt From Fair Labor Standards Act Overtime-Pay Requirement

    The Fair Labor Standards Act exempted “any salesman, partsman, or mechanic primarily engaged in selling or servicing automobiles” from overtime-pay requirements under the Act. In Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navarro, a group of service advisors sued for overtime pay under the Act when the Department of Labor decided in 2011 that they were excluded from the exemption. The Court... Read More >

  • March 2018
    Court Rejects Fifth Circuit’s “Substantial Need” Test For Funding Under 18 U.S.C. sec. 3599(f)

    Under 18 U.S.C. sec. 3599(f), a defendant charged with a crime punishable by death can petition the trial court for funds that would be “reasonably necessary” for investigative, expert, or other services needed for the defense. In Ayestas v. Davis, a man sentenced to death made such a petition to support his federal habeas claim for ineffective assistance of... Read More >

  • March 2018
    Government Must Prove Specific Interference With Targeted Tax-Related Proceedings For Tax Obstruction Charge

    IRS code makes it a crime under 26 U.S.C. sec. 7212(a) to “obstruct or impede, or endeavor to obstruct or impede, the due administration of” the Internal Revenue Code, either “corruptly or by force or threats of force.” The IRS investigated Carlo Marinello, and ultimately charged him with several violations of the tax code, including for tax obstruction under Section... Read More >

  • March 2018
    Court Permits State Court Jurisdiction Over Securities Class Actions

    In Cyan, Inc. v. Beaver County Employees Retirement Fund, the Fund purchased shares in Cyan which then declined in value, prompting the Fund and others to file a class action suit against Cyan in state court under the Securities Act of 1933. Cyan argued that the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act of 1998, as it amended the 1933 Act,... Read More >

  • March 2018
    DC Super-Priority Lien on a Condo Cannot Foreclose Subject to First Priority Mortgage

    Following from its decision in Chase Plaza Condominium Assoc. v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, 98 A.3d 166 (DC 2014), in which the DC Court of Appeals held that a DC condominium foreclosing on its statutory six-month super-priority lien could by law extinguish an otherwise first-priority mortgage when the proceeds of the sale were insufficient to satisfy that mortgage, the Court was... Read More >

  • March 2018
    Collective Bargaining Agreements Must Be Interpreted Under Ordinary Principles of Contract Law

    In a per curiam opinion in CNH Industrial N.V. v. Reese, the Court reversed the Sixth Circuit’s decision to apply its precedent to render a collective bargaining agreement ambiguous as a matter of law. In a previous case, M&G Polymers USA, LLC v. Tackett, 574 U.S. ___ (2015), the Court required the Sixth Circuit to interpret such agreements using... Read More >

  • March 2018
    Prisoner’s Attorneys’ Fee Award Must First Come From The Judgment

    Murphy v. Smith Under 42 U.S.C. sec. 1997e(d)(2), a prisoner who prevails in a civil rights suit, and receives an attorneys’ fee award, has a portion of his judgment, not to exceed 25 percent, applied to that award. When Charles Murphy won his suit against two prison guards, the district court ordered that Murphy pay ten percent of his attorney’s... Read More >

  • March 2018
    Court Restricts Collections Efforts Under Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act

    In Rubin v. Islamic Republic of Iran, certain parties obtained a judgment against Iran under the state sponsors of terrorism exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. They then sought to enforce that judgment against Iranian historical artifacts housed at the University of Chicago. The district court declined to permit the attachment, and the Seventh Circuit affirmed. The Court,... Read More >

  • March 2018
    Guilty Plea Does Not Bar A Constitutional Challenge To Conviction

    Class v. United States When Rodney Class was indicted for possessing firearms in his locked vehicle parked at the U.S. Capitol, he moved to dismiss on the basis that the law violated his Second Amendment and Due Process rights under the Constitution. The district court declined Class’ motion, and he entered into a written plea agreement, which did not expressly... Read More >

  • March 2018
    Court Reads Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Law Narrowly, Excludes Internal Whistleblower

    Digital Realty Trust, Inc. v. Somers In 2014, Paul Somers, a vice president for a real estate investment trust, reported to senior management several suspected securities-law violations by the trust. He was subsequently terminated. He brought suit claiming protection as a whistleblower as defined under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, which defines whistleblowers as... Read More >

  • March 2018
    United States Permitted To Intervene In Water Dispute Between States

    In an original action concerning water rights agreed to between several states under the Rio Grande Compact, Texas argued that New Mexico was permitting its users to siphon off more water than the Compact permitted. The United States sought to intervene, making the same claims as Texas, in part because New Mexico’s actions depleted a reservoir through which the Government... Read More >

  • March 2018
    Insider Status In Bankruptcy Reviewed For Clear Error, Not De Novo

    In U.S. Bank, N.A. v. Village at Lakeridge, LLC, the Village petitioned for Chapter 11 bankruptcy with two primary creditors, U.S. Bank and an insider owner. It needed consent to enter into a “cramdown” reorganization plan, but U.S. Bank refused to consent, and the insider was statutorily unable to provide consent. To fix the problem, the insider owner transferred... Read More >

  • February 2018
    Immigrants Detained By The Government Not Entitled To Bond Hearings

    Under immigration law, applicants for admission to the United States may be detained by the Government until certain proceedings have concluded. Nothing in the applicable statutes limit the duration of detention, nor mention bond hearings. In Jennings v. Rodriguez, an immigrant filed a habeas corpus suit arguing that he should be entitled to a bond hearing once his detention... Read More >

  • February 2018
    Fractured Court Acknowledges Congress’ Power To Abridge Court Jurisdiction Mid-Case

    While a case was pending in federal district court regarding a taking of land into trust on behalf of an Indian Tribe, Congress passed the Gun Lake Trust Land Reaffirmation Act, which provided that suits relating to the land “shall not be filed or maintained in a Federal court and shall be promptly dismissed.” The plaintiff argued that the law... Read More >

  • February 2018
    Court Narrows Bankruptcy Safe Harbor Provision

    In Merit Management Group, LP v. FTI Consulting, Inc., the Court addressed 11 U.S.C. sec. 548(e), which allows bankruptcy trustees to set aside and recover certain transfers for the benefit of the bankruptcy estate, but not a “settlement payment . . . made by or to (or for the benefit of) a . . . financial institution . ... Read More >

  • February 2018
    DC Circuit Reverses Attempt At Currency Conversion Through Rule 59(e)

    The case of Leidos, Inc. v. Hellenic Republic is a study in “be careful what you wish for.” After requesting an arbitration award in euros, and obtaining a judgment from the federal district court confirming that award in euros, Leidos, Inc. moved under Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e) to convert that award to U.S. dollars, nunc pro tunc to... Read More >

  • February 2018
    Southern District Heightens Lawyers’ Duties in Preventing Spoliation of Evidence by Clients

    In Industrial Quick Search, Inc. et al. v. Miller, Rosado & Algois, LLP et al., January 2, 2018, the Southern District of New York issued a decision underscoring the importance of lawyers paying early attention to the need for imposing “litigation holds,” being proactive in ensuring compliance with such holds, and making a clear record of steps taken with... Read More >

  • January 2018
    Challenges to EPA “Waters of the United States” Rule Must Be Filed In Federal District Court

    The Clean Water Act limits the discharge of pollutants into “navigable waters,” which is defined by Congress as “the waters of the United States.” The EPA issued a Rule to define that term. While most agency rules are properly challenged in the federal district courts, the Act required challenges to rules issuing “any effluent limitation” or “issuing or denying any... Read More >

  • January 2018
    Court Holds That Tolling Statute “Stopped The Clock” On State Law Claims, Instead Of Providing A “Grace Period”

    In Artis v. District of Columbia, Artis filed a suit against D.C. in federal court with a federal discrimination claim and some state claims. Two and a half years later, the district court dismissed the federal claim, and with it dismissed the state claims for lack of jurisdiction. Under 28 USC sec. 1367(d), the “period of limitations” for re-filing the... Read More >

  • January 2018
    Court Finds Probable Cause To Arrest Partygoers For Unlawful Entry

    When police officers busted a raucous party being held in a vacant house, some of the partygoers said that “Peaches” owned the house and allowed the party. On the phone, though, Peaches admitted she had no such authority, and the true owner told police he had never given anyone permission to be there. The officers arrested the partygoers for violating... Read More >

  • November 2017
    Supreme Court Clarifies Which Deadlines Are Jurisdictional

    In Hamer v. Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, the Court, in a unanimous opinion by Justice Ginsburg, set forth a clear and easy way to tell whether a deadline is jurisdictional, and cannot be waived or extended, or is merely a “claim-processing rule” that can be extended: deadlines provided by statute are jurisdictional, while deadlines provided by court rules are... Read More >

  • June 2017
    Court Provides Guide For Defining Property In A Takings Case

    St. Croix has a regulation that prohibits the owners of two neighboring properties along the St. Croix River from being separately sold or built upon unless each property has at least an acre of developable land. The Murrs owned two such parcels, each with less than an acre available to be developed. The Murrs wanted to sell one of the... Read More >

  • June 2017
    Court Rules That District Courts Can Hear Mixed Cases Dismissed For Lack Of Jurisdiction, Over Justice Gorsuch’s First Dissent

    In Perry v. Merit Systems Protection Board, the Court had to determine which federal court could hear an appeal from the Board’s decision that it lacked jurisdiction to hear a federal employee’s case. When Perry was fired from his job with the U.S. Census Bureau, he claimed discrimination (making his case a “mixed” one), but then signed a settlement agreeing... Read More >

  • June 2017
    Court Applies Five-Year Limitations Period to SEC Disgorgement Actions

    In Kokesh v. Securities and Exchange Commission, the SEC sought to force Kokesh to disgorge millions he had misappropriated from various businesses from 1995 to 2009. While the Supreme Court had long held that a five-year limitations period applied to any SEC “action, suit or proceeding for the enforcement of any civil fine, penalty, or forfeiture,” the district court held... Read More >

  • June 2017
    Supreme Court Limits Government's Power to Seize Personal Property

    The Comprehensive Forfeiture Act mandates forfeiture of “any property constituting, or derived from, any proceeds the person obtained, directly or indirectly, as the result of” certain drug crimes. After brothers Tony and Terry Honeycutt were indicted for such drug crimes for selling a particular chemical through a hardware store Tony owned, Tony pled guilty and agreed to forfeit the bulk... Read More >

  • June 2017
    An ERISA Church Pension Plan Need Not Be Established by a Church

    Originally, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act exempted “church plans” from a variety of rules designed to ensure solvency, and defined those plans as having been “established and maintained . . . for its employees . . . by a church.” Later, Congress amended this exception to include “a plan maintained by an organization . . . the principal purpose... Read More >

  • June 2017
    Court Affirms Virginia Court’s Application Of Juvenile Punishment Standards

    In Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (2010), the Court held that juvenile defendants convicted of nonhomicide offenses could not be sentenced to life without parole. Virginia had already abolished parole and instead replaced it with a “geriatric release” program which allowed older inmates to receive conditional release. In Virginia v. LeBlanc, LeBlanc was sentenced to life in prison for... Read More >

  • June 2017
    Patent Holders May Not Use Federal Law To Issue Injunctions Against Applicants For Biosimilar Products

    The Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009 provides an abbreviated process for the FDA to approve drugs that are biosimilar to already licensed biological products. The Act, in part, requires an applicant for a biosimilar product to provide its application and manufacturing information to the patent holder within 20 days of the date the FDA notifies the applicant... Read More >

  • June 2017
    Court Again Limits Ability To Appeal Denial Of Class Certification

    Consumers who purchased Xbox 360s sued Microsoft both individually and as a class. The district court struck the class allegations, refusing to certify the class. The Ninth Circuit refused to hear the appeal of that ruling under Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(f), which allows such interlocutory appeals only by permission of the court of appeals. Instead of pursuing their individual... Read More >

  • June 2017
    Court Again Limits Forum-Shopping In Suits Against Nationwide Companies

    In Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of Cal., San Francisco City, a number of users of the drug Plavix sued the maker in California for alleged health problems caused by the drug, despite the fact that hardly any of the users lived in that state, and Bristol-Myers being incorporated in Delaware and headquartered in New York. None of the... Read More >

  • June 2017
    Supreme Court: Posting To Facebook Is A First Amendment Right

    A North Carolina law made it a felony for a registered sex offender “to access a commercial social networking Web site where the sex offender knows that the site permits minor children to become members or to create or maintain personal Web pages.” When a sex offender posted on Facebook about getting a traffic ticket dismissed, he was convicted and... Read More >

  • June 2017
    September 11 Detainees Denied A Bivens Action For Their Detention

    In Ziglar v. Abbasi, the Court was asked to extend the implied cause of action theories under Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971) to alleged constitutional violations six men claimed to have suffered during detention shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks. The Second Circuit permitted the claims to go forward against certain executive officials,... Read More >

  • June 2017
    Supreme Court Clarifies Expert Psychiatric Assistance In Indigent Defendant Cases

    The Court had previously held in Ake v. Oklahoma, 470 U.S. 68 (1985), that when an indigent defendant’s mental condition is relevant to his criminal culpability, the State must provide that defendant with access to a mental health expert who is sufficiently available to the defense, and independent from the prosecution, to conduct a psychiatric examination and “assist in evaluation,... Read More >

  • June 2017
    SCOTUS: Disparaging Trademarks Have First Amendment Protection

    The Lanham Act has a provision prohibiting the registration of trademarks that “disparage . . . or bring . . . into contemp[t] or disrepute” and “persons, living or dead.” Simon Tam, lead singer of the Japanese rock band “The Slants” sued when the band’s name was denied registration. The Federal Circuit held that the disparagement clause was facially unconstitutional... Read More >

  • June 2017
    Supreme Court Rejects Gender-Based Differentiation In Immigration Law

    The Immigration and Naturalization Act provided that a child born abroad to a father who was a U.S. citizen and a mother who was not was eligible for U.S. citizenship if the father had spent ten years in the U.S., with at least five of those years after turning 14. If the mother was the U.S. citizen, however, the mother... Read More >

  • June 2017
    Justice Gorsuch’s First Majority Opinion Is A Win For Debt Purchasers

    In Henson v. Santander Consumer USA, Inc., Justice Gorsuch authored the unanimous decision in a decidedly conversational tone, holding that an entity that purchases another’s debt and then seeks to collect that debt is not a “debt collector” under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and thus is not beholden to that Act’s strictures for debt collection. The Act defines... Read More >

  • June 2016
    VA: Foreclosure Purchasers Face New Potential Hurdle In Virginia

    In Parrish v. Federal National Mortgage Association, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled 5-2 that when a defendant raises a bona fide question of the plaintiff's title in an unlawful detainer/ejectment action before the General District Court, that court loses subject matter over the case and the plaintiff must vindicate its title in the Circuit Court, thereby creating another... Read More >