Short Circuit: A Roundup of Recent Federal Court Decisions
Please enjoy the latest edition of Short Circuit, a weekly feature from the Institute for Justice.
New on the Short Circuit podcast: Mike Masnick of Techdirt sets the record straight on Section 230. Plus: when the government flies a drone over your house and takes photos, is that a search?
- Tennessee man and his mom participate in the January 6th incident at the Capitol, sporting tactical vests and (in the man’s case) carrying a holstered taser. They enter the Capitol through an open door, pass police officers standing nearby, and see a few sets of zip ties that they snag. They roam the Capitol for about 12 minutes, including entering the Senate gallery, and then leave, apologizing to police on the way out. They vandalize nothing and commit no violence. Should they be held in jail pending trial? D.C. Circuit: Only if they pose an articulable threat to the community, which the district court hasn’t adequately considered and ought to on remand.
- Lawyer in Queens falsifies some 100 asylum applications, so federal prosecutors charge her with asylum fraud. They also—because it is the specific policy of the United States Department of Justice to stack as many charges as possible—separately charge her with lying to the government and with identity theft, even though she did not, in any normal sense, steal anyone’s identity. Second Circuit: Convictions affirmed. Concurrence: The stacking seems unfair, though.
- Practice tip: If the Third Circuit publishes redlines of your briefs, you are probably screwed.
- Local governments enjoy immunity from antitrust damages, but is a public hospital that operates in 47 locations across two (soon to be three!) states really a “local” anything? ‘Tis, says the Fourth Circuit.
- Forward-thinking Jean-Noel Frydman bought and registered France.com in 1994, using it as a platform for his business’s (also called France.com) France-related travel services. Following litigation in Paris’s Tribunal de Grande Instance and Cour d’Appel, the domain name is transferred to the French Republic—or, more specifically, to Jean-Yves Le Drian, the Republic’s Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs. France.com (the business) sues France (the country) in the Eastern District of Virginia, claiming cybersquatting, trademark infringement, and more. District court: Much as it did during its last visit to the E.D. Va., France wins. Fourth Circuit: Correct; France is immune under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.
- After an employee of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission expressed concern that the Chairman’s stock holdings might pose a conflict of interest, the employee was liquidated. Fifth Circuit: The employee only knew about the potential conflict because of her job with the Commission, so she was speaking as an employee and not a citizen. No First Amendment problem there.
- After fellow inmates at Coffee County, Tenn. jail caused their toilets to overflow, a detainee spent several days in a cell contaminated with urine and feces. Sixth Circuit: The detainee has sued the county, but this is not the county’s mess.
- Following the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, in which 58 were killed and more than 500 injured by a gunman firing weapons equipped with bump stocks, President Trump ordered DOJ to propose rules
Article from Latest – Reason.com