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.
Dedicated readers will remember that just before the new year, the Nevada Supreme Court held that the state constitution’s search-and-seizure rights could be enforced through private damages suits and that qualified immunity did not apply. (IJ filed a brief and participated in oral argument as an amicus, asking for just that result.) And Short Circuit listeners will remember that earlier last year, the Michigan Supreme Court reached a similar result to hold that rights in its constitution could be enforced through damages actions, too. In a recent article, IJ’s Nick Sibilla dives into how this kind of robust state constitutional accountability contrasts with constitutional claims in federal court that run into the qualified immunity buzzsaw.
- When Barbra Streisand filed a $50 mil lawsuit against a photographer for invasion of privacy after he published a picture of her home, it led to the vastly wider distribution of that photo and the coining of the “Streisand effect,” the phenomenon in which an attempt to hide, remove, or censor information leads to the unintended consequence of increasing awareness of that information. Some people haven’t learned the lesson. See, e.g., In re: Tara A. Demetriades, No. 20-2559 (Second Circuit, Jan. 18, 2023) (denying motion to keep attorney disciplinary matter under seal).
- This Third Circuit case in which a current law student wins a resounding victory for a pro se prisoner might seem to undermine the rationale for lawyer licensure, but it’s just one anecdote with no broader implications.
- Pro tip from the Third Circuit: Strive to live your life in such a way that an appellate court never describes your “reputation for sanctionable conduct before tribunals around the country” as “well documented.” Aim instead for something like “unjustified” or, at a minimum, “unexpected and disappointing.”
- In which the Fourth Circuit reaffirms that precedent from the 1970s is still both instructive and binding, just as Creedence Clearwater Revival remains totally righteous no matter what your niece says on TikTok.
- This Fourth Circuit case in which a current law student wins a resounding victory for a pro se prisoner might seem to undermine the rationale for lawyer licensure, but it’s just one anecdote with no broader implications.
- Wedding photography company takes pictures not of weddings, but of the vendors servicing weddings, like florists. (Markets in everything!) It brings an antitrust suit against (and defames) two traditional wedding photographers whose exclusivity requirements precluded some potential business. Texas courts: A picture may be worth a thousand words, but this frivolous lawsuit is worth $41,518.75 in sanctions—which bankrupts the company. Do you take the lawyer who filed the frivolous suit to be liable for malpractice in the bankruptcy proceedings? Fifth Circuit: I do.
- The Louisiana Public Service Commission is deeply unhappy with certain of the rates filed by a nuclear-power company. The one pathway for the commission to challenge those rates is through filing a complaint with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. One of those complaints has been stagnating for six years; two others have languished for over four. Louisiana commission to Fifth Circuit: Congress did not intend for the process to be quite this molasses-like.
Article from Reason.com