Okay, an abusive seven new opinions today, concerning: (i) municipal liability under Monell; (ii) Vermont's environmental land use statute, (iii) a Booker remand, (iv) an immigration case, (v) a securities suit involved SEC Rule 14a, (vi) a habeas petition that was both granted and affirmed, and (vii) international arbitration.
Let's take them one-by-one, shall we?
1. In Coon v. Town of Springfield (VT), plaintiff sued the town and its town constable under section 1983 for an alleged violation of Coon's Fourth Amendment rights; the constable allegedly entered Coon's apartment without permission to serve eviction papers, which were left on the kitchen floor. The district court granted summary judgment to the defendants.
The CA2 affirmed in part and reversed in part. With respect to the town, the court affirmed. Although Coon argued that Vermont law enlarged municipal liability beyond that imposed by Monell, the CA2 held:
Just as states cannot extinguish municipality liability under § 1983 via state law, see Sagendorf-Teal v. County of Rensselaer, 100 F.3d 270, 276-77 (2d Cir. 1996), they cannot enlarge it either. As the Supreme Court discussed in Monell, Congress chose not to impose a federal law of respondeat superior, in part because it believed the imposition of an obligation on municipalities to keep the peace would raise constitutional problems. Monell, 436 U.S. at 693. A state may not alter that choice. If Vermont wishes to confer a cause of action against municipalities that is more generous to plaintiffs than § 1983, it is free to do so, but it may not tinker with the boundaries of the cause of action created by federal statute. As the claim at issue on this appeal arises under § 1983, the district court correctly held that the Town could not, consistent with Monell, be held liable under § 1983 for the illegal entry Coon complains of in this case.
(The court also held that Coon's argument was meritless anyway, because the Vermont statute did not purport to create a cause of action or enlarge the scope of municipal liability by its plain text.)
With respect to the claim against the town constable, however, the court reversed. Although the district court held that there were no material issues of fact, Coon and his wife submitted affidavits saying that they weren't home when the constable entered their apartment, and that they didn't consent to it. That's enough to survive summary judgment, said the CA2.
2. Next is Green Mountain RR Corp. v. Vermont. In this case, the CA2 held that "Vermont's environmental land use statute cannot impose pre-construction permit requirements on proposed railroad transloading facilities, on the ground that the Vermont statute is preempted by the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act of 1995, 49 U.S.C. § 10101 et seq." And that's all I have to say about that.
3. Third is United States v. Savarese, a challenge to a judgment of conviction and sentence on a conspiracy count; the appellant was convicted of being the "inside man" in a plot to rob the Employee Federal Credit Union at the New York Times. The court found that the evidence was sufficient to convict, but that it erred in calculating the applicable guidelies range because it applied a five-level enhancement for brandishing a gun. Because the robbery never actually happened, the district court had applied the enhancement because it found that it was "reasonably foreseeable" that the robbery would have involved guns. This was the wrong standard, wrote the CA2:
[T]he base offense level for a conspiracy to commit robbery is enhanced (from 20 to 25) where it can be established with reasonable certainty that the conspirators specifically intended that a firearm be brandished or possessed, although it is unnecessary that any brandishing or possession actually occurred. (emphasis in original).
Applying this standard, the CA2 found the enahcement inappropriate, and then remanded for re-sentencing in light of Booker and Crosby.
4. Next up is Medina v. Gonzales, an immigration case, the morale of which is: "don't lie at your immigration hearing." Judge Katzmann's opening paragraph says it all:
The central question presented by this petition is whether false oral statements madeunder oath during an asylum interview can constitute "false testimony" within the meaning of 8 U.S.C. § 1101(f)(6). Because we find that Congress did not directly speak to this issue in the Immigration and Nationality Act, we consider whether the Board of Immigration Appeals ["BIA"]'s construction is permissible and hold that it is and that, as a result, any alien who makes false oral statements under oath during an asylum interview with the subjective intent of obtaining immigration benefits is per se ineligible for suspension of deportation due to want of "good moral character." Additionally, because we find that substantial evidence supports the determination that the petitioner gave "false testimony" within the meaning of 8 U.S.C. § 1101(f)(6), we DENY the petition for review.
5. Fifth is Seinfeld v. Grey (no, not that Seinfeld), a securities suit that I can't claim to understand the import of. The upshot appears to be, however, that Item 10 of SEC Rule 14a-101 does not require a proxy statement to disclose the number of options that may be granted under a compensation plan, but only the number of shares "underlying such options," as required by the plain text of the regulation. If anyone understands why this is so important or appreciates some other importance to this opinion that's eluded me, please post in the comments.
6. On to Jackson v. Edwards, which affirms a grant of a writ of habeas corpus. Jackson, who was convicted of manslaughter and criminal weapons possession in connection with a 1997 shooting, argued that he was denied due process when the trial judge precluded him from presenting a justification defense. Jackson, who was the superintendant of a Brooklyn building, allegedly killed an "acutely intoxicated" man (yes, this is apparently a technical legal term in New York) who was trying to recover the keys to an apartment that wasn't his. At trial, Jackson tried to argue self-defense or protection of property, but was refused. After a (in my view unnecessarily) lengthy discussion of exhaustion, the CA2 agreed with Jackson that that refusal denied him due process.
7. Finally is Sarhank Group v. Oracle. Sarhank sought to enforce an Egyptian artbitral award against Oracle, but Oracle objected that it never agreed to arbitrate. The Egyptian arbitral panel and courts found otherwise, so the district court enforced the award. But, held the CA2, that doesn't matter because that finding was based on Egyptian law. The district court's decision must be based on American law, which limits the instances in which non-signatories can be found to have consented to arbitrate. The court was wrong to have deferred to the Egyptian authorities, so the CA2 remanded so that the district court could consider, de novo, whether Oracle consented to arbitrate.
Done. I need a nap. Or a drink.