DC Circuit: February 2010 Archives
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February 2010 Archives

Race Discrimination Case Decided in Bush v. Dist. of Columbia

Bush v. Dist. of Columbia, No. 08-7016, involved an action by six minority members of a police department claiming that defendant police supervisor's racially discriminatory conduct and the district's complicity impaired plaintiffs' employment contract.

As the court of appeals wrote:  "Plaintiffs are six minority members of the Metropolitan Police Department. They sued their supervisor, ... and the District of Columbia. [The supervisor], who is white, allegedly insulted them frequently and profanely, gave them unduly harsh performance evaluations, and denied them equipment, overtime, and promotions - all because of their race."

The court of appeals affirmed summary judgment for defendants on the grounds that 1) the disciplinary proceeding relied upon by plaintiff took place after the events alleged in the complaint and the police chief in fact did discipline the supervisor for his treatment of the officers under his command; and 2) even the most charitable reading of plaintiffs' briefs revealed only passing references to a vague and unsupported narrative of a supervisor's harsh treatment of his employees.

Related Resources

Effort to Collect from Individual in Witness Protection Program Addressed

Gonzalez-Vera v. Townley, No. 09-5134, was an action seeking to invoke one of 18 U.S.C. section 3523's enforcement procedures, the appointment of a guardian to help collect a judgment against an individual under the Witness Protection Program.

As the court of appeals wrote:  "[Defendant] was linked to the July 1976 torture and murder of Carmelo Soria Espinoza ("Soria"), a United Nations diplomat then living and working in Chile. In November 2002, Soria's widow, Laura Gonzalez-Vera, along with the personal representative of Soria's estate, sued Townley seeking damages for Soria's torture and killing.  When Townley defaulted, the district court entered a $7 million judgment against him."

The court of appeals affirmed the dismissal of the complaint, holding that 1) Congress intended to make guardianship available only where the Attorney General found that the protected person was failing to make reasonable efforts--that is, only where disclosure to a guardian was necessary to enforce the judgment; and 2) here, the Attorney General determined that the protected person was making reasonable efforts to satisfy the judgment.

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Schuler v. PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP (Age Discrimination)

Today, the D.C. Circuit decided an appeal in an action brought under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and related statutes.

In Schuler v. PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP, No. 08-7115, plaintiffs alleged that defendant accounting firm refused to make plaintiffs partners because of their ages, in violation of the ADEA and its District of Columbia and New York counterparts.  The district court granted summary judgment for defendant on the ADEA and D.C. law claims, and dismissed the New York Human Rights Law (NYHRL) claim on the ground that plaintiff did not reside in New York.

The court of appeals affirmed the judgment in part on the grounds that 1) plaintiff did not make out a claim under the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (an amendment to the ADEA) because he failed to bring a claim involving "discrimination in compensation" and point to a "discriminatory compensation decision or other practice"; and 2) plaintiff failed to provide a basis upon which a reasonable jury could disbelieve defendant's primary explanation for not making him a partner, namely that he had received below-excellent performance ratings.

However, the court of appeals reversed the dismissal of the NYHRL claim, because plaintiff could state a claim under the NYHRL by alleging that a discriminatory act, in this case the adoption of a discriminatory promotion policy, occurred in New York.

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US v. Goodwin, No. 09-3053

In a prosecution for possession with intent to distribute cocaine, a denial of petitioner's habeas petition is affirmed where: 1) a "reverse sting" downward departure was inapplicable because petitioner was sentenced not based on drug quantity but rather as a career offender; and 2) petitioner failed to show a reasonable probability that the district court, having effectively rejected the predicate of petitioner's lesser harms argument, would have departed downward had counsel formally invoked U.S.S.G. section 5K2.11.

Read US v. Goodwin, No. 09-3053

Appellate Information

Argued January 7, 2010

Decided February 5, 2010

Judges

Opinion by Judge Tatel

Counsel

For Appellant:

Beverly G. Dyer, A.J. Kramer, Federal Public Defenders, Washington, DC

Patricia A. Heffernan, Elizabeth A. Trosman and Roy W. McLeese III, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, Washington, DC

Miller v. Hersman, No. 08-5494

In a sex and age discrimination action, summary judgment for defendant is reversed where: 1) defendant failed to carry its burden to show that plaintiff did not timely contact an EEO counselor and thus did not exhaust his administrative remedies; and 2) plaintiff did not fail to respond to defendant's exhaustion argument.

Read Miller v. Hersman, No. 08-5494

Appellate Information

Argued November 17, 2009

Decided February 5, 2010

Judges

Opinion by Judge Henderson

Counsel

For Appellant:

David A. Young and Carl S. Nadler, Arnold & Porter LLP, Washington, DC

For Appellee:

Brian P. Hudak and R. Craig Lawrence, Assistant United States Attorneys, Washington, DC

US v. Vinton, No. 07-3125

Defendant's drug and firearm possession convictions are affirmed where it was reasonable for the police to believe evidence relevant to defendant's weapons-possession offense would be found inside his briefcase.

Read US v. Vinton, No. 07-3125

Appellate Information

Argued December 10, 2009

Decided February 5, 2010

Judges

Opinion by Judge Brown

Counsel

For Appellant:

Beverly G. Dyer, A.J. Kramer and Neil H. Jaffee, Assistant Federal Public Defenders, Washington, DC

For Appellee:

James M. Perez, Roy W. McLeese III and Mary B. McCord, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, Washington, DC