DC Circuit - The FindLaw DC Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

June 2013 Archives

Hussain v. Obama and the D.C. Circuit: The Duck Test

In Hussain v. Obama, A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit has affirmed the district court’s decision to deny Guantanamo detainee Abdul al Qader Ahmed Hussain’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

The court determined that the habeas court’s findings of fact were not “clearly erroneous.” Instead, the court found the findings support the conclusion that Hussain was more likely than not a member of enemy forces.

Polar Bear Trophy Ban not Unbearable: D.C. Cir.

Polar bear trophies are still verboten after an opinion by the D.C. Circuit this past Tuesday upheld a federal Fish and Wildlife Service ban on importing items like polar bear rugs.

This opinion comes on the heels of the D.C. Circuit's ruling in March which upheld a 2008 decision to keep polar bears as a "threatened" species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, reports Natural Resources Defense Council.

If you promised your spouse a new pair of real polar bear slippers after a trip to Canada, you may want to reconsider.

Sri Srinivasan Sworn In as D.C. Circuit Judge

Sri Srinivasan was sworn in Monday afternoon as the newest judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, reports The Blog of Legal Times. The U.S. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Merrick Garland administered the oath in a small ceremony in Garland's chambers in the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse in downtown Washington D.C.

For folks in the area who want to be a part of the action, fear not. Though no date is currently set, a larger, public swearing-in ceremony at the courthouse is slated for the fall.

Srinivasan is officially the first person of Indian descent to sit on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

What Exactly Is the Secret FISA Court?

As NSA surveillance secrets make a a big splash in the headlines, you may have heard the terms “FISA” and “secret court,” but even as an attorney, don’t know much about them. Here’s a little more history on the most secretive court in America.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) regulates the government’s conduct of intelligence surveillance inside the United States. In essence, it requires the government to obtain a warrant before being able to conduct surveillance on “agents of a foreign power” engaged in espionage or terrorism.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) is the gatekeeper. By ruling yea or nay on warrant applications, it is supposed to ensure sure the government doesn’t abuse its surveillance powers.

D.C. Circuit to Review 5th Circuit Judge Jones' Misconduct

Judge Edith Jones of the Fifth Circuit was the subject of a judicial misconduct complaint before the D.C. Circuit this past Wednesday, stemming from alleged racially biased statements made by Jones during a speech in February.

Chief Justice Roberts reassigned the complaint from the Fifth Circuit to the D.C. Circuit’s judicial council, which will decide if the complaint warrants investigation, reports The Associated Press.

As the D.C. Circuit prepares to evaluate complaints of Jones’ misconduct, it seems certain that she will have a long way to go before this is over.

The Court Efficiency Act and the Pinocchio Test

Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, is pushing a bill called the Court Efficiency Act, which would take away three unfilled seats on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, and add one seat to both the Second and Eleventh Circuits.

Senator Grassley is adamant that “no matter how you slice it,” the D.C. Circuit ranks last or almost last in nearly every category that measures workload. “The D.C. Circuit has 108 appeals filed per authorized judgeship, the lowest in the nation,” according to a statement from Senator Grassley’s office.

But do the numbers add up?

Meet the D.C. Circuit Nominees: Millett, Pillard, Wilkins

The Obama D.C. Circuit nominees -- Patricia Millett, Cornelia Pillard, Robert Wilkins -- made their grand debut to the spotlight last week. Since the announcement, much of the discussion has focused on the political reaction to President Obama's nominations. But what about the nominees themselves?

Below is some information on the three high-profile lawyers -- an attorney, a law professor, and a judge -- who are up for seats at one of the most powerful courts in the country.

Police Can 'Double Dip' By Receiving Pensions and Salary

Across the nation, from California to Texas to D.C., voters had complained that it was unfair to watch public employees "double dip" by collecting their pension in addition to a salary.

But a change came, with many states and the District of Columbia passing laws to prevent "second career" retirees like former police officers from being rehired while still collecting pension money, reports Washington City Paper.

The D.C. Circuit is now saying that these laws, which may reduce a rehired cop's salary to zero to offset his pension payments, must allow public employees to receive a salary.

Obama Nominates 3 Candidates to D.C. Circuit

President Obama made a trio of nominations to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals: Patricia Millett, Nina Pillard and Robert Wilkins. The president preemptively warned Senate Republicans not to stand in their way.

All three of the nominees are established lawyers with top ratings from the American Bar Association:

No Anti-SLAPP, Sherrod Defamation Suit Can Go On, Says 8th Cir.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is allowing a defamation lawsuit to proceed against late conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart filed by former U.S. Department of Agriculture official Shirley Sherrod.

A three-judge panel affirmed a court order denying Breitbart's motion to dismiss the case under the District of Columbia's law barring SLAPPs.

If you're hoping for a substantive answer on whether the anti-SLAPP law applies in federal court, don't hold your breath. The decision was made on procedural grounds -- not on its merits.