2nd Circuit Civil Rights Law News - U.S. Second Circuit
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Recent in events in Ferguson, Missouri have prompted questions about the militarization of police: why do SWAT teams need to be armed like they're going into Kandahar? Last week, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals criticized this militant response in an appeal over police conduct during a drug raid -- although "drug raid" is a loose term.

In order to serve a search warrant on Ronald Terebesi, who was alleged to possess a small quantity of crack cocaine, "police planned to smash Terebesi's windows, detonate at least three stun grenades (or "flash bangs") inside the home, break down the front door with a battering ram, and storm the house with weapons drawn."

Ah, a bar association which doesn't take divisive stances that are likely to irk its members.

Connecticut lawmakers passed some pretty strict gun laws after the Newton tragedy. In Shew v. Malloy, a federal district court upheld the constitutionality of these new gun laws, and an appeal is working its way through the Second Circuit.

Connecticut's bar association initially voted to join the defense of the laws, but after a wee bit of backlash and a referendum, that's not happening any longer.

A class action lawsuit against the City of New York can proceed, the Second Circuit ruled today. The lawsuit began when hundreds of Occupy Wall Street protesters marched across the Brooklyn Bridge on October 1, 2011. Halfway across the bridge, they were trapped and arrested by police.

Police claimed the protesters were arrested for impeding traffic, but the protesters claimed that they were lured onto the bridge by police, who they say escorted them onto the bridge, only to arrest them once they were there. Though the police were actually announcing over a megaphone that protesters who entered the roadway would be arrested, the plaintiffs in this claim that they couldn't hear them.

Question: How do you know when you've been blogging way too long?

Answer: When the topic of rabbis providing orally assisted circumcisions crosses your desk twice -- first as a deceased baby case, then as a Second Circuit case addressing a New York City regulation passed in the wake of the tragedy.

The practice at issue is called metzizah b'peh, which involves removing blood from the circumcision wound with the rabbi's mouth. The ritual continues to be widespread in Orthodox communities in New York City, despite previous cases of babies contracting or dying from herpes after the ritual, including three cases tied to a single rabbi who has since been banned from performing the procedure.

"Stop and frisk" just got one step closer to becoming a sad, unconstitutional footnote in the annals of New York City, though it seems my fellow blogger's predictions proved prescient:

"Well, we're of the opinion that no matter what decision the district court comes to regarding whether law enforcement associations can intervene, someone's going to have a problem with it. If the district court does not allow them to intervene, they [the police unions] will appeal.

Yep. U.S. District Court Judge Analisa Torres denied the police unions' attempt to intervene and block the "stop and frisk" settlement last week. As predicted, Patrick Lynch, president of the city Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, one of five unions that sought to intervene, said the union would ask the Second Circuit to overturn Torres' ruling, reports Reuters.

We've been meaning to cover this case for a few weeks now, but with breaking new developments related to the Central Park Five settlement, and the at long last release of the "drone strike" memo, we were distracted. But now, we can now take a look at one of the most important Second Circuit Fourth Amendment cases to be heard this year.

And the court didn't stop there. It also gave district courts some suggestions on dealing with jurors' use of social media and the importance of jury instructions.

In 2011, the United States engaged in drone strikes in Yemen that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, an al Qaeda leader, and al-Awlaki's son -- both U.S. citizens. The killing was authorized by a Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel memorandum ("OLC Memo"), examining the legality of such an authorized killing -- that is, how U.S. criminal law and Constitutional law applied to the killing of U.S. citizens abroad who are deemed "enemy combatants."

Two writers for The New York Times, along with the ACLU, each submitted Freedom of Information Act requests related to documents that authorized the killing of U.S. citizens by drone strike. The Second Circuit agreed that redacted copies of the memorandum should be released back in April, and the Government later sought rehearing en banc.

Yesterday, after years of waiting, the Second Circuit ordered the release, and released a redacted copy of the memo.

Growing up in the New York area in the 1980's, there were two cases that really made an impact on me, and the nation: Bernard Goetz's vigilante subway shooting, and the case of the Central Park Jogger. Bernard Goetz's enraged shooting was somewhat understandable, though over-reactive, on a visceral level. But the rape and near-fatal beating of a solitary woman jogger just boggled the mind. I can't go running to this day, without giving her a thought.

And while that case took place in 1989, the central park jogger case is still making headlines, as the wrongly convicted five men are now on the verge of reaching a settlement with the City of New York.

In April, the Second Circuit ordered the disclosure of a redacted Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel ("OLC") memo that essentially laid out the legal analysis that authorized the killing of U.S. citizens abroad by drone strike.

Last week, the Government submitted a motion seeking leave to file an ex parte and in camera motion for rehearing en banc of the court's April decision. The next day, the Second Circuit issued its ruling. Read on to see what the court decided.

Take a look at a dollar bill or a coin. Ever noticed the phrase, "In God We Trust?"

Yeah, me neither. But thanks to 31 U.S.C. 5112(d)(1) and 5114(b), the slogan is mandatory on coinage and paper currency. Eleven individuals, including a coin collector, a teacher, atheists, secular humanists, and others, all argue that they are harmed by the placement of the slogan.

It might've been an interesting argument -- if it weren't the umpteenth time the argument has been brought, unsuccessfully, in federal court.