U.S. Third Circuit - FindLaw

U.S. Third Circuit - The FindLaw 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog


Court Lifts Solitary Confinement for Some Death Row Inmates in Pennsylvania

Charles Dickens wrote that the law is an ass.

In Oliver Twist, the author suggested that sometimes the law makes no sense. In the case of Mr. Bumble, he said "the law is a ass" for making a man legally responsible for his wife's thievery.

With apologies to Dickens, as well as Craig Williams and Shawn Walker, it appears no one was legally responsible for their 14 years in unlawful solitary confinement. The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals said Williams and Walker had been denied due process, but that prison officials were not to blame because the law was not clear.

Age Bias Is Actionable in Sub-Groups, 3rd Cir. Rules

Splitting the federal circuits, a federal appeals court in Philadelphia has ruled that age discrimination may be actionable by sub-groups of older workers.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals said the Age Discrimination in Employment Act protects workers aged 40 and older against age discrimination, and groups of fifty-year-olds or older groups may sue relative to younger groups in the protected class.

"A rule that disallowed subgroups would ignore genuine statistical disparities that could otherwise be actionable through application of the plain text of the statute," the appellate court said.

In reversing a trial court decision in the case, the appeals court set up the issue for resolution by the U.S. Supreme Court. The third Circuit acknowledged that its ruling was at odds with the Second, Sixth and Eighth circuits, but said it was compelled to craft its own rule.

Refugee Students Can Go to International School Under EEOA

As a political storm swirls around refugees in America, a federal appeals court gave comfort to refugee students at a Pennsylvania high school.

The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals said that the students -- some who had fled war and violence in Burma, Mozambique, Somalia, Sudan and Tanzania -- have a right to attend a high school that provides a better education for them. Citing the Equal Educational Opportunities Act, the court said the students do not have to go to an alternative school that did not help them overcome language barriers to their education.

Judge D. Michael Fisher, writing for the majority, said the refugee students were "flourishing" at McCaskey High School's International School. It would do them more harm to go to the Phoenix Academy, an alternative school that the local school district had mandated.

"Jockeying them back to Phoenix now would thus cause them greater harm, as the school district conceded during oral argument," Judge Fisher wrote.

Remember Usher, the R&B singer who was inescapable on pop radio in the late 90s and throughout the early 2000s? Who starred in "Moesha" and "She's All That" and whose "Confessions" album was described as "the 'Thriller' of our generation"? Well, he's back -- in the Third Circuit, that is.

Usher won a long-standing copyright infringement lawsuit over his 2004 hit song "Bad Girl" last Friday, when the Third Circuit tossed the infringement suit against him.

A former teen actress went before the Third Circuit on Friday in an attempt to revive her defamation suit against Bill Cosby. Renita Hill has accused the comedian of drugging and sexually assaulting her when she was a 16-year-old actress on the TV show "Picture Pages."

When Cosby's lawyer denied Hill's accusations, as well as those of scores of other women, she sued, alleging that the denial rose to the level of defamation. A district court tossed that suit last January, but victory in the Third Circuit could revive Hill's claims. Given oral arguments, though, victory is far from assured.

Philadelphia's ban on noncommercial advertising in its airport violates the First Amendment and is an unreasonable use of government power, the Third Circuit ruled recently. That ban came after the NAACP paid, in 2011, to display a noncommercial advertisement proclaiming "Welcome to America, home to 5 percent of the world's people and 25 percent of the world's prisoners."

The city then banned all noncommercial advertisements in the Philadelphia International Airport, ostensibly to maximize revenue and avoid controversy. But, the Third Circuit found, there is little evidence that the ban accomplishes either of these goals, making it an unreasonable restriction on First Amendment rights to free speech.

Deposition documents that revealed Bill Cosby's extramarital affairs and use of Quaaludes as a seduction technique will not be resealed, the Third Circuit ruled on Monday. Those documents, which included a series of damaging admissions by the comedian, had been so widely disseminated that resealing the documents would do nothing to stop their public disclosure.

Cosby's admissions were made during depositions in a 2005 civil suit against Cosby, brought Andrea Constand, who accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her. Constand dropped her suit, but Cosby's deposition was eventually unsealed in response to a motion by the Associate Press last year, after dozens of women came forward with similar accusations.

Rare Double Eagle Coins Worth $75M Are Gov't Property, 3rd Cir. Says

Unless this nation's highest court grants cert to the Langbord family, ten very rare and highly prized 1933 Double Eagle $20 (face value) gold coins are -- and always have been -- the property of the United States of America.

By the way, that's not $200 that's at stake: it's at least $75 million. No wonder there was such a fight!

3rd Cir. Refuses to Kill Corruption Charges Against Sen. Menendez

The Third Circuit has refused to dismiss corruption and fraud charges against U.S. Senator Robert Menendez. The New Jersey senator is accused of accepting gifts in exchange for political favors, but he sought to have the charges dismissed, on the basis that the Constitution's "speech or debate" clause shielded him from prosecution.

That argument did not sway a three-judge panel. This is the last major obstacle to be cleared between the New Jersey legislator from what is most likely going to be a very uncomfortable trial.

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