U.S. Third Circuit - FindLaw

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


A Pennsylvania divided against itself cannot stand! On February 13, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (not the author of The Bonfire of the Vanities) announced a commonwealth-wide moratorium on the death penalty, which he called "error-prone, expensive, and anything but infallible."

This move earned the ire of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association and now, a lawsuit filed by Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams.

Opponents of the Affordable Care Act's religious exemption to contraceptive coverage suffered a setback today, as the Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a district court's determination that even the religious exemption runs afoul of the First Amendment.

The Third Circuit's opinion falls in line with opinions from other circuits last year, holding that the religious exemption to contraceptive coverage doesn't allow an employer to prevent an employee from ever obtaining contraceptives.

2014 at the 3rd Circuit: Porngate, Ejaculation, Led Zeppelin

What is there to say about the Third Circuit? It's geographically small. It's in the mid-Atlantic.

That about sums it up. But it was also the source of a lot of fun blog material this year: from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's ridiculous infighting to the most beautiful legal complaint I've ever seen.

Then again, we find most things we blog about interesting. What did you, our U.S. Third Circuit Blog readers, enjoy? Here are the 11 most-viewed blog posts of 2014:

Eager Judge Declares Obama's Immigration Plan Unconstitutional

This guy. How badly did he want to make headlines?

Late last month, President Barack Obama announced that he would use executive orders to push through certain immigration reforms. Republicans screeched. Congress bemoaned the trampling of their authority. States' attorneys general filed a lawsuit. Even a few members of the president's own party quietly questioned the move.

Even still, the most surprising voice has to be Judge Arthur Schwab of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, who has somehow found a way to rule on the constitutionality of Obama's actions mere weeks after they were announced.

'Porngate' Justice Seamus McCaffery Is Laughing His Way to the Bank

Justice Seamus McCaffery, suspended by his colleagues in the wake of a pornographic email scandal, resigned in October. It seemed like a sad end to the man's long career in public service and on the bench.

And to some, it seemed like a bit of an overreaction. (Though, on the other hand, if the extorting-a-fellow-justice claims were true, forced retirement was exactly what he deserved.)

Overreaction or not, how's he doing now? Financially, he's doing pretty damn well.

Anyone Who Has Ever Taken Naughty Pics Has Violated This Fed. Law

People sext. They take pics of their naughty bits and send them to each other. Boudoir photography has been a thing since cameras were invented. Basically, we're all a bunch of naughty, sex-crazed heathens.

We're all apparently violating federal law as well. Section 2257 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code, enacted to combat child pornography, requires anyone who produces sexually explicit materials to keep records of the name and birthdate of every performer in a given work, include a statement about where the records are stored, and make the records available to the attorney general for inspection on demand.

Except, there's no exception for home movies.

2 Judges Sentenced in Philly Traffic Ticket-Fixing Probe

It was the scandal that ended the Philadelphia Traffic Court. Two sitting, three former, and one senior Traffic Court judges, along with a Traffic Court administrator and two businessmen, were indicted in 2013 for their alleged roles in a ticket-fixing ring.

This week, two of those judges were sentenced: ex-Judges Thomasine Tynes and Robert Mulgrew each received prison sentences for offering perjured testimony about their roles in the conspiracy. According to Mulgrew's attorney, the ticket fixing scheme was a decades-long practice that predated all of the defendants, but it is likely no more -- the Traffic Court was disbanded in favor of a new program integrated with the Municipal Court.

Qualified immunity? For a claim of employment retaliation for whistle-blowing? Believe it or not, that's the defense Philadelphia School District mounted after a federal district court denied its motion for summary judgment in this employment retaliation case.

Francis Dougherty, a former employee, was fired after she told the news media that the school district's superintendent, Dr. Arlene Ackerman, directed a contract to a minority-owned firm without a bidding procedure. The Third Circuit said "no" to the district's claim that it was protected by qualified immunity.

Last month, we reported that the Pennsylvania legislature had passed Senate Bill No. 508, a law that would allow a crime victim to prevent the crime perpetrator from talking about the crime if doing so would make the crime victim feel bad.

The Pennsylvania law in this case was pretty squarely targeted at Mumia Abu Jamal, convicted in 1983 of murdering a Philadelphia police officer. Almost immediately after Gov. Bill Corbett signed it into law, Mumia supporters sued to block its enforcement.

Former Fed. Defender Judge Luis Restrepo Nominated for 3rd Cir.

The midterms are over, which means it's time to get back to work. And President Barack Obama has wasted no to time in getting back to one of his major legacies: shaping the judiciary. On Wednesday, the White House announced two nominees to federal circuit courts of appeals, including one to the Third Circuit.

Who's the new local judge nominee? He's actually not new at all: It's Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo, a long-time Philadelphian who began his legal career as a local public defender and, for the last year, has been a federal district court judge.