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

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In a pair of cases out of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, a three judge panel reversed a seemingly rogue lower federal district court ruling that refused to extend First Amendment protections to two individuals who photographed police in public. While the cases were remanded back to the lower federal court, the circuit court seemed to caution the parties that the defendants were likely to be immune from liability, regardless of the outcome of the appeal.

The cases are: Fields v. City of Philadelphia, et al., Case No. 16-1650, and Geraci v. City of Philadelphia, et al., Case No. 16-1651. Michael Fields was standing on the sidewalk video recording police as they were breaking up a college party. Fields was arrested simply for making the recording. Amanda Geraci was physically restrained, by the neck, when she attempted to photograph a police officer arresting a protester.

Aaron Hernandez died in prison on Wednesday, having taken his own life. The former New England Patriots tight end's suicide came as he was serving a life sentence for murdering Odin Lloyd, the boyfriend of his fiancee's sister, and just days after he had been acquitted in another double murder case.

Hernandez's may be one of the most famous prison suicides, but it's not the only one. Every year, hundreds of inmates kill themselves, making it the leading cause of death in local jails, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Now, the Third Circuit has clarified just when such suicides may be considered violations of the Eighth Amendment.

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.

Google and Viacom Win Suit Over Tracking Children Online

The nationwide class action suit that involved Google and Nickelodeon allegedly tracking our innocent, innocent children was largely defeated by the defending companies recently. The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit felt that planting cookies on children's computers and devices didn't run afoul of both state and federal laws, at least not the ones the parents identified.

It wasn't a complete victory for Viacom, Nickelodeon's parent company, though. The federal court allowed one privacy claim against the entertainment company stand as it had collected children's information despite promises not to do so. It looks like completely fibbing parents still isn't kosher in corporate America.

Abortion Clinic 'Buffer Zone' Case Revived by 3rd Circuit

The Third Circuit has revived a controversial buffer zone free speech case that challenged Pittsburgh's local ordinance establishing a 15-foot zone around abortion clinics. The zone was created to provide easier access for patients seeking to enter clinics without being verbally accosted by protesters and pro-life advocates.

It was not even a close call as the circuit voted 3-0, saying that protesters had a valid cause of action to pursue a suit against the city on theories that their free speech rights were violated under the Constitution.

Does Old, Converted Housing Have to Comply With Fair Housing Act?

It's a fair question that deserves to be asked: does old but converted housing have to comply with the Fair Housing Act?

No, say federal courts... so long as those converted buildings are built before March 13, 1991.

Another Circuit Court Rules Against Nude Bars

It's been a tough time for business owners who want to open exotic dancing businesses. Both the Seventh Circuit and the a New Jersey appeals court handed down decisions that disfavored the legal arguments put forth by business owners who sought to open strip clubs in their respective towns.

Boy, can't someone run an honest nude bar anymore?

A civil rights lawsuit over the New York Police Department's post-September 11th spying on Muslims in New Jersey was reinstated on Tuesday in a Third Circuit opinion. A group of Muslim plaintiffs had alleged that the program unconstitutionally treated their religion as a "proxy for criminality," resulting in "pervasive surveillance not visited upon ... any other religious faith or the public at large."

Under the program, New York police officers infiltrated Muslim groups, from student associates to mosques, in New York City and beyond, videotaping them and tracking their activities. In allowing the suit to go forward, the Third Circuit opinion drew parallels between the spying, the Cold War's Red Scare, and the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II.

Congratulations are in order to the Nurse Ratcheds of the world. The Third Circuit ruled Tuesday that New Jersey can forcibly medicate institutionalized, mentally ill patients in state custody.

The appeal came after Disability Rights New Jersey challenged the forced-medication, arguing that it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the patients' due process rights. The Third Circuit disagreed, finding that the institutionalized were not discriminated against and had sufficient process available before being medicated.

No Anticipatory Invocation of Miranda, Says Penn. Sup. Ct.

Ever since Miranda v. Arizona, the right to remain silent, and its companion, the right to have an attorney present during questioning, has been walked back both by the U.S. Supreme Court and various state supreme courts.

Earlier this week, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that a person can't invoke his Fifth Amendment right to counsel under Miranda in anticipation of police questioning. Along with a recent decision of the California Supreme Court, Pennsylvania's decision moves Miranda's temporal period in favor of the police.