3rd Circuit Court Rules News - U.S. Third Circuit
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Remember the mailbox rule? Just the thought of it brings us back to our first year of law school. And believe it or not, it still comes up in cases today.

Last week, the Third Circuit had a chance to review the common law presumption of delivery, and noted that it in this day and age, that time-honored presumption may not be enough for employers attempting to give their employees legal notice.

Things in the Third Circuit are heating up as cert petitions get filed, denied, and in one case, argued before the Supreme Court. Let's just say it's been a busy week. Today, we'll give you a breakdown of cases originating in the Third Circuit as they (try to) make their way to the Supremes.

Drake, et al. v, Jerejian, et al. -- Petitions Filed

Last year, the Third Circuit affirmed a district court's decision that held constitutional a New Jersey law that required a gun owner must show a "justifiable need" to receive a permit to carry a firearm. Earlier this year, gun owners (whose appeal is bankrolled by the NRA) filed a petition for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court. Last week, the New Jersey Attorney General filed a brief asking the Court to deny the petition. We're waiting to see whether the Court will grant cert.

There's a lot of seat-shifting going on right now in the Third Circuit. Between the Trenton Mayor's removal, BridgeGate, and the tentative selection of a U.S. Bankruptcy Judge, New Jersey is having a hard time staying out of the legal headlines.

Removal of Trenton Mayor Tony Mack

On Wednesday, New Jersey State Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson removed Trenton Mayor Tony Mack from office, following a jury conviction for fraud, bribery and extortion, all related to government corruption, reports The Associated Press.

No more secrets. At least, that's what the Delaware Coalition for Open Government says, and two lower federal courts agreed. But, on the day of the deadline, attorneys for the Delaware Court of Chancery filed their petition for writ of certiorari, reports Reuters.

The Delaware Chancery Arbitrations

Delaware amended its laws in 2009 to provide "the power to arbitrate business disputes" to the Delaware Court of Chancery. If one of the entities is a Delaware corporation, the dispute is over $1 million or more, and if neither party is a consumer, state-sponsored arbitrations may ensue, though they are not open to the public. And, therein lies the dispute: these arbitrations, performed by the Delaware Court of Chancery have been likened to secret trials, with a public interest group claiming that these non-public arbitrations violate their First Amendment right of access.

We haven't heard the term forum non conveniens since our days as a 1L in Civil Procedure, but the Third Circuit recently wrote a precedential opinion devoted to that one issue.

Factual Background

A claim that originated as an action between companies, through successive motions and allegations, actually boiled down to an action between two parties: Vadim Shulman and Akiva Sapir. Though both reside in Israel, because some of the business transactions touch on U.S. soil, Shulman sued Sapir in federal district court in Pennsylvania.

One of the motions before the court was a motion to dismiss based on forum non conveniens grounds, mentioning Israel as an appropriate alternative forum. The district court judge referred the matter to a Magistrate Judge, asking for a Report and Recommendation ("Report"). According to the report, the judge recommended the proper action would be dismissal on grounds of forum non conveniens, recommending Israel as the appropriate forum.

In a case stemming from the Virgin Islands, the Third Circuit had to determine whether a federal court retains concurrent jurisdiction over local claims, even after the federal claims are unproven.

Underlying Claims

Ronald Gillette is a convicted sex offender, and officials received a tip that he was unregistered, and living in St. Croix. Following up on the tip, officials found that he was indeed an unregistered sex offender, and they found him living with a fifteen-year-old boy, and had engaged in sexual relations with him since the boy was twelve. Further investigations revealed that Gillette had also victimized another minor boy.

The first thing we learned in Corporations class in law school was that Delaware was the darling of incorporation. Why? For a number of reasons, one of them Delaware's Court of Chancery, which specializes in business disputes. In fact, the court shows its own business savvy and marketing prowess on its website where it boasts that "[i]ts unique competence in and exposure to issues of business law are unmatched." Sounds like a car commercial.

A few weeks ago, the Third Circuit issued an opinion that's not as business friendly as the Delaware court would like. And, with appeals deadlines passing, as reported by Wilmington, Delaware's The News Journal, we're wondering if this is heading to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Third Circuit Changes Its Briefs

An appellate brief is anything but brief.

In the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, the body of principal briefs can be up 30 pages (or 14,000 words/1,300 lines), and the body of reply briefs can be up to 15 pages (or 7,000 words/650 lines). That’s a lot of paper, and it doesn’t even include the tables, statements, arguments, certifications, attachments, covers or fancy bindings.

Of course, we’re not talking about only one copy of each brief. Until today, parties were required to file 10 paper copies of each brief under Local Appellate Rule 31.1.

But that has changed.

No Need to Apply Poulis Factors to Post-Trial Rulings

In Poulis v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., the Third Circuit Court of Appeals held that a district court must consider six factors dismissing a case as a sanction before trial on the merits: extent of the party's personal responsibility, prejudice to the adversary caused by the failure to meet scheduling orders and respond to discovery, history of dilatoriness, whether the conduct of the party or the attorney was willful or in bad faith, effectiveness of sanctions other than dismissal, and meritoriousness of the claim or defense.

This week, the court held that Poulis does not apply in the post-trial context.

Can You Make Your Case in 8.5 Hours?

Trying breach of fiduciary duty claims against 16 individual defendants sounds like a lengthy process, but a federal judge in Pennsylvania thinks that it can be done in 17 hours. Total.

Last week, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals refused to order the judge to grant the litigants more time to make their cases, ruling that inadequate time challenges are better argued after a trial.