DC Circuit - The FindLaw DC Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

December 2011 Archives

Home Builders Association Lacks Standing to Challenge EPA

Two stretches of Arizona's Santa Cruz River are still legally "navigable" much to the chagrin of a home builders agency after the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The National Association of Home Builders and its two Arizona affiliates had tried to challenge the EPA's recent designation of the two river sections. The designation is important to home builders because streams that are legally navigable fall under the federal Clean Water Act, which imposes restrictions on any discharges into water that leads to those streams.

D.C. Circuit Upholds Lawyer's Lifetime SEC Ban

There are many milestones in an attorney’s career that he or she can proudly brag about. Being the first attorney ever to receive a lifetime ban by the Securities and Exchange Commission because of ethical violations is surely not one of them.

Commercial litigator Steven Altman hasn’t tried to get the acknowledgement off his record without effort, however. But the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals hampered his efforts to overturn the ban after it denied his request to review the agency’s decision on Friday.

“The Commission was entitled to rely on Altman’s knowledge of and duty to conform to the New York Bar disciplinary rules,” Judge Rogers wrote on behalf of the three-judge panel.

No Protection for Trojan Condom Maker From FTC Probe

In the eyes of the law, size does matter.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday, holding that the agency's subpoena and civil investigative demands of Trojan brand condom maker Church & Dwight Co. were appropriate.

The large subpoena suit is part of a long-running dispute with federal trade regulators regarding the company's possible monopolistic tactics in the condom market.

The company argued that the scope of the FTC probe was just too broad.

Case of Contempt: Ted Stevens Prosecutors Held in Civil Contempt

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals had an uncharacteristically busy day last week, releasing eleven opinions on Friday. Out of the many interesting holdings from the day's bounty comes the appeal of civil contempt findings against the two Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys involved in the late Sen. Ted Stevens' prosecution.

The two attorneys, William M. Welch and Brenda K. Morris, were held in civil contempt by U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan for violating a court order to turn over documents to Stevens' defense team.

Now, what kind of contempt they were held in became the issue, and the case became a primer in the difference between civil and criminal contempt.

District of Columbia Wins One Battle in Special Education War

In the ongoing war between parents of special education students and the District of Columbia, the District won a significant battle on Friday.

Reversing a ruling by a lower court judge, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals held that an injunction placed against the District for failing to pay special education services on time should be given another look.

Judicial Nominee Caitlin Halligan Blocked by Republicans

The judicial nomination of Caitlin Halligan for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals was blocked by Senate Republicans on Tuesday, reports the Associated Press.

On one side of the aisle, Democrats praised Halligan's outstanding qualifications for the seat left vacant by Chief Justice John Roberts. Halligan, a graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center, was a clerk for D.C. Circuit of Appeals Judge Patricia M. Wald and Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. After her prestigious clerkships, she worked both in the private sector (most recently as a partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges) and the public sector (she currently serves as general counsel in the Manhattan district attorney's office).

DC Circuit Affirms First-to-File under Federal False Claims Act

Under the federal False Claims Act, a person who is not affiliated with the government can file a claim against a federal contractor, asserting fraud against the government. The law allows the filer to receive a share of recovered damages, but it's generally governed by a first-to-file limitation.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals offered clarification regarding the first-to-file requirement in November, holding that, in the case of duplicative False Claims Act complaints, the earlier-filed complaint does not have to meet the heightened fraud or mistake pleading standards of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(b) to allege facts sufficient to prompt a government investigation, and bar later-filed complaints on the same facts.

DC Circuit Court of Appeals Adopts Amended Circuit Rule 35

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a final notice this week announcing the adoption of amendments to Circuit Rule 35. The amendments will become effective on December 1, 2011.

The amendments affect the time limits for filing a petition for panel or en banc rehearing to conform to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 40.

In compliance with the D.C. Circuit's local rules, the court published the proposed amendment for public comment in September. No comments were received.