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

January 2013 Archives

No Reduction for Crack Sentence 'Based on' Plea Agreement

The legal system incentivizes plea bargaining. A defendant typically gets a lighter sentence for accepting responsibility for his actions.

But a recent decision from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals could make plea bargains much more specific.

D.C. Circuit: Obama's NLRB Recess Appointments Unconstitutional

Last year, President Obama placed two Democrats and one Republican on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) during a Senate recess. Friday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision finding those appointments unconstitutional.

We don’t know if the administration will seek en banc rehearing, or head straight to the Supreme Court, but — with hundreds of NLRB rulings and questions about Consumer Finance Protection Bureau chief Richard Cordray’s appointment hanging in the balance — this case is not going away.

ASA Loses Medical Marijuana Reclassification Appeal

Marijuana needs a good PR campaign. Perhaps something to the effect of "Pot: It's Not as Dangerous as Heroin."

Americans for Safe Access (ASA) tried to give medical marijuana that much-needed public relations boost. Last fall, the group told the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that the Drug Enforcement Administration's most recent classification of marijuana as a Schedule I substance was arbitrary and capricious because a number of studies support the use of medical marijuana. This week, the appellate court ruled against the ASA, concluding that the feds didn't act improperly in refusing to loosen restrictions on pot.

DISH Network: Unlike Warren G, The FCC Can't Regulate Us

Way back in the 1990s, Congress decided that they wanted to increase the availability and separate market of third party television navigation devices. Traditionally, these set-top converter boxes were leased or loaned from the cable company. This obviously restricted the market for other participants, presumably including TiVo and other DVR providers.

On the other hand, cable companies had adopted the ubiquitous cable box in order to allow them to encode their channels and prevent theft. The proposed law, § 629 of the Communications Act, directs the FCC to strike a balance between opening up the third party market, while still allowing cable companies the ability to encode video to prevent theft.

DC Circuit Demands Explanation for Discriminatory Mailing Rates

GameFly and Netflix are both in the business of mailing DVDs to customers. GameFly rents and sells video games. Netflix rents movies.

Netflix, however, has been getting better rates for postal service from the Postal Service. GameFly sued, arguing that the preferential treatment wasn't fair. Last week, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with GameFly, and ordered the USPS to either level the playing field, or offer a darn good reason for continued discrimination, Reuters reports.

SCOTUS Won't Review Embryonic Stem Cell Challenge

The Supreme Court will not weigh in on the legality of federally funded stem cell research this term.

On Monday, the Court denied certiorari in a challenge to a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding the practice, SCOTUSblog reports.

Change This Law? Employee Suicide Bars Recovery From Employer

Devin Bailey had a long battle with mental illness before his death. He dropped out of college due to recurrent depression, was kicked out of the Navy due to psychosis, and was admitted to mental facilities for treatment of bipolar disorder with “[p]sychotic [f]eatures.” He was also taking anti-psychotic medications and had a pending case for kicking a police officer and possessing an eight inch knife during a domestic disturbance.

In September 2008, he applied for a position as an armed security guard with Wackenhut Services, Inc., which provides contracted security to the federal government. Despite a background check that reflected the pending criminal charges, they hired him. They also failed to obtain his military records. Once he passed the firearm test, he was handed a gun and sent to work.