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

March 2013 Archives

Halligan Out of Running for D.C. Circuit Vacancy

Caitlin Halligan won’t be leaving her job as general counsel for the Manhattan district attorney’s office quite yet.

After two-and-a-half years and two filibusters in nomination limbo, Halligan asked President Obama to withdraw her nomination for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, The Washington Post reports.

The Downside to the Humblebrag: CIA Can't Deny Drone Docs

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that the Obama administration can’t brag about using drones to kill terrorists overseas, but clam up about drone program documents at the drop of a FOIA request, NPR reports.

The appellate court phrased its opinion in less direct and more eloquent terms, so let’s turn to its reasoning.

The central legal issue in the case is whether government officials — including President Obama and former CIA Director and then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta — officially and publicly acknowledged the existence of the CIA’s use of drone airstrikes.

Tenets of Administrative Law Trump Immutable Laws of Science

In 2011, the FDA approved three abbreviated new drug applications (ANDAs) submitted by Identi Pharmaceuticals for generic versions of Hill Dermaceuticals’ products. Hill sued the FDA, arguing that the FDA’s approval of Identi’s products was arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act.

The district court granted summary judgment to the FDA. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that decision, finding that the “basic tenets of administrative law” have a greater impact in an appeal than Hill’s arguments hyperbolic references to the “immutable laws of science.”

Lawyers Should Explain the Sentencing Safety Valve

The safety valve authorizes a sentencing judge to impose a term of imprisonment lower than a statutory minimum if the defendant meets five specified qualifications. One of those qualifications is cooperating with the government. A defendant who qualifies for the safety valve is also entitled to a two-point reduction in his offense level.

While the courts adhere to a "no cooperation, no reduction" policy, an uncooperative defendant can get a second shot at sentencing if his lawyer never bothered telling him about the sentencing safety valve, according to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.