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

July 2013 Archives

Mexican Truck Pilot Program Not in Conflict With Federal Law

A federal pilot program to allow Mexican trucks to operate on U.S. highways was upheld in the D.C. Circuit on Friday, denying appeals by both the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

In two consolidated cases, the D.C. Circuit Court found that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) pilot program which allowed Mexican trucks to operate in the U.S. was not in violation of parallel federal laws, but did find that the two petitioning organizations had standing to challenge it.

FDA Can't Ignore Importation of Execution Drug

A D.C. Circuit decision on Tuesday has put a legal stop to the importing of an unapproved drug used for executions, which had been passed through by the FDA.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had allowed sodium thiopental, a misbranded and unapproved drug used as an anesthetic in the lethal injection process, to be imported into prisons, and the D.C. Circuit denied their discretion to allow unapproved drugs into the U.S., reports The Associated Press.

The FDA overstepped its bounds by allowing drugs which were not approved for use in lethal injections to be imported and used in U.S. prisons.

Stupid or Just a Liar? NTSB Properly Denies Pilot for Omitting DUI

Though the NTSB may be getting a bum rap for the way it handled the Asiana Flight 214 investigation, it still knows when to slap down a pilot who is misbehaving.

In Taylor v. Huerta, the D.C. Circuit Court approved of the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) doing just that, denying a petition to review a pilot's case where he lied or, at best recklessly omitted, a prior DUI arrest when applying for a medical certification.

The complaining pilot blamed the buttons on the application's online form, but the Taylor Court had some gripes of their own.

'Scarface' Reference In Closing Argument Not Cause For Retrial

Imagine one minute you’re being accused of conspiracy to deal large amounts of heroin, and the next minute the prosecutor at your trial is calling you Tony Montana from “Scarface” in closing arguments.

In U.S. v. Antonio Valdez (aka Tony), Appellant Antonio Valdez didn’t have to imagine too hard after the same stunt was pulled at his federal drug trial, and although the D.C. Circuit frowned on it, they didn’t believe the prosecutor’s movie trivia shenanigans were worth a new trial.

Biofuel No Longer Exempt From EPA Regulations

Biofuel producers may not be burning so bright after the D.C. Circuit Court’s recent ruling, a decision which confirmed the ethanol fuel industry will be subject to carbon emission regulations.

In its decision in Center for Biological Diversity v. EPA, the Court ruled that “[t]here is no statutory basis for exempting biogenic carbon dioxide,” a source based distinction many biofuel companies use to support their “carbon neutral” claims, reports Reuters.

This ruling also applies to paper and lumber manufacturers, who will likely be clamoring to appeal this case with their biofuel brethren.

Cops Lose Appeal Over 'Missing Evidence' Instruction

Even if the appellants are cops, the D.C. Circuit won’t overturn a district court’s jury instruction unless there is a showing that it caused prejudice.

It was a tough break in Huthnance v. District of Columbia for two cops who had judgments against them for wrongful arrest and general rights violations in arresting Lindsay Huthnance, who was awarded $105,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.

But as the D.C. Circuit rightly points out, they could have prevented the outcome.

Redundant Negligence Per Se Standard is Harmless Error: D.C. Cir.

In a case that illuminates the tension between negligence and negligence per se standards, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals heard a case concerning a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) bus.

In the ruling, the court made clear that when a jury incorrectly uses the standard of negligence per se rather than negligence, the distinction doesn’t matter unless it would result in a material difference in the case. The case serves as a good lesson for law students (and a nice refresher for practitioners) on the harmless error rule.

For Q-1 Visa, Employer Sponsors Must Pay Foreign Interns

Internship cases are all the rage right now. A three-member D.C. Circuit panel weighed in on an unpaid internship case this week involving Q-1 visas and International Internship Program, an organization that sponsors a cultural exchange program that helps people from Asian countries find jobs in American schools.

At its heart, it’s an unpaid internship case involving foreign citizens.

The case centers on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the way it governs cultural exchange programs and Q-1 visas.

Judicial Independence Rejected By D.C. Circuit

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that an administrative law judge for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Affairs can't sue the agency for alleged violations of his judicial independence.

Judge Jeremiah Mahoney, the acting chief administrative law judge for the department, sued the department in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, claiming his supervisor violated the federal Administrative Procedure Act by interfering with this independence, reports The Blog of Legal Times.