U.S. Third Circuit - The FindLaw 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

December 2011 Archives

Third Circuit Upholds Police Officer Steroid Testing

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld the constitutionality of testing police officers for steroids.

Approximately 250 police officers and firefighters, including several from the Jersey City police force, were accused of getting prescriptions for anabolic steroids and human growth hormones. In response, Jersey City police chief Tom Comey ordered his officers to test for the performance-enhancing drugs and suspended them from active duty until their testosterone levels went down in 2008.

Some of the officers filed suit, arguing that the tests violated their civil rights and that the drugs were legally prescribed to help with legitimate medical conditions. Comey claimed that the officers on steroids could have been a risk to the public given that the drugs have been tied to mood swings and aggressive behavior.

Forever Should Be Cheaper: Third Circuit Upholds De Beers Settlement

A diamond may be forever, but it shouldn't be so expensive.

So says the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which reinstated a $295 million antitrust settlement against South African company De Beers, the world's largest diamond supplier and self-proclaimed "world's diamond experts."

The multi-million dollar settlement is part of an agreement by De Beers to remedy injuries suffered by U.S. jewelry makers, retailers and consumers who purchased diamonds and diamond jewelry beginning in 1994.

Boy with Autism Wins in Court-Ordered Mediation with School District

The family of a teenager with autism won an undisclosed amount of money for legal fees and tuition at a private school from the Moorestown Board of Education, which represents a New Jersey school district, after a settlement was reached in court-ordered mediation, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals had ordered mediation between the family and the school district after the district appealed its loss in a federal District Court. The lower court had ruled that the school district erred in not providing the boy with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) even though he was taken out of public school and placed in a private one.

Third Circuit Rules Race Not a Factor in LMSD Redistricting

Using the rational basis test, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday that the Lower Merion School District’s redistricting plan was constitutional.

The ruling upholds the lower court’s finding that the district did not inappropriately use race as an influencing factor in determining where students go to school.

The lawsuit was initially filed by nine unnamed African American students who alleged the school district’s new redistricting plan in 2009 was racially-motivated. Some parents claimed the buses taking students to farther schools because of the redistricting plan were dubbed the “loser cruiser” and “the black bus.”

Another Firefighter Discrimination Case: North Hudson Not New Haven

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Monday that the residents-only hiring policy of New Jersey's North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue discriminated against African-American candidates.

The Third Circuit's decision upheld the U.S. District Court of New Jersey's finding that the residency requirement had a disparate impact on African-American applicants. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of three firefighter candidates by the NAACP in 2007.

Both North Hudson and six Latino firefighter applicants appealed the lower court's decision, stating that the residency requirement was essential for several reasons, such as locale familiarity, swift response times and fostering a bilingual firefighter force.

Philly D.A. Drops Pursuit of Death Penalty for Mumia Abu-Jamal

After nearly 30 years of legal battles over the fate of former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, Philadelphia's District Attorney has announced his office will no longer pursue the death penalty.

The decision was announced a month after the U.S. Supreme Court denied Pennsylvania's request to review the Third Circuit's finding that Abu-Jamal was entitled to a new sentencing hearing.

Given the Supreme Court's denial to rehear the case, the district attorney had two choices: 1) conduct a new sentencing hearing, or 2) revert Abu-Jamal's sentence to life without parole.

Third Circuit: Send Porn, Get Fired

When it comes to being fired for viewing and sending pornographic images on work-provided accounts, age ain’t nothing but a number.

Ruling against a group of Latrobe Specialty Steel Co. employees who were fired for sending sexually explicit emails through their work accounts, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the workers had no basis in claiming that they were really fired because of their age.

The inappropriate conduct was discovered during a 2007 investigation into a sexual harassment complaint. Six employees were suspended, with four - all in their late 50s or early 60s - eventually terminated a week later after an investigation into the nature and volume of the emails exchanged.

Petitioner Bound To Attorney Admissions in Removal Proceeding

How much discretion does an attorney have when pleading on behalf of a client?

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that Pedro Jesus Calla-Collado was bound by his attorney's admission to allegations in a Notice to Appear (NTA).

Calla-Collado, a native and citizen of Peru, entered the United States in 2005. In September 2007, he was arrested for driving while intoxicated. He was detained as an undocumented alien, and placed in removal proceedings.

3CBA Report: Third Circuit by the Numbers

Should a brief live up to its name? When Third Circuit Court of Appeals judges dream of case law at night, what topics haunt their REM-cycle?

Thanks to a statistical analysis from the Bar Association for the Third Federal Circuit (3CBA), we're closer to finding the answers to these pressing questions.

The Administrative Office of the U.S. Court publishes a giant report each year, detailing statistical data about the federal appellate courts. The 3CBA was kind enough to sift through the report and pull out the relevant Third Circuit Court of Appeals data. Let's review some of the highlights.