Woodfox v. Cain, et al.

The State appealed the district court's grant of habeas relief. On remand, the district court held that the state court was not entitled to Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), 28 U.S.C. 2254, deference; petitioner had successfully made out a prima facie case of discrimination in the selection of the grand jury foreperson; and the State, acting through respondent, had failed to rebut the prima facie case. The court concluded that AEDPA deference is not warranted where the state court's decision was an unreasonable application of federal law; the district court did not err in finding that petitioner had made out his prima facie case; the State's attempt to rebut the prima facie case using statistics does not persuade and the district court did not err in finding as such; and the State has not demonstrated reversible error in the district court's holding that it failed to rebut the prima facie case. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court.View "Woodfox v. Cain, et al." on Justia Law

Ameristar Airways, Inc. v. Administrative Review Board, Dept. of Labor

After the court affirmed the ALJ's determination that Ameristar was liable for discharging Thomas Clemmons in violation of the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR21), 49 U.S.C. 42121, the court remanded for the determination of whether an e-mail found by Ameristar after Clemmons was fired was of such severity that he would have been terminated on those grounds alone. The ALJ determined that Ameristar failed to meet the high burden of proof required in AIR21 cases and the ARB affirmed. The court held that the heightened burden applies equally in all instances in which an employer is seeking to avoid providing relief, regardless of whether the employer is relying on pre-termination evidence or after-acquired evidence. In this case, the ALJ determined that Ameristar failed to provide clear and convincing proof that it would have terminated Clemmons solely on the basis of the e-mail. The ALJ had completely discredited the testimony of Ameristar's managers, and Ameristar offered no evidence other than the e-mail. Consequently, there is substantial evidence to support the ALJ's determination that Ameristar failed to prove its after-acquired-evidence defense by clear and convincing evidence. Accordingly, the court denied Ameristar's petition for review.View "Ameristar Airways, Inc. v. Administrative Review Board, Dept. of Labor" on Justia Law

United States v. Jackson, et al.

This case stemmed from the indictment of Stacey Jackson for solicitation of bribes, theft of federal funds, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice. The Times-Picayune appealed the denial of its motion to quash a subpoena duces tecum that required the newspaper to produce, for in camera review as part of Jackson's criminal defense, identifying information about two anonymous commenters. Because the Times-Picayune complied and delivered the documents during the period between the subpoena and this appeal, the court dismissed the appeal as moot.View "United States v. Jackson, et al." on Justia Law

Halliburton, Inc. v. Administrative Review Board, Dept. of Labor

An employee of Halliburton, Anthony Menendez, submitted a complaint to management about the company's questionable accounting practices and also filed a complaint with the SEC. The Review Board subsequently determined that Halliburton's disclosure to Menendez's colleagues of his identity as the SEC whistleblower who had caused an official investigation, resulting in Menendez's workplace ostracism, constituted illegal retaliation under section 806 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), 18 U.S.C. 1514A(a). The court held that to maintain an antiretaliation claim under SOX, as in these circumstances here, the employee must prove that his protected conduct was a contributing factor in the employer's adverse action. The court rejected Halliburton's argument that the Review Board committed legal error by failing to require proof that the company had a wrongful motive. The court rejected Halliburton's contention that the damages awarded to Menendez for emotional distress and reputational harm are not noneconomic compensatory damages available under SOX. The court agreed with the Tenth Circuit that the plain language of SOX's text relating to remedies for retaliation affords noneconomic compensatory damages and this conclusion comports with the decisions of the Seventh and Eighth Circuits respecting essential identical statutory text in the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 3729-3733. The court concluded that Halliburton failed to show that the Review Board's decision was arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise contrary to law. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.View "Halliburton, Inc. v. Administrative Review Board, Dept. of Labor" on Justia Law

Blessey Marine Services, Inc. v. Jeffboat, L.L.C.

Blessey filed suit against Jeffboat for breach of contract over a dispute regarding the purchase price of barges. The court did not reach the merits of the appeal because it concluded, under Becker v. Tidewater, Inc., that it did not have jurisdiction to review the district court's denial of Blessey's motion for partial summary judgment. In this case, Blessey seeks the court's review of the district court's disposition of a question of law, but its appeal does not fit the Becker exception because the district court conducted a jury trial. Further, even if the court were to assume arguendo that the court did not have jurisdiction, the court would affirm the district court's denial of partial summary judgment on the merits. The court also concluded that, by adducing some of the same extrinsic evidence at trial that it had sought to exclude in its motion in limine, Blessey waived its right to challenge the district court's admission of that evidence. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's denial of Blessey's motions for partial summary judgment and in limine.View "Blessey Marine Services, Inc. v. Jeffboat, L.L.C." on Justia Law

United States v. Oswalt

Defendant appealed the terms of his supervised release, arguing that they exceed the statutory minimum under 18 U.S.C. 3583(h). Defendant argued that the district court's failure to aggregate across counts fails to serve the purposes of the supervised-release statute, asserting that supervised release aims to rehabilitate rather than punish. The court concluded that defendant's argument about the purposes of supervised release is unavailing because it conflicts with the clear meaning of section 3583(h); the statute requires the sentencing judge to consider factors unrelated to rehabilitation; and the district court must consider whether the term of supervised release would "afford adequate deterrence to criminal conduct" and "protect the public from further crimes of the defendant." Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court.View "United States v. Oswalt" on Justia Law

United States v. Marshall, et al.

This case stemmed from an indirect gift made by J. Howard Marshall to various family members. After J. Howard's Estate failed to pay gift taxes pursuant to I.R.C. 6324(b), the IRS tried to collect the unpaid gift tax from the donees. The Government subsequently filed suit against the donees, seeking to recover the unpaid gift taxes and to collect interest from the beneficiaries. The Government also sought to recover from two individuals (E. Pierce Jr. and Hilliard), who, as representatives of various estates and trusts, allegedly paid other debts before paying those owed to the Government. The court rejected appellants' argument that the district court erred in finding that the donees incurred an independent interest liability as a result of the donor's unpaid gift tax and held that interest accrues on donee's liability for the unpaid gift taxes and that interest is not limited to the extent of the value of the gift. The court concluded that res judicata barred Eleanor Pierce (Marshall) Stevens from arguing that J. Howard did not make a gift to her because the court determined that Stevens was a donee. Finally, the court held that Hilliard and E. Pierce Jr. knew of the potential liability to the Government and the Federal Priority Statute applies; Hilliard and E. Pierce Jr. are liable under the Federal Priority Statue for the amount of the charitable set-aside; E. Pierce Jr. is individually liable for the value of the personal property he distributed from Stevens's Estate; Hilliard is personally liable for the amount he caused the Living Trust to pay for accounting and legal services on behalf of other charitable organizations; and E. Pierce Jr. did not breach his state law fiduciary duties because E. Pierce Jr. did not owe Stevens's Estate's creditors a fiduciary duty under Texas law. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part.View "United States v. Marshall, et al." on Justia Law

Sealed Appellee v. Sealed Appellant

Appellant, a federal prisoner, appealed the district court's order civilly committing her under 18 U.S.C. 4245, contending that section 4245's statutory preponderance-of-the-evidence standard violates the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause. The court concluded that section 4245's preponderance-of-the-evidence standard does not violate due process in light of the other significant procedural protections afforded to prisoners subject to civil-commitment proceedings. The different contexts for civil commitment - prisoners as distinguished from citizens - reflected distinct liberty interests that justified different evidentiary standards.View "Sealed Appellee v. Sealed Appellant" on Justia Law

Louisiana Public Svc. Cmsn. v. FERC

LPSC sought review of FERC's orders relating to the allocation of production costs among Entergy's six operating companies. LPSC argued that certain revenues and expenses should be removed from the bandwidth calculation for 2008 because they were not incurred in that test year and that the production cost formula should account for the mid-year acquisition of generation facilities by Entergy Gulf States Louisiana and Entergy Arkansas on a partial-year basis. The court concluded that FERC reasonably excluded challenges to the "justness and reasonableness" of formula inputs from annual bandwidth implementation proceedings where FERC reasonably interpreted the System Agreement and correctly applied the filed rate doctrine, and FERC's reversal of its initial interpretation of the scope of bandwidth implementation proceedings was not arbitrary. The court also concluded that FERC reasonably required Entergy to include casualty loss Net Accumulated Deferred Income Taxes (ADIT) in its third bandwidth calculation where LPSC had notice of the casualty loss ADIT issue, and FERC's decision to include casualty loss ADIT in the bandwidth formula was rational. Accordingly, the court denied LPSC's petition for review.View "Louisiana Public Svc. Cmsn. v. FERC" on Justia Law

Justice, Jr., et al. v. Hosemann, et al.

This case involves a challenge to Mississippi's disclosure requirements for ballot initiatives proposing amendments to the state constitution. Plaintiffs, Mississippi citizens, contend that the disclosure requirements impermissibly burden their First Amendment rights. The district court agreed and enjoined Mississippi from enforcing the requirements against small groups and individuals expending "just in excess of" Mississippi's $200 disclosure threshold. The court concluded that plaintiffs have standing where they have shown that they have a legitimate fear of criminal penalties for failure to comply with Chapter 17 of the Mississippi Code's disclosure requirements; plaintiffs' as-applied challenge, asserted both as a collective group and by each plaintiff individually, failed because the record is bereft of facts that would allow the court to assume that plaintiffs intend to raise "just in excess of" $200 as a group or as individuals; the requirements that Mississippi has enacted under Chapter 17 survive plaintiffs' facial challenge under the exacting scrutiny standard where the government has identified a sufficiently important government interest in its disclosure scheme to have an interest in knowing who is lobbying for Mississippians' vote, and is substantially related to this informational interest; and, therefore, the court reversed the district court's order and rendered judgment in favor of defendants were plaintiffs' as-applied and facial constitutional challenges failed.View "Justice, Jr., et al. v. Hosemann, et al." on Justia Law