by
Aerial surveillance of the curtilage of a private residence conducted for the purposes of detecting criminal activity thereupon qualifies as a “search” within the meaning of Haw. Const. art. I, 7. In this case, three helicopter flyovers of Defendant’s residence led to a police officer’s naked eye observation of two rows of potted marijuana plants growing in the curtilage of Defendant’s house. Defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the aerial search violated his reasonable expectation of privacy. The circuit court denied the motion to suppress. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) vacated the circuit court’s order denying Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence, concluding that the circuit court erred in concluding that Defendant did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the area surrounding his house from aerial surveillance. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the police officer conducted unconstitutional, warrantless searches in contravention of Defendant’s rights under Haw. Const. art. I, 7; and (2) therefore, the evidence obtained during the execution of the search warrant, which was based on the officer’s observations during his aerial reconnaissance missions, was the fruit of the poisonous tree. View "State v. Quiday" on Justia Law

by
After Melvin Lawhorn was fatally shot by police, his personal representative filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and various state laws against the county, the sheriff's office, and others. In this case, an officer leaned inside the passenger-side window to grab Lawhorn when Lawhorn successfully shifted the truck into drive and the truck began moving forward. The officer shot Lawhorn. The court affirmed the district court's grant of qualified immunity to defendants, holding that existing law did not clearly establish that an officer leaning into the window of a moving truck violated the Fourth Amendment by using deadly force. The court also affirmed the district court's fee sanction award that was imposed for defendants' discovery misconduct. View "Brown v. Elliot" on Justia Law

by
Janice Dickinson filed suit against William H. Cosby, Jr. and his attorney, Martin Singer, for defamation and related causes of action after Singer issued a letter demanding media outlets not to repeat Dickinson's allegedly false accusations of rape against Cosby, and a press release characterizing Dickinson's rape accusations as a lie. The Court of Appeal held that the trial court erred in striking Dickinson's first amended complaint, as it pertained only to a party, Singer, who had not filed an anti-SLAPP motion; the trial court erred in granting the anti-SLAPP motion with respect to the demand letter; and the court correctly denied the anti-SLAPP motion with respect to the press release. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part. View "Dickinson v. Cosby" on Justia Law

by
Petitioner Phyllis Morris’ office, the Public Defender for San Bernadino County, represented Ruth Zapata Lopez, a nonparty to this petition, in a case alleging she committed two misdemeanors by driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Acting on Lopez’s behalf, petitioner’s office successfully moved to suppress evidence supporting the State’s case. Both counts were eventually dismissed in the interest of justice. The State appealed the suppression motion on the same day. A deputy public defender filed a request with the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of San Bernardino County to appoint counsel for Lopez on appeal. Court clerks informed counsel that Lopez was not eligible for appointment of counsel on appeal. According to the deputy public defender, the reason provided was that Lopez “was the respondent, and the respondent on a misdemeanor appeal is not entitled to appointed counsel.” In an e-mail attached to the petition, the same deputy public defender asserts a court clerk told him the appellate division’s position was that petitioner’s office still represented Lopez. Petitioner filed an earlier petition (case No. E066181) challenging this policy. Petitioner argued the United States Constitution obligated the Superior Court of San Bernardino County to appoint counsel for all indigent defendants in the appellate division. While the Court of Appeal agreed that a defendant acting as respondent in the appellate division would likely fare better with an attorney than without one, “showing that something might be procedurally better is not the same as showing that the state is obligated to provide it.” The Court concluded petitioner failed to show why appointment of counsel for respondents in the appellate division, as much as it might conceivably benefit those respondents, was constitutionally mandated. View "Morris v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ suit challenging the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) termination of tier disability benefits for lack of subject matter jurisdiction based on Plaintiffs’ failure to have exhausted their administrative remedies. After the SSA terminated the disability benefits that Plaintiffs had been receiving, Plaintiffs challenged that decision administratively. Before they had exhausted the administrative review process, however, Plaintiffs filed suit in federal court seeking various kinds of relief based presumably on the same grounds as the claims that had presented to the SSA in seeking to continue to receive their benefits. The district court granted the government’s motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, concluding that Plaintiffs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs failed to show that they could not obtain a restoration of their benefits through the administrative review process, despite evidence suggesting that they would have a substantial chance of doing so. View "Justiniano v. Social Security Administration" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment for Defendants in this action filed by Plaintiff claiming that Defendants discriminated against her based on her gender and sexual preference and exposed her to a hostile work environment and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and various provisions of Puerto Rico law. The district court ultimately dismissed all of the claims. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the district court erred in concluding that Plaintiff failed to show a genuine factual dispute as to whether she experienced a hostile work environment based on gender and retaliatory motivation and erred in finding those claims to be untimely. The Supreme Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment for Defendants on Plaintiff’s hostile work environment claims under both federal and Commonwealth law, holding that Plaintiff failed to meet her burden to produce competent evidence showing that any of the work conditions she encountered within the statute of limitations period amounted to harassment on the basis of the improper motivations she alleged. View "Maldonado-Catala v. Municipality of Naranjito" on Justia Law

by
The State’s contribution to health insurance benefits for State employees, including members of the State judiciary, is not judicial compensation protected from direct diminution by the Judicial Compensation Clause of the State Constitution, and the reductions in contributions do not have the effect of singling out the judiciary for disadvantageous treatment. Plaintiffs, Supreme Court Justices and others, filed suit against the State seeking a declaratory judgment that newly amended N.Y. Civ. Serv. Law 167(8), which authorizes reduction in contributions towards health insurance premiums, violates the Compensation Clause of the State Constitution. Supreme Court denied the State’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that compensation includes health insurance benefits and that the decree in the State’s contribution level discriminated against judges. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that a contribution to health care premiums is not compensation within the context of the Compensation Clause, and the change in State contributions does not jeopardize the independence of the judiciary. View "Bransten v. State" on Justia Law

by
A government agency may rely on section 37(2)(e)(iii) of the State’s Freedom of Information Law (Public Officers Law art 7 (FOIL)) - under which an agency may seek to exempt from public inspection those records compiled for law enforcement purposes and which, if disclosed, would identify a confidential source or disclose confidential information relating to a criminal investigation - only if the agency establishes that (1) an express promise of confidentiality was made to the source, or (2) the circumstances of the particular case are such that the confidentiality of the source or information can be reasonably inferred. In this case, the Second Department ruled that the District Attorney of Nassau County properly denied Petitioner’s FOIL request for records relating to his conviction. Petitioner subsequently commenced this proceeding pursuant to N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 against the Nassau County District Attorney seeking disclosure of his case file. Supreme Court granted the petition. The Appellate Division reversed, concluding that the case file was appropriately withheld under section 87(2)(e)(iii). The Court of Appeals reversed and remitted the matter to Supreme Court, holding that the Second Department applied the wrong standard in making its ruling. View "Friedman v. Rice" on Justia Law

by
The Court of Appeals answered two certified questions by holding (1) under the capacity rule, public benefit corporations have no greater stature to challenge the constitutionality of state statutes than do municipal corporations or other local government entities; and (2) a claim-revival statute will satisfy the Due Process Clause of the state Constitution if it was enacted as a reasonable response in order to remedy an injustice. Plaintiffs, workers who participated in cleanup operations following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, brought claims against BatteryPark City Authority (BPCA), a public benefit corporation, alleging that they developed illness as a result of their exposure to harmful toxins at BPCA-owned properties in the course of their cleanup duties. The district court dismissed the claims on the grounds that Plaintiffs did not serve BPCA with timely notices of claim. The legislature responded by enacting Jimmy Nolan’s law, which revived Plaintiffs’ time-barred causes of action for one year after the law’s enactment. Plaintiffs subsequently served new notices of claim on BPCA within the one-year revival period. The district court granted summary judgment for BPCA, concluding that Jimmy Nolan’s Law was unconstitutional as applied. On appeal, the Second Circuit Court of Appeal certified questions to the Court of Appeals. The court answered as set forth above. View "In re World Trade Center Lower Manhattan Disaster Site Litigation" on Justia Law

by
This appeal involved the Company's effort to have declared invalid a Crossing Agreement entered into in 2012 by Michigan State officials and the Government of Canada to build another bridge spanning the Detroit River, within two miles of the Ambassador Bridge. The DC Circuit held that the district court properly granted summary judgment as to Count 7, which alleged that the Secretary failed to inquire adequately into Michigan law and, to the extent an inquiry was made, the Secretary's action was arbitrary and capricious. The court reasoned that neither the plain text of Section 3 nor other provisions of the International Bridge Act (IBA), 33 U.S.C. 535 et seq., require the Secretary to inquire into state law. Therefore, the Secretary did not clearly err in approving the Crossing Agreement and the court affirmed summary judgment. The court also held that the district court properly dismissed Counts 2 and 3, which alleged that approval of the Crossing Agreement was unlawful because it contradicted federal laws; Count 1, which alleged a non-delegation claim; and Count 6, which alleged that the issuance of a Presidential Permit by the Secretary of State was final agency action, regardless of whether this authority was delegated by the President, and thus it was reviewable. View "Detroit International Bridge Co. v. Government of Canada" on Justia Law