Paul W. Mollica Federal Courts Blog

Blog Authors

Latest from Paul W. Mollica Federal Courts Blog

In Wikimedia Foundation v. NSA, No. 20-1191 (4th Cir. Sept. 16, 2021), a three-way split panel holds 2-1 that Wikimedia has Article III standing to challenge National Security Agency’s (NSA) domestic surveillance of transmission lines, but a different 2-1 majority holds that the case fails because of the “state secret doctrine.” The Fourth Circuit had previously reviewed this case on dismissal of the complaint, vacating and remanding for further factual development. Wikimedia Found. v.…
In United States v. Rich, No. 18-2268 (6th Cir. Sept. 13, 2021), the Sixth Circuit enters the circuit split about whether, in a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) prosecution, the government is required “to prove the existence of the enterprise, or whether an agreement to create a racketeering enterprise suffices.” The majority holds that it is enough to prove “an agreement that encompassed a future violation of the substantive RICO offense.” “The…
In Barilla v. City of Houston, No. 20-20535 (5th Cir. Sept. 10, 2021), a Fifth Circuit panel reverses dismissal on standing grounds of a First Amendment challenge to Houston’s ordinance clamping down on “bands, musicians, singers, mimes, and other artists who perform for gratuities on the sidewalk.” “Barilla challenges three City ordinances (collectively, the ‘Busking Ordinances’) which prohibit busking anywhere outside of Houston’s Theater District and require a permit to busk within the Theater…
In Lindenbaum v. Realgy, LLC, No. 20-4252 (6th Cir. Sept. 9, 2021), the Sixth Circuit holds that severance of an offending section of a federal statute by the U.S. Supreme Court is not a judicial “remedy” that operates only prospectively and that severance thus has retrospective effect. Two terms ago in Barr v. Am. Ass’n of Pol. Consultants, Inc. (AAPC), 140 S. Ct. 2335 (2020), the Supreme Court found unconstitutional a 2015 amendment to…
In United States v. Cabrera, No. 19-3363 (2d Cir. Sept. 8, 2021), the panel majority holds that the jury in a criminal prosecution should not have heard officer testimony that the defendant, “unlike the ‘average drug dealer,’ appeared to be ‘experienced’ because he had employed countersurveillance driving techniques (which consisted of really bad driving).” The panel holds that the opinion testimony, combined with an instructional error, deprived the defendant of a fair trial. The…
In Big Shoulders Capital LLC v. San Luis & Rio Grande Rd., No. 20-1503 (7th Cir. Sept. 3, 2021), the court remands a diversity action to determine whether the subsidiaries of a railroad – under the “nerve center” test – are citizens (1) of Illinois where the parent is headquartered, or (2) of Oregon, Delaware, and Colorado where they are incorporated or have operations. “This case began when Big Shoulders sued SLRG [San Luis…
In HTC Corp.  v. Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson, No. 19-40566 (5th Cir. Aug. 31, 2021), the Fifth Circuit affirms exclusion of an expert report from a valuation expert who the defendant had used in prior litigation, holding that the prior expert’s testimony is inadmissible hearsay and not admissible as a party admission under Fed. R. Evid. 801(d)(2)(C). Modern technology requires common technical standards across equipment so that machines can communicate among themselves, regardless of brand…
In Doe v. Fairfax Cnty. Sch. Bd., No. 19-2203 (4th Cir. Aug. 30, 2021) (order), denying rehearing en banc of a Title IX case involving sexual harassment, a Fourth Circuit judge calls for curtailing separate dissenting opinions that signal “disrespect for the hard work of the panel and for the full court’s decision not to take a case en banc.” The case involved review of a jury trial in a Title IX case where…
In Invesco High Yield Fund v. Jecklin, No. 21-15809 (9th Cir. Aug. 25, 2021), the Ninth Circuit affirms contempt sanctions against a foreign defendant under 28 U.S.C. § 1826(a), the federal recalcitrant witness statute. The statute provides that when a witness refuses to testify or provide other information, the court “may summarily order his confinement . . . until such time as the witness is willing to give such testimony or provide such information.”…
In Madison v. ADT LLC, No. 21-90028 (5th Cir. Aug. 24, 2021), the panel holds that the district court should have disregarded the nominal in-state defendant when evaluating the “home state” exception to the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(4)(B). It holds that primary defendants include those at whom a lawsuit is actually directed. CAFA broadens the definition of diversity jurisdiction to include incomplete diversity between parties in class or “mass”…