United States v. Valdovino

Defendant appealed his sentence after pleading guilty to unlawfully entering the United States after being deported. The court affirmed the district court's application of a sentencing enhancement under U.S.S.G. 2L1.2(b)(1)(B) because defendant illegally reentered the country after a prior North Carolina conviction for felony drug trafficking, which is a drug offense punishable by more than one year in prison. The court held that North Carolina's legislatively mandated sentencing scheme, not a recommended sentence hashed out in a plea negotiations, determines whether an offender's prior North Carolina conviction was punishable by more than a year in prison. View "United States v. Valdovino" on Justia Law

King v. Burwell

Plaintiffs filed suit challenging the validity of an IRS final rule implementing the premium tax credit provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), 26 U.S.C. 36B. The final rule interprets the Act as authorizing the IRS to grant tax credits to individuals who purchase health insurance on both state-run insurance "Exchanges" and federally-facilitated "Exchanges" created and operated by HHS. The court found that the applicable statutory language is ambiguous and subject to multiple interpretations. Applying deference to the IRS's determination, the court upheld the rule as a permissible exercise of the agency's discretion. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "King v. Burwell" on Justia Law

Massey v. Ojaniit

Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and North Carolina law against police officers, alleging, inter alia, that they fabricated evidence that led to plaintiff's arrest, convictions, and nearly-twelve-year incarceration. The district court granted the officers' motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c). The court concluded that plaintiff waived his right to appeal the judgment in Officer Ledford's favor. The court also concluded that plaintiff has failed to state a claim on which relief can be granted in regards to Officers Ojaniit and Esposito. Further, plaintiff failed to plead any colorable state law claim as to these two officers. Accordingly, the court dismissed the appeal as to Officer Ledford and affirmed the judgment as to Officers Ojaniit and Esposito. View "Massey v. Ojaniit" on Justia Law

Cordova v. Holder

Petitioner, a native and citizen of El Salvador, sought review of the BIA's order affirming the IJ's denial of asylum and withholding of removal because petitioner was not a member of a cognizable social group and, alternatively, because petitioner failed to establish a nexus between a social group and the death threats he received from MS-13. The court granted the petition for review and remanded for further proceedings, concluding that petitioner demonstrated a cognizable family-based social group because of his kinship ties to his cousin and uncle, both of whom MS-13 murdered on account of their membership in a rival gang. Further, the BIA's nexus analysis failed to build a rational bridge between the record and the agency's legal conclusion. View "Cordova v. Holder" on Justia Law

Ameur v. Gates

Plaintiff filed suit under the Alien Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. 1350, against former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and other federal officials allegedly involved in his detention as a suspected terrorist. Plaintiff was determined to be an "enemy combatant" but was eventually released to his native country of Algeria. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the Military Commissions Act of 2006, 28 U.S.C. 2241(e)(2). View " Ameur v. Gates" on Justia Law

United States v. Jones

Plaintiff appealed the district court's denial of his 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion as untimely. Plaintiff argued that his failure to meet the requirements of section 2255(f)(4) should not bar his section 2255 motion because the vacaturs of his state convictions rendered him "actually innocent of his sentence." The court declined to apply McQuiggin v. Perkins, which held that a defendant who demonstrated actual innocence of his crime of conviction may, in extraordinary circumstances, proceed with a habeas petition that otherwise would have been statutorily time-barred. The court held that McQuiggin does not apply to habeas claims based on actual innocence of a sentence and, therefore, affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "United States v. Jones" on Justia Law

Quitanilla v. Holder, Jr.

Petitioner sought discretionary relief from removal by way of a special rule cancellation under the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act of 1997 (NACARA), 8 U.S.C. 1231 (b)(3)(i). Determining that petitioner's challenge was timely and that the court had jurisdiction under 8 U.S.C. 1252, the court concluded that the BIA did not err in concluding that the persecutor bar rendered him ineligible for special rule cancellation of removal where petitioner oversaw the investigation and capture of twenty to fifty civilians and guerrillas, and where petitioner most likely understood that the individuals investigated or arrested would be tortured or killed. The court rejected petitioner's remaining contentions and denied the petition for review. View "Quitanilla v. Holder, Jr." on Justia Law

Chesapeake Bay Foundation v. Alt

Plaintiff filed suit against the EPA seeking declaratory relief in connection with its administrative enforcement proceedings against her. CBF moved to intervene but the district court denied the motion as untimely. The court concluded that when CBF moved to intervene, the proceedings had already reached a relatively advanced stage. Further, CBF conceded that its belated intervention would cause some delay and would require plaintiffs to expend "extra effort." CBF's deliberate forbearance understandably engendered little sympathy. Accordingly, the court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion to intervene. View "Chesapeake Bay Foundation v. Alt" on Justia Law

Lefemine v. Wideman

Plaintiff successfully sued various Greenwood County Sheriff's Office officials for First Amendment violations. The court held that qualified immunity, the absence of a policy or custom of discrimination, and the nature of the relief granted here - whether considered individually or together through a "totality of the circumstances" lens - could not support the denial of attorneys' fees to plaintiff, a prevailing civil rights plaintiff; the district court abused its discretion by denying these fees and the court reversed the judgment; and the court remanded with instructions to allow plaintiff to make a fee application and for ensuing determination of the reasonable fee award for his successful prosecution of the civil rights matter, including the time spent defending entitlement to attorney's fees. View "Lefemine v. Wideman" on Justia Law

Southern Appalachian Mountain v. A & G Coal Corp.

A&G owns and operates the Kelly Branch Surface Mine in Virginia. Plaintiff filed suit against A&G for declaratory and injunctive relief and civil penalties, contending that A&G was violating the Clean Water Act (CWA), 33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq., by discharging selenium from Kelly Branch without authorization to do so. The court held that A&G could not assert a "permit shield" defense for discharges of selenium when it failed to disclose the presence of this pollutant during the permit application process. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to plaintiff. View "Southern Appalachian Mountain v. A & G Coal Corp." on Justia Law