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Supreme Court Tentatively Allows City Claims Against Banks for Discriminatory Lending to Proceed

The glass is more than half full after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Bank of America v. Miami , but not as full as local governments would like. The Supreme Court could have completely shut down local government lawsuits against banks for discriminatory lending practices—but it didn’t. The Supreme Court also could have made it easier for local governments to prove these cases—but it didn’t.

In Bank of America v. Miami , the Supreme Court held 5-3 that local governments have “standing” to bring Fair Housing Act (FHA) lawsuits against banks alleging discriminatory lending practices. But to win these claims local governments must show that their injuries were more than merely foreseeable. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief in this case on the side of the City of Miami.    Continue reading

 

Supreme Court to Decide How Far Asset Forfeitures May Go

Sila Luis was indicted on charges related to $45 million in Medicare fraud. Unsurprisingly, her personal assets amounted to much less than $45 million. The federal government sought to freeze the use of her assets not traceable to the fraud. She wanted to use them to hire an attorney.

The question in Luis v. United States is whether not allowing a criminal defendant to use assets not traceable to a criminal offense to hire counsel of choice violates the Sixth Amendment’s right to counsel.

This case is relevant to state and local government for a few reasons. First, while the asset forfeiture in this case likely went to reimburse the federal government for the Medicaid fraud, generally, law enforcement involved receive asset forfeitures. Second, some state asset forfeiture laws, like the federal statute in this case, allow untainted assets to be substituted. Third, in some instances state and local governments, like the federal government in this case, are the victim of a fraud and seek to recoup as much of their losses as possible.      Continue reading

 

Monday Morning Review: Local Governments in the Federal Appellate Courts

Here are last week’s published decisions involving local governments:court collumn

First Circuit

Third Circuit

Sixth Circuit Continue reading

 

Monday Morning Review: Local Governments in the Federal Appellate Courts

Here are last week’s published decisions involving local governments:court collumn

Fourth Circuit

Sixth Circuit

 

Monday Morning Review: Local Governments in the Federal Appellate Courts

Here are the last two weeks’ published decisions involving local governments:court collumn

Second Circuit

Sixth Circuit Continue reading

 

What’s Next for Same-Sex Marriage?

For the six reasons Lyle Denniston describes on SCOTUSblog, the Supreme Court’s announcement on Monday that it would not hear any of the seven petitions striking down same-sex marriage bans was stunning.5554035521_f6b59ccafa_n  Even though there was no circuit split, conventional wisdom indicated the Court would decide the issue because of its importance and because both sides asked the Court for review.

Amy Howe also of SCOTUSblog and Scott Michelman writing on SCOTUSblog speculate as to the why the Court’s liberals and conservatives may have decided not to get involved in the issue now.  In short, the liberals had nothing to lose by waiting, and both side face uncertainty about Justice Kennedy’s position on the issue.

To understand where were are today with same-sex marriage a timetable is helpful.

  • On Sunday, 19 states recognized same-sex marriage.
  • On Monday, 11 more states were added from the Fourth (Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina) Seventh (Wisconsin and Indiana) and Tenth Circuits (Utah, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, and Wyoming).
  • On Tuesday 5 more states were added when the Ninth Circuit (Idaho, Nevada, Alaska, Arizona, and Montana) struck down the Idaho and Nevada same-sex marriage bans.  (Implementation of this decision is still being worked out).

Technically, Continue reading

 

The Supreme Court and Simple Math

Its simple math.  Really.  But will the Supreme Court do it?  The Eleventh Circuit refused.

The question in Alabama Department of Revenue v. CSX Transportation is whether a state discriminates against rail carriers in violation of federal law even when rail carriers pay less in total state taxes than motor carriers?  No, argues the State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) in an amicus brief.  Forty-two states exempt motor carriers from sales tax on diesel fuel.  This case is relevant to local government because a number of cities and counties in Alabama impose an additional sales tax on railroad diesel fuel.calc

Rail carriers (railroads) in Alabama pay a four percent sales tax on diesel fuel.  Motor carriers (trucks) pay an excise tax of 19-cents per gallon and no sales tax.  The Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act (4-R) prohibits state and local governments from imposing taxes that discriminate against railroads.  Since CSX filed its complaint, railroads paid less in sales tax than trucks paid in excise tax.  But, the Eleventh Circuit refused to compare the total taxation of railroads and trucks to avoid the “Sisyphean burden of evaluating the fairness of the State’s overall tax structure.”  Instead it concluded Alabama’s sales tax on railroads violates 4-R because Alabama’s competitors don’t pay it.

The SLLC brief argues that given state’s traditional power to tax the Court should interpret 4-R narrowly.   The brief suggests the Court could take three approaches to rule in favor of Alabama. Continue reading

 

Monday Morning Review: Local Governments in the Federal Appellate Courts

Here are last week’s published decisions involving local governments:court collumn

Second Circuit

Sixth Circuit

  • United Pet Supply, Inc. v. City of Chattanooga, No. 13-5181 (Sept. 18, 2014): The court found that: (i) private animal-welfare employee that contracted with City may not assert qualified immunity; (ii) officers may not assert qualified-immunity defense to “official capacity” suits; (iii) seizure of animals without prior hearing did not violate procedural due process; (iv) revocation of permit without hearing did violate due process; (v) that warrantless animal seizure did not violate Fourth Amendment because of exigent circumstances; and (vi) seizure of records without warrant violated clearly established Fourth-Amendment right and therefore officer was not entitled to qualified immunity.
  • Finn v. Warren County, No. 13-6629 (Sept. 16, 2014): In action alleging inadequte medical care in violation of the Eighth Amendment and state law claims including negligence after Finn died in his cell, the court reversed grant of summary judgment for officer, remanded for trial on negligence claim, and otherwise affirmed judgment below.

Seventh Circuit Continue reading

 

Monday Morning Review: Local Governments in the Federal Appellate Courts

Here are last week’s published decisions involving local governments:court collumn

Ninth Circuit

Eleventh Circuit

  • West v. Davis, No. 13-14805 (Sept. 8, 2014): The court found that district court improperly granted summary judgment for security guard in case in which West challenged the actions of a security guard at courthouse security checkpoint; district court should have applied standard for “seizures” under the Fourth Amendment.

D.C. Circuit Continue reading

 

Can You Hear Me Now? If Not, Read This

In T-Mobile South v. City of Roswell, the Supreme Court will decide whether a letter denying a cell tower construction application that doesn’t explain the reasons for the denial meets the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (TCA) “in writing” requirement. CellTower The State and Local Legal Center’s (SLLC) amicus brief, which IMLA joined, argues it does.

T-Mobile applied to construct a 108-foot cell tower in an area zoned single-family residential.  The City of Roswell’s ordinance only allowed “alternative tower structures” in such a zone that were compatible with “the natural setting and surrounding structures.”  T-Mobile proposed an “alternative tower structure” in the shape of a man-made tree that would be about 25-feet taller than the pine trees surrounding it.

After a hearing, where city councilmembers stated various reasons for why they were going to vote against the application, Roswell sent T-Mobile a brief letter saying the application was denied and that T-Mobile could obtain hearing minutes from the city clerk. Continue reading

 

Monday Morning Review: Local Governments in the Federal Appellate Courts

Here are last week’s published decisions involving local governments:court collumn

Fourth Circuit

  • Cherry v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore City, No. 13-1007 (Aug. 6, 2014): In case brought by active and retired Baltimore police officers and fire fighters who participate in City’s pension plan, reversing district court’s decision that the City had violated the Contract Clause and affirming that the City had not violated the Takings Clause by changing how it calcualtes pension benefits.

Fifth Circuit

  • Thompson v. Mercer, No. 13-10773 (Aug. 7, 2014): In 1983 action against officer who shot and killed individual who had stolen vehicle and led police on a two-hour, high-speed chase, affirming grant of qualified immunity to officer because use of deadly force was not a constitutional violation.
  • Sullo & Bobbitt v. Milner, No. 13-10869 (Aug. 6, 2014): In unpublished decision, affirming dismissal of case brought by attorneys claiming First-Amendment right to access misdemeanor court records within one day of their filing.

Continue reading

 

Monday Morning Review: Local Governments in the Federal Appellate Courts

Here are last week’s published decisions involving local governments:law books

Sixth Circuit

Hescott v. City of Saginaw, No. 13-2103 (July 2, 2014) (ruling that district court erred denying attorney’s fees to Hescotts in their successful 1983 action claiming that the City had unconstitutionally seized their personal effects by demolishing their property).

Seventh Circuit

Scherr v. City of Chicago, No. 13-1992 (July 2, 2014) (affirming that 1983 suit against officer based on alleged Fourth-Amendment violation was properly dismissed). Continue reading

 

Monday Morning Review: Local Governments in the Federal Appellate Courts

Here are last week’s published decisions involving local governments:Alexandria-court

First Circuit

Second Circuit Continue reading

 

Lane v. Franks: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

The Supreme Court held unanimously that the First Amendment protects a public employee who provides truthful sworn testimony, compelled by a subpoena, outside the course of his or her ordinary responsibilities.5554035521_f6b59ccafa_n

The good:  The Court was clear that if employees admit to wrongdoing while testifying they can still be disciplined and that false or erroneous testimony or testimony that unnecessarily discloses sensitive, confidential, or privileged information may balance the Pickering scale in the employer’s favor.

The bad:  The Court read “official job duties” narrowly to exclude speech about information merely learned at the job.

The ugly:  The Court doesn’t decide the obvious next question:  is an employee’s truthful sworn testimony, which is part of an employee’s ordinary responsibilities, protected by the First Amendment? Continue reading

 

Monday Morning Review: Local Governments in the Federal Appellate Courts

Here are last week’s published decisions involving local governments:Alexandria-court

First Circuit

  • Jones v. City of Boston, No. 12-2280 (May 7, 2014) (in suit challenging police department’s drug-testing program as causing disparate impact based on race, reversing denial of summary judgment for plaintiffs on whether they had proved a prima facie case of disparate impact under Title VII).

Sixth Circuit

Continue reading

 

Monday Morning Review: Local Governments in the Federal Appellate Courts

Here are last week’s published decisions involving local governments:NinthCircuit

First Circuit

Third Circuit

  • Hallsey v. Pheiffer, No. 13-1549 (Apr. 24, 2014) (reversing district court’s summary judgment for officers on fabrication, malicious prosecution, and coercion claims, in case arising out of suit brought by individual wrongly imprisoned for 22 years).

Continue reading

 

Monday Morning Review: Local Governments in the Federal Appellate Courts

Here are last week’s published decisions involving local governments:No-Loitering

Third Circuit

Seventh Circuit

Ninth Circuit Continue reading

 

Monday Morning Review: Local Governments in the Federal Appellate Courts

Here are last week’s published decisions involving local governments:SCT pillars

Second Circuit

Sixth Circuit

Seventh Circuit Continue reading

 

Monday Morning Review: Local Governments in the Federal Appellate Courts

Here are published decisions involving local governments from the federal appellate courts from December 23, 2013, through December 27, 2013:

Seventh Circuit

Ninth Circuit

Eleventh Circuit

 

Monday Morning Review: Local Governments in the Federal Appellate Courts

Here are published decisions involving local governments from the federal appellate courts from December 16, 2013, through December 20, 2013:

Sixth Circuit

Seventh Circuit

Eighth Circuit Continue reading

 

Monday Morning Review: Local Governments in the Federal Appellate Courts

Here’s how local governments fared in the federal courts of appeals during the past week.

First Circuit

Fifth Circuit

Eleventh Circuit

 

Monday Morning Review: Local Governments in the Federal Appellate Courts

Here’s how local governments fared in the federal courts of appeals during the past week.

Fifth Circuit

Sixth Circuit

Tenth Circuit

Eleventh Circuit

  • Carter v. City of Melbourne, No. 12-15337 (Sept. 23, 2013) (finding City not liable for unlawful termination of former officer because decisions were not made by a “final policymaker” for the City, and rejecting other claims, including that officer was terminated for his First Amendment activities).