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Under the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act (Gov. Code 3300), no punitive action may be taken against a public safety officer for any alleged act unless the investigation is completed within one year of “the public agency’s discovery by a person authorized to initiate an investigation,” subject to exceptions. One exception tolls the time period while the act is also the “subject” of a pending criminal investigation or prosecution. A criminal corruption investigation of SFPD officers began in 2011; search warrants of cellphone records led to the discovery in December 2012 of racist, sexist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic text messages among SFPD officers. Two were convicted for conspiracy to commit theft, conspiracy against civil rights and wire fraud. Three days later (December 8, 2014), the texts were released to SFPD’s Internal Affairs Division (IAD-Admin). After IAD-Admin completed its investigation, the chief of police issued disciplinary charges against respondents in April 2015. The trial court concluded the limitations period began in December 2012 when the misconduct was discovered. The court of appeal reversed, concluding the limitations period did not begin until the text messages were released to IAD-Admin; before then, the alleged misconduct could not be discovered by the “person[s] authorized to initiate an investigation” under section 3304(d)(1). The limitations period was also tolled until the verdict in the criminal corruption case because the text messages were the “subject” of the criminal investigation under section 3304. View "Daugherty v. City & County of San Francisco" on Justia Law

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The integrated “court-martial system” begins with the court-martial, which determines guilt or innocence and levies punishment. There are four appellate courts: the Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) for the Army, Navy-Marine Corps, Air Force, or Coast Guard. They review decisions where the sentence is a punitive discharge, incarceration for more than one year, or death. The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) sits atop the system and is a “court of record” composed of five civilian judges, 10 U.S.C. 941. Ortiz, an Airman First Class, was convicted by a court-martial of possessing and distributing child pornography. He was sentenced to imprisonment and a dishonorable discharge. An Air Force CCA panel, including Colonel Mitchell, affirmed. Judge Mitchell had recently been appointed to the Court of Military Commission Review (CMCR) by the Secretary of Defense under his authority (10 U.S.C. 950f(b)(2)) to “assign [officers] who are appellate military judges” to serve on that court. The President also appointed Judge Mitchell to the CMCR. The Supreme Court affirmed CCA's holding that Judge Mitchell’s simultaneous service on the CCA and the CMCR violated neither the Appointments Clause nor 10 U.S.C. 973(b)(2)(A), which provides that unless “otherwise authorized by law,” an active-duty military officer “may not hold, or exercise the functions of,” certain “civil office[s]” in the federal government. Even if a seat on CMCR is a covered “civil office” section 950f(b) “otherwise authorize[s]” Judge Mitchell’s service by providing for the assignment of military officers to the CMCR. The Appointments Clause distinguishes between principal officers and inferior officers but does not impose rules about dual service. Ortiz does not show how Judge Mitchell’s CMCR service would result in “undue influence” on his CCA colleagues. In holding that it had jurisdiction over the case, the Court stated that the military justice system’s essential character is judicial and the Court’s appellate jurisdiction covers more than decisions by Article III courts. View "Ortiz v. United States" on Justia Law

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This appeal was one in a series of successive appeals brought by Kenneth Manning challenging the moose and caribou subsistence hunt regulations that governed a portion of southcentral Alaska. Manning filed this lawsuit in 2013 challenging the eligibility criteria for subsistence hunt permits, the point system for allocating Tier II subsistence permits, and the criteria for establishing nonsubsistence hunting areas. While these claims were pending, the Alaska Supreme Court issued a 2015 decision resolving similar claims brought by Manning in an earlier suit. Manning then moved to amend his complaint in this case and to add an individual official as a defendant. The superior court denied both motions, concluding that amendment would be futile because all of Manning’s claims would fail under Supreme Court precedent. The superior court also denied the State’s motion for attorney’s fees, concluding that Manning was exempt from an adverse attorney’s fees award under the constitutional litigant exception. Manning appealed the denial of his motion to amend; he also raised various allegations of deprivation of due process. The State cross-appeals the denial of its motion for attorney’s fees. The Supreme Court affirmed the denial of the motion to amend because Manning failed to adequately brief (thus forfeiting) his arguments on some of the counts, and the remaining counts would have been futile. And the Court affirmed the denial of attorney’s fees to the State because none of Manning’s claims were frivolous. View "Manning v. Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game" on Justia Law

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The Claims Court entered judgment in favor of Starry on its bid protest claim, concluding that the Department of Health and Human Services acted arbitrarily and capriciously in canceling its solicitation seeking to procure certain business operations services. The Claims Court thereafter awarded Starry attorney fees at the rates actually billed to Starry by its counsel, finding that the “extreme measures that [Starry] was forced to pursue to vindicate its right to a rational and lawful federal procurement process, combined with the shocking disregard of the truth by” HHS, constituted a “special factor” justifying an award of fees above the EAJA’s “default rate” of $125 per hour. EAJA, the Equal Access to Justice Act, 28 U.S.C. 2412(d)(2)(A), provides that when a trial court finds that a “special factor” exists, it is authorized to increase the statutory attorney fee rate in certain cases brought by or against the government. The Federal Circuit vacated the award, holding that the Claims Court erred as a matter of law in holding that an agency’s improper or dilatory conduct during the administrative process that gave rise to the litigation between the parties can constitute a “special factor.” EAJA does not contain any reference to prelitigation activities. View "Starry Associates, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Order 1000 encourages the development of “interregional” electricity transmission projects, calling for regional providers to jointly evaluate interregional projects. Poviders must adopt cost-allocation methodologies for dividing up the costs of a joint project to assure that the relative costs borne by a particular transmission provider be commensurate with the relative benefits gained by the provider. MISO, which operates transmission facilities on behalf of providers across 15 midwestern states, proposed to conduct cost allocation for interregional projects using a “cost-avoidance” method. The share of costs allocated to MISO under that method corresponds to the benefits to MISO of its regional projects that would be displaced by the interregional project. In identifying which regional projects should be regarded as displaced, MISO proposed to exclude any project that had already been approved by the MISO board. The Commission rejected MISO’s cost-allocation approach, reasoning that excluding approved regional projects would fail to account for the full potential benefits of an interregional project. The D.C. Circuit denied a petition for review. Although MISO had standing and its claims were ripe, one claim was not properly presented to the agency in a request for rehearing. On the merits of the other claims, the court held that the Commission adequately responded to concerns about the possible effects of including approved regional projects in the cost-allocation calculation. View "Ameren Services Co. v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission" on Justia Law

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This case presented two questions arising out of the operation of the Suncook Wastewater Treatment Facility (the “Facility”) in Allenstown, New Hampshire, for the New Hampshire Supreme Court's review. First, under an intermunicipal agreement, must defendant Town of Allenstown, share any of the profits generated from septage haulers who discharge their waste at the Facility with the plaintiff, Town of Pembroke? And second, after Allenstown used a portion of those profits to increase the Facility’s wastewater treatment capacity, must Allenstown allocate any of that increased capacity to Pembroke? Because the Supreme Court, as did the Superior Court, answered both questions “no,” the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Town of Pembroke v. Town of Allenstown" on Justia Law

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The South Orange County Community College District (the District) dismissed Carol Wassmann from employment as a tenured librarian at Irvine Valley College (IVC) in April 2011. Several years later, Wassmann obtained a right to sue notice from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) and brought this lawsuit against the District, Karima Feldhus, Robert Brumucci, Glenn Roquemore, Lewis Long, and Katherine Schmeidler. Wassmann, who is African-American, alleged causes of action for racial discrimination, age discrimination, and harassment in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), intentional infliction of emotional distress, and two other causes of action (not relevant here). The trial court granted two motions for summary judgment: one brought by the District Defendants and the other brought by Long and Schmeidler, on the ground the FEHA claims were barred by res judicata, collateral estoppel, or failure to exhaust administrative remedies, and the intentional infliction of emotional distress cause of action was barred by res judicata, collateral estoppel, or the statute of limitations. Wassmann appealed, but finding no reversible error in the grant of summary judgment, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "Wassmann v. South Orange County Community College Dist." on Justia Law

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At issue was the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission’s (MMC) process that resulted in a decision awarding five top scoring applicants medical-marijuana-cultivation-facility licenses. Naturalis Health, LLC, one of the applicants that did not obtain a license, brought this complaint asserting that the MMC carried out the application process in a flawed, biased, and arbitrary and capricious manner. The circuit court agreed and went further to conclude that the MMC’s licensing process and decisions violated Amendment 98 of the Arkansas Constitution, were ultra vires, and violated due process. The court declared the MMC’s licensing decisions null and void and enjoined the MMC from issuing the cultivation-facility licenses. The Supreme Court reversed and dismissed the appeal brought by Appellants - MMC and others - holding that the circuit court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction under the Administrative Procedure Act. View "Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration v. Naturalis Health, LLC" on Justia Law

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At issue was the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission’s (MMC) process that resulted in a decision awarding five top scoring applicants medical-marijuana-cultivation-facility licenses. Naturalis Health, LLC, one of the applicants that did not obtain a license, brought this complaint asserting that the MMC carried out the application process in a flawed, biased, and arbitrary and capricious manner. The circuit court agreed and went further to conclude that the MMC’s licensing process and decisions violated Amendment 98 of the Arkansas Constitution, were ultra vires, and violated due process. The court declared the MMC’s licensing decisions null and void and enjoined the MMC from issuing the cultivation-facility licenses. The Supreme Court reversed and dismissed the appeal brought by Appellants - MMC and others - holding that the circuit court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction under the Administrative Procedure Act. View "Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration v. Naturalis Health, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Oregon Supreme Court previously denied employer Shearer's Foods' petition for review in this workers’ compensation case, but addressed claimant William Hoffnagle's petition for an award of attorney fees for time that his counsel spent in response to employer’s unsuccessful petition for review. Employer objected that the Supreme Court lacked authority to award fees and also objects to the amount of requested fee. Although the Supreme Court often resolved attorney fee petitions by order rather than written opinion, employer’s objection to the Supreme Court's authority to award fees presented a legal issue that was appropriately resolved by opinion. Employer insisted the Oregon legislature had not authorized an award of fees for work that a claimant’s attorney performs in response to an unsuccessful petition for review; employer did not dispute that, after a series of amendments, ORS 656.386 specified a claimant who prevails against a denial was entitled to an award of attorney fees for work performed at every other stage of the case, including in the Supreme Court, if the Supreme Court addressed the merits of the case. "Employer offers no reason why the legislature would have intentionally created that one carve-out to what is otherwise a comprehensive authorization of fees when a claimant relies on counsel to finally prevail against the denial of a claim. Indeed, such a carve- out would be incompatible with what we have described as 'a broad statement of a legislative policy' reflected in ORS 656.386, 'that prevailing claimants’ attorneys shall receive reasonable compensation for their representation.'" The petition for attorney fees was allowed. Claimant was awarded $2,200 as attorney fees on review. View "Shearer's Foods v. Hoffnagle" on Justia Law