Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

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Ten small telephone companies sought review of a California Public Utilities Commission (Commission) resolution and decision declining to issue certain funding to Siskiyou Telephone Company (Siskiyou) and Volcano Telephone Company (Volcano). The telephone companies claimed the resolution and decision departed from well-established requirements governing the issuance of funding from the California High Cost Fund A (CHCF-A). Although the Court of Appeal rejected the telephone companies’ assertion that certain adjustments were mandatory, it agreed with them that the Commission’s resolution and decision did not conform to applicable rules. Accordingly, the Court annulled portions of the resolution and decision denying Siskiyou and Volcano’s adjustment requests for 2016 nonrecurring revenue impacts, and remanded the matter for further proceedings. View "Calaveras Telephone Company v. Public Utilities Commission" on Justia Law

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In a case of first impression for the Alaska Supreme Court, at issue was the use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to a catatonic, non-consenting patient. In March 2017, police officers found Lucy G. in an Anchorage parking lot, wet and shivering. She was taken to a local hospital, where she initially exhibited “agitated, self-harming, and disoriented” behaviors requiring sedation for her and the staff’s safety. Lucy, who was calm but unresponsive by the end of the day, was diagnosed as catatonic. Hospital staff also noted her prior schizophrenia diagnosis and psychotropic medication prescriptions, as well as hospitalization the prior month. After a petition by hospital staff, the superior court authorized Lucy’s hospitalization for an involuntary commitment evaluation. She would ultimately be diagnosed with catatonia, involuntarily committed for 30 days, and given psychotropic medication and involuntary ECT. At the superior court hearing, the parties agreed that constitutional standards established in Myers v. Alaska Psychiatric Institute, 138 P.3d 238 (Alaska 2006) for ordering involuntary, non-emergency administration of psychotropic medication also applied to involuntary ECT. The patient argued there should have been heightened standards for ordering involuntary ECT and that, in any event, the superior court’s Myers analysis was legally deficient. The Alaska Supreme Court held that the superior court did not plainly err by applying the existing Myers constitutional standards to authorize involuntary ECT to the non-consenting patient. The Court also held the superior court made sufficient findings related to each relevant, contested mandatory Myers factor. Therefore, the Court surmised these findings supported the court’s involuntary ECT order. View "In the Matter of the Necessity of the Hospitalization of Lucy G." on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit granted a petition for review challenging the Postal Services' stamp price increase for the "Forever Stamp," which was part of the Postal Regulatory Commission Order 4875. The court held that the price hike did not meet the Administrative Procedure Act's requirements for reasoned decisionmaking, because the Commission failed to provide an adequate explanation of the increase and failed to respond to public comments challenging the increase under relevant statutory factors and objectives included in the Commission's organic statute, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA). Accordingly, the court vacated Order 4875 addressing rate adjustments for the category of first-class mail. View "Carlson v. Postal Regulatory Commission" on Justia Law

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Petitioners challenged the EPA's rule implementing the "Good Neighbor Provision," which requires upwind states to eliminate their significant contributions to air quality problems in downwind States, by promulgating a regulation addressing the interstate transport of ozone, or smog. The DC Circuit held that the rule was inconsistent with the Clean Air Act, because it allows upwind States to continue their significant contributions to downwind air quality problems beyond the statutory deadlines by which downwind States must demonstrate their attainment of air quality standards. The court held that EPA acted lawfully and rationally in all other respects. Accordingly, the petitions for review were granted in part and denied in part. View "Wisconsin v. EPA" on Justia Law

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Owners and operators of businesses in the hospitality industry appealed the district court's dismissal based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction of their complaint, alleging that President Trump violated the Domestic and Foreign Emoluments Clauses of the United States Constitution. Specifically, plaintiffs alleged that they have been and will be injured because foreign and domestic government entities that patronize Washington, D.C. and New York hotels, restaurants, and event spaces patronize Trump establishments in the hope of enriching the President and earning a reward from him through official Presidential action favorable to their governments. The Second Circuit vacated and held that the district court did not apply the law correctly in finding that it lacked jurisdiction to decide the case, and that plaintiffs satisfied all three prongs of Article III standing. The court held that plaintiffs adequately alleged an injury in fact, their injury was fairly traceable to President Trump, and their injury was redressable by injunctive relief. The court noted that the Fourth Circuit reached the opposite conclusion in a closely analogous case, but found its arguments to be unpersuasive. The court noted that whether a lawsuit has political motivations was irrelevant to the determinative issues. The court also held that the district court erred in dismissing the complaint on the theory that plaintiffs' injuries fall outside the zone of interests of the Emoluments Clauses. The court held that the zone of interests test does not, as the district court believed, implicate the district court's subject matter jurisdiction, and the Supreme Court's precedents make clear that plaintiffs' injuries were not outside the zone of interests of the Emoluments Clauses. Finally, the court found the district court's prudential considerations unpersuasive, disagreeing with the district court's determination that the case was non-justiciable and not ripe for adjudication. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington v. Trump" on Justia Law

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The DeSoto County Board of Supervisors denied Standard Construction Company’s application for a condition use permit to mine sand and gravel. In September 2017, the circuit court, sitting as an appellate court, reversed the Board's decision. Eleven days later, DeSoto County filed a motion seeking rehearing under Mississippi Rule of Appellate Procedure 40. On December 22, 2017, the circuit court denied the motion. On January 3, 2018, DeSoto County filed a notice of appeal “from the final judgment entered in this case on September 29, 2017 and the denial of the Motion for Rehearing by order entered on December 22, 2017.” The Mississippi Court of Appeals dismissed DeSoto County’s entire appeal as untimely because the motion for rehearing did not toll the thirty-day time period for filing a notice of appeal under Mississippi Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a). While the Mississippi Supreme Court agreed the appeal of the September 29, 2017 order was untimely and should have been dismissed, DeSoto County timely appealed the circuit court’s order of December 22, 2017. Even though the appeal of the December order denying the motion for rehearing was timely, the Supreme Court held DeSoto County waived any argument that the circuit court abused its discretion in denying the motion. Accordingly, the Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s judgment. View "DeSoto County, Mississippi v. Standard Construction Company, Inc." on Justia Law

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On August 14, 2017, Susan Franciere and her dog were attacked by another dog in Mandan. Two days later, she went to the Mandan Police Department, asserted her rights under Article I, section 25 of the North Dakota Constitution, and requested a copy of the police report on the incident under the open records law. On August 17, 2017, she called the police department and was informed the dog was undergoing a 10-day rabies quarantine. On August 18, 2017, Franciere sent a letter to the chief of police requesting the police report. On August 22, 2017, she received a phone call from a police lieutenant who told her she would not receive the report because the case was still active and no information would be released until the case was closed. In September 2017, she contacted the city attorney about the incident. In October, she filed suit in another attempt to get the records. On November 1, 2017, Franciere received a redacted version of the report. On January 13, 2018, she received an unredacted report. She appealed when her case was dismissed as moot, because Franciere eventually received the records she requested. The district court specifically declined to rule on the City’s motion to dismiss the proceedings for insufficient service of process and lack of personal jurisdiction. The North Dakota Supreme Court determined that because a determination of subject matter and personal jurisdiction had to precede any dismissal with prejudice, the court was required to resolve the motion to dismiss for insufficiency of service and lack of personal jurisdiction before dismissing the claims with prejudice on the grounds that they were moot. The judgment was vacated and the matter remanded for a ruling on the City's motion to dismiss. View "Franciere v. City of Mandan" on Justia Law

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The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) appealed a district court judgment reversing an administrative hearing officer's decision to revoke Ewer Alvarado's driving privileges for 180 days. NDDOT argued the district court erred in finding that a partial reading of the implied consent advisory rendered Alvarado's refusal to submit to a chemical test invalid. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded North Dakota law required an operator to refuse a request "to submit to a test under section 39-20-01." A request for testing preceded by an incomplete or inaccurate advisory was not a request "to submit to a test under section 39-20-01." Therefore, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court and reinstated Alvarado's driving privileges. View "Alvarado v. N.D. Dept. of Transportation" on Justia Law

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Chang filed a qui tam action against the Center, asserting claims on behalf of the United States and the state under the False Claims Act (FCA). and the Delaware False Claims Act. Chang alleged that the Center had sought and received funding from the state and federal governments by misrepresenting material information. Both governments declined to intervene as plaintiffs. Chang filed an amended complaint and the Center answered. Nearly three years after Chang filed his original complaint, the U.S. and Delaware moved to dismiss the case, asserting that they had investigated Chang’s allegations and discovered them to be “factually incorrect and legally insufficient.” The court granted the motions without conducting an in-person hearing or issuing a supporting opinion. The Third Circuit affirmed. If the government chooses not to intervene, the relator may still “conduct the action” but the government may still “dismiss the action notwithstanding the objections of the person initiating the action if the person has been notified by the Government of the filing of the motion and the court has provided the person with an opportunity for a hearing on the motion,” 31 U.S.C. 3730(c)(2)(A). Chang never requested a hearing; the FCA does not guarantee an automatic in-person hearing to relators before their cases may be dismissed. View "Chang v. Children's Advocacy Center of Delaware" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC) denying Appellant's petition to proceed in forma pauperis in a civil action requesting judicial review, holding that Appellant failed sufficiently to raise a constitutional question. In his civil action, Appellant asserted that prison officials initiated and conducted disciplinary proceedings against him in violation of his constitutional rights. The circuit court concluded that Appellant failed to state a colorable cause of action and that ADC officials were entitled to sovereign immunity. The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's denial of Appellant's petition, holding that Appellant did not state sufficient allegations entitling him to judicial review of ADC's administrative procedures. View "Muntaqim v. Kelley" on Justia Law