Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

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In this case, the California Board of Psychology revoked the license of Dr. Robert Geffner after it found that he had violated the American Psychological Association’s Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. The violations were based on his evaluation of two children for suicide risk without their father’s consent, failure to consult their existing therapist, making recommendations beyond the scope of an emergency risk assessment, and delegating the duty to warn the father of one child's thoughts about killing him. Dr. Geffner petitioned for a writ of mandamus to vacate the Board’s decision, but the trial court denied the petition. On appeal, the appellate court reversed the trial court's decision, finding that the evidence did not support the trial court’s conclusions. The appellate court clarified that the father's consent was not necessary in cases of emergency, as the circumstances suggested, and that Dr. Geffner did not make any custody recommendations. Moreover, the court found no evidence to suggest that Dr. Geffner had a duty to personally warn the father of his son's threat, and thus did not violate any ethical standards. The court directed the trial court to grant Dr. Geffner's petition and reverse the Board's findings. View "Geffner v. Board of Psychology" on Justia Law

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The case involved Rhonda Persiani, a defendant charged with multiple counts of driving under the influence (DUI) in California. Due to doubts about Persiani's mental competence, the criminal proceedings were suspended, and she was found mentally incompetent to stand trial. Persiani was evaluated and found suitable for outpatient treatment through mental health diversion. However, the court and parties believed Persiani was ineligible for such treatment due to a California Vehicle Code section that prohibits diversion in cases where a defendant is charged with DUI. Persiani sought dismissal of her cases, asserting that dismissal was required under the Penal Code because she was ineligible for any of the treatment options. The court denied Persiani’s motion to dismiss and imposed mental health treatment provisions as conditions of her release. In an appeal, the Court of Appeal of the State of California Fourth Appellate District held that a trial court has the authority under the Penal Code to order treatment through mental health diversion for a mentally incompetent misdemeanor defendant charged with DUI. The court concluded that the Vehicle Code section that prohibits diversion for DUI does not prevent a court from ordering a mentally incompetent misdemeanor defendant to receive treatment through mental health diversion after criminal proceedings have been suspended. The matter was remanded back to the lower court to determine whether to order Persiani to receive mental health diversion treatment. View "Persiani v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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A company named Coreslab Structures was found to have violated several provisions of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. The court affirmed the National Labor Relations Board's (NLRB) findings that Coreslab had engaged in unfair labor practices, including unilateral changes to its pension and profit-sharing plans, discrimination against union members, interference with an employee's right to speak with union representatives, and withdrawal of recognition from the union.Coreslab, which produces bridge components and other structural materials at its facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma, had recognized the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 627, AFL-CIO (the Union) as the bargaining representative of the company’s production and maintenance employees from 2004 until 2019. Starting in 2011, Coreslab made pension contributions only for hours worked by unit employees who were members of the Union, while providing annual profit-sharing payments to non-Union bargaining unit employees.The court held that substantial evidence supported the Board's findings that the Union lacked knowledge of the pension contribution/profit-sharing scheme until Coreslab informed the Union in September 2019. The court further held that Coreslab violated the NLRA by discriminating against union members and failing to bargain collectively with the Union. It also found that Coreslab's withdrawal of recognition from the Union was unlawful.However, the court found that the Board exceeded its statutory authority by ordering back-payments without offset and requiring Coreslab to retain the unlawfully-created profit-sharing program. The court remanded the case to the Board for further proceedings consistent with its opinion. View "Coreslab Structures v. NLRB" on Justia Law

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The defendant, Ahmed Alahmedalabdaloklah, a Syrian national, was convicted after a jury trial for participating in a conspiracy that targeted US military personnel and property in Iraq. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed some convictions and reversed others. The court agreed with both parties that Alahmedalabdaloklah's convictions for conspiring to possess a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence and aiding and abetting the same could not stand after the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Davis. The court reversed these convictions and remanded to the district court to vacate them. However, the court affirmed Alahmedalabdaloklah's convictions for conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiring to damage US government property by means of an explosive. The court held that the statutes under which Alahmedalabdaloklah was convicted applied extraterritorially, meaning they applied to acts committed outside the United States. The court also held that the district court properly used procedures set forth in the Classified Information Procedures Act to withhold or substitute classified information from discovery. Despite several errors by the government in invoking the state-secrets privilege, the court excused these errors because remanding for proper invocation would be of little or no benefit. Finally, the court held that the use of overseas deposition testimony did not violate Alahmedalabdaloklah's rights under the Confrontation Clause or other constitutional and evidentiary rules. The court remanded the case to the district court for resentencing. View "USA V. ALAHMEDALABDALOKLAH" on Justia Law

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The case was an appeal by the Continental Cement Company (Continental) against a decision by the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission. The Commission had determined that Continental had acted discriminatorily towards one of its employees, Tara Otten, by paying her less than she would have earned had she been working, instead of accompanying mine inspectors during an inspection, an activity known as her "walkaround right".Otten was a miner and designated miners' representative who had been trained to operate mobile equipment. Normally, she would receive a higher wage when operating this equipment. However, when she was performing her walkaround duty, Continental had stopped paying her the higher wage. This action was directed by a human resources specialist at Continental, who based the decision on the collective bargaining agreement.Otten subsequently filed a complaint against Continental with the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), and the Secretary of Labor filed a discrimination claim on Otten's behalf with the Commission. The Commission sided with the Secretary, agreeing that Continental had discriminated against Otten by causing her to suffer a loss of pay because she exercised her walkaround right. The Commission further held that Continental's decision was motivated by Otten's protected activity.The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, however, disagreed with the Commission's decision. The Court held that while Otten did suffer a loss of pay, which was a violation of the law, it did not automatically mean that Continental had discriminated against Otten. The Court clarified that discrimination occurs when an employer intentionally treats a person worse because of a protected characteristic. In this case, the Court found no evidence that Continental paid Otten less for the reason that she exercised her walkaround right. The Court, therefore, reversed the Commission's determination that Continental violated the discrimination law. View "Continental Cement Company v. Secretary of Labor" on Justia Law

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In Wyoming, Jerry Peterson brought a case against the Laramie City Council, alleging that the council violated the Wyoming Public Meetings Act by holding its meetings remotely during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Peterson argued that this remote format presented a barrier to attendance at the council meetings, violating a section of the Act that states a member of the public should not be required to fulfill any condition precedent to their attendance. The District Court dismissed the case on the grounds of laches, asserting that Peterson had delayed unreasonably in filing the suit. However, the Supreme Court of Wyoming reversed this decision and remanded the case back to the lower court. The Supreme Court found that the District Court had incorrectly determined Peterson's claims all accrued at the same time and that it had improperly taken judicial notice of the City Council's evidence. The Supreme Court also concluded that the District Court had made an erroneous conclusory determination that the City Council would be prejudiced by Peterson’s delay in bringing his action. View "Peterson v. Laramie City Council" on Justia Law

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In a dispute between John Drumm, Chief of Police, et al. and the Freedom of Information Commission in Connecticut, the court was tasked with interpreting a provision of the Freedom of Information Act. The provision in question exempts from disclosure records of law enforcement agencies compiled in connection with the detection or investigation of a crime, if the disclosure of such records would result in the disclosure of information to be used in a prospective law enforcement action if prejudicial to such action. The case arose from a request for documents related to a 2010 unsolved murder case by a filmmaker who was working on a documentary about the case. The request was denied by the police department, and the filmmaker filed a complaint with the Freedom of Information Commission. The commission ruled in favor of the filmmaker and ordered the documents be provided. The police department appealed the decision, arguing that the commission failed to apply the correct legal standard.The court held that a "prospective law enforcement action" refers to a future law enforcement action that has at least a reasonable possibility of occurring, meaning that the occurrence is more than theoretically possible but not necessarily likely or probable. The court also clarified that under the first prong of the exception, a respondent before the commission must establish only that it is at least reasonably possible that the information contained in a requested document will be used in support of an arrest or prosecution. Because the commission had not applied this standard and had made clearly erroneous factual findings, the court reversed the judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings before the commission. View "Drumm v. Freedom of Information Commission" on Justia Law

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In the case, GenConn Energy, LLC, an electricity supplier, appealed to the Supreme Court of Connecticut, arguing that the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) overstepped its authority by reducing GenConn's proposed return on capital for two of its peaking generation facilities. These facilities provide additional electricity to Connecticut consumers during times of increased demand. GenConn claimed that PURA was not allowed to lower GenConn's debt rate or to use the general rate-making principles found in a different statute when making its decision.However, the court rejected these arguments. It held that PURA acted within its statutory authority under § 16-243u when it reviewed GenConn's recovery of costs in line with the general rate-making principles of § 16-19e. The court highlighted the interrelated nature of cost recovery and rate setting, and deduced that PURA must be able to protect the interests of ratepayers if it determines that a company is overrecovering. The court also rejected GenConn's argument that PURA's decision was arbitrary and capricious. The court found substantial evidence in the record to support PURA's final decision and concluded that the decision did not constitute an arbitrary and capricious one. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court's dismissal of GenConn's appeal.The court's ruling implies that PURA has the authority to review a peaking generation facility's recoverable costs to ensure that the rates are "sufficient, but no more than sufficient," to cover the facility's operating costs. The decision also emphasizes the importance of PURA’s regulatory authority and the necessity of protecting ratepayers from bearing the financial burden of a company's overrecovery. View "GenConn Energy, LLC v. Public Utilities Regulatory Authority" on Justia Law

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In a case before the Court of Appeal of the State of California First Appellate District Division Two, a woman, T.B., was found to be gravely disabled and was appointed a conservator under the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act. T.B. appealed, arguing that her trial did not commence within 10 days of her demanding one, violating section 5350, subdivision (d)(2) of the Welfare and Institutions Code, and denying her due process. This statute was amended in January 1, 2023, to state that the failure to commence the trial within the time period is grounds for dismissal. The court concluded that the time limit for commencing trials is directory, not mandatory, and that dismissal for the failure to comply with the time limit is discretionary. The court found that the trial court did abuse its discretion in denying T.B.’s motions to dismiss the proceedings, but no reversal was required because T.B. did not demonstrate prejudice. The court also found that T.B. did not demonstrate a violation of her due process rights by the delay. Therefore, the court affirmed the conservatorship order. View "Conservatorship of T.B." on Justia Law

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This case involves a dispute over the taxation of cell phones sold in California as part of a "bundled transaction," in which a consumer purchases the phone at a reduced price from a wireless service provider in exchange for signing a contract for future wireless service. The plaintiffs challenged a state regulation that calculates sales tax on the full, unbundled price of the phone, rather than the discounted price paid by the consumer. They argued that this regulation violated the Revenue and Taxation Code and was not properly adopted under the Administrative Procedures Act.The Court of Appeal of the State of California, Third Appellate District, rejected these arguments. It concluded that the Department of Tax and Fee Administration could allocate a portion of the contract price in a bundled transaction to the cell phone and tax it accordingly. It also found that the regulation was properly adopted under the Administrative Procedures Act.The court noted that, while services are not taxable under California law, the sale of a cell phone as part of a bundled transaction is not a true discount because the wireless service provider recoups the cost of the phone through the service contract. Therefore, the Department could reasonably allocate a portion of the contract price to the phone and tax it accordingly. The court also concluded that the regulation had been properly adopted under the Administrative Procedures Act, rejecting the plaintiffs' arguments that the Department had failed to properly assess the regulation's economic impact and provide adequate notice to the public.As a result, the court reversed the portion of the lower court judgment that invalidated the regulation and prohibited the Department from applying it to bundled transactions. It remanded the case with instructions to deny the plaintiffs' petition for a writ of prohibition. View "Bekkerman v. California Department Of Tax and Fee Administration" on Justia Law