Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Entertainment & Sports Law
by
In this appeal, the issue presented for the New Jersey Supreme Court's consideration was whether the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) required disclosure of the names and addresses of successful bidders at a public auction of government property. An auction was held at the Bergen County Law and Public Safety Institute to sell sports memorabilia seized by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office. There were thirty-nine successful bidders. Plaintiff William Brennan submitted a request to the Prosecutor’s Office, based on OPRA and the common law, for “[r]ecords of payment received from all winning bidders” and “[c]ontact information for each winning bidder.” The Prosecutor’s Office offered redacted copies of receipts that did not include the buyers’ names or addresses. The Office explained that it had sent the buyers letters to ask if they would consent to disclosure of their personal information. For buyers who consented, the Office represented it would provide unredacted receipts. The trial court directed defendants to release the requested information under OPRA. The Supreme Court determined courts were not required to analyze the "Doe" factors each time a party asserts that a privacy interest exists. "A party must first present a colorable claim that public access to records would invade a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy." Here, defendants could not make that threshold showing. "It is not reasonable to expect that details about a public auction of government property -- including the names and addresses of people who bought the seized property -- will remain private. Without a review of the Doe factors, we find that OPRA calls for disclosure of records relating to the auction." The Court reversed the judgment of the Appellate Division. View "Brennan v. Bergen County Prosecutor's Office" on Justia Law

by
Upon receiving an anonymous tip, the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) investigated allegations of race-fixing, involving gamblers and harness-racing drivers. Plaintiffs, MGCB-licensed harness drivers, attended an administrative hearing but declined to answer questions, invoking their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The MGCB immediately suspended their licenses, based on a requirement that license applicants “cooperate in every way . . . during the conduct of an investigation, including responding correctly, to the best of his or her knowledge, to all questions pertaining to racing.” MGCB later issued exclusion orders banning the drivers from all state race tracks and denied Plaintiffs’ applications for 2011, 2012, and 2013 licenses. Plaintiffs sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983, claiming violations of their procedural due process and Fifth Amendment rights. The Sixth Circuit held that the defendants were not entitled to qualified immunity. The exclusion orders were issued about 30 months before a post-exclusion hearing; Plaintiffs identified a violation of a clearly established right. Under specific conditions, a public employee “may rightfully refuse to answer unless and until he is protected at least against the use of his compelled answers.” The Supreme Court has held that if a state wishes to punish an employee for invoking that right, “States must offer to the witness whatever immunity is required to supplant the privilege and may not insist that the employee ... waive such immunity.” Both rights were clearly established at the time of the violation. View "Moody v. Michigan Gaming Control Board" on Justia Law

by
Illinois High School Association (IHSA), which governs interscholastic athletic competitions for public and private secondary schools, is not a “public body” under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 ILCS 140/2.Founded in 1900, IHSA is a private, not-for-profit, unincorporated association with over 800 public and private high school members. IHSA establishes bylaws and rules for interscholastic sports competition, enforces those rules, and sponsors and coordinates post-season tournaments for certain sports in which member schools choose to compete. Any Illinois private or public high school may join IHSA if it agrees to abide by IHSA rules. There is no requirement that public schools constitute a certain percentage of IHSA membership and no requirement that public schools join IHSA. IHSA does not govern all sports or extracurricular activities of the member schools. It does not supervise intramural sports or most club sports. It is not involved in regular season interscholastic contests among the member schools. The Better Government Association submitted a FOIA request to IHSA for all of its contracts for accounting, legal, sponsorship, and public relations/crisis communications services and all licensed vendor applications for two fiscal years. The trial, appellate, and Illinois Supreme Court agreed that IHSA is a not-for-profit charitable organization and not subject to the FOIA. View "Better Government Association v. Illinois High School Association" on Justia Law

by
In 2016, the Alabama High School Athletic Association ("the Association") and its executive director, Steven Savarese, filed petitions for a writ of mandamus challenging certain conflicting circuit court orders, issued by the Geneva and the Washington Circuit Courts. The Alabama Supreme Court issued an order granting the petitions and issuing the writs. In that order, the Supreme Court upheld a decision of the Association and declared the orders of the two circuit courts to be void. A.J.K. was a student at Washington County High School, and he played high-school football for the school during the 2016-2017 school year. During the high-school football playoffs, the Association determined that A.J.K. was ineligible to participate on the football team, and, because A.J.K. had participated for the school as an ineligible player, the Association removed the school from the playoffs. At the request of interested persons and entities, the Association's decision was reviewed by both the Geneva and Washington Circuit Courts. The Geneva Court issued an order directing that the Association's decision be enforced, but the Washington Circuit Court issued an order reversing the Association's decision and prohibiting the Association from removing Washington County High School from the playoffs. The Association and Savarese then filed petitions for writs of mandamus arguing that both the Circuit Courts improperly asserted jurisdiction, and asked the Supreme Court to void the orders. In this case, the requirements needed for the Circuit Courts to properly exercise jurisdiction were not present. The Supreme Court therefore granted mandamus relief, and the playoffs proceeded accordingly. View "Ex parte Alabama High School Athletic Assn." on Justia Law

by
Henderson, Nevada executed an agreement with Developer to construct sports venues on 480 acres of federally-owned public land. The city requested the Bureau of Land Management in the Department of Interior to convey the land to Developer. After completion of the project, Developer was to transfer ownership of the land and the sports complex to the city; the city would lease back the venues to Developer. The Bureau agreed to conduct a modified competitive sealed-bid auction, so that Developer had the right to match the highest bid. After the bidding, Developer paid the balance and requested the land patent for recording. Within hours after the funds transferred to the Bureau, Developer terminated its agreement with Henderson. Henderson requested the Bureau to cancel the sale and sued Developer. The parties settled. Developer agreed to give the city $4.25 million after it recorded the patent and not to pursue any development in Henderson. The city agreed to withdraw its objection. The Department determined that the Bureau should not release a patent for the land. Developer alleged violation of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act by canceling the sale more than 30 days after it paid for the land. The district court held that the Secretary had plenary power to terminate the sale because its consummation would have been contrary to law, given that the Bureau had authorized a modified land auction, only because of the anticipated public benefits. The D.C. Circuit affirmed, rejecting a claim that the Secretary’s action was arbitrary. The auction sale was rendered unlawful when Developer terminated the agreement; it did not suffer a due process violation because it never acquired a property interest in the land. View "Silver State Land, LLC v. Schneider" on Justia Law

by
The parties in this case disputed who had rights to certain spring waters. The state engineer adjudicated the parties’ rights and entered a final order of determination. Both parties filed exceptions to the state engineer’s final order. Before the matter was heard before the district court, Respondent filed a motion to supplement his earlier filed exceptions to include property access claims arising from its water rights. The district court granted Respondent’s request. The district court then affirmed the state engineer’s order of determination, as modified. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court properly considered the notice of supplemental exceptions in affirming the state engineer’s order of determination, as modified, including Respondent’s supplemental request that the district court’s judgment confirm Respondent’s right of access to certain property to repair and maintain the facilities necessary to convey water; and (2) the district court’s findings were based on substantial evidence. View "Jackson v. Groenendyke" on Justia Law

by
Dennis Rodebaugh ran D&S Guide and Outfitters. Rodebaugh took mostly out-of-state clients on elk and deer hunts in the White River National Forest near Meeker, where they waited in tree stands for elk and deer to approach before shooting them. To attract the elk and deer, Rodebaugh spread salt around the base of the tree stands. Colorado law prohibited “baiting.” And selling wildlife taken in violation of state law is a federal crime under the Lacey Act. After an extensive investigation, Rodebaugh was indicted for several Lacey Act violations. A jury found him guilty on six counts. The district court sentenced him to 41 months in prison and three years of supervised release. He appealed, raising various trial and sentencing issues. Upon review, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the conviction and prison sentence, rejecting Rodebaugh’s challenges to the district court’s denial of a motion to suppress, the validity of the underlying Colorado regulations, the sufficiency of the evidence to support the conviction on each count, and the application of enhancements to the base offense level under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. View "United States v. Rodebaugh" on Justia Law

by
Appellants Larry Savage, Richard Pellegrino, and Tucker Hobgood challenged a trial court’s validation of revenue bonds that will be used to help finance a new stadium in Cobb County for the Atlanta Braves major league baseball team. The bonds for the stadium project were to be issued pursuant to an intergovernmental agreement between Cobb County and the Cobb-Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority, under which the Authority agreed to issue bonds to cover much of the cost of constructing the stadium and the County agreed to pay amounts sufficient to cover the bond payments not covered by the licensing fees paid by the team. In consolidated appeals, the Supreme Court concluded that the intergovernmental contract was valid; that the issuance of the bonds would not violate the Georgia Constitution’s debt limitation clause, gratuities clause, or lending clause or Georgia’s revenue bond laws; and that the process used to validate the bonds was not deficient. The Court therefore affirmed the trial court’s judgment validating the stadium project bonds. View "Savage v. Georgia" on Justia Law

by
The DeSoto County School District entered into a contract with a private entity called the Mississippi High School Activities Association (“MHSAA”). The terms of the contract allowed MHSAA to decide whether School District students were eligible to play high school sports. In making its decisions, MHSAA applied its own rules and regulations, and neither the School District nor its school board had input into the process. In 2012, R.T. was a star quarterback for Wynne Public School in Wynne, Arkansas. His parents, the Trails, decided that a change of school districts would be in R.T.’s best interests, so in January 2013 they bought a house in Olive Branch and enrolled R.T. in Olive Branch High School. Their daughter was to remain in Wynne until the school year ended. MHSAA determined that R.T. was eligible to compete in spring sports and allowed R.T. to play baseball. MHSAA conditioned R.T.’s continuing eligibility on the Trails’ daughter also enrolling in the School District at the start of the 2013-2014 school year. But, because the Trails’ daughter did not want to leave her friends behind in Arkansas, the family decided that one parent would stay in Arkansas with their daughter, as they had done during the spring semester, and the other parent would move to Mississippi and remain with R.T. On the eve of the 2013 football season, MHSAA notified the school and R.T. that, under its interpretation of its rules and regulations, R.T. was ineligible to play because it had determined that his family had not made a bona fide move to the School District. Neither the School District nor Olive Branch High School appealed through MHSAA’s internal procedure, so the Trails immediately filed a petition for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and preliminary injunction in the DeSoto County Chancery Court. The chancellor signed an ex-parte order granting the TRO and revoking MHSAA’s adverse eligibility determination. "While it generally is true that high school students have no legally protected right to participate in high school athletics,25 once a school decides to create a sports program and establish eligibility rules, the school—or as in this case, MHSAA—has a duty to follow those rules; and it may be held accountable when it does not do so. . . . And where, as here, the school delegates its authority to control student eligibility through a contract with a private entity, we hold that students directly affected by the contract are third-party beneficiaries of that contract. For us to say otherwise would run contrary to the very reason for extracurricular activities, which is to enrich the educational experience of the students." R.T. had standing to challenge MHSAA's eligibility decision that prevented him from playing high school sports. The Court affirmed the chancery court in this case, and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Mississippi High School Activities Association, Inc. v. R.T." on Justia Law

by
MVH and Holy Family Communications each applied to the Federal Communications Commission for a license to operate a noncommercial educational radio station in the vicinity of Buffalo, New York. To do so, the agency used its comparative selection criteria, which it had promulgated through a notice-and-comment rulemaking. By application of those criteria, the Commission found Holy Family had the superior application and awarded it the license. The D.C. Circuit affirmed, rejecting an argument that the criterion upon which the outcome turned--the weight given to an applicant’s plan to broadcast to underserved populations-- either violated the Communications Act of 1934, which requires the Commission to distribute licenses fairly, or was arbitrary and capricious. That criterion is part of a reasonable framework for achieving goals consistent with the Commission’s statutory mandate, and because MVH offered no support for a waiver except that it came close to the threshold it needed to get the license. View "Mary V. Harris Found. v. Fed. Commc'n Comm'n" on Justia Law