Justia Military Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals
Al Alwi, et al. v. Obama, et al.
This was an appeal from the denial of the petition of a detainee at the United States Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay for a writ of habeas corpus. At issue was whether the district court erred in determining that the detainee was being lawfully detained on the record as it stood before that court and whether the district court's procedural errors deprived him of a meaningful opportunity to develop a record upon which he could challenge his detention. The court rejected the detainee's contention that the district court's findings of fact were clearly erroneous and because those findings were enough to establish that the detainee was "part of the Taliban or al Qaeda," the court rejected his contention that the record before the court was insufficient to establish the lawfulness of his detention. Given the time the detainee's attorneys had after their receipt of the Combatant Status Review Tribunal record, the district court's grant of leave to file an amended traverse, and the absence of any subsequent request for additional time or discovery, the court held that the detainee had failed to show that he was prejudiced by the denial of the thirty-day continuance. The court also held that, in light of the circumstances, there was no abuse of discretion in the district court's refusal to issue further discovery orders without a showing that there was a basis for believing that the requests satisfied the Case Management Order's predicate conditions. Accordingly, the court affirmed the denial of the petition. View "Al Alwi, et al. v. Obama, et al." on Justia Law
Gul v. Obama, et al.
The United States detained Nazul Gul and Adel Hamad for several years at the Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay and during that time, each filed with the district court a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Prior to any hearing on the merits of their petitions, the United States transferred the detainees to the custody of foreign sovereigns and did not then rescind their designation as "enemy combatants." Gul and Hamad wanted to continue litigating their habeas petitions but the district court dismissed their petitions as moot because they were no longer held by the United States. Gul and Hamad subsequently appealed, arguing among other things, that their petitions were not moot because they continued to be burdened by the collateral consequences of their prior detention and continuing designation. The court held that, having determined that Gul and Hamad identified no injury sufficient to bring their cases within the court's jurisdiction under Article III, the court affirmed the order of the district court. View "Gul v. Obama, et al." on Justia Law
Ali v. Rumsfeld
Plaintiffs, four Afghan and five Iraqi citizens captured and subsequently held in Afghanistan and Iraq, respectively, by the United States military sued defendants, seeking damages and declaratory relief as the result of their treatment while in U.S. custody. Each plaintiff asserted two Bivens claims, namely, defendants tortured him in violation of his due process right under the Fifth Amendment and defendants' conduct constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Plaintiffs also brought claims under the ATS based on defendants' alleged infliction of "prolonged arbitrary detention," "torture," and "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment." Plaintiffs appealed the dismissal of their constitutional claims and ATS claims. The court held that defendants were protected from plaintiffs' constitutional claims by qualified immunity. The court also held that, even if defendants were not shielded by qualified immunity and plaintiffs could claim the protections of the Fifth and Eighth Amendments, the court would decline to sanction a Bivens cause of action because special factors counseled against doing so. The court further held that plaintiffs' claim under the ATS alleged a violation of the law of nations, not of the ATS, and therefore, did not violate a statute of the United States within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. 2679(b)(2)(B). The court finally held that because plaintiffs have not alleged a cognizable cause of action, they have no basis upon which to seek declaratory relief. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment of dismissal. View "Ali v. Rumsfeld" on Justia Law
US Dept. of the Air Force v. Federal Labor Relations Authority
The Air Force petitioned for review of the decision and order of the Federal Labor Relations Authority ("FLRA") that a union proposal for uniform cleaning was a negotiable condition of employment. Based on a recently discovered Conference Report, the Air Force contended that the expenditure under 5 U.S.C. 5901(a) of funds was not authorized for the provision of services related to uniforms and statutory silence did not leave it discretion to do so. At issue was whether the court lacked jurisdiction under 5 U.S.C. 7123(c) to entertain the Air Force's petition because the Air Force failed to present its new interpretation of the uniform statutes. The court held that the Air Force's belated discovery of a constructional appropriations bar was an extraordinary circumstance under section 7123(c) that permitted consideration of an argument not presented by the FLRA. Were the exception not to apply, the FLRA's order would, in effect, permit the Air Force, by contract with the union, to authorize the expenditure of funds beyond what Congress had approved and therefore, the court granted the petition for review. Accordingly, whether as a matter of the plain text of the two uniform statues, or the Air Force's permissible interpretation of any statutory ambiguity to which the FLRA must defer, the Air Force correctly maintained that the union's uniform cleaning proposal was non-negotiated because the statute the Department of Defense administered did not authorize such payments for appropriated funds.
USA v. Paul Slough, et al
Criminal proceedings were conducted with five defendants, members of the Raven 23 team from Blackwater Worldwide ("Blackwater"), where Blackwater was hired by American security officials to evacuate a diplomat from a car bomb explosion and where there existed a dispute over who fired shots that killed and wounded Iraqi civilians. At issue was whether the district court properly dismissed an indictment against the five defendants on the ground that the evidence presented to the grand jury, and the decision to prosecute two of the defendants, was tainted by statements of defendants. The court held that the district court erred by treating evidence as single lumps and excluding them in their entirety when at the most, only some portion of the content was tainted; by failing to conduct a proper independent-source analysis as required by Kastigar v. United States and United States v. Rinaldi; by applying the wrong legal standard when it excluded a defendant's journal and his testimony simply because the news reports based on some of the immunized statements were "a cause" for his writing it; and to the extent that evidence tainted by the impact of one defendant's immunized statements may be found to have accounted for the indictment of that defendant, it did not follow that the indictment of any other defendant was tainted.
Paul Bame, et al v. Todd Dillard, et al
Plaintiffs filed a class action suit for damages against defendant, a former United States Marshal, claiming that they were unconstitutionally strip searched by Deputy U.S. Marshals under defendant's direction after plaintiffs were arrested during a demonstration in September 2002. At issue was whether it was clearly established in September 2002 that strip searching an arrestee before placing him in a detention facility without individualized reasonable suspicion was unconstitutional. The court held that it need not consider whether defendant had individual suspicion as to each of the plaintiffs where there was no clearly established constitutional prohibition in 2002 of strip searching arrestees without individualized, reasonable suspicion and therefore, defendant was entitled to qualified immunity and summary judgment. View "Paul Bame, et al v. Todd Dillard, et al" on Justia Law
Mahmoad Abdah, et al v. Barack Obama, et al
Defendant filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus contending that he was not part of al Qaeda and therefore was not properly detained at the United States naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba under the Authorization of Use of Military Force ("AUMF"). At issue was whether a "command structure" test should be used to determine whether an individual was part of al Qaeda. The court held that the facts found by the district court and on the record demonstrated that defendant was more likely than not part of al Qaeda where the determination of whether an individual was part of al Qaeda must be made on a case-by-case basis.