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Judge Paul V. Niemeyer

Mar 15, 2022

Denial of extra pay not based on drama teacher’s race

Where a high school drama teacher alleged the school board failed to pay him for his tech work because of his race, but he had been paid a theater director supplement and he did not allege that any other performing arts teacher in the school system received more than one supplement, the school board properly […]

Mar 8, 2022

Coverage question certified to West Virginia court

Where West Virginia law is unclear on the amount of coverage that must be provided when an exclusion in an automobile liability insurance policy violates West Virginia Code § 33-6-31(a) because it would deny coverage to a permissive user of an insured automobile, the question was certified to the Supreme Court of Appeals of West […]

Mar 1, 2022

BIA erred when it interpreted ‘unambiguous’ rule

Where a regulation requires the Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, to notify an applicant of the need to provide biometrics, such as photographs and fingerprints; provide the applicant with a biometrics notice; and provide instructions for producing biometrics, the Board of Immigration Appeals, or BIA, erred when it interpreted the regulation in a way […]

Feb 14, 2022

Prison’s policy did not violate Muslim detainee’s rights

Where a practicing Muslim detainee argued that he should not be forced to purchase his prayer oils from a commissary that sells “swine and idols” because Islam prohibits buying religious items from such vendors, the corrections department properly prevailed at trial on a Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, or RLUIPA, claim because the […]

Feb 1, 2022

Sentencing guidelines commentary authoritative, binding

Where the Supreme Court has held that commentary to the sentencing guidelines, even when the related guideline is unambiguous, is authoritative and binding unless it is inconsistent with law or the guideline itself, and the court has not overruled that decision, it remains good law. Background The issue is the enforceability and weight to be […]

Dec 20, 2021

Applicant granted remand not entitled to attorneys’ fees

Where a district court directed the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, to adjudicate the plaintiff’s naturalization application within 45 days and retained jurisdiction to hear the case if the agency failed to comply, the plaintiff did not qualify as a prevailing party because the remand order was not a judgment on the merits […]

Dec 20, 2021

Government’s discovery failures at coal mine trial excused

Where the government failed to produce documents in the trial of the Massey Energy CEO who, after a coal mine explosion, was convicted of conspiracy to willfully violate mandatory federal mine safety and health standards, his conviction was upheld because he was not prejudiced by the discovery failures. Background Following an explosion at a Massey […]

Dec 2, 2021

Federal gun prosecution not barred by Double Jeopardy

Where the defendant was previously charged in state court with capital murder of a police officer after a traffic stop, a later federal prosecution for possession of a firearm by a felon was not barred by Double Jeopardy. An offense committed under the laws of a state is not the same offense as one committed […]

Nov 22, 2021

Student claims school officials failed to stop harassment, abuse

Although the defendants argued a student’s use of a Jane Doe pseudonym without court permission was a jurisdictional defect, that argument failed because her complaint alleging she was harmed by the school’s failure to end the sexual harassment and abuse she suffered in middle school showed an actual case or controversy with real impact on […]

Aug 16, 2021

No duty to warn about wood dust

Where the plaintiff alleged his cancer was caused by exposure to wood dust from 1981-1992, but the link between wood dust and cancer was not known at the time, judgment was granted to the lumber manufacturers. Background Christopher Lightfoot maintains that his cancer was caused by his exposure to wood dust while working in his […]

Jul 20, 2021

360-month racketeering resentence not unreasonable

Where a defendant convicted on numerous racketeering counts was originally sentenced to 570 months’ in prison, but one count constituting a 360-month component was later vacated, the new 360-month sentence was not unreasonable given his role in the offenses and § 3553(a) factors. Background In 1998, Amar Khalid Abed was sentenced to 570 months’ imprisonment […]

Jul 20, 2021

Pre-publication rule doesn’t violate First Amendment

Where former employees of national security agencies voluntarily signed agreements giving the agencies prepublication review of certain materials they intend to publish, they knowingly waived their First Amendment rights to challenge the requirement that they submit materials for review. Moreover, the government’s review criteria was not too broad or expansive, confusing or lacking deadlines. Ba[...]

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