The First Circuit decided to schedule three arguments in the hottest appeals pending before it on the same day, tomorrow. http://www.ca1.uscourts.gov/?content=april4.html Each will be heard in the en banc room, attendance first come first serve, with audio set up in spillover rooms. The arguments will be posted on line immediately after they are heard, at the link above.
1. U.S. v. Pleau, 11-1775.
This is an en banc review of a decision granting a writ of prohibition to the federal government wresting custody of the defendant from Rhode Island. [http://www.ca1.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/getopn.pl?OPINION=11-1775P.01A]. While the legal issues relate to perhaps semi-dry matters relating to the meaning of the Interstate Agreement on Detainers and powers under writs of prohibition, what this case is really about is the death penalty in New England, when the state doesn't want it and the feds do.
Pleau robbed and killed a convenience store employee. He pled guilty in Rhode Island state court and got life, the maximum state penalty. The federal authorities want custody to prosecute him under federal law, potentially seeking the death penalty, and asked Rhode Island to hand him over under the IAD. Gov. Chafee said no because of the death penalty. So the feds went to federal court seeking custody using the writ. I was in court on another matter for the oral argument before the First Circuit panel and it was interesting enough. I've never seen an en banc argument in the First Circuit, and the case relates to state v. federal powers, so even if this were the only case teed up for tomorrow it would be worth attending.
But there's more.
2. Commonwealth of Mass. v. US DHHS & Gill v. Office of Personnel Managment, 10-2204, 10-2207 and 10-2214.
This is the appeal of a decision striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. We represent a group of family law historians filing an amicus brief on the side of Massachusetts and Gill. [http://www.glad.org/doma/documents/]. You may recall that the Department of Justice began in this case by defending DOMA, then determined that it could not, given equal protection problems. So an initial $1.5 million of your tax money has been allocated by Congress to hire Paul Clement (gee, what was he doing last week?) to defend DOMA in the DOJ's stead. Along with Clement and the DOJ, Maura Healey at the Mass AG's office and Mary Bonauto at GLAD will be arguing. The panel is CJ Lynch and Judges Torruella and Boudin.
3. Request from the United Kingdom and Moloney v. Holder, 11-2511 and 12-1159.
This is the IRA tape case. Boston College interviewed various Irish folks about the Troubles, saying they'd keep them confidential; the UK wants copies of the tapes. The lower court ordered the tapes produced and dismissed efforts by the BC oral project people to stop it. This matter will be heard by the same panel as Gill, above.
Stay tuned; we'll talk about all these soon. But in the meantime, click on the RSS feed tomorrow afternoon and hear the arguments for yourself. Or go see it live – but get there early; the court will be packed.