Justia International Law Opinion Summaries

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In this opinion, the Court of Appeal addressed three consolidated appeals relating to a judgment for the return of a child in an international custody dispute. This case was retried after the Court reversed an earlier judgment marred by due process violations. After remand, the trial court again granted father’s petition under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (the Convention) and the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA), for return of the child to her father’s custody in Denmark, her country of habitual residence. The court also awarded father his attorney fees and other expenses as the prevailing party under the Convention and ICARA. Mother filed separate appeals of the return order and the fees award and two post judgment sealing orders related to the parties’ use of the transcript of the trial judge’s confidential interview with the child during the trial. The Court of Appeal determined mother’s appeal of the return order was moot because the child was nearly 18 years old, and the Convention did not apply after the child who was the subject of the return petition turns 16. The Court reversed the fees award, because mother had no opportunity for a full and fair hearing on father’s motion for fees. As for mother’s appeal of the postjudgment sealing orders, the Court found no merit to the appeal and affirmed the orders. View "Noergaard v. Noergaard" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for international parental kidnapping and passport fraud. After determining that defendant's vagueness challenge fails insofar as it is premised on deficient notice, the court held that the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act (IPKCA) is not unconstitutionally vague as applied to him. In this case, the IPKCA is not unconstitutionally vague as applied to someone who retains children abroad without first abducting them, when the children had not been in the United States for several years prior to the unlawful retention.The court also held that the district court properly applied two Sentencing Guidelines enhancements for substantial interference with the administration of justice and for fraudulent use of a United States passport. View "United States v. Houtar" on Justia Law

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Respondents appeal the district court's grant of an application for discovery in aid of a foreign proceeding under 28 U.S.C. 1782 brought by petitioner. The application relates to complex litigation stemming from the sinking of an oil tanker captained by petitioner off the coast of Spain. Petitioner cross-appeals, arguing that the district court should have refrained from entering final judgment and instead maintained the case on its active docket to facilitate further uses of the discovery materials.The Second Circuit concluded that petitioner's cross-appeal, unlike respondents' appeal, no longer presents a live case or controversy and is therefore moot. The court also concluded that the district court erred by failing to conduct a choice-of-law analysis with respect to applicable privileges and in analyzing whether one of the proceedings cited by petitioner as a basis for his application was within reasonable contemplation. Therefore, the court dismissed the cross-appeal and vacated the district court's judgment. The court remanded for further proceedings and ordered respondents to refrain from destroying or altering any records, materials, or documents that may reasonably be considered to be subject to discovery pursuant to the section 1782 applications at issue in this case until July 30, 2021, unless otherwise directed by an order of a United States court. View "Mangouras v. Boggs" on Justia Law

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The U.S. Court of International Trade affirmed the Department of Commerce’s final affirmative determination in the countervailing duty investigation on cold-rolled steel flat products from the Republic of Korea. Commerce determined that the Korean government provided the respondents no financial assistance “because the prices charged to these respondents under the applicable industrial tariff were consistent with KEPCO’s [Korea Electric Power Corporation] standard pricing mechanism.” KEPCO is the state-owned sole provider of electricity in Korea. Commerce found no evidence suggesting that that the respondents received preferential treatment over other industrial users of electricity that purchase comparable amounts of electricity. Commerce did not review quality, availability, marketability, transportation, or other conditions affecting KEPCO’s purchase or sale of electricity.The Federal Circuit vacated. The 1994 Uruguay Round Agreements Act, 19 U.S.C. 3511, changed the definition of what constitutes a benefit conferred. Commerce’s reliance on a preferential-rate standard is inconsistent with the statute, particularly the less-than-adequate-remuneration requirement, and is therefore contrary to law. Commerce’s cost-recovery analysis was limited to discussion of KEPCO’s costs. That limited analysis does not support its conclusion that electricity prices paid to KEPCO by respondents are consistent with prevailing market conditions because Commerce failed to evaluate the Korea Power Exchange’s impact on the Korean electricity market. View "Posco v. United States" on Justia Law

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Tomari Jackson drowned to death while on a school trip to Belize. His mother, Adell Forbes, individually and as administrator of Jackson’s estate (collectively, “Forbes”), filed a wrongful death action in Georgia. Because Forbes filed the action outside the applicable limitation period provided for under Belize law but within the period that would be applicable under Georgia law, the issue presented for the Georgia Supreme Court's review entered on whether Georgia’s or Belize’s limitation period applied to that wrongful death action. The Court of Appeals held that Georgia law, and not Belize law, controlled the limitation period governing the wrongful death claim. The Supreme Court disagreed and reversed. View "Auld v. Forbes" on Justia Law

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Father filed suit under the Hague Convention, alleging that mother wrongfully removed their children from Argentina to Texas. While this appeal was pending, the Supreme Court held in Monasky v. Taglieri, 140 S. Ct. 719, 730 (2020), that the correct approach to habitual residence is to examine the totality of the circumstances.The Fifth Circuit applied the totality-of-the circumstances standard established in Monasky to the district court's findings and held that the totality of the circumstances shows that the children did not habitually reside in Argentina. In this case, the district court found, among other things, that both parents and all the children were born in the United States and continued to be United States citizens; father's work contract in Argentina was at-will; mother continued to own property in Texas; the children attended an American school in Argentina; and none of the parties owned any property in Argentina. View "Smith v. Smith" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a putative class action on behalf of members and descendants of the Ovaherero and Nama indigenous peoples against the Federal Republic of Germany, seeking damages for the enslavement and genocide of the Ovaherero and Nama peoples in what is now Namibia, as well as for property they alleged Germany expropriated from the land and peoples.The Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). Germany is a foreign sovereign; the only path for the exercise of jurisdiction is if a FISA exception applies. FSIA’s takings exception, 28 U.S.C. 1605(a)(3), provides that a foreign state is not immune from the jurisdiction of U.S. courts in cases "in which rights in property taken in violation of international law are in issue and that property or any property exchanged for such property is present in the United States in connection with a commercial activity carried on in the United States by the foreign state; or that property or any property exchanged for such property is owned or operated by an agency or instrumentality of the foreign state and that agency or instrumentality is engaged in commercial activity in the United States.” The plaintiffs’ allegations were insufficient to trace the proceeds from property expropriated more than a century ago to present‐day property owned by Germany in New York. View "Rukoro v. Federal Republic of Germany" on Justia Law

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An aircraft engine caught fire during testing in South Carolina. Rolls-Royce had manufactured and sold the engine to Boeing for incorporation into a 787 Dreamliner aircraft. Boeing demanded compensation from Rolls-Royce. In 2017, the companies settled for $12 million. Rolls-Royce then sought indemnification from Servotronics, the manufacturer of a valve. Under a long-term agreement between Rolls-Royce and Servotronics, any dispute not resolved through negotiation or mediation must be submitted to binding arbitration in England, under the rules of the Chartered Institute of Arbiters (CIArb). Rolls-Royce initiated arbitration with the CIArb. Servotronics filed an ex parte application in the Northern District of Illinois, seeking a subpoena compelling Boeing to produce documents for use in the London arbitration. The subpoena was issued, then quashed.The Seventh Circuit ruled in favor of Rolls-Royce. A district court may order a person within the district to give testimony or produce documents “for use in a proceeding in a foreign or international tribunal,” 28 U.S.C. 1782(a). Section 1782(a) does not authorize the district court to compel discovery for use in a private foreign arbitration. View "Servotronics, Inc. v. Rolls-Royce PLC" on Justia Law

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Jabateh was a rebel commander during the Liberian civil war. He later fled to the United States seeking asylum. His conduct in Liberia, characterized by brazen violence and wanton atrocities, made honest immigration application impossible. He concealed his crimes and portrayed himself as a persecuted victim. Jabateh’s fraud succeeded for almost 20 years.In 2016, Jabateh was charged with the fraud in his immigration documents, 18 U.S.C. 1546(a) and perjury, 18 U.S.C. 1621. The five-year limitations period for misconduct related to Jabateh's 2001 application for permanent residency had passed, leaving only Jabateh’s oral responses in a 2011 Interview affirming his answer of “no” to questions related to genocide and misrepresentations during his immigration applications. The district court noted “the force of the prosecution’s trial evidence,” establishing that Jabateh personally committed or ordered his troops to commit murder, enslavement, rape, and torture “because of race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin or political opinion.”The Third Circuit affirmed, rejecting challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence and to Jabateh’s 360-month sentence. The court acknowledged that section 1546(a) criminalizes fraud in immigration documents and that Jabateh was not charged with fraud in his immigration documents, only with orally lying about those documents. Jabateh, however, failed to raise this argument at trial. “Given the novelty of the interpretative question, and the lack of persuasive" guidance, the court declined to hold that this reading of section 1546(a) meets the stringent standards for “plain error” reversal. View "United States v. Jabateh" on Justia Law

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The district court denied a habeas petition by Al Hela, a Yemeni sheik, challenging his detention at the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay. Al Hela claims that the President lacked authority to detain him under the Authorization for Use of Military Force, 115 Stat. 224, for substantially supporting Al Qaeda and its associated forces; that he is entitled to release for due process violations; and that the discovery procedures failed to provide him with a “meaningful opportunity” to challenge his detention. The District Court for the District of Columbia has a standing case management order used in many Guantanamo habeas cases to manage discovery and to protect classified information from unwarranted disclosure. The D.C. Circuit affirmed, finding that the President has authority to detain Al Hela, who “substantially supported” enemy forces irrespective of whether he also directly supported those forces or participated in hostilities. Al Hela’s supportive conduct was not “vitiated by the passage of time.” The proceedings below complied with the requirements of the Suspension Clause, which provides that “[t]he Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.” Guantanamo detainees are entitled to a “meaningful opportunity” to challenge the basis for their detention, not a perfect one. The Due Process Clause may not be invoked by aliens without property or presence in the sovereign territory of the United States. View "Al-Hela v. Trump" on Justia Law