Justia International Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in International Law
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At issue is whether the Commonwealth of Virginia would recognize a divorce granted by a foreign nation to its own citizens when neither spouse was domiciled in that nation at the time of the divorce. The question arises from Petitioner’s marriage to a woman after the woman and another man — both Ghanaian citizens — divorced pursuant to Ghanaian customary law. At the time of the divorce, the woman and man were lawful permanent residents of the United States, and neither was present or domiciled in Ghana. Based on his marriage to the woman, Petitioner became a lawful permanent resident of the United States. But when Petitioner applied to become a naturalized citizen, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determined that he and the woman were not validly married. USCIS reasoned that under controlling Virginia law, the Commonwealth would not recognize a divorce granted by a nation where neither spouse was domiciled at the time of the divorce. Petitioner sought a review of the decision in the district court, which granted summary judgment to USCIS. Petitioner then brought this appeal.   The Fourth Circuit reversed and remanded with instructions to grant Petitioner’s naturalization application. The court concluded as a matter of comity, Virginia would recognize this otherwise valid divorce granted by a foreign nation to its own citizens, regardless of the citizens’ domicile at the time. The court explained it rejected only USCIS’s argument that pursuant to present Virginia law, the Commonwealth would refuse to recognize a divorce granted by a foreign nation to its own citizens simply because neither was domiciled in the foreign nation at the time of the divorce. View "Michael Adjei v. Alejandro Mayorkas" on Justia Law

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The Partnership filed a contract claim in a Chinese court against Wan, his company, and his brother. The Chinese court entered a default judgment against Wan after he failed to appear. A year later, the Partnership filed a complaint in the Central District of Illinois, seeking enforcement of the Chinese judgment under the Illinois foreign judgment recognition law, predicating subject matter jurisdiction on diversity of citizenship. The district court, determining that the Chinese judgment was enforceable under Illinois law, granted the Partnership summary judgment.The Seventh Circuit vacated, finding the factual predicates for the district court’s jurisdiction not established firmly in the existing record. The Partnership, which had the burden on the issue, failed to present “competent proof” of its citizenship; it did not present any evidence establishing its citizenship or the citizenship of its several partners. The Partnership submitted a declaration by its employee who stated simply that it “is and was domiciled in Yancheng City, Jiangsu Province, People’s Republic of China.” However, a partnership does not have a “domicile” for purposes of diversity jurisdiction. Rather, to establish subject matter jurisdiction based on diversity of citizenship, the citizenship of each partner must be established. There is no evidence to support a finding of complete diversity. View "Yancheng Shanda Yuanfeng Equity Investment Partnership v. Wan" on Justia Law

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Confronted with reliable claims of escalating Chinese cyber threats targeting the United States, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) revoked the authority of China Telecom (Americas) Corp. (“China Telecom”) to operate domestic and international transmission lines pursuant to section 214 of the Communications Act of 1934. The Commission additionally found that China Telecom breached “the 2007 Letter of Assurances with the Executive Branch agencies, compliance with which is an express condition of its international section 214 authorizations.” Although the Commission offered support from the classified record, consisting of evidence obtained pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (“FISA”), it has made it clear throughout these proceedings that its decision is entirely justified by the unclassified record alone.   China Telecom argues that the Revocation Order is arbitrary, capricious, and unsupported by substantial evidence. The DC Circuit denied China Telecom’s petition for review. The court explained that Commission’s determinations that China Telecom poses a national security risk and breached its Letter of Assurances are supported by reasoned decision-making and substantial evidence in the unclassified record. In addition, the court held that no statute, regulation, past practice, or constitutional provision required the Commission to afford China Telecom any additional procedures beyond the paper hearing it received. View "China Telecom (Americas) Corporation v. FCC (PUBLIC)" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff is a U.S. citizen and a U.S. national, as that term is defined in 22 U.S.C. Section 6023(15). He claims to be the “rightful owner of an 82.5% interest in certain commercial waterfront real property in the Port of Santiago de Cuba,” identified by the Cuban government as La Marítima and Terminal Naviera. According to the complaints, the knowing and intentional conduct of Carnival and Royal Caribbean constitutes trafficking under Section 6023(13)(A). As a result, Plaintiff—who provided the cruise lines with written notice by certified mail of his intent to commence an action under Title III—claims that he is entitled to damages under Section 6082.   The Eleventh Circuit granted the petition for panel rehearing and vacated our prior opinion. The court held that Plaintiff has standing to assert his Title III claims, but that those claims fail on the merits. The court explained that the Cuban government confiscated La Marítima prior to March 12, 1996, and because Plaintiff acquired his interest in the property through inheritance after that date, his claims failed. The court, therefore, affirmed the district court’s grant of judgment on the pleadings in favor of Carnival and Royal Caribbean. View "Javier Garcia-Bengochea v. Carnival Corporation" on Justia Law

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A Bolivian arbitration tribunal awarded $36 million in damages to Compania de Inversiones Mercantiles S.A. (“CIMSA”) against Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua S.A.B. de C.V. (“GCC”). GCC fought the award in the Bolivian courts, losing before a chamber of Bolivia’s highest constitutional court in 2016. In 2019, CIMSA obtained an order from the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado confirming the award. In 2020, GCC convinced a different chamber of Bolivia’s highest constitutional court to invalidate its prior decision, and a Bolivian trial judge subsequently annulled the award. GCC then moved the U.S. district court to vacate the confirmation order. The district court: (1) denied GCC’s motion; and (2) ordered GCC to turn over assets located in Mexico to satisfy the award. GCC brought separate appeals from these two rulings. GCC argued that the district court erred by refusing to vacate the Confirmation Judgment, contending the 2020 Bolivian court orders annulling the Damages Award required vacatur. The Tenth Circuit found when a court has been asked to vacate an order confirming an arbitral award that has later been annulled, it may balance against comity considerations (1) whether the annulment is repugnant to U.S. public policy or (2) whether giving effect to the annulment would undermine U.S. public policy. "Although the district court here may have found the 2020 Bolivian orders were not repugnant, it did not legally err by considering whether giving effect to those orders through vacatur of its Confirmation Judgment would offend U.S. public policy." Because the district court did not abuse its discretion by refusing to vacate its Confirmation Judgment, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "Compania De Inversiones v. Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs are U.S. service members wounded in terrorist attacks in Iraq and the families and estates of service members killed in such attacks. They appealed from the dismissal of their claims under the Antiterrorism Act (the “ATA”) as amended by the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (the “JASTA”), against various financial institutions in the United States and abroad (the “Banks”). As relevant to this appeal, Plaintiffs alleged that the Banks conspired with and aided and abetted Iranian entities to circumvent sanctions imposed by the United States and channel funds to terrorist groups that killed or injured U.S. service members. The district court dismissed Plaintiffs’ JASTA conspiracy claims primarily because Plaintiffs failed to plausibly plead a direct connection between the Banks and the terrorist groups. The district court also declined to consider Plaintiffs’ JASTA aiding-and-abetting claims because they were raised for the first time in Plaintiffs’ motion for reconsideration.   The Second Circuit explained that while it disagreed with the district court’s primary reason for dismissing Plaintiffs’ JASTA conspiracy claims, it affirmed the district court’s judgment because Plaintiffs failed to adequately allege that the Banks conspired – either directly or indirectly – with the terrorist groups, or that the terrorist attacks that killed or injured the service members were in furtherance of the alleged conspiracy to circumvent U.S. sanctions. The court agreed with the district court that Plaintiffs forfeited their JASTA aiding-and-abetting claims by raising them for the first time in a motion for reconsideration. View "Freeman v. HSBC Holdings PLC" on Justia Law

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Four years into Defendant’s prison term for a felony drug offense, the government transferred him to Mexico to serve the rest of his sentence. But after Mexican authorities released him from prison, Defendant returned to the United States in violation of his conditions of supervised release. The district court revoked his supervised release and sentenced him to another two years in prison. On appeal, Defendant claimed that a 1976 U.S.-Mexico treaty stripped the district court of its subject-matter jurisdiction to revoke his supervised release. And even if the district court did have jurisdiction, he argues, it erred in considering his “early” release from Mexican custody in imposing an upward variance.   The Fourth Circuit affirmed. The court declined to vacate Defendant’s sentence finding that the Treaty doesn’t strip U.S. courts of their jurisdiction—and particularly not for transferees like Defendant, who return to the country before completing their original sentences. Further, the court explained that Defendant is incorrect in his claim that the district court based the sentence on its “disapproval of the transfer decisions and Mexico’s incarceration term.” Rather, the court disapproved of Defendant’s behavior after he was released. Defendant’s sentence wasn’t procedurally or substantively unreasonable, much less plainly so. View "US v. Escovio Rios" on Justia Law

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Appellants are foreign companies that allegedly launder money for Kassim Tajideen, a prominent Hezbollah financier and specially designated global terrorist (SDGT). The United States seized three sums totaling $612,168.23 belonging to Appellants and filed the instant forfeiture action in order to keep the funds permanently. When no one claimed the funds for more than a year after the government gave notice of the forfeiture action, the government moved for a default judgment. Apparently realizing their mistake, Appellants belatedly attempted to file claims to the seized funds to prevent the district court from ordering forfeiture. The court struck Appellants’ filings as untimely and entered default judgment in favor of the government. After the court denied Appellants’ late reconsideration motion, they filed the instant appeal.   The DC Circuit affirmed the district court in part and dismiss the appeal in part for lack of jurisdiction. The court explained that Appellants’ Rule 59(e) motion was untimely and, as a result, so was its notice of appeal, at least with respect to the district court’s June 3 order striking Appellants’ putative claims and entering default judgment. Further, although the notice of appeal was timely with respect to the district court’s order denying Appellants’ Rule 59(e) motion, the court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion. The motion was not only untimely but also presented arguments that either were or could have been raised before judgment was entered. View "USA v. Three Sums Totaling $612,168.23 in Seized United States Currency" on Justia Law

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In a license revocation proceeding before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the United States sought to admit classified evidence relating to electronic surveillance it had conducted against China Telecom (Americas) Corporation (China Telecom). Pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA),the government filed this petition for a determination that the electronic surveillance was lawful and that fruits of the surveillance were admissible in the underlying FCC proceedings. After the district court granted the government’s petition, the FCC revoked China Telecom’s license in the underlying action and we then denied China Telecom’s petition for review of the FCC order without relying on or otherwise considering the classified evidence.   The DC Circuit vacated the district court order granting the government’s petition because the government’s petition no longer presents a live controversy. Accordingly, China Telecom’s appeal from the district court order is moot. The court explained that here, the district court’s review of the surveillance materials was triggered by the government’s notice of its intent to use the surveillance in a “trial, hearing, or other proceeding in or before [a] court, department, officer, agency, regulatory body, or other authority of the United States.” In response, China Telecom principally requests disclosure pursuant to section 1806(g), asserting a due process right to discover the classified materials so that it may defend itself in the underlying FCC proceeding. The court explained that any order requiring the government to disclose classified evidence at issue in an FCC revocation proceeding would be wholly ineffectual because the proceedings in which the parties sought to use that evidence have ended. View "USA v. China Telecom (Americas) Corporation" on Justia Law

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The principal issue in this appeal of a 28 U.S.C. § 1782(a) discovery order is whether, in response to the ex parte order authorizing discovery by “interested parties” for use in foreign litigation, the respondents have a right to challenge the order’s validity pursuant to statutory requirements and the Supreme Court’s “Intel factors.”    The Fifth Circuit reversed and remanded, concluding that the district court here misconstrued the court’s precedent and erroneously rebuffed Respondents’ challenge on its face. The court explained that the uncontested facts suggest the possibility that (a) some of the sought discovery is accessible currently in the foreign courts; (b) Appellees’ object here is to obtain unredacted copies of that which may be protected by law in the Portuguese proceedings; and (c) therefore, the requests in many aspects pose an undue burden on the appellants. The court wrote it does not express an opinion on these points but notes that they were never thoroughly vetted in the district court because of the court’s refusal to reconsider the Intel factors and the truncated discussion of “interested parties” under Section 1728(a). Thus, by refusing to consider Appellants’ arguments and evidence challenging whether the Appellees satisfied the statutory criteria and the Intel factors to obtain Section 1782(a) discovery, the district court misapplied the law and abused its discretion. View "Banca Pueyo SA v. Lone Star Fund IX" on Justia Law