Justia International Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Military Law
United States v. al Kassar, et al.
Defendants appealed their convictions for conspiring to kill U.S. officers, to acquire and export anti-aircraft missiles, and to provide material support to a known terrorist organization. Two defendants were additionally convicted of money laundering and conspiring to kill U.S. citizens. The court held that the United States had federal subject-matter jurisdiction to prosecute defendants; the district court did not err in denying defendants' motion for a hearing on certain issues; because the court concluded that defendants' proffered evidence was inadmissible under Rule 404 and that the district court did not commit manifest error by excluding it under Rule 403, defendants' evidentiary challenge to the exclusion was rejected; defendants' remaining challenges were rejected and their convictions were affirmed under 18 U.S.C. 2332(g); the district court's jury instruction was correct and that 18 U.S.C. 2339B did not violate the Fifth Amendment, notwithstanding that no proof was required that a defendant intended his aid to support the terrorist activity of a terrorist group; and one defendant's insufficiency challenge was rejected. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "United States v. al Kassar, et al." on Justia Law
United States v. Green
Defendant was discharged from the U.S. Army due to a personality disorder. He was later charged under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, 18 U.S.C. 3261(a), and sentenced, by a federal district court, to life in prison for participating in a sexual assault and multiple murders while stationed in Iraq. Co-conspirators, still on active duty and subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, 10 U.S.C. 802(a)(1), were tried by courts-martial and each sentenced to between 90 and 110 years imprisonment; they are eligible for parole in ten years. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, first noting that Iraq could not prosecute the defendant and that prosecution in the U.S. did not violate international law. The Army completed a valid discharge of defendant, so that he was no longer subject to courts-martial. His trial under MEJA did not violate the separation-of-powers principle or his due process or equal protection rights. Defendant was no longer similarly situated with his co-conspirators when charges were filed. View "United States v. Green" on Justia Law
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