Justia U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries
Articles Posted in International Law
Petitioner-Appellant Mirella Ivonne Avila-Ramos appealed the district court’s denial of habeas corpus relief for an extradition certification order. Avila-Ramos was wanted for aggravated homicide in Chihuahua, Mexico. According to the warrant for her arrest, Avila-Ramos plotted with Arturo Heriberto Herrera Rey, her paramour, to murder her husband. Avila-Ramos’s husband, who had survived an earlier attempt on his life, was on his way to a hospital appointment when he was attacked and killed by a hired gun. An investigation implicated Avila-Ramos and Rey in the hit, and Rey was convicted of aggravated homicide for his involvement in the crime. On appeal, Avila-Ramos challenged the magistrate judge’s and district court’s probable cause rulings. Finding that the magistrate judge adequately found probable cause that Avila-Ramos committed aggravated homicide, the crime identified in the extradition request, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court’s order. View "Avila-Ramos v. Deal" on Justia Law
Plaintiff Archangel Diamond Corporation Liquidating Trust, as successor-in-interest to Archangel Diamond Corporation (collectively, “Archangel”), appealed dismissal of its civil case against defendant OAO Lukoil (“Lukoil”), in which it alleged claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), breach of contract, and commercial tort law. The district court dismissed the case for lack of personal jurisdiction over Lukoil and under the doctrine of forum non conveniens. Archangel Diamond Corporation was a Canadian company and bankrupt. The liquidating trust was located in Colorado. In 1993, Archangel entered into an agreement with State Enterprise Arkhangelgeology (“AGE”), a Russian state corporation, regarding a potential license to explore and develop diamond mining operations in the Archangelsk region of Russia. Archangel and AGE agreed that Archangel would provide additional funds and that the license would be transferred to their joint venture company. However, the license was never transferred and remained with AGE. In 1995, AGE was privatized and became Arkhangelskgeoldobycha (“AGD”), and the license was transferred to AGD. Diamonds worth an estimated $5 billion were discovered within the license region. In 1998, Lukoil acquired a controlling stake in AGD, eventually making AGD a wholly owned subsidiary of Lukoil. Pursuant to an agreement, arbitration took place in Stockholm, Sweden, to resolve the license transfer issue. When AGD failed to honor the agreement, Archangel reactivated the Stockholm arbitration, but the arbitrators this time concluded that they lacked jurisdiction to arbitrate the dispute even as to AGD. Archangel then sued AGD and Lukoil in Colorado state court. AGD and Lukoil removed the case to Colorado federal district court. The district court remanded the case, concluding that it lacked subject-matter jurisdiction because all of the claims were state law claims. The state trial court then dismissed the case against both AGD and Lukoil based on lack of personal jurisdiction and forum non conveniens. The Colorado Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal as to AGD, reversed as to Lukoil, and remanded (leaving Lukoil as the sole defendant). On remand, the Colorado Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s previous dismissal on forum non conveniens grounds, which it had not addressed before, and remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. The trial court granted Lukoil and AGD's motion to hold an evidentiary hearing, and the parties engaged in jurisdictional discovery. In 2008 and early 2009, the case was informally stayed while the parties discussed settlement and conducted discovery. By June 2009, Archangel had fallen into bankruptcy due to the expense of the litigation. On Lukoil’s motion and over the objection of Archangel, the district court referred the matter to the bankruptcy court, concluding that the matter was related to Archangel’s bankruptcy proceedings. Lukoil then moved the bankruptcy court to abstain from hearing the matter, and the bankruptcy court concluded that it should abstain. The bankruptcy court remanded the case to the Colorado state trial court. The state trial court again dismissed the action. While these state-court appeals were still pending, Archangel filed this case before the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, maintaining that Lukoil had a wide variety of jurisdictional contacts with Colorado and the United States as a whole. Finding no reversible error in the district court's ruling dismissing the case on forum non conveniens grounds, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "Archangel Diamond v. OAO Lukoil" on Justia Law
Since the early 1990s, Chevron and its predecessor Texaco, Inc., have defended litigation concerning Texaco's operations in Ecuador and the environmental contamination it allegedly produced. This litigation started in the Southern District of New York but eventually found its way to Ecuadorian courts. In 2011, the court in Lago Agrio entered an $18.2 billion judgment against Chevron, which Chevron appealed. In this case, Chevron appealed the United States district court's order granting a motion to compel production of documents pursuant to subpoenas issued under 28 U.S.C. 1782. Chevron sought relief from that judgment pursuant to investment treaty arbitration under United Nations' rules. Finding no error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court's order. View "The Republic of Ecuador, et al v. Bjorkman" on Justia Law
Posted in: Constitutional Law, Energy, Oil & Gas Law, International Law, U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals
Respondent Stanislav Dobrev from sought a custodial arrangement from a Utah State court more favorable than the arrangement he received from a French court a few weeks prior. Petitioner and Respondent divorced in France; Petitioner found work in Belgium, Respondent found work in Utah. Petitioner was granted leave to move with her children to Belgium by the French court. Prior to waiving his right to appeal the French order, Respondent picked up the children and brought them to the United States for a pre-approved vacation. The children were scheduled to return to Belgium, but Respondent instead filed for “Emergency Jurisdiction and Custody” in Utah to challenge the French court’s order. A week after holding a preliminary hearing, the district court, pursuant to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and its implementing legislation, The International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA), summarily granted Petitioner petition for return of the children. On top of that, the district court awarded Petitioner fees, costs, and expenses. Respondent appealed to the Tenth Circuit, generally claiming a denial of due process based on the district court’s refusal to provide him an evidentiary hearing. The Tenth Circuit noted that Respondent alleged or could have alleged before the French court many of the facts he alleged in his state petition. Given the facts of this case, the Tenth Circuit saw “nothing to suggest the district court stepped beyond the bounds of its discretion in awarding Petitioner her fees, costs, and expenses. Based upon all [the Court has] written [. . .], much of which certainly suggests Respondent [was] not blameless for the current state of affairs,” the Court could not say the award was “clearly inappropriate.” The judgment of the district court was affirmed in all respects. View "West v. Dobrev" on Justia Law
In 1994, two surface-to-air missiles brought down an aircraft carrying then Rwandan and Burundi Presidents Juvenal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira, both of Hutu ethnicity. The killings fueled the Rwandan genocide, which spread violence across East Central Africa and killed millions of innocent victims. Some believe the then Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front headed by current Rwandan President Paul Kagame was behind the killings. The widows of the two former heads-of-state, Madame Habyarimana and Madame Ntaryamira, blamed President Kagame for their husbands' deaths. They filed suit in Oklahoma federal court seeking to hold him liable under the Alien Tort Claims Act, the Torture Act, the Racketeeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, and multiple state and international laws. During the pendency of this case in the district court, the United States, at the request of the Rwandan Government, submitted a "Suggestion of Immunity" on behalf of President Kagame. The Tenth Circuit upheld the district court in dismissing this case due to President Kagame's immunity: "[quoting case law precedent] 'the precedents are overwhelming. For more than 160 years American courts have consistently applied the doctrine of sovereign immunity when requested to do so by the executive branch. Moreover, they have done so with no further review of the executive's determination.' Simply stated, '[i]t is . . . not for the courts to deny an immunity which our government has seen fit to allow.'" View "Habyarimana v. Kagame" on Justia Law
Posted in: Constitutional Law, Government & Administrative Law, International Law, U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals
Petitioner-Appellant Jesus Hector Palma-Salazar was indicted in 1995 for conspiracy to distribute cocaine; he was arrested in Mexico in 2002. After he was extradited to the United States pursuant to an extradition treaty between the United States and Mexico, Petitioner pled guilty and began serving his sentence. In 2010, Petitioner filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, challenging his confinement at the Administrative Maximum Prison in Florence, Colorado (ADX). He alleged his confinement at ADX violated his Fifth and Eighth Amendment rights and also the extradition treaty. The district court denied his petition. It concluded it lacked jurisdiction to consider his Fifth and Eighth Amendment claims because they were challenges to the conditions of his confinement and must, therefore, be brought under "Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics," (403 U.S. 388 (1971)). It also concluded Petitioner's confinement at ADX did not violate the extradition treaty. Upon review, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court's conclusion. View "Palma-Salazar v. Davis" on Justia Law
Respondent Alena Berridge relocated to Denver, Colorado from the Czech Republic with her two children. Subsequently, Petitioner Max Joseph Lesler, Respondent’s ex-husband and father of the children, filed a petition seeking return of the children to the Czech Republic pursuant to the Hague Convention and ICARA. In this appeal, the issue before the Tenth Circuit was whether the Court could grant any meaningful relief when the district court granted a petition for the return of children based not on a finding of wrongful removal, but instead on the parents' stipulation that the children would return to the country of habitual residence for a custody hearing. Upon review, the Tenth Circuit held this action was moot, resting on the fact that the district court made no finding of wrongful removal, and not on the basis of the children's then-current location. Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed and the district court's opinion was vacated. The case was remanded for dismissal due to lack of subject matter jurisdiction. View "Leser v. Berridge" on Justia Law
Petitioner Gong Geng Chen petitioned the Tenth Circuit to review a decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) that denied his motion to reopen as untimely. Petitioner n is a native and citizen of the People’s Republic of China. He illegally entered the United States in April 1993. In August of that same year he filed an asylum application in which he asserted that he had been persecuted because of his religious beliefs. Removal proceedings were initiated. After conceding removability, he filed for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture. On appeal, Petitioner asked the BIA to remand his case to the IJ to consider the impact of worsening conditions for members of unofficial churches in China. In January 2010, more than ninety days following the BIA’s order dismissing his appeal and denying his motion to remand, Petitioner filed a motion to reopen. He acknowledged the untimeliness of the motion, but argued that the time restriction did not apply because of changes in his personal circumstances and in country conditions. Upon review, the Tenth Circuit found that reports and other evidence proffered did not support Petitioner's contention that material changes in country conditions warranted asylum. Accordingly, the Court determined the BIA did not abuse its discretion in denying Petitioner's motion to reopen as untimely, and denied his petition.
Plaintiff Ferdinand De Leon appealed a district court’s judgment entered in favor of Defendant Denman Investment Corporation, Inc. Plaintiff represents a class of over 9500 people who brought human rights claims against the former president of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos. In 1995, the class obtained a $2 billion judgment in the federal district court of Hawai'i. Several years later, the class registered the judgment in the federal district court in Illinois in an attempt to enforce it. The judgment was revived in 2008 and remains in effect until 2017 under Illinois law. Plaintiff then registered the Illinois revival in federal district court in Colorado. While ancillary lawsuits proceeded, Plaintiff filed a putative class action in 2009, seeking to enforce the Illinois judgment in Colorado against property that Defendant owned nominally for the benefit of the Marcos estate. Defendant moved to dismiss the Colorado suit, contending that, among other things, the Illinois judgement was unenforceable in Colorado. The Colorado court denied Defendant's motion, denied a motion to certify the class, and dismissed the sole claim against the Marcoses. But while that motion to dismiss was pending, Plaintiff filed an "advice of settlement" indicating that the parties reached a settlement-in-principle in this suit and the ancillary suit. Later that year, the district court entered its orders. Of import here was the court's finding that the Illinois judgment could not be re-registered in Colorado, and therefore, Plaintiff lacked standing to enforce the judgment. Plaintiff moved to vacate or modify the court's decision in light of the advice of settlement. Defendant responded by filing a notice of its intent not to participate in the appeal, stating that it had settled all claims with the class members. Upon careful consideration of the legal authority and the lengthy court record of this case, the Tenth Circuit concluded that language in the settlement stipulating that once the settlement agreement was executed the parties would dismiss their pending lawsuit controlled in this case. The Court concluded that the district court should have "treated the stipulation as a self-executing dismissal;" Accordingly, the district court's granting of Defendant's motion to dismiss on the merits was void because it was issued after the stipulation was filed and therefore in the absence of jurisdiction." The Court vacated the district court's judgment and remanded the case with directions to the lower court to dismiss the entire action with prejudice.
Petitioner Sushma KC sought review of a Board of Immigration Appeals’ (BIA) denial of her motion to reopen or reconsider its previous decision denying her asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). After arriving in this country, KC filed timely applications for asylum, but on June 23, 2008, an immigration judge (IJ) denied her applications, and ordered her to voluntarily depart or be removed to her native Nepal. In his oral decision, the IJ noted the threats she received: "the most recent and graphic of them was that her head would be cut off [by Maoist insurgents] unless she paid 300,000 rupees." The IJ concluded, however, that KC failed to satisfy the "one central reason" test (see 8 U.S.C. 1158(b)(1)(B)(i)) which required showing that one of the central reasons the Maoists targeted her was because of her political beliefs. KC appealed to the BIA, which upheld the IJ’s decision. The BIA concluded that "[t]he Immigration Judge reasonably determined based on the record as a whole that the Maoists’ demands for money were acts of extortion not related to the respondent’s political opinion." In addition, the BIA denied KC’s motion to remand her case to the IJ so that he could consider additional evidence concerning her husband’s disappearance. Because the BIA adopted the IJ’s analysis without further explanation, both to dismiss KC’s appeal and to deny reconsideration, the Tenth Circuit held that the BIA’s decision lacked "rational explanation." Accordingly, the Court held that the BIA abused its discretion, and remanded the case for further consideration. The Court affirmed the BIA in all other respects.
Posted in: Government & Administrative Law, Immigration Law, International Law, U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals