Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A point of clarification

Sometimes the Court of Appeals publishes a brief opinion to clarify a point of law or procedure that everyone assumes to be true even though, for some reason, the issue never previously came before the Court. That happened on December 12, when the Second Circuit issued Fielding v. Tollaksen.

The plaintiff filed a civil rights case pro se, or without a lawyer, claiming that her landlords caused her to be arrested for criminal michief after she allegedly damaged their property. After bringing the case, she asked the court for permission to amend the complaint to sue the local judges who handled her criminal and small claims case. Meanwhile, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the case in its entirety. The district judge assigned to the case (Robinson) referred the motions to the magistrate judge (Yanthis), who issued a Report and Recommendation on the motion. Judge Yanthis recommended that Judge Robinson deny the motion to amend and also to dismiss the case. Judge Robinson next adopted Judge Yanthis' recommendation to dismiss the case, but he did not specifically rule on the recommendation to deny the motion to amend the complaint.

The question is, what happened to the magistrate judge's recommendation to deny the motion to amend the complaint? While required to do so, District Judge Robinson did not specifically address that part of Magistrate Judge Yanthis' Report and Recommendation. This issue never came up to the Court of Appeals before. But now it's settled. Applying similar rulings from around the country, the Second Circuit held that we can assume that the district court rejects any argument that came before him when he enters final judgment on the case. In other words, the lingering argument is presumed rejected.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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