Civil Rights

Compensation for the Wrongfully Imprisoned?

Criminal Law & Procedure Practice Group Teleforum Friday, July 07, 02:00 PMFederalist Society Teleforum Conference Call

In recent years, there have been a growing number of instances where people have been freed from prison after it was discovered they were actually not guilty of the crimes for which they were convicted. Most states provide little or no compensation to such exonerated individuals. Some advocacy groups are pushing for changes. What, if anything, should be done? What kind of compensation are the wrongfully imprisoned entitled to? What kind of financial obligations for these cases can state treasuries bear? What is the perspective of law enforcement on these questions? This Teleforum will explore these and related issues.


  • Ilya Somin, Professor of Law, Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University
  • David LaBahn, President and CEO, Association of Prosecuting Attorneys

Courthouse Steps: Maslenjak v. United States Update

Criminal Law & Procedure Practice Group Teleforum Wednesday, July 05, 02:00 PMFederalist Society Teleforum Conference Call

At the close of the Bosnian civil war, Divna Maslenjak sought refuge for herself and her family in the U.S. due to fear of persecution regarding their Serbian identity in modern-day Bosnia and the threat of reprisal against her husband, who she claimed had evaded military conscription in the Bosnian Serb militia. After the family was granted refuge and Maslenjak became a U.S. citizen, a U.S. court convicted Maslenjak’s husband Ratko on two counts of falsifying claims regarding Serbian military service on U.S. government documents, since Ratko had in fact served in the Serbian military. When Ratko applied for asylum to avoid deportation, Divna Maslenjak admitted to lying about her husband’s military service and was charged with two counts of naturalization fraud for previously denying that she had given false information to a U.S. official. At her trial, jurors were told that a naturalization fraud conviction could be carried out for false claims in Maslenjak’s application process, even if the claims did not affect whether she was approved. Convicted on both counts, Divna Maslenjack faced two years of probation and lost her citizenship. The Sixth Circuit affirmed her conviction, claiming that naturalization fraud did not require proof of a material false statement.

Please join us as Vikrant Reddy, a Senior Research Fellow at the Charles Koch Institute, discusses the potential impact of the recent Supreme Court ruling and the main question of the case: whether immaterial false statements should be a basis for withdrawing an individual’s citizenship.


  • Vikrant P. Reddy, Senior Research Fellow, Charles Koch Institute

Ziglar v. Abbasi Decided - Are Government Officials Liable for Damages?

Monday, June 26, 03:00 PMFederalist Society Teleforum Conference Call

Ziglar v. Abbasi is the result of over a decade of remands and appeals. The case was originally filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of incarcerated Muslim, South Asian, and Arab non-citizens who were targeted after 9/11 by law enforcement as “terrorism suspects.” The defendants in the case, high level officials in the Bush administration, such as Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI director Robert Mueller, and low level detention officials, filed a motion to dismiss, which was rejected by the in the District Court.

In 2009, the Supreme Court decided in Ashcroft v. Iqbal that government officials were not liable for discriminatory actions of their subordinates without evidence they directly ordered the actions. Meanwhile, five of the petitioners in Ziglar settled with the government, and the case was remanded to the District Court and amended. In 2010, the District Court granted a new motion of dismissal, but only for the high level officials. This dismissal was reversed by the Second Circuit.

The main question the Supreme Court answered was whether these high-level government officials could be sued for damages under the Bivens precedent. The precedent, created in a 1971 case involving the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, created an implied cause of action for any person whose Fourth Amendment rights are violated by federal officials. On Monday, June 19 the Supreme Court refused to extend the Bivens precedent to the petitioners, reversing the decision by the Second Circuit and remanding the case.

David Rivkin of Baker Hostelter will join us to discuss the opinion and its significance.


  • David B. Rivkin Jr., Partner, Baker & Hostetler LLP 

Courthouse Steps: Two Cases - Matal v. Tam and Packingham v. North Carolina - Podcast

Free Speech & Election Law Practice Group Podcast
Ilya Shapiro, Michael R. Huston June 21, 2017

The Court has ruled today in two important cases, Matal v. Tam (aka "The Slants" copyright case) and Packingham v. North Carolina, which concerns a North Carolina law that restricts the access of convicted sex offenders to “commercial social networking” websites. Mr. Michael Huston and Mr. Ilya Shapiro joined us for this special Teleforum in which the holdings and reasoning of both cases were discussed.  


  • Mr. Michael R. Huston, Associate Attorney, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP
  • Mr. Ilya Shapiro,  Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies, Cato Institute

Bank of America Corp. v. City of Miami - Post-Decision SCOTUScast

SCOTUScast 6-2-17 featuring Thaya Brook Knight
Thaya Brook Knight June 02, 2017

On May 1, 2017, the Supreme Court decided Bank of America Corp. v. City of Miami, which was consolidated with Wells Fargo & Co. v. City of Miami. In this case, the city of Miami sued Bank of America Corporation and similar defendants under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), arguing that the banks engaged in predatory lending practices that targeted minorities for higher-risk loans, which resulted in high rates of default and caused financial harm to the city. Miami also alleged that the banks unjustly enriched themselves by taking advantage of benefits conferred by the city, thus denying the city expected property and tax revenues.
The district court dismissed the FHA claims and held that Miami did not fall within the “zone of interests” the statute was meant to protect and therefore lacked standing under the statute. The court also held that Miami had not adequately shown that the banks’ conduct was the proximate cause of the harms the city claimed to have suffered. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed, holding that FHA standing extends as broadly as Article III of the Constitution permits, that Miami had established Article III standing here, and that it had sufficiently alleged proximate causation.
By a vote of 5-3, the Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the Eleventh Circuit and remanded the case. In an opinion by Justice Breyer, the Court held that (1) the city of Miami was an "aggrieved person" authorized to bring suit under the Fair Housing Act; and (2) the Eleventh Circuit erred in concluding that the city's complaints met the FHA's proximate-cause requirement based solely on the finding that the city's alleged financial injuries were a foreseeable results of the banks' misconduct; proximate cause under the FHA requires “some direct relation between the injury asserted and the injurious conduct alleged”; the lower courts should define, in the first instance, the contours of proximate cause under the FHA and decide on remand how that standard applies to the city's claims for lost property-tax revenue and increased municipal expenses. Justice Breyer’s majority opinion was joined by the Chief Justice and Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan. Justice Thomas filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which Justices Kennedy and Alito joined. Justice Gorsuch took no part in the consideration or decision of the cases.
To discuss the case, we have Thaya Brook Knight, who is associate director of financial regulation studies at the Cato Institute.