Twombly Trumps Conley: Ashcroft v. Iqbal and the Quest for a Standard Pleading Standard

Umair Khan, Staff Writer & Robert Magee, Lead Writer

        On December 10, 2008, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in the case of Ashcroft v. Iqbal.1  The case involves a Pakistani Man, Javaid Iqbal.  In the months after September 11th, the Justice Department set out to determine the legal status of every Muslim born man in the New York Metropolitan area.2  Iqbal, a cable repairman, was working in New Jersey when he was brought in for investigation by the Department of Justice on November 2, 2001.  When it was discovered that Iqbal’s immigration status was not current, Iqbal was confined to the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn, New York.3  When he first entered the MDC, he was housed among the general population, but his immigration status, coupled with his Pakistani origin and Islamic faith earned him a “high interest” designation.4  He was thusly confined to a special unit within the MDC, the ADMAX-SHU (“Administrative Maximum Secure Housing Unit”).5  Without ever being afforded a hearing, Iqbal was detained at the MDC for over a year and, he alleges, subjected to horrific verbal, mental and physical abuse, including being left outside during winter without adequate clothing, incessant and unnecessary strip and cavity searches, and starvation.6

        After being allowed to plea to immigration violations, Mr. Iqbal was deported.  Having returned home, though, he has sought legal redress for violations of his Due Process and First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendment rights under both Bivens7and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims, along with numerous statutory violations.8  Significantly, Mr. Iqbal alleges that Attorney General John Ashcroft and other officials at the Department of Justice and FBI approved the “hold and clear” policy which led to his being unconstitutionally detained without a hearing.9  Proving such an allegation is determinative of whether a plaintiff has established a valid § 1983 claim.10

        Unfortunately, in writing his initial complaint, Mr. Iqbal had no smoking gun to prove this.  He had no memo or tape in which Attorney General Ashcroft explicitly authorized officials at the MDC to violate Mr. Iqbal’s rights and it was this lack of a specific allegation that Ashcroft and other defendants moved for dismissal of Iqbal’s claim on the grounds that he, inter alia, hadn’t sufficiently plead a cause of action under FRCP 12(b)(6).11  The Eastern District of New York did not agree, the defendant’s appealed, lost in the Second Circuit12, and went on to win a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court.

         Continue reading “Twombly Trumps Conley: Ashcroft v. Iqbal and the Quest for a Standard Pleading Standard”

Football Death Leads to Reckless Homicide Charges: Kentucky Embarks on Unprecedented Case

Amanda Sherman, Staff Writer

I.  Background

On August 20, 2008, in Louisville, Kentucky, the Pleasure Ridge Park High School (PRPHS) football team was practicing in 94 degree heat.1 What was reportedly a grueling practice (with one parent describing the coach’s style as “training young teenagers for the Navy SEALS team”),2 ended tragically when fifteen year-old Max Gilpin collapsed after completing a series of wind sprints.3 Three days later, Gilpin died due to complications from heat stroke.4

When events as unfortunate as this occur, it is a normal response to look for someone or something to blame, and certainly, to seek justice.  In the past, situations similar to Max’s have resulted in the deceased’s family bringing a civil suit, as was the case after Minnesota Viking’s offensive tackle Korey Stringer died of heatstroke in 2001.5 Gilpin’s case is unique, however, because although Max’s parents have filed a civil suit for negligence and reckless disregard against the PRPHS coaching staff, criminal charges have also developed.  The Commonwealth is bringing criminal charges against head coach, David Stinson.6 On January 22, a grand jury indicted Stinson on a charge of reckless homicide in connection with Max’s death.7

The decision to bring criminal charges against Stinson is drawing a lot of attention and raising many questions.  Why was David Stinson the only coach charged criminally?  Where were the other parents who were watching the practice?  Why were no other players as seriously affected by the heat that day?  Time (and perhaps a jury) will help answer some of these questions, however others may remain unanswered even after a verdict is delivered.  Continue reading “Football Death Leads to Reckless Homicide Charges: Kentucky Embarks on Unprecedented Case”

Why Former Chief Judge Kaye “Couldn’t Be Happier”

Marisa C. Floriani, Staff Writer

Now that Chief Judge Judith Kaye has retired from the New York Court of Appeals bench, yesterday it was time for her replacement to literally take her seat.  Just last month New York State Governor David A. Paterson nominated Justice Jonathan Lippman as the newest addition to the state’s highest court.1 “I am thrilled to choose Judge Lippman to serve as our next chief judge . . .” Governor Paterson is quoted saying in The New York Times.2 Governor Paterson’s only criticism, however, is of the nomination process itself because he wants to ensure “that those under consideration represent all New Yorkers.”3 But who is to say that Justice Lippman won’t do just that?

Justice Lippman has always called New York his home.  A native of Manhattan, Justice Lippman graduated Phi Beta Kappa and cum laude from New York University with a degree in Government and International Relations in 1965.4 He continued his education at New York University’s School of Law where he received his J.D. in 1968.5

Although Justice Lippman never served on the Court of Appeals bench before, he devoted his legal career to several judicial positions.  Justice Lippman started at an entry level position in the court system, and he has not left the court house since.6 In 1983, he was appointed Chief Clerk and Executive Officer of the Supreme Court in the New York County Civil branch.7 From 1989 to 1995, Lippman was Deputy Chief Administrator for Management of New York State Courts.8 Then, he was a Judge of New York State Court of Claims.9 In January 1996, Chief Judge Kaye appointed him Chief Administrative Judge of the New York State Court system.10 In that position he oversaw the statewide court system with a $2 billion budget, over 3,000 judges, and 15,000 non-judicial employees.11 By serving from January 1996 to May 2007, Justice Lippman was the longest serving Chief Administrative Judge.12 In May 2007, former Governor Eliot Spitzer appointed Justice Lippman as the Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division in the First Department, a position he served in until his recent nomination.13 Continue reading “Why Former Chief Judge Kaye “Couldn’t Be Happier””

New York Enacts a Rule to Restrict the Use of Steroids in Horseracing: The First Step On a Long Journey

Benjamin L. Loefke, Staff Writer

The New York State Racing and Wagering Board, the governmental body responsible for “regulation and oversight of legalized gambling . . . govern[ing] Thoroughbred Racing, Harness Racing, Quarter Horse Racing, [and] Off-Track Betting . . . ,” recently promulgated Rule 4043.15, the “steroid rule.”1 The rule became effective on January 1, 2009 and has already had positive effects on the dying horse racing industry that has taken recent blows from the horrible tragedies of Eight Belles and Barbaro.  The deaths of these horses linger in recent memory even for those with little or no interest in horse racing.2

The state’s passage of the steroid rule has given the industry hope as far as the integrity of the sport and preservation of the animal athletes. Unfortunately, the rule might not be enough to save what has become a nearly obsolete sport, because the public’s general feelings of illegitimacy towards it and the advent of other forms of legalized gambling have diverted revenue that was once spent at betting windows on the daily double instead of on lottery tickets and at quick draw terminals.

Continue reading “New York Enacts a Rule to Restrict the Use of Steroids in Horseracing: The First Step On a Long Journey”