Hayes v. Harvey (en banc) — housing — reversal — Greenaway
[Update 2: a couple hours after the original opinion posted, the clerk issued an order that read, “At the direction of the Court, an amended opinion shall be filed to reflect that Judge Hardiman joined in the dissent filed by Judge Fisher.” I’ve updated the post accordingly; the original opinion is here.]
Holy cannoli. Today the en banc Third Circuit ruled
12 to 1 11 to 2 in favor of the tenant in a significant housing appeal, a dramatic switch from the panel’s 2-to-1 ruling against the tenant. The core legal issue was whether a federal statute that says Section 8 enhanced voucher tenants “may elect to remain” in their homes gives them the right to remain in their homes.
[Disclosure: I provided modest pro bono consulting to counsel for the appellants during the en banc litigation.]
The en banc author was Judge Greenaway, who had dissented with gusto from the panel ruling.
Judge Hardiman flipped, joining the en banc majority after siding with the landlord at the panel stage. Judge Fisher, the panel author, was the lone dissenter. Judges Fisher and Hardiman, the original panel majority, were the only dissenters. Few observers would have predicted such a lopsided outcome here.
My post on the panel ruling is here. (It began, “In a significant public-housing opinion that I think has a realistic shot at en banc rehearing,” and you betcha I’m bragging.)
Appellate lawyers should note the valuable role that amici curiae played in the en banc litigation here. Hayes had one supporting amicus brief from advocacy groups at the panel stage, but at both the rehearing stage and the en banc merits stage the amicus support Hayes garnered was impressive, from legal aid offices to the City of Philadelphia and its housing authority. (Vooys, the en banc decided two weeks ago, also had major amicus participation.) En banc petitions and briefs are an under-utilized opportunity for amicus participation, and Hayes shows why that’s starting to change.
Arguing counsel were Rachel Garland of Community Legal Services for the tenant, Susanna Randazzo of Kolber & Randazzo for the landlord, and Gerard Sinzdak for HUD as amicus.
[I’ve updated the post to clarify that it involves recipients of Section 8 rental-assistance vouchers, not public-housing residents.]