Two new opinions

The Court issued two precedential opinions on Friday.

Waterfront Commission of N.Y. Harbor v. Governor N.J.—civil—reversal—Smith

The federal courts lack jurisdiction to hear a lawsuit trying to prevent New Jersey from leaving an interstate compact, the Third Circuit held Friday. The compact, called the Waterfront Commission Compact, was formed in the 1950s between New Jersey and New York to regulate shipping-harbor hiring practices. When New Jersey moved to withdraw at the end of Governor Christie’s administration, the Commission sued the Governor in federal court to block the withdrawal. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Commission, but the Third Circuit vacated its ruling, holding that, because New Jersey was the real party in interest, the suit impinged on its sovereign immunity in violation of Ex parte Young.

Joining Smith were Hardiman and Krause. Arguing counsel were Sean Kelly of Saiber for the Commission, Aaron Love (formerly) of the state AG’s office for the governor, and Leon Sokol of Cullen & Dykman for various state officials.


U.S. V. Torres—criminal—affirmance—Porter

The introduction:

After a bench trial, the District Court found Michael Torres guilty of possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). The District Court imposed a fifteen-year mandatory-minimum sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 924(e) of the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”) because it determined that Torres had three qualifying felony convictions.

Torres raises two arguments on appeal. First, he contends that the District Court erred by denying his motion to suppress the firearm. Second, Torres argues that his prior federal drug conspiracy conviction does not qualify as an ACCA predicate offense because it encompasses his other two substantive ACCA predicates. We will affirm. The firearm was discovered during a valid investigative stop. And we will join our sister circuits in holding that a drug conspiracy conviction counts as an ACCA predicate offense, so long as it was distinct in time from the underlying substantive offenses.

On the Fourth Amendment issue, the court upheld denial of suppression because it was seized during a valid Terry investigative stop based on an anonymous tip. In a footnote, the court observed that the officer believed that his body camera captured the stop but it malfunctioned.

On the ACCA issue, the court held that the conspiracy offense was distinct from the underlying substantive offenses, even though the underlying offenses were encompassed in the conspiracy offense, because they conspiracy continued for a year after the later substantive offense and included numerous other overt acts.

Joining Porter were Rendell and Fisher. The appeal was decided without oral argument.