Wrong, and okay with it.


Train wreck at Montparnasse 1895 (Wikimedia Commons)

Four months ago, a CA3 panel issued  a published opinion with a gross legal error. I posted about it when it was issued, here. It was a surprising blunder, but judges are busy and the mistake wasn’t easy to catch just by reading the opinion. Mistakes happen, and they can be fixed. So, even though it had won the appeal, the E.D.Pa. US Attorney’s office promptly moved to amend the opinion to correct the error. On Friday, three and a half months later, the panel finally ruled on the government’s motion to amend.


Denied? Huh. On what grounds? you ask. Well, here is the explanation provided by the panel, see if you can follow the legal reasoning:

The foregoing motion is denied.

It is signed by the author of the original opinion, Judge Nygaard, on behalf of the original panel, Chief Judge McKee and Judge Chagares.

Not a proud day for the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.


1 thought on “Wrong, and okay with it.

  1. Peter Goldberger

    Even with 3 judges on the panel, each of whom must review and sign off on each opinion, and even with the benefit of multiple well-qualified law clerks, and beyond that even with internal circulation of proposed precedential decisions to the whole court prior to release, there are bound to be a few errors and oversights in published decisions every year. Even so, it is unfortunate, when one is brought to the court’s attention promptly, to see the court decline to make a correction, especially where, as in this case, it would not affect the outcome and did not require a total rewrite. Presumably, the mistaken discussion in Reyes will not become entrenched, but will instead become just another “derelict on the waters of the law.” Lambert v. California, 355 US 225, 232 (1957) (Frankfurter, J, dissenting).

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