Articles Posted in International Law

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Two brothers were awarded a $2.79 billion judgment against the Republic of Cuba and other Cuban parties. The brothers subsequently sought to satisfy the federal judgment. The district court concluded that certain assets the brothers sought to attach to satisfy the judgment were not the property of the Cuban government and thus were not subject to attachment in satisfaction of their judgment. The brothers appealed. The trustee who controlled the assets at issue cross-appealed, arguing that the district court erred by denying its motion for attorneys’ fees incurred in proceedings addressing whether it had to turn over the assets to the brothers. The First Circuit affirmed in all respects, holding that the district court (1) did not err in dismissing the case, as the assets at issue were not the property of the Cuban government; and (2) did not err in denying the trustee’s motion for attorneys’ fees as untimely. View "Villoldo v. Castro Ruz" on Justia Law

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Father was a citizen of Argentina. Mother was a U.S. citizen and permanent resident of Argentina. While living in Argentina, the parties had a child. After the parties separated, they reached a child custody agreement providing that the child would reside with Mother and Father would have visitation. In 2013, Mother left Argentina with the child and moved to Massachusetts. The relationship between the parties subsequently deteriorated, and in 2014, Father filed this action pursuant to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction, as implemented by the International Child Abduction Remedies Act, to return the child to Argentina. The district court ordered the child’s return on the basis that the child’s habitual residence lay in Argentina because Father never fully agreed to allow the child to move to Massachusetts. The First Circuit reversed, holding (1) the United States was the child’s habitual residence at the time of his removal based on his parents’ mutual and settled agreement to move him there; and (2) Father did not meet his burden to establish a presumption of wrongful removal. View "Mendez v. May" on Justia Law

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The Yaman children, ages 10 and 11, have lived with their mother since 2004, having lived with both parents before that. The mother and children have lived in the U.S. since 2010, but the habitual residence of the children was Turkey. The father was given custody of the children by the Turkish courts, but their American mother wrongfully removed the children in 2007 and hid them, preventing their father from locating them. The district court denied the father’s petition for return of his children to Turkey, pursuant to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, Oct. 25, 1980, 51 Fed. Reg. 10,494, concluding that the children were "now settled" in the U.S.; the court rejected claims of sexual abuse by the father. The First Circuit affirmed. The Convention does not allow a federal district court to toll equitably the one-year period that must elapse before a parent can assert the "now settled" defense and the evidence supports the conclusion that the children are "now settled." Their father did not seriously contest that holding. The court noted that its decision has no impact on the Turkish courts’ ruling concerning custody. View "Yaman v. Yaman" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs were United States citizens injured in a 1997 terrorist attack in Jerusalem that Hamas orchestrated. Plaintiffs sued the Islamic Republic of Iran, alleging that Iran had provided material support to Hamas and was therefore liable for the attack. Plaintiffs obtained a default judgment against Iran in 2003. Seeking to collect on that judgment, Plaintiffs moved to attach, by trustee process action in the District of Massachusetts, certain antiquities they claimed were the property of Iran but that were in the possession of Defendants, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) and Harvard University. The district court granted Defendants' motions to dissolve the attachments, concluding that Defendants could invoke the objects' immunity from attachment under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), and that although the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) provided a potential way around that immunity, Plaintiffs had failed to meet their burden of proving that the antiquities were attachable under that statute. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed but on narrower grounds, holding that TRIA in this case did not nullify the antiquities' immunity from execution under the FSIA. View "Rubin v. Harvard Univ." on Justia Law

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Defendant was an attorney who litigated a case against the nations believed to be behind a 1972 terrorist attack on Puerto Ricans at an Israeli airport. Defendant and the American Center for Civil Justice (the Center) originally had an agreement on how to handle the litigation. However, Defendant misrepresented to clients that the Center had paid him for his work and convinced clients to revoke the Center's attorney's power of attorney. Thereafter, the Center filed suit against Defendant. In the meantime, Plaintiffs, the heirs of two individuals killed in the terrorist attack who signed retainer agreements with Defendant, filed this action against Defendant, alleging that the retainer agreements were void because Defendant secured their consent by deceit. After a jury trial, judgment was entered against Defendant. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction; (2) the non-testifying heirs proved deceit without testifying about their reliance on Defendant's misrepresentations; and (3) the district court did not err in its instructions to the jury. View "Estate of Berganzo-Colon v. Ambush" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sought damages resulting from a delayed delivery of perishable food items from Puerto Limón, Costa Rica to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The district court dismissed as time-barred by the statute of limitations in the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, 46 U.S.C. 30701. The First Circuit affirmed,rejecting and argument that the parties meant to incorporate COGSA solely for the purpose of limiting the carrier's liability to $500, per COGSA's limitation of liability provision and equitable arguments. View "Greenpack of PR, Inc. v. Am. President Lines" on Justia Law

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The Belfast Project collected taped interviews of the recollections of members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, the Provisional Sinn Fein, the Ulster Volunteer Force, and other paramilitary and political organizations involved in the "Troubles" in Northern Ireland from 1969 forward. The Project had various confidentiality measures in place, but in 2011, the United States submitted an application to the district court ex parte and under seal pursuant to the US-UK Mutual Assistance Treaty and 18 U.S.C. 3512, seeking appointment of an Assistant U.S. Attorney to collect evidence and to take other action to effectuate a request from law enforcement authorities in the United Kingdom, concerning the 1972 murder and kidnapping of Jean McConville. The district court granted the government's application. The First Circuit affirmed, stating that there was no First Amendment basis for challenging the subpoenas. The fact that communications were made under a promise of confidentiality does not create a privilege. View "In Re: Request from the United Kingdom" on Justia Law

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Starski claims that he had a business relationship with a Vietnamese enterprise (Sovico) and sought to facilitate a $1.5 billion debt swap between the governments of Vietnam and the Russian Federation; that Starski joined with (defendant) Kirzhnev, said to have high level contacts in the Russian government; that Kirzhnev agreed to pay Starski a substantial commission; that $1 billion of the debt swap was completed and $100 million in commissions paid to some combination of Kirzhnev, Kirzhnev’s company, and Sovico; but that Kirzhnev paid Starski nothing. Starski’s suit, seeking at least $25 million in damages, included claims for conversion, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and fraud and unfair business practices in violation of Massachusetts' Chapter 93A. The jury held that no contract had been proved by Starski. The First Circuit affirmed, upholding the exclusion of evidence of Kirzhnev's convictions in Russian court for bribery and the bar on cross-examination of Kirzhnev about documents that were seized or destroyed during his arrest by Russian authorities for those same crimes. Starski did not adequately authenticate the convictions and offered nothing to support the fairness of the convictions or the Russian criminal justice system generally. View "Starski v. Kirzhnev" on Justia Law

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After being extradited from Columbia, petitioner was convicted in federal court for his part in a drug conspiracy. He twice sought relief under 28 U.S.C. 2255, without success. He then sought relief under 28 U.S.C. 2241 for alleged violations of the extradition treaty. The district court denied relief, deeming the petition an attempt to circumvent the limits on section 2255. The First Circuit affirmed. Relief under section 2255 does cover violations of treaties and petitioner cannot circumvent the limits on multiple section 2255 petitions by resorting to section 2241 to assert a treaty claim that could as easily have been advanced in his original section 2255 petition.

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Defendant was apprehended on a boat in the Caribbean by a Coast Guard counter-narcotics patrol and charged under the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act, 46 U.S.C. 70501-70508. The boat, carrying cocaine, did not display a flag or numbers. Columbian and Venezuelan authorities could not confirm its registration. A vessel without nationality is subject to U.S. jurisdiction under the Act. The district court denied a motion to dismiss based on the Confrontation Clause. Defendant argued that use of State Department certifications memorializing the inability of Columbia and Venezuela to confirm or refute the boat's master's claim of national registry, without an opportunity to cross-examine their author, constituted a violation of the Sixth Amendment. The First Circuit affirmed, noting that defendant did not claim that the boat was registered in another country or otherwise outside U.S. jurisdiction.