Worse than Berlusconi

Many countries separate the offices of head of government and head of state. In the UK, you have the Prime Minister and then you have the Queen. In Germany you have the Chancellor and then you have the President. Even in France, with a strong presidential system of government, you have a Prime Minister and a President. The head of state is the representative of the state on the world stage and in some sense the embodiment of the nation. He or she has important ceremonial duties in addition to whatever role he or she has in actual governance, which can range from no essentially no role in a state like Japan to the most important role in a state like France.

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Case of the Day: Hernández v. Mesa

The case of the day is Hernández v. Mesa (S. Ct. 2017). Hernández is one of the cases the Supreme Court decided on the last day of its just-concluded Term. Several of the decisions were highly interesting; none of them was a private international law case; but Hernandez is quite literally a cross-border case, so I bring it to your attention here.

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Case of the Day: Zamora v. JP Morgan Chase Bank

The case of the day is Zamora v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, NA (S.D.N.Y. 2017). Daniel Zamora sued Dilia Margarita Baez and Jairo Enrique Sanchez for defrauding investors. The two were residents of Colombia. Zamora effected service by having a Colombian lawyer affix the documents to the defendants’ homes, and by certified mail. It appears the certified mail was sent by the Colombian lawyer, not by the American lawyer let alone by the clerk. The case was before the court on a motion for default judgments.

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Case of the Day: Jam v. International Finance Corp.

The case of the day is Jam v. International Finance Corp. (D.C. Cir. 2017). Budha Ismail Jam and the other plaintiffs were fishermen and farmers who lived near Gujarat, India. Tata Power, an Indian utility company, built the Tata Mundra Power Plant nearby. The project was financed with a $450 million loan from the IFC, an international organization based in Washington. The claim was that the IFC had allowed the project to go forward even though the plant did not do everything it was supposed to do to limit social and environmental damage. The plaintiffs said that the power plant had devastated their way of life. They sued in Washington, and the IFC moved to dismiss on the grounds of immunity from suit under the International Organizations Immunities Act.

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Case of the Day: Copia Communications v. AMResorts

The case of the day is Copia Communications LLC v. AMResorts, LP (E.D. Pa. 2017). Copia had a contract with Seawind Key Investments Ltd., a Jamaican company, to provide internet service at two Seawind hotels, Secrets St. James Montego Bay and Secrets Wild Orchid Montego Bay. Copia sued Seawind after a dispute arose. Their contract provided: “service of any legal proceedings concerning or arising out of this Agreement shall be effected by causing the same to be delivered to the statutory agent or company secretary of the party to be served at its registered office …” Copia served process by delivering the summons and complaint to Seawind’s security coordinator and its assistant security manager. The court entered Seaward’s default, and Seaward moved to set the default aside on the grounds that it had not been properly served.

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Lago Agrio: Supreme Court Denies Donziger’s Petition For Cert.

Yesterday the Supreme Court denied the petition for a writ of certiorari filed by Steven Donziger and several Lago Agrio plaintiffs, seeking review of the Second Circuit decision affirming Judge Kaplan’s judgment in the Chevron RICO case. Barring any unexpected surprises, and barring any ancillary proceedings in aid of cases pending elsewhere, this brings the main Lago Agrio case to a close in the United States. Judge Kaplan’s injunction will remain in place.

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Case of the Day: Commonwealth v. Carter

USS Fitzgerald
Letters Blogatory mourns the loss of the seven sailors from the USS Fitzgerald

Today’s case of the day, Commonwealth v. Carter, is off-topic, but it was tried right here in Massachusetts, and I think you’ll find it interesting and maybe horrifying. This case will be taught in law schools for many years to come. Michelle Carter, a minor at the time of the crime, was indicted as a youthful offender for the manslaughter of her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III. The gist of the case was that Roy was a troubled young man who had previously tried to commit suicide. Carter, in a long series of text messages, encouraged him to kill himself, and in fact he got into a car with the intent to kill himself with carbon monoxide. Once the attempt was underway, he left the car, but in a phone call, Carter told him to get back into the car, which he did. He died of carbon monoxide poisoning; Carter never called for help or took steps to save him after having told him to get back into the car. At a trial in the Bristol County Juvenile Court that ended on Friday, the judge (Carter had waived her right to trial by jury) found Carter guilty.

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Case of the Day: Mesa Power Group v. Canada

The case of the day is Mesa Power Group, LLC v. Government of Canada (D.D.C. 2017). The underlying case was a NAFTA arbitration, which took place in Miami. I’ve previously covered some 1782 applications that arose out of it (here, here, and here). Here were the facts: Ontario launched a renewable energy program called the Feed-in Tariff Program. Mesa invested in renewable energy in Ontario with the hope of being awarded a contract under the program. But Ontario awarded the contract to another contractor, which was not participating in the program. Mesa believed Ontario had promised to award all renewable energy contracts through the program and thus that Ontario had not accorded it fair and equitable treatment as required under NAFTA.

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{Insert Name Here} Must Resign

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, testifying before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, did what Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and Director of the NSA Adm. Michael S. Rogers did when they testified a few days ago: he refused to answer the Committee’s questions about his discussions with President Trump, and he expressly refused to assert executive privilege. He claimed there was a Department of Justice policy that required him to protect the confidentiality of those discussions, but apparently it’s not written down, and if you take a look at the clip beginning at about 1:41:45 in this hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and watch for a minute, you’ll see what then-Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, in the minority, thought about asking the Attorney General about conversations with the President.

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OFAC Sanctions Honda

The law governing export controls is a niche area, and I have to say I know very little about it. I did, however, recently come across a post by Clif Burns of Bryan Cave that called to mind the Kuwait Airways case I’ve written about before. Burns’s post noted a recent sanction that the Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed on American Honda Finance Corp.

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