CSX Transportation, Inc. V. Hensley (08-1034), Bobby v. Bies (08-598), Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co., Inc. (08-22) and United States ex rel Eisenstein v. New York (08-660)
Greetings, Court fans!
Next up, in United States ex rel Eisenstein, the Court unanimously concluded that the time limit for filing an appeal in a False Claims Act ("FCA") case in which the government has not intervened is 30 days. The Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure provide a 30-day time limit for filing a notice of appeal (FRAP 4(a)(1)(A)), but extend the deadline to 60 days when the United States is a party (FRAP 4(a)(1)(B)). The FCA creates civil liability where a person knowingly presents a false claim for payment to the government. A private individual, known as a "relator," may institute a qui tam action under the FCA, but the government is the "real party in interest" and will share in any recovery obtained. The government may elect to intervene in and take over the action. If it does not, it may still elect to receive pleadings and discovery. In this case, the government did not intervene, the relator's action was eventually dismissed, and the relator waited 54 days to appeal. The Second Circuit dismissed the appeal as untimely. Justice Thomas led the Court, which affirmed. While the government may be the "real party in interest" in a FCA case, it is not a "party" unless and until it intervenes. Otherwise, the intervention provision would make no sense, because the government would not need to intervene in a suit in which it is already a party. End of story.
Bies presented his Atkins-Lott claim to the state court and moved for summary judgment, arguing that the record from his trial established his mental retardation, and that the State was "precluded and estopped" from disputing it. Because the state court found that Atkins and Lott had materially changed the significance of a mental retardation finding and because "there [wa]s a serious issue as to Mr. Bies' mental status," it concluded that the state should have an opportunity to prove, in a full hearing, that Bies was not retarded and thus eligible to be executed. Bies then filed a habeas corpus petition in the District Court arguing that the Fifth Amendment's Double Jeopardy Clause barred the state from relitigating the issue of his mental condition. The District Court granted the habeas petition and ordered Bies' death sentence vacated. The Sixth Circuit affirmed.