Thursday, May 11, 2006

U.S. v. Rutledge (9th Cir. - May 11, 2006)


The district court enters a preliminary injunction seizing the assets of a company that's controlled by Rutledge, who has just been indicted for (among other things) mail and wire fraud. Rutledge appeals, asserting that the seizure was unjustified. The case gets briefed, and oral argument is on June 15, 2005.

So far, so good. Lots of time passes, and eventually, on February 14, 2006, the panel issues its opinion, which reverses the seizure. Okay, fine. Here's the problem: Coincidentally, one week earlier, on February 6, 2006, Rutledge had pled guilty in the district court, and part of his plea agreement related to the seizure. But no one had (yet) told the panel, which was why they issued their opinion one week previously. Oops! So now the government -- which lost the appeal -- moves to dismiss the opinion as moot. Rutledge opposes the motion, in part because he'd like the appeal (which he won) to remain good law, and perhaps also a little bit out of spite, since he's probably pretty darn irate he didn't wait another week to finalize the plea, since he probably could have gotten a better deal had he done so.

"Damn it!" says the panel. "All that work for naught." It now vacates the opinion as moot in light of the guilty plea that had been entered one week earlier. And all that work to finish up the opinion goes down the toilet. Oh well. That's the way the cookie crumbles sometimes.