The law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, in collaboration with the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, submitted a petition for a writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court on behalf of Remingtyn Williams, Lauren Chustz, and Bilal Ali-Bey—putative class action plaintiffs whose protest after George Floyd’s murder was dispersed by law enforcement officers with excessive force.  

The petition seeks the Supreme Court’s review of a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which held that the plaintiffs lacked standing to assert their claims against one of the defendants in the case, Superintendent Lamar Davis of the Louisiana State Police, and that the defendant was immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment.  In reaching the standing question, the Fifth Circuit purported to exercise pendent appellate jurisdiction, finding that it could do so because the standing issue merely “significantly overlap[ped]” with issues of state sovereign immunity.  The petition argues that the Fifth Circuit failed to apply the proper test for pendent appellate jurisdiction, which only permits an appellate court to review on an interlocutory basis otherwise unreviewable issues if they are “essential to the resolution of properly appealed collateral orders,” such as a denial of state sovereign immunity.  The petition further argues that Supreme Court review is necessary because of broad disarray in the appellate courts regarding the appropriate exercise of pendent appellate jurisdiction, and that the Fifth Circuit’s “significantly overlaps” standard contravenes both the statutory constraints to appellate jurisdiction implemented by Congress and the Supreme Court’s prior decision in Swint v. Chambers County Commission, to the detriment of litigants and the judicial system.  

The petition was submitted to the Supreme Court on April 6, 2023.  Jared Gerber, a partner at Cleary Gottlieb, is counsel of record for the petitioners, with associates Charity E. Lee, Miranda Herzog, and Tom Mintz, law clerk Travis Arbon, and paralegal Ari Papahronis contributing to the submission.

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