Emory Report
April 27, 2009
Volume 61, Number 29


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April 27
, 2009
Law professor wins U.S. Supreme Court case 6–3

By Wendy Cromwell

Emory law professor David J. Bederman was the winning attorney in the U.S. Supreme Court case, Ministry of Defense and Support for the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran v. Elahi, by a 6-3 decision April 21.

The court overturned a decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Dariush Elahi, who sought $2.8 million as compensation for the killing of his brother in Paris in 1990.

“Speaking personally, I’m gratified with the decision and very appreciative of the assistance of everyone in the Emory Law community during the case,” Bederman says. “That includes faculty, colleagues and my student team.”

Bederman, the K.H. Gyr Professor in Private International Law, represented the Iranian Ministry of Defense. His student team included second-year student Lauren Crisman, and third-year students Michael Eber, Jennifer Fairbairn, Brian Spielman and Robert Carroll ’04C, all of whom helped in preparing briefs and with oral arguments.

Bederman’s Emory colleagues, law professors William W. Buzbee, Charles A. Shanor, and Robert Schapiro; and Thomas C. Arthur, L.Q.C. Lamar Professor of Law, helped strengthen his oral arguments with a moot court in January.

Elahi sought to collect by attaching a judgment obtained by the Iranian Ministry of Defense against California-based Cubic Defense Systems. Iran won the $2.8 million after the California defense contractor did not deliver an arms system after the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

The court held that Elahi’s acceptance of a payment of $2.3 million from the U.S. government waived his right to claim the Cubic Judgment under the conditions of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 and the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002.

“Rather, we determine that Elahi cannot attach the Cubic Judgment regardless, for the Judgment is at issue in a claim against the United States before the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal,” wrote Justice Stephen G. Breyer for the majority. “The judgment consequently falls within the terms of Elahi’s waiver.”