Justia Civil Rights Opinion Summaries

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On February 13, 2009, Defendant was charged with motor vehicle offenses. On May 21, 2009, the justice court issued a warrant for Defendant’s arrest for failing to appear. On April 13, 2012, Defendant was arrested on the warrant. Defendant pled not guilty, and trial was set for August 23, 2012. Defendant moved to dismiss the charges against him for lack of a speedy trial. The justice court concluded that while there was a lengthy delay of 1288 days between the initial charges and the trial date, Defendant’s constitutional right to a speedy trial had not been violated. Defendant then pled guilty to driving with a suspended license. The district court upheld the justice court’s determination that Defendant was not denied his right to a speedy trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under the facts of this case, Defendant was not denied his right to a speedy trial. View "State v. Eystad" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, T.M.'s mother, filed suit against the County and others after T.M., a middle school student, was arrested for a fight on school property, taken to a juvenile detention center, and subjected to a strip and cavity search. Plaintiff alleged, inter alia, that the strip and cavity search violated T.M.'s Fourth Amendment rights. The district court granted partial summary judgment for the County on the Fourth Amendment claim. The court applied the deferential test in Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders because the deference given to correctional officials in the adult context applies to correctional officials in the juvenile context as well. Applying Florence, the court concluded that plaintiff failed to make a substantial showing that the Center's search policy is an exaggerated or otherwise irrational response to the problem of Center security. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Mabry v. Lee County" on Justia Law

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Glisson was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer. His larynx, part of his pharynx, portions of his mandible and 13 teeth were removed. He was fitted with a voice prosthesis, and received postoperative radiation treatment. Later, doctors inserted a gastrojejunostomy tube to help with nutrition and a cancerous lesion on his tongue was excised. Glisson also suffered memory issues, hypothyroidism, depression, smoking, and alcohol abuse. Glisson was sentenced to incarceration for giving a friend prescription painkillers. Prison medical personnel noted spikes in Glisson’s blood pressure, low pulse, low oxygen saturation level, confusion, and anger. His condition worsened, indicating acute renal failure. After a short hospital stay, Glisson died in prison. The district court rejected his mother’s suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 on summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit initially affirmed, rejecting a claim that failure to implement an Indiana Department of Corrections Health Care Service Directive, requiring a plan for management of chronic diseases, violated the Eighth Amendment. On rehearing, en banc, the court reversed. The Department’s healthcare contractor, Corizon, was not constitutionally required to adopt the Directives or any particular document, but was required to ensure that a well-recognized risk for a defined class of prisoners not be deliberately left to happenstance. Corizon had notice of the problems posed by lack of coordination, but did nothing to address that risk. Glisson was managing his difficult medical situation successfully until he fell into the hands of the Indiana prison system and Corizon. View "Glisson v. Indiana Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit seeking damages under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, alleging that IRS employees barred him from representing taxpayers before the Service without due process in violation of the Fifth Amendment. The district court dismissed the case because the Internal Revenue Code's remedial scheme for tax practicitioners foreclosed a Bivens action. The court did not reach the issue and ruled on the alternative ground that plaintiff failed to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) because his complaint contains no allegation that defendants deprived him of a constitutionally protected interest. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Bowman v. Iddon" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs are the Powhatan County Republican Committee and four individuals nominated by the Committee to be candidates for election to the Board of Supervisors for Powhatan County, Virginia. Plaintiffs filed suit against the Board of Elections, challenging the constitutionality of the portion of Virginia Code 24.2-613(B) that provides that only candidates in elections "for federal, statewide, and General Assembly offices" may be identified on the ballot by the name of the political party that nominated them or by the term "Independent." The district court granted judgment in favor of the Board. The court concluded that the burden on associational rights imposed by Virginia's regulation of the use of party identifiers on official ballots is at most minimal and is amply justified by Virginia's important interests, which include minimizing partisanship at the local government level, promoting impartial governance, and maximizing the number of citizens eligible to hold local office under the Hatch Act, 5 U.S.C. 7321-7326; concluded that section 24.2-613(B)'s different treatment of local candidates and federal, statewide, and General Assembly candidates with respect to party identifiers on the ballot does not violate the Equal Protection Clause because such treatment is rationally related to legitimate governmental interests; and thus affirmed the judgment. View "Marcellus v. Virginia State Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit challenging the constitutionality of Maryland's Firearm Safety Act (FSA), Md. Code, Crim. Law 4-303(a). The district court awarded judgment to defendants, concluding that the FSA is constitutional. A divided three-judge panel of this court then remanded, directing that the district court apply the more restrictive standard of strict scrutiny to the FSA. The panel's decision was vacated in its entirety by the court's grant of rehearing en banc in this case. The court concluded that the banned assault weapons and large-capacity magazines are not protected by the Second Amendment. The court reasoned that it had no power to extend Second Amendment protection to the weapons of war that the District of Columbia v. Heller decision explicitly excluded from such coverage. Nevertheless, the court also found it prudent to rule that — even if the banned assault weapons and large-capacity magazines are somehow entitled to Second Amendment protection — the district court properly subjected the FSA to intermediate scrutiny and correctly upheld it as constitutional under that standard of review. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Kolbe v. Hogan, Jr." on Justia Law

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Ramon Mendoza, a naturalized United States citizen, challenged the district court's grant of summary judgment for ICE agent Justin Osterberg, the County, the County employees, and Sheriff Davis on numerous claims based on an improper immigration detainer that was issued and later withdrawn. The detainer was withdrawn once Osterberg confirmed that Mendoza was not in fact Ramon Mendoza-Gutierrez, an aggravated felon. The court concluded that Osterberg had arguable probable cause to issue the ICE detainer and was entitled to qualified immunity on plaintiff's Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics claim; the sheriff was entitled to qualified immunity because he had no direct participation in the alleged violations; there was no violation of Mendoza's constitutional rights and the County employees are entitled to qualified immunity; the district court properly granted summary judgment for Sheriff Davis and the County on plaintiff's claims of supervisory and municipal liability under 42 U.S.C. 1983 where employees received instructive memorandum and on-the-job training; the actions in this case cannot reasonably be attributed to a defective governmental policy or custom; even if there were no policies or training on how to handle ICE detainers, there was no constitutional violation; there was no Fifth Amendment due process violation; and there was no evidence of defendants' conspiracy in violation of section 1984(3). Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Mendoza v. Davis" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, 20 state pretrial detainees, filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that the City and the supervisory officers of a pre-arraignment holding facility were deliberately indifferent to allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement at the holding facility. The district court granted summary judgment for defendants, denied plaintiffs' motion to reconsider; and denied a subsequent motion to reconsider the denial of the motion for reconsideration. The court affirmed the district court's judgment as to claims plaintiffs concede were properly dismissed. However, the court concluded that the district court misapplied this court's precedents in assessing whether plaintiffs had established an objectively serious deprivation. In Willey v. Kirkpatrick, the court recently reiterated that the proper lens through which to analyze allegedly unconstitutional unsanitary conditions of confinement is with reference to their severity and duration, not the detainee's resulting injury. Furthermore, the Supreme Court's decision in Kingsley v. Hendrickson dictates that deliberate indifference be measured objectively in due process cases. In this case, the district court did not analyze the implications of Kingsley in its opinion. Therefore, the court vacated in part and remanded for further proceedings. View "Darnell v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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Here the Supreme Court considered two petitions for writs of prohibition filed in Evans v. State and Rosario v. State. In Evans, the trial court determined that it would death qualify the jury in Evans’ first-degree murder trial and instruct the jury that Evans could receive a death sentence if the jury unanimously made the requisite findings of fact and unanimously recommended a death sentence. In Rosario, the trial court determined that the State was prohibited from seeking the death penalty in a pending prosecution and ordered that the case proceed with a mandatory life maximum penalty. The Fifth District Court of Appeal granted the State’s petition for a writ of prohibition. The Supreme Court denied Evans’ and Rosario’s petitions for writs of prohibition, holding that the trial courts in both cases may proceed with death qualifying juries, as, pursuant to the Court’s holdings in Hurst v. State and Perry v. State, the revised statutory scheme in chapter 2016-13, Laws of Florida, can be applied to pending prosecutions for a jury recommendation of death if twelve jurors unanimously determine that a defendant should be sentenced to death. View "Evans v. State" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff brought an as-applied Second Amendment challenge to Maryland's firearms regulatory scheme, arguing that the scheme is unconstitutional as applied to him. Plaintiff is a convicted felon in Virginia who has had his civil rights restored by the Governor of Virginia and his firearms rights restored by the Virginia courts. Currently a resident of Maryland, plaintiff wants to obtain a permit for a handgun and possess a long gun, both of which he is unable to do in Maryland absent a full pardon from the Governor of Virginia. The district court dismissed his complaint for failure to state a claim. The court held that a state law felon cannot pass the first step of the United States v. Chester inquiry when bringing an as-applied challenge to a law disarming felons, unless that person has received a pardon or the law forming the basis of conviction has been declared unconstitutional or otherwise unlawful. The court further held that evidence of rehabilitation, the likelihood of recidivism, and the passage of time may not be considered at the first step of the Chester inquiry as a result. Therefore, the court concluded that plaintiff failed at step one of the Chester analysis. The court affirmed the judgment. View "Hamilton v. Pallozzi" on Justia Law