Justia Civil Rights Opinion Summaries

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The Seventh Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Plaintiff's request for a preliminary injunction to stop the University of Southern Indiana from imposing a three-semester suspension on the grounds that the university violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 by discriminating against him on the basis of his sex, holding that Plaintiff was not entitled to a preliminary injunction.The university's Title IX committee in this case found by a preponderance of the evidence that Plaintiff, a student of the university, had sexually assaulted another student and imposed a three-semester suspension. Plaintiff subsequently brought a complaint alleging discrimination. The district court denied Plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying relief because Plaintiff did not show a likelihood of success on the merits that would support a preliminary injunction. View "Doe v. University of Southern Indiana" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court concluding that the retroactivity rule from two Seventh Circuit opinions - United States v. Leach, 639 F.3d 769 (7th Cir. 2011), and Vasqez v. Foxx, 895 F.3d 515 (7th Cir. 2018) - controlled and that, therefore, a disputed ordinance applied prospectively, holding that the ordinance was retroactive.The ordinance at issue was passed by the Village of Hartland, Wisconsin and placed a moratorium against any new sex offenders residing there either temporarily or permanently. Plaintiff, a registered sex offender, brought this action against the Village, alleging that the ordinance violated the Ex Post Facto Clause of U.S. Const. art. I, 10. Under the Leach-Vasquez rule, a law is not retroactive and cannot violate the Ex Post Facto Clause if it applies "only to conduct occurring after its enactment." The district court only considered the retroactivity prong of the two-part analysis because, under Leach-Vasquez, the ordinance operated only prospectively. The Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded the case, holding (1) this Court overturns the Leach-Vasquez rule governing the retroactivity inquiry of the Ex Post Facto Clause, and instead, the critical question is whether the law attaches new legal consequences to events completed before its enactment; and (2) the subject ordinance applies retroactively. View "Koch v. Village of Hartland" on Justia Law

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Defendant believes that the statute criminalizing reentry into this country after removal violates his equal-protection rights. See 8 U.S.C. Section 1326(a), (b). He did not raise this issue before the district court. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling and denied the pending motion for judicial notice.   The court explained that even constitutional arguments can be forfeited. Forfeiture occurs when a party has an argument available but fails to assert it in time. The court wrote that failure to raise an equal-protection challenge before the district court is a classic example of forfeiture. During the six months before he pleaded guilty, Defendant filed more than a dozen motions raising all sorts of issues, but not one of them questioned the constitutionality of the illegal-reentry statute or mentioned equal protection. Had he done so, the district court would have had an opportunity to potentially correct or avoid the alleged] mistake in the first place.   The court explained that under these circumstances, Defendant’s constitutional argument receives, at most, plain-error review. Here, to succeed, Defendant’ had to show, among other things, that there was a clear or obvious error under current law. In this case, there is one district court case on his side, see Carillo-Lopez, 555 F. Supp. 3d at 1001, but at most it shows that the issue is subject to reasonable dispute. The court explained that picking one side of a reasonable dispute cannot be clearly or obviously wrong. View "United States v. Salvador Nunez-Hernandez" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirming the judgment of the circuit court convicting and sentencing Defendant but reversed with regard to the issue of Defendant's ability to pay a crime victim compensation (CVC) fee under Haw. Rev. Stat. 706-605(6) and 351-62.6, holding that Defendant's inability to pay the CVC fee mandated waiver of the fee.Defendant was convicted of various drug, theft, fraud, and property crimes. In addition to a five-year term of incarceration, the circuit court ordered Defendant to pay a CVC fee and a drug demand reduction (DDR) assessment under Haw. Rev. Stat. 706-650. Defendant appealed, arguing that both the CVC fee and the DDR assessment constituted unconstitutional taxes. The ICA affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA's judgment as to its imposition of the CVC and affirmed in all other respects, holding (1) the circuit court erroneously imposed the CVC fee upon Defendant because he was unable to pay the fee; and (2) the CVC fee and DDR assessment were not unconstitutional taxes. View "State v. Yamashita" on Justia Law

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S.S. was a student in the Cobb County School District. S.S.’s parents challenged the adequacy of the individualized educational plans. S.S.’s parents fought the school district for two years and eventually filed an administrative complaint requesting a due process hearing under the Act with the Georgia Office of State Administrative Hearings. In the administrative complaint, S.S. alleged that the school district failed to provide her with a free and appropriate public education under the Act. The school district moved for summary determination of the administrative complaint. S.S. challenged the administrative law judge’s decision in the Northern District of Georgia.The district court denied the school district’s motion for summary judgment and remanded to the administrative law judge for a due process hearing. The school district appealed the district court’s remand order.   The DC Circuit concluded that remand orders from district courts to administrative agencies for further proceedings under the Act are not final and appealable under section 1291. And because the district court’s remand order was not final and appealable, the court wrote it lacks appellate jurisdiction to review it. Accordingly, the court dismissed the school district’s appeal. View "S.S. v. Cobb County School District" on Justia Law

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The City of Phoenix’s Police Department concluded that a Sergeant with the Department violated a Department policy by posting content to his personal Facebook profile that denigrated Muslims and Islam. When the Department took steps to discipline the Sergeant, he sued, alleging that the Department was retaliating against him for exercising his First Amendment right to freedom of speech.The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s action. In analyzing the content, form and context of the Sergeant’s posts, the court concluded that the posts qualified as speech on matters of public concern. While it was true that each of the Sergeant’s posts expressed hostility toward, and sought to denigrate or mock, major religious faith and its adherents, the Supreme Court has made clear that the inappropriate or controversial character of a statement is irrelevant to the question of whether it deals with a matter of public concern.The court, therefore, reversed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ First Amendment retaliation claim and his related claim under the Arizona Constitution. The court held that the district court properly rejected Plaintiffs’ facial overbreadth challenge to certain provisions of the Department’s social media policy, except as to the clauses prohibiting social media activity that (1) would cause embarrassment to or discredit the Department, or (2) divulge any information gained while in the performance of official duties, as set forth in section 3.27.9B.(7) of the policy. The court affirmed the district court’s rejection of Plaintiffs’ facial vagueness challenge to the same provisions discussed above and their municipal liability claim. View "JUAN HERNANDEZ V. CITY OF PHOENIX" on Justia Law

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The Seventh Circuit dismissed this interlocutory appeal from a district court order denying qualified immunity to a law enforcement officer because of disputed facts, holding that because Defendant did not bring a purely legal argument that did not depend on disputed facts, this Court lacked jurisdiction.Plaintiff brought this action under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against the City of Logansport and Defendant, alleging violations of his Fourteenth Amendment rights stemming from certain incidents involving the alleged use of excessive force. Defendant sought summary judgment based on qualified immunity. The district court denied qualified immunity based on a factual dispute precluding the grant of qualified immunity on summary judgment. Defendant appealed. The Seventh District dismissed the appeal, holding that this Court lacked jurisdiction to hear this appeal. View "Stewardson v. Biggs" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of aggravated indecent liberties with a child, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on any of his claims of error.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the district court's exclusion of polygraph evidence did not violate Defendant's constitutional right to present a complete defense; (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion by allowing the State to amend the information; (3) although the admission of Defendant's videotaped confession to a previous offense may have been inflammatory, any error was harmless; and (4) cumulative error did not deny Defendant a fair trial. View "State v. White" on Justia Law

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The Seventh Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Appellant's petition for a writ of habeas corpus, holding that the Wisconsin Supreme Court's decision affirming Defendant's conviction did not reflect an unreasonable application of clearly established law.Defendant moved to suppress incriminating statements he made to a detective, arguing that his statement "I don't want to talk about this" expressed an unambiguous intention to cut off all further questioning and that the detective's continued questioning violated Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). The trial court denied the motion, after which Defendant pleaded guilty to armed robbery and first-degree reckless injury. The Wisconsin Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no abuse of Miranda. Thereafter, Appellant brought his habeas petition. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of the petition, holding that the Wisconsin Supreme Court's decision amounted to a reasonable application of the Supreme Court's Miranda line of cases. View "Smith v. Boughton" on Justia Law

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The Sixth Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Appellant's 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion for relief from his first-degree murder conviction, holding that there was no merit to any of Appellant's claims on appeal.In his section 2255 petition, Appellant claimed that he was deprived of the effective assistance of trial counsel (IAC). The Sixth Circuit granted a certificate of appealability on Appellant's IAC claim concerning an alleged conflict of interest, a Brady claim, an IAC claim regarding the investigation at the guilt stage, and a final IAC claim regarding the presentation of mitigation evidence at the penalty phase. The district court denied the petition. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, holding that Appellant was not entitled to relief on any of his claims of error. View "Gabrion, II v. United States" on Justia Law