Justia Civil Rights Opinion Summaries

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Plaintiffs sought to build housing on their properties in an area that under the the City of Half Moon Bay’s (City) Land Use Plan (LUP) was designated for public recreation and which severely restricted housing development. Plaintiffs took the position that California Senate Bill 330 (SB 330), enacted in 2019 to increase the stock of affordable housing in the state, required the City to approve their proposed development plan. After rejecting Plaintiffs’ proposal, the City informed plaintiffs that it intended to acquire their properties through eminent domain and made a purchase offer based on the properties’ appraised values. Plaintiffs rejected the offer and filed this action in district court claiming, among other things, that the City effected a regulatory taking in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments by rejecting their building proposal and enforcing LUP’s restrictions on their property.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s order granting the City’s motion to abstain pending resolution of an eminent domain action in state court. The panel held that as an initial matter, neither Knick nor Pakdel, which address when a claim accrues for purposes of judicial review, explicitly limit abstention in takings litigation. Abstention allows courts to stay claims that have already accrued. The panel held that the requirements for Pullman abstention were met in this case. First, the complaint touched a sensitive area of social policy, land use planning. Second, a ruling in the state eminent domain action would likely narrow the federal litigation. View "THOMAS GEARING, ET AL V. CITY OF HALF MOON BAY" on Justia Law

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In 2007, Jones was convicted of possessing a methamphetamine mixture with intent to distribute it. Because Jones had twice served time, in California and Nevada, for similar narcotics offenses the court sentenced Jones to 360 months in prison, 21 U.S.C. 841(b)(1)(A). In 2016, Jones filed an unsuccessful 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion to vacate his sentence. In 2021, Jones obtained dismissal of his prior California conviction and filed another section 2255 motion, arguing that dismissal of the California conviction triggered resentencing under the Supreme Court’s 2005 “Johnson” decision.Believing the motion second or successive, the district court transferred it to the Sixth Circuit. That court returned the case to the district court, concluding that the motion is neither second nor successive. When “the events giving rise” to a section 2255 claim have not yet occurred at the time of a prisoner’s first 2255 motion, a later motion predicated on those events is not “second or successive.” The events giving rise” to Jones’s Johnson claim occurred in 2021 when California dismissed and vacated Jones’s prior California conviction. View "In re: Ronald Jones" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed the order of the circuit court denying Appellant's motion for new trial based on allegations of juror misconduct, holding that the motion was clearly untimely, and therefore, the circuit court did not have authority to act on Appellant's motion when it entered orders in this action.In 2004, Appellant was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. In 2018, Appellant filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus and motion for new trial alleging juror misconduct. The trial judge dismissed the habeas petition without prejudice and denied the motion for new trial. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that Appellant's motion for new trial was untimely, and the circuit court lacked jurisdiction to consider the motion. View "Herron v. Ark. Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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LeRoy Wheeler appeals from orders dismissing without prejudice his 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights action against prison officials and denying his request for reconsideration. In February 2021, Wheeler commenced this § 1983 action against North Dakota State Penitentiary officials (“State”) by serving a summons and complaint upon the State. Wheeler did not file the summons and complaint with the district court at that time, and has never served a notice of filing the complaint upon the State. In March 2021, Wheeler moved for a “continuance” to extend his time to reply to the State’s “answer,” which was served on Wheeler, but was never filed with the court. In February 2022, eleven months after Wheeler moved for a “continuance” in this case, the district court filed a “notice of intent to dismiss,” stating the court’s intent to dismiss the case without prejudice on its own motion unless a party requested, within three weeks, that the case remain open. None of the parties responded, and the court dismissed the action without prejudice. Wheeler requested reconsideration, alleging that he did not receive notice of intent to dismiss. The court denied the request to reconsider. Because these orders were not appealable, the North Dakota Supreme Court dismissed the appeal. View "Wheeler v. Sayler, et al." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the trial court to deny Appellant's petition for postconviction relief, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, the court abused its discretion in denying Appellant's petition for postconviction relief.In 2016, Appellant was found guilty of aggravated murder, gross abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence. The trial court sentenced Appellant to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the aggravated murder. Appellant later filed a petition for postconviction relief arguing that her trial counsel provided ineffective assistance in failing to present evidence about neonaticide, as it is currently understood, as a mitigating factor. The trial court denied the petition, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court's decision denying Appellant's postconviction petition was unreasonable and arbitrary and not based on competent and credible evidence. View "State v. Weaver" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals upholding that decision of the trial court to deny Defendant's motion to suppress evidence discovered after a traffic stop, holding that there was no error.After executing the traffic stop at issue, a law enforcement officer ordered Defendant to step out of the car and opened the door for him to do so. Another officer later looked through the open door and spotted a marijuana cigarette on the floor. A subsequent search of the car led to the discovery of a pistol. Defendant pleaded no contest to firearm-related charges. On appeal, Defendant challenged the denial of his motion to suppress. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court also affirmed, holding (1) the officers did not violate the Fourth Amendment by ordering Defendant to exit the car; (2) opening the door was not a search; (3) the second officer did not conduct a search; and (4) under the automobile exception to the warrant requirement, the discovery of the marijuana cigarette in plain view allowed the officers to search the car. View "State v. Jackson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of felony murder, with robbery in the third degree as the predicate felony and carrying a pistol or revolver without a permit, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on his allegations of error.On appeal, Defendant argued, among other things, that the prosecutor committed improprieties during closing argument by arguing facts that were not in evidence and by making inferences that were unsupported by the evidence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was sufficient evidence to support the conviction of felony murder with the predicate felony of third-degree robbery; and (2) the prosecutor did not engage in improprieties during closing argument that deprived Defendant of his due process right to a fair trial. View "State v. Brown" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court granting the petition filed by the Wyoming Department of Family Services (DFS) to terminate Father's parental rights, holding that Father was not entitled to relief on his claims of error on appeal.On appeal, Father argued that he received ineffective assistance of counsel during the termination proceedings and that the district court erred in denying his motion to set aside the entry of default. The Supreme Court disagreed and affirmed, holding (1) because Wyo. Stat. 14-2-318(a) does not create a mandatory right to counsel, it does not create a statutory right to effective assistance of counsel in termination of parental rights cases; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Father's motions to set aside the entry of default. View "Roberts v. State, Dep't of Family Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) denying Applicant's application for a concealed firearm permit renewal, holding that DCI's denial of Applicant's concealed firearm permit application was not arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise not in accordance with the law.In denying Applicant's concealed firearm permit renewal application, DCI relied on recommendations and information from the Albany County Sheriff and City of Laramie Chief of Police, stating that it made its decision after "reach[ing] out to local law enforcement." The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Applicant had a meaningful opportunity to rebut the evidence against him; and (2) DCI's decision was not arbitrary or capricious or otherwise not in accordance with the law. View "Lemus-Frausto v. State, ex rel. Division of Criminal Investigation" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of, among other charges, seventeen counts of sexual exploitation of a minor under the age of twelve, holding that a search of Defendant's smartphone did not violate Defendant's rights under the Fourth Amendment.On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court abused its discretion when it declined to reach its argument that the warrant supporting the search of his cellphone was overbroad and violated the particularity requirement of the Fourth Amendment. The Supreme Judicial Court disagreed and affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err by denying Defendant's motion to suppress; and (2) Defendant's remaining arguments on appeal were without merit. View "Maine v. Jandreaud" on Justia Law