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The Fifth Circuit granted respondent's petition for rehearing en banc and withdrew the prior opinion, substituting the following opinion. The court affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's 28 U.S.C. 2254 application. The court held that, under Gonzalez v. Crosby, petitioner's purported Rule 59(e) motion was not an unauthorized successive section 2254 application and, if timely filed, would toll the deadline for filing a notice of appeal until the entry of the order disposing of the motion. In this case, petitioner's Rule 59(e) motion, which was delivered by petitioner's "next friend," was timely filed and tolled the deadline for filing a notice of appeal. Finally, the court held that petitioner was not entitled to section 2254 relief because the circumstances in this case did not rise to the level of the extreme situations wherein courts have previously imputed juror bias. View "Uranga v. Davis" on Justia Law

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1997 Wisconsin Act 292, designed to address the effects of prenatal substance abuse, brings unborn children and their mothers within the jurisdiction of the juvenile courts if the mothers exhibit a habitual lack of self‐control with respect to alcohol or drugs that raises a substantial health risk for their unborn children. Loertscher sought treatment at a county health facility. Her caregivers determined that she was pregnant and that she had tested positive for methamphetamine, amphetamines, and tetrahydrocannabinol. The court ordered Loertscher to report to an alcohol and drug abuse treatment center for assessment and possible treatment. When she failed to comply, the court found her in contempt and placed her in county detention. She eventually agreed to participate in the program. Loertscher filed suit, 42 U.S.C. 1983 challenging the constitutionality of Act 292, then moved out of Wisconsin. The district court denied a motion to dismiss, concluded that Act 292 was void for vagueness and granted injunctive relief against the state defendants but determined that the county defendants were not personally liable. The Seventh Circuit vacated. Loertscher’s case is moot. She has moved out of Wisconsin and has no plans to return. It is not reasonably likely that she will again be subject to the Act. View "Loertscher v. Anderson" on Justia Law

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The district court refused to enjoin the School District from allowing transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that are consistent with the students’ gender identities rather than the sex they were determined to have at birth. The District required students claiming to be transgender to meet with licensed counselors. There are several multi-user bathrooms; each has individual stalls. Several single-user restrooms are available to all. "Cisgender" students claimed the policy violated their constitutional rights of bodily privacy; Title IX, 20 U.S.C. 1681; and tort law. The Third Circuit affirmed. Under the circumstances, the presence of transgender students in the locker and restrooms is no more offensive to privacy interests than the presence of the other students who are not transgender. The constitutional right to privacy must be weighed against important competing governmental interests; transgender students face extraordinary social, psychological, and medical risks. The District had a compelling interest in shielding them from discrimination. Nothing suggests that cisgender students who voluntarily elect to use single-user facilities face the same extraordinary consequences as transgender students would if they were forced to use them. The cisgender students were claiming a broad right of personal privacy in a space that is just not that private. The mere presence of a transgender individual in a bathroom or locker room would not be highly offensive to a reasonable person. View "Doe v. Boyertown Area School District" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the entry of a jury verdict awarding over $1.3 in compensatory damages and $1.3 million in punitive damages to Plaintiff, a black female former employee of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), who claimed that her supervisors at the MBTA conspired to terminate her employment because of her race. The Court held (1) the evidence was sufficient to support the compensatory damages award for wrongful termination and to justify the punitive damages amount; (2) the trial judge committed clear error in imposing a sanction for removing the entry of default, but the MBTA failed to show that it was prejudiced by the default sanction order; (3) MBTA failed to show that it was prejudiced when the trial judge allowed a hostile work environment theory not explicitly pled in the complaint to go to the jury; and (4) MBTA waived its claim that it should be able to take advantage of Buntin v. City of Boston, 857 F.3d 69 (1st Cir. 2017), decided while this case was on appeal. View "Dimanche v. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action against defendants, alleging excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants, holding that, although the district court erred in determining a law enforcement officer did not violate plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights, the officer was entitled to qualified immunity because the constitutional violation was not clearly established when the incident occurred. In this case, plaintiff was shot by the officer because he was suspected of breaking and entering and battery, and the officer was aware of these crimes before interacting with plaintiff; plaintiff was standing about 20 feet from the officer holding a knife, inflicting harm on himself and stumbling, but not threatening others or making sudden movements; and plaintiff was refusing to obey the officer's repeated commands to drop the knife at the time he was shot. The court also affirmed the court's judgment on the common law intentional infliction of emotional distress claim against the officer and on the respondeat superior claim asserted against the County. View "Wilson v. Prince George's County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions for murder in the first degree on the theory of extreme atrocity or cruelty and other crimes, holding that, although certain of the prosecutor’s questions and comments concerning Defendant’s prearrest silence were improper, these errors did not create a substantial likelihood of a miscarriage of justice. The Court further held (1) there was ample evidence to support the prosecutor’s statement during closing argument that Defendant struck the victim repeatedly with a hammer; and (2) there was no error in the judge’s instructions on the lesser included offenses to murder in the first degree. View "Commonwealth v. Gardner" on Justia Law

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In this habeas case, the Supreme Court held that Juror No. 045882, who, during Petitioner’s criminal proceedings, intentionally concealed that he had previously been convicted of public fighting and was then on probation, was not actually biased against Petitioner and that no prejudicial misconduct occurred. Petitioner was convicted of two counts of first degree murder and was sentenced to death. While his appeal was pending, Petitioner filed this habeas petition, alleging that Juror No. 045882 committed misconduct. This Court issued an order instructing the Secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to show cause why the Court should not grant Petitioner relief based on juror misconduct. A referee appointed by the Court concluded that the juror at issue was not actually biased. The Supreme Judicial Court agreed and discharged the order to show cause, holding that there was no substantial likelihood that the juror harbored actual bias against Petitioner. View "In re Cowan" on Justia Law

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Mothers and children fled violence perpetrated by gangs in Honduras and El Salvador and were apprehended near the U.S. border. They were moved to a Pennsylvania detention center. Immigration officers determined that they were inadmissible. They were ordered expeditiously removed, 8 U.S.C. 1225(b)(1), and unsuccessfully requested asylum. They sought habeas relief, claiming that Asylum Officers and IJs violated their constitutional and statutory rights in conducting the “credible fear” interviews. The Third Circuit initially affirmed the dismissal of the claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The court held that, while the Suspension Clause of the Constitution would allow an aggrieved party with sufficient ties to the U.S. to challenge that lack of jurisdiction, the petitioners’ relationship to the U.S. amounted only to presence for a few hours before their apprehension. The children were subsequently accorded Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) status—a classification intended to safeguard abused, abandoned, or neglected alien children who are able to meet rigorous eligibility requirements. The Third Circuit then reversed the dismissal, noting that protections afforded to SIJ children include eligibility for application of adjustment of status to that of lawful permanent residents, exemption from various grounds of inadmissibility, and procedural protections to ensure their status is not revoked without good cause. The jurisdiction-stripping provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act is an unconstitutional suspension of the writ of habeas corpus as applied to SIJ designees seeking judicial review of expedited removal orders. View "Osorio-Martinez v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law

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After Lozman towed his floating home into a marina owned by the City, he became an outspoken critic of the City’s plan to condemn waterfront homes for private development. He filed suit, alleging that the City’s approval of a development agreement violated Florida’s open-meetings laws. The Council held a closed-door session and discussed Lozman’s lawsuit. He alleges that the meeting’s transcript shows that councilmembers devised an official plan to intimidate him. Months later, the Council held a public meeting. Lozman spoke about the arrests of officials from other jurisdictions. When he refused a councilmember’s request to stop making his remarks, a police officer was told to “carry him out.” The officer handcuffed Lozman and ushered him out, allegedly for violating the Council’s rules of procedure by discussing issues unrelated to the City and refusing to leave the podium. The State’s attorney determined that there was probable cause for his arrest, but dismissed the charges. Lozman filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The district court instructed the jury that, for Lozman to prevail on his retaliatory arrest claim, he had to prove that the officer was motivated by impermissible animus against Lozman’s protected speech and lacked probable cause to make the arrest. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed a judgment for the City. The Supreme Court vacated. The existence of probable cause does not bar Lozman’s First Amendment retaliation claim because his case, is “far afield from the typical retaliatory arrest claim.” Lozman must prove the existence and enforcement of an official policy motivated by retaliation which is unlike an on-the-spot decision by an individual officer. The Court noted that Lozman alleges that the City deprived him of the right to petition, “one of the most precious of the liberties safeguarded by the Bill of Rights." View "Lozman v. Riviera Beach" on Justia Law

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Republican voters alleged that Maryland’s Sixth Congressional District was gerrymandered in 2011 in retaliation for their political views. Six years after the General Assembly redrew the District, plaintiffs sought to enjoin election officials from holding congressional elections under the 2011 map. The district court denied the motion and stayed further proceedings pending the Supreme Court’s disposition of partisan gerrymandering claims in Gill v. Whitford. The Supreme Court affirmed. In granting a preliminary injunction a court must consider whether the movant has shown “that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and that an injunction is in the public interest.” Plaintiffs made no such showing. They did not move for a preliminary injunction until six years, and three general elections, after the 2011 map was adopted, and three years after their first complaint was filed. The delay largely arose from a circumstance within plaintiffs’ control. In considering the balance of equities, that unnecessary, years-long delay weighed against their request. The public interest in orderly elections also supported the decision. Plaintiffs represented to the court that any injunctive relief would have to be granted by August 18, 2017, to ensure the timely completion of a new districting scheme in advance of the 2018 election season. Despite the court’s undisputedly diligent efforts, that date had passed by the time the court ruled. There was also legal uncertainty surrounding any potential remedy for the asserted injury; the court reasonably could have concluded that a preliminary injunction would have been against the public interest and might have had a needlessly disruptive effect on the electoral process. View "Besinek v. Lamone" on Justia Law