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The Fourth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendant, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, on Plaintiff’s claims asserting violations of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. 701 et seq., and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FLMA), 29 U.S.C. 2601, et seq., holding that summary judgment was proper as to the Rehabilitation Act and FMLA retaliation claims but was not warranted as to Plaintiff’s FMLA interference claim. Plaintiff, a former employee of Defendant, asserted that Defendant discriminated against her and violated the FMLA by not hiring her for a permanent position following her completion of a five-year term. After exhausting her administrative remedies, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendant on all counts. The Fourth Circuit held (1) the district court properly granted summary judgment as to Plaintiff’s Rehabilitation act and FMLA retaliation claims; but (2) summary judgment as to Plaintiff’s FMLA interference claim was precluded because a genuine issue of material fact remained as to whether Plaintiff provided notice of her disability and interest in FMLA leave sufficient to trigger Defendant’s duty to inquire. View "Hannah P. v. Coats" on Justia Law

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The 2011 Virgin Islands Economic Stability Act (VIESA) sought to reduce government spending by reducing payroll while continuing to provide necessary public services. VIESA offered some of the government’s most expensive employees (with at least 30 years of credited service) $10,000 to chose to retire within three months. Those declining to retire had to contribute an additional 3% of their salary to the Government Employees Retirement System starting at the end of those three months. Two members of the System with over 30 years of credited service who chose not to retire claimed that the 3% charge violated federal and territorial laws protecting workers over the age of 40 from discrimination based on their age. The Third Circuit found the provision valid because it did not target employees because of their age under the Supreme Court’s 1993 decision in Hazen Paper Co. v. Biggin; its focus on credited years of service entitles the government to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA)’s reasonable-factor-other-than-age defense. The Third Circuit concluded that the Virgin Islands Supreme Court would deem the provision consistent with existing territorial anti-discrimination statutes. View "Bryan v. Government of the Virgin Islands" on Justia Law

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In1998, police responded to a call at Hayslip’s apartment, where Hayslip’s boyfriend, Cain, was arguing with Thompson, Hayslip’s ex-boyfriend. They let Thompson leave. Three hours later, Thompson returned and shot Cain, killing him. Thompson shot Hayslip in the face, threw the gun into a creek, and went to Zernia's house. Hayslip died days later. Thompson later described the shootings to Zernia, then called his father, who took him to the police. In detention, Thompson talked with inmates Reid and Humphrey, about arranging for Zernia’s death using the Hayslip murder weapon Thompson drew a map of the weapon’s location, and asked Reid to pass the information to a contact. Reid relayed the information to the police. Divers were unable to locate the gun. Although Thompson’s right to counsel had attached, officers instructed Reid to tell Thompson his contact had been unable to find the weapon, and would visit for better directions. Posing as Reid’s outside contact, Investigator Johnson visited Thompson and recorded their conversation. Thompson offered Johnson $1,500 to retrieve the weapon and murder Zernia. The police then recovered the gun. Thompson later spoke with inmate Rhodes, to solicit the murder of witnesses. Thompson was convicted of capital murder; the court imposed the death penalty. After direct appeal and collateral review in Texas state court, he unsuccessfully sought federal habeas corpus relief. The Fifth Circuit grant a Certificate of Appealability on whether Thompson has established a Brady violation in the state’s nondisclosure of its past relationship with Rhodes and whether the introduction of Rhodes’s testimony constituted a “Massiah” violation, which requires determination of whether the informant was promised, reasonably led to believe, or actually received a benefit in exchange for soliciting information from the defendant and whether he acted pursuant to state instructions or otherwise submitted to the state’s control. View "Thompson v. Davis" on Justia Law

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Dispatchers received calls about a man on a rural street, shooting a pistol and yelling “everyone’s going to get theirs.” Dispatchers relayed descriptions of a black male wearing a brown shirt. Officers arrived and observed a suspect matching that description, who fired at them, then disappeared into the trees. The suspect re-appeared 100-500 yards away. The officers advanced but again lost sight of the suspect. They began ordering him to drop his weapon and come out. After a few minutes, the officers spotted a figure on a bicycle, wearing a blue jacket, not a brown shirt, over 100 yards away. All of the officers claim the rider was armed. The rider was Gabriel, not the suspect. His father, Henry, claims that Gabriel was “unarmed” and did not move his hands in any way that might have suggested that he was reaching for something. An officer yelled “put that down!” Officers fired 17 shots within seconds of spotting Gabriel. Hit, Gabriel fled. While Henry was attempting to help Gabriel in their yard, officers advanced. Henry stated that the only gun they had was a toy, which he tossed toward the officers. When the officers attempted to cuff Henry and Gabriel, both resisted. Officers tased them. EMS pronounced Gabriel dead at the scene. In the family's civil rights suit, the court granted the officers summary judgment on limitations and qualified immunity defenses. The Fifth Circuit affirmed that claims against two officers were time-barred but reversed in part. With respect to qualified immunity, the district court erred in excluding Henry’s affidavit. Genuine issues of material fact remain with respect to whether the use of deadly force was objectively reasonable. View "Winzer v. Kaufman County" on Justia Law

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The panel opinion, special concurrence, and dissent previously issued in this case were withdrawn, and the following opinions were substituted in their place. Plaintiff filed suit against his employer, BNSF, for disability discrimination and retaliation after he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and later placed on medical leave. The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to BNSF on plaintiff's disability discrimination claim because there was a fact issue as to whether BNSF discriminated against plaintiff. However, the court affirmed the district court's judgment on the retaliation claim and held that plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case of an unlawful retaliation. View "Nall v. BNSF Railway Co." on Justia Law

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Sherman was incarcerated at the Trumbull County Jail where Drennan was a corrections officer. Drennen regularly patrolled the pod where Sherman lived with Rafferty, another female inmate. Three or four times, Sherman complied with Drennen's demand that Sherman expose her breasts to him. Once or twice, Sherman masturbated in Drennen’s presence “because he asked for it.” Sherman does not allege that Drennen ever touched her. Drennen never explicitly threatened Sherman. Sherman was deeply disturbed by Drennen’s demands. As a result of Drennen’s abuse, Sherman’s post-traumatic stress disorder worsened and her night terrors and flashbacks increased in severity. Sherman never reported Drennen to the jail administration because she felt intimidated. Sherman and Rafferty sued Drennen and county officials, alleging Fourth Amendment and Eighth Amendment claims against Drennen and Monell claims against the officials. The district court granted the defendants summary judgment on every claim except Sherman’s Eighth Amendment claim against Drennen, finding that Drennen was not entitled to qualified immunity. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Sherman satisfied the subjective component of her Eighth Amendment claim; a jury could conclude that Drennen acted with deliberate indifference or acted maliciously and sadistically for the purpose of causing her harm. When Drennen allegedly sexually abused Sherman, it was clearly established that such abuse could violate the objective prong of the Eighth Amendment. View "Rafferty v. Trumbull Cty" on Justia Law

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This case involved Florida's practice of counting vote-by-mail ballots only after verifying that the voter's signature provided with the ballot matches the voter's signature in the state's records. At issue in this appeal was NRSC's motion for emergency stay. The court denied NRSC's motion and held that NRSC failed to satisfy the requirements for the issuance of a stay. The court applied the factors in Nken v. Holder, 556 U.S. 418, 434 (2009), and held that NRSC has not made a strong showing that it was likely to succeed on appeal. In this case, NRSC has not made a strong showing that the burden imposed on the right to vote is constitutional as judged by the Anderson-Burdick balancing test and NRSC has not made a strong showing that it was likely to succeed on the merits of its laches argument. The court also held that the remaining Nken factors similarly disfavored a stay. View "Democratic Executive Committee of Florida v. Lee" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the University in a Title IX action alleging that plaintiff was excluded from participation in and denied the benefits of the educational programs at the University as a result of its response to her sexual assault by another student. The court assumed, without deciding, that plaintiff's claim survived Iowa's statute of limitations and held that plaintiff's Title IX claim failed on the merits. The court held that there was no genuine dispute as to whether the University was deliberately indifferent after its investigative report concluded that plaintiff was sexually assaulted. In this case, the University was waiting to take action until the hearing process concluded and it had instituted a no-contact order between plaintiff and the other student. View "Maher v. Iowa State University" on Justia Law

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In this appeal to the Supreme Court after a remand to the district court for a hearing to determine whether Defendant was denied his Sixth Amendment right to counsel, the Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions for sex crimes, holding that Defendant received effective assistance of counsel and that cumulative errors did not require reversal. The Supreme Court remanded the case for a hearing under State v. Van Cleave, 716 P.2d 580 (1986), to determine whether Defendant was denied effective assistance of counsel either because his trial counsel was not constitutionally conflict-free or was not constitutionally competent. The district court found that Defendant was not prejudiced by defense counsel’s actions relating to a potential exculpatory witness. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant failed to establish that any conflict adversely affected his attorney’s performance; and (2) Defendant failed to meet his burden of establishing that his attorney’s performance with regard to the potential exculpatory witness was deficient. View "State v. Moyer" on Justia Law

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Jones observes Islamic dietary restrictions, which forbid the consumption of certain foods and require that others be prepared in accordance with Islamic law (halal). There is overlap in halal and Jewish kosher requirements. Some Muslims—including Jones—find kosher food acceptable. The Indiana Department of Correction (DOC) formerly provided kosher meal trays, with kosher meat, to inmates who requested them. The cost increased. DOC stopped offering the kosher trays and put those inmates on a vegan diet. Inmates seeking kosher food successfully sued the DOC under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. 2000cc. DOC built kosher kitchens at some facilities and moved as many kosher inmates into those facilities as possible. Inmates who could not be moved continued to receive kosher trays. Inmates (including Jones) in a facility with a kosher kitchen had to eat the food prepared there, which is vegetarian. While many Jewish and Muslim inmates find that diet acceptable, Jones does not. Jones's sect believes that the Qur’an commands him to eat meat regularly. DOC refused his request for kosher trays with meat. The Seventh Circuit held that Indiana’s refusal to provide Jones with meat substantially burdens his exercise of religion under RLUIPA, rejecting the DOC’s argument that he could purchase halal meat at the prison commissary. The state cannot demand that Jones, uniquely among inmates, empty his account and forgo purchasing hygiene products to avoid a diet that violates his religious beliefs. View "Jones v. Carter" on Justia Law