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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision upholding the determination of the Massachusetts Bureau of Special Education Appeals (BSEA) ruling against all of Plaintiff’s claims seeking placement for her minor child in a school outside of the Boston Public Schools (BPS) system, holding that there was no basis in which to reverse the district court’s decision. Plaintiff, on behalf of her minor child, initiated this proceeding pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq. A hearing officer denied relief. The district court affirmed the BSEA’s decision. On appeal, Plaintiff raised a number of claimed errors during the hearing. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court applied the proper standard in evaluating the minor child’s education progress; and (2) Plaintiff’s challenges to the conduct of the hearing itself did not warrant reversal of the district court’s decision. View "Johnson v. Boston Public Schools" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner’s application seeking permission to file a successive motion under 28 U.S.C. 2255 to vacate her conviction and sentence for possessing a destructive device during and in relation to and in furtherance of a crime of violence, holding that Petitioner’s application did not meet the requirements for certification of a successive section 2255 motion. Petitioner sought to file this successive motion in 2016 following the Supreme Court’s decision in Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015). Petitioner then supplemented her motion after Sessions v. Dimaya, 138 S. Ct. 1204 (2018), was decided. Petitioner hoped to argue in the district court that the rule announced in Johnson and reiterated in Dimaya rendered the definition of “crime of violence” under which she was convicted unconstitutionally void for vagueness. The First Circuit denied the application, holding that Johnson’s rule, reaffirmed in Dimaya, did not extend to Petitioner’s conviction under 924(c)’s residual clause. View "Brown v. United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against her former employer, Pearson, alleging claims of Title VII sex discrimination and other claims, after she allegedly did not get the same chance to resign with severance pay that three male employees received. Plaintiff also claimed that Pearson lost a key email exchange. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court's overruling of plaintiff's objection about the emails and the district court's cure -- barring plaintiff from disputing her description of the emails but declining to grant further sanctions -- was sufficient. The court also affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on the severance-pay discrimination claim where the three proposed comparators were not similarly situated to plaintiff. The court held that there was no evidence of pretext and the misstatement of the standard of review was harmless because the court's review was de novo. View "Barbera v. Pearson Education, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, an Illinois state prisoner, filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that prison officials conspired to and did violate his First and Eighth Amendment rights while he was incarcerated at the Menard Correctional Center. The Seventh Circuit affirmed in part the district court's grant of defendants' motion for summary judgment, holding that no reasonable jury could conclude that plaintiff's grievances and complaints about the conditions of his confinement were a motivating factor in—or even factored into—Defendant Harrington's approval of placing him in segregation after a May 2012 incident. The court also held that no reasonable jury could find that Defendants Harrington or Page acted with deliberate indifference towards plaintiff or otherwise disregarded or failed to act on knowledge of a substantial risk to plaintiff's health and safety. Finally, plaintiff failed to identify any evidence, circumstantial or otherwise, of an agreement to deprive him of his constitutional rights. View "Daugherty v. Harrington" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for DCDC in an action alleging claims of gender, age, and disability discrimination under state and federal civil rights laws. Plaintiff, a 56 year old woman, worked as a correctional officer until she was injured in inmate altercations. After plaintiff worked the maximum allowable number of days of light duty pursuant to the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), she was terminated when no other suitable position was found. The court held that plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case of sex discrimination; plaintiff's prima facie evidence of bad faith supporting her claim of failure to accommodate/disability was rebutted by the incontrovertible evidence that plaintiff could not have been reasonably accommodated; and plaintiff's age discrimination claim failed because she did not produce evidence of a similarly situated younger person who was treated differently. View "Faulkner v. Douglas County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court overruling Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence obtained from a traffic stop, holding that this was an investigatory traffic stop supported by reasonable suspicion. Defendant moved to suppress the evidence obtained from the search of his car, arguing that the law enforcement officer did not have probable cause or reasonable suspicion to initiate the traffic stop. The district court found that the traffic stop was supported by probable cause and overruled the motion to suppress. The Supreme Court affirmed, although its reasoning differed from that of the district court, holding that the investigatory stop of Defendant’s car was supported by reasonable suspicion and was therefore constitutional. View "State v. Barbeau" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of operating while intoxicated (OWI), holding that the stop of the van in which Defendant was a passenger violated Iowa Const. art. I, section 8. After responding to a dispatch report of a vehicle in a roadside ditch, officers saw a van pass by on the road. Discovering that the van’s license plate was registered to another member of the same household that the vehicle in the ditch had been registered to, the officers followed the van and pulled it over. The driver of the car that had gone into the ditch was riding as a passenger in the van. That person, Defendant, was convicted of OWI. Defendant appealed the denial of his motion to suppress, arguing that the stop of the van was not permissible under the community caretaking doctrine. The Supreme Court agreed and reversed Defendant’s conviction and sentence, holding that the community caretaking exception did not apply under article I, section 8. View "State v. Smith" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the order of the trial judge granting a class-wide preliminary injunction concerning the Department of Housing and Community Development’s (DHCD) operation of a shelter program, holding that, based on the preliminary record, Plaintiffs had not shown a likelihood of succeeding on their claim that the challenged policy violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by discriminating on the basis of disability. Plaintiffs were among the approximately 3,500 people currently served by the emergency assistance (EA) program. Plaintiffs sought a class-wide preliminary injunction directing DHCD to use motels as EA replacements. The judge allowed the motion in part and ordered that DHCD treat motels and hotels as available placements when implementing approved ADA accommodation requests in the EA program. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the order of preliminary injunction and remanded for further proceedings, holding the judge erred in concluding (1) any delay in providing an ADA accommodation is a per se violation of law, and (2) DHCD likely violated ADA regulations that prohibit public entities from providing services or siting facilities in a manner that has the effect of discriminating on the basis of disability. View "Garcia v. Department of Housing & Community Development" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court held that the widespread evidence tampering of chemist Sonja Farak at the State Laboratory Institute in Amherst at the campus of the University of Massachusetts compromised the integrity of thousands of drug convictions and that her misconduct, compounded by prosecutorial misconduct, requires that the Court exercise its superintendence authority and vacate and dismiss all criminal convictions tainted by governmental wrongdoing. Farak stole and used for her own use drugs submitted to the lab for testing and consumed drug “standards” required for testing. Members of the Attorney General’s office deceptively withheld exculpatory evidence on the matter. Petitioners sought dismissal of thousands of cases tainted by governmental wrongdoing. The Supreme Judicial Court held that the class of “Farak defendants” includes all defendants who were found guilty of a drug charge where Farak signed the certificate of analysis, the conviction was based on methamphetamine and the drugs were tested during Farak’s tenure at the Amherst lab, or the drugs were tested at the Amherst lab during a certain period regardless of who signed the certificate of analysis. The Court also recommended that the standing advisory committee on the rules of criminal procedure propose amendments to Rule 14 of the Massachusetts Rules of Criminal Procedure to include a Brady checklist and any other beneficial modifications. View "Committee for Public Counsel Services v. Attorney General" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's grant of habeas corpus ordering petitioner to be retried for killing the victim in a bar fight. The court held that the federal court failed to defer to the state court's reasonable application of Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), and therefore erred in granting petitioner habeas corpus relief. The court held that, given counsel's all-or-nothing strategy, he reasonably declined a "double-edged" manslaughter instruction that could have lowered petitioner's chances of an acquittal; even assuming counsel should have sought a sudden passion instruction, it was unlikely that the instruction would have changed petitioner's sentence; and neither conclusion would have been an objectively unreasonable application of Strickland by the state habeas court. View "Mejia v. Davis" on Justia Law