by
Veritext filed suit challenging the Board's enforcement of La. Code Civ. Proc. Ann. art. 1434(A)(1), which provides that depositions shall be taken before an officer authorized to administer oaths, who is not an employee or attorney of any of the parties or otherwise interested in the outcome of the case. In 2012, the Board began enforcing Article 1434 more aggressively, declaring that the law prohibits all contracts between court reporters and party litigants, including volume-based discounts and concessions to frequent customers. The Fifth Circuit held that the district court was correct to dismiss all of the constitutional claims brought by Veritext as a matter of Supreme Court precedent. The court explained that Louisiana's interest in the integrity of its court reporting system was legally sufficient, and Veritext failed to clearly identify a burden on interstate commerce imposed by the Board's enforcement of Article 1434 that exceeds its local benefits. However, the court held that Veritext pled facts sufficient to support a finding that the Board's conduct did restrain trade and remanded so that Veritext could proceed on its Sherman Act claim. View "Veritext Corp. v. Bonin" on Justia Law

by
Officer Pearson and other Chicago police officers executed a search warrant for “apartment 1.” There was a problem with the warrant. Apartment 1 did not exist. The building contained apartment 1A and apartment 1B. The officers searched apartment 1A but did not find the drugs and related items they were seeking. Pearson nonetheless arrested an occupant, Muhammed. The occupants filed sued Pearson under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging unlawful entry and false arrest. The district court granted Pearson summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed on narrow grounds. Law enforcement officers who discover that a search warrant does not clearly specify the premises to be searched must ordinarily stop and clear up the ambiguity before they conduct or continue the search. If they do not, they may lose the legal protection the warrant provides for an invasion of privacy and accompanying restraints on liberty. Pearson, however, testified that he did not know there were two apartments and offered undisputed, reliable, and contemporaneous documents confirming his after-the-fact testimony that the address searched was actually the correct target of the search authorized by the ambiguous warrant. Pearson had arguable probable cause to arrest plaintiff Muhammad for suspected drug trafficking, though Pearson quickly confirmed that Muhammad was not the right suspect and released him within 15 minutes, so summary judgment based on qualified immunity was also correct on that unlawful arrest claim. View "Muhammad v. Pearson" on Justia Law

by
In these 30 consolidated appeals, individuals with severe autism filed suit against Disney, alleging that the company and its theme parks failed to accommodate their disabilities, in violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Plaintiffs claimed that access to all of Disney's rides must be both nearly immediate and in each plaintiff's individual, pre-set order to accommodate fully their impairments. The district court granted summary judgment to Disney and concluded that the Disability Access Service (DAS) program already accommodated plaintiffs' disabilities and that revising the DAS program was not necessary for plaintiffs to have equal access and enjoyment of Disney's parks. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed in part and held that Disney's generalized issuance of DAS Cards, in and of itself, did not violate the ADA. However, the DAS Card, as good as it may be, still failed to address plaintiffs' alleged impairments of the inability to wait virtually for rides and the need to adhere to a routine order of rides or repeat rides. Because factual disputes existed as to those impairments, the court reversed summary judgment on the necessary-modification inquiry. The court remanded for the district court to address Disney's alternative argument that plaintiffs' requested modification was not reasonable and would fundamentally alter the park experience. Finally, plaintiffs' complaints did not contain a cause of action for intentional or disparate-impact discrimination under the ADA and thus the court affirmed the district court's judgment as to that issue. View "A.L. v. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts US, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of summary judgment to a law enforcement officer based on qualified immunity in a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action alleging that he used excessive force when he tased plaintiff. The court held that the evidence was sufficient to show that the officer violated plaintiff's Fourth Amendment right to be free of excessive force. However, the officer's actions did not violate law that was clearly established at the time of the incident. In Caroll v. Ellington, and in this case, officers confronted a suspect whom they believed to be on drugs, attempted to verbally secure the suspect's compliance, and chose to deploy a taser despite their knowledge that the suspect was unarmed. The Carroll panel decided that no clearly established law made the officer's decision to resort to the taser unreasonable. View "Samples v. Vadzemnieks" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendant based on qualified immunity grounds in a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action alleging that defendant failed to disclose evidence that would have cast serious doubt on the star prosecution witness in plaintiff's trial. The panel held that the record demonstrated as a matter of law that defendant withheld material impeachment evidence under Brady v. Maryland and Giglio v. United States, and raised a genuine issue of material fact as to whether defendant acted with deliberate indifference or reckless disregard for plaintiff's due process rights. The panel also held that the law at the time of the 1997–98 investigation clearly established that police officers investigating a criminal case were required to disclose material, impeachment evidence to the defense. Finally, the panel held that the district court abused its discretion by striking the declaration of plaintiff's police practices expert. The panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Mellen v. Winn" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit denied a petition for review insofar as it raised due process claims related to the district court's rejection of petitioner's United States citizenship claim. First determining that petitioner had standing to bring the due process and equal protection claims, the panel held that, because a legitimate governmental interest was rationally related to 8 U.S.C. 1433's requirement that citizen parents petition to naturalize their adopted, foreign-born children, section 1433 did not violate the Fifth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. The panel also held that the district court did not err in ruling that the INS was not deliberately indifferent to whether petitioner's mother's application for his citizenship was processed; and, even if the INS did act with deliberate indifference, petitioner's due process claim failed because he could not demonstrate prejudice. The panel held that the district court correctly concluded that the INS was not deliberately indifferent to petitioner's adult application for citizenship and he could not establish prejudice. Finally, the panel held that the BIA erred in concluding that third-degree escape under Arizona Revised Statutes section 13-2502 was a crime of violence and thus an aggravated felony that would make petitioner removable. Accordingly, the panel denied in part, granted in part, and remanded in part the petition for review. View "Dent v. Sessions" on Justia Law

by
An Illinois jury convicted McGhee of murder and attempted murder. McGhee’s defense attorney asked the judge to poll the jury after the verdict was read. The judge said, “[a]ll right,” but did not conduct the poll; he simply thanked and dismissed the jurors. An Illinois criminal defendant “has the absolute right to poll the jury after it returns its verdict.” Defense counsel did not object when the judge moved directly to closing remarks, nor did he raise the issue in a post-trial motion. McGhee’s appellate lawyer failed to challenge the error on direct review. McGhee’s conviction was affirmed on appeal and in state collateral review. He sought habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the denial of the petition. McGhee’s "Strickland" claims, that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the judge’s jury-polling error and his appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to raise the judge’s error on appeal, were waived because he did not present them in his section 2254 petition. McGhee procedurally defaulted his claim that appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to challenge trial counsel’s failure to preserve the polling error. McGhee failed to present the claim through one complete round of state-court review. View "McGhee v. Watson" on Justia Law

by
Several years after a tank car spill accident, appellants Larry Lincoln and Brad Mosbrucker told their employer BNSF Railway Company (“BNSF”) that medical conditions attributable to the accident rendered them partially, permanently disabled and prevented them from working outdoors. BNSF removed appellants from service as Maintenance of Way (“MOW”) workers purportedly due to safety concerns and because MOW work entailed outdoor work. With some assistance from BNSF’s Medical and Environmental Health Department (“MEH”), Appellants each applied for more than twenty jobs within BNSF during the four years following their removal from service. After not being selected for several positions, Appellants filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), accommodation request letters with BNSF, and complaints with the Occupational Safety Health Administration (“OSHA”). Following BNSF’s rejection of their applications for additional positions, Appellants filed a complaint raising claims for: (1) discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”); (2) failure to accommodate under the ADA; (3) retaliation under the ADA; and (4) retaliation under the Federal Railroad Safety Act (“FRSA”). Relying on nearly forty years of Tenth Circuit precedent, the district court concluded that filing an EEOC charge was a jurisdictional prerequisite to suit and it dismissed several parts of Appellants’ ADA claims for lack of jurisdiction. Appellants also challenged the vast majority of the district court’s summary judgment determinations on the merits of their claims that survived the court’s exhaustion rulings. After polling the full court, the Tenth Circuit overturn its precedent that filing an EEOC charge was a jurisdictional prerequisite to suit, thus reversing the district court’s jurisdictional rulings. Appellants’ ADA discrimination and ADA failure to accommodate claims relative to some of the positions over which the district court determined it lacked jurisdiction were remanded for further proceedings. With respect to the district court’s summary judgment determinations on the merits of appellants’ claims that survived the exhaustion rulings, the Tenth Circuit was unable to reach a firm conclusion on the position-based ADA discrimination and failure to accommodate claims. The Court concluded the district court’s dismissal of the FRSA claims were appropriate. Therefore, the Court reversed in part, affirmed in part and remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Lincoln v. BNSF Railway Company" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court held that the court of appeals erred in reversing the trial court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress, holding that the suppression motion contained sufficient findings of fact to support the trial court’s conclusion that Defendant knowingly and voluntarily waived his juvenile rights pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-2101 before making certain incriminating statements. The court of appeals determined that the totality of the circumstances set forth in the record did not fully support the trial court’s conclusion that Defendant knowingly, willingly, and understandingly waived his juvenile rights. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court’s findings of fact had adequate evidentiary support, and those findings supported the trial court’s conclusion that Defendant knowingly and voluntarily waived his juvenile rights; and (2) in reaching a contrary conclusion, the court of appeals failed to focus upon the sufficiency of the evidence to support the trial court’s findings of fact and to give proper deference to those findings. View "State v. Saldierna" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court held in this criminal case that while the claim asserted in Defendant’s motion for appropriate relief was not subject to the procedural bar established by N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-1419(a)(3), the trial court did not err by denying Defendant’s motion for the reasons stated by the court of appeals. The jury returned a verdict convicting Defendant of first-degree murder, and the trial court sentenced Defendant to a term of life imprisonment without parole. Defendant later filed a motion for appropriate relief asserting, among other things, that his constitutional right to effective, conflict-free trial counsel had been violated. The trial court denied Defendant’s motion after conducting an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court concluded that Defendant’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim was not procedurally barred and overturned the trial court’s order denying Defendant’s motion for appropriate relief. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) Defendant was not subject to the procedural bar created by N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-1419(a)(3) with respect to his ineffective assistance of counsel claim; but (2) the trial court properly denied Defendant’s motion for appropriate relief. View "State v. Hyman" on Justia Law