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Lombardo, a long-time member of the Chicago Outfit, the lineal descendant of Al Capone’s gang, is serving a life sentence on his convictions for racketeering, murder, and obstruction of justice. After the Seventh Circuit affirmed his convictions and sentence on direct appeal, he retained a new attorney to argue that ineffective assistance of counsel. His new attorney misunderstood when the one-year limitations period for motions under 28 U.S.C. 2255 began running and filed Lombardo’s motion too late. The attorney represented that he miscalculated the deadline due to his mistaken belief that the statute of limitations began running only when the Supreme Court denied a petition for rehearing, not when it denied a petition for certiorari and that this error was “based on misinformation provided by a trusted paralegal.” The Seventh Circuit affirmed dismissal. An attorney’s miscalculation of a statute of limitations does not justify equitably tolling the limitations period for a motion under section 2255, even if the result is to bar a claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel. View "Lombardo v. United States" on Justia Law

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In 2002, Barnett was charged with felony battery. At the time, Indiana courts established an “omnibus date” for substantive amendments to charges. The court set Barnett’s omnibus date so the last day for substantive amendment was December 8, 2002. In February 2003 the prosecutor added felony burglary, felony intimidation, and habitual offender charges. No one caught the error. Barnett was convicted and sentenced to 80 years’ imprisonment. Barnett’s appellate lawyer also overlooked this problem. Barnett later unsuccessfully pursued the issue in state post-conviction proceedings and in a petition under 28 U.S.C. 2254. After the district court denied his habeas petition, the Seventh Circuit granted another Indiana petitioner habeas relief on the same theory. The Seventh Circuit remanded Barnett’s case. The district court’s order on remand stated “[w]ithin 120 days of this Order, the State must either release the Petitioner or grant him leave to file a new direct appeal.” When the state had done nothing within 120 days, Barnett sought immediate release. Indiana responded that it had misunderstood the order as requiring its courts to grant a new appeal upon Barnett’s request. The state simultaneously filed a request for appeal on Barnett’s behalf and asked the court to extend the release date. The district court granted that request. The court denied a motion to amend because the Indiana Court of Appeals had granted leave for Barnett to file a new appeal. The Seventh Circuit affirmed; the district court was entitled to extend the state’s deadline. View "Barnett v. Neal" on Justia Law

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Owens, an Illinois state prisoner, filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that nearly two dozen prison employees deliberately ignored his medical needs and retaliated against him for filing grievances and lawsuits. He is primarily dissatisfied with the adequacy of the toothpaste, mail supplies, and laundry detergent he received at three different prisons over a six-year period. The district court narrowed the list of defendants at screening, 28 U.S.C. 1915A, and later granted summary judgment for the remaining defendants. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. “This lawsuit is not the first one in which Owens has tossed into a single complaint a mishmash of unrelated allegations against unrelated defendants.” Owens engaged in “nearly constant” litigation during 2009 and 2010. View "Owens v. Godinez" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated Petitioner’s conviction for dealing materials harmful to minors, holding that trial counsel was ineffective in failing to assert a free speech First Amendment defense and that such a defense would have succeeded if it had been raised. The conviction stemmed from the interception of drawings Petitioner had sent to his five-year-old daughter from jail depicting Petitioner as naked and holding his daughter in the air. The district court granted summary judgment to the State on Petitioner’s petition for post-conviction relief, concluding that Petitioner suffered no prejudice because his First Amendment defense lacked merit. The Supreme Court reversed and vacated Petitioner’s conviction, holding that Petitioner’s drawing was not overtly sexual or sexually suggestive, and therefore, Petitioner’s First Amendment defense was viable. View "Butt v. State" on Justia Law

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Petitioner was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. The Fifth Circuit granted a certificate of appealability on two issues: (1) a Mills claim that the omission of a jury instruction—required under Texas law—that jurors need not agree on what particular evidence they found mitigating created a substantial risk that the jurors may have mistakenly believed mitigating evidence needed to be accepted unanimously and (2) that petitioner's trial counsel's failure to object to the missing instruction constituted ineffective assistance of counsel under Strickland v. Washington. In regard to the Mills claim, the court held that, given the record, there did not exist a reasonable likelihood or substantial probability that reasonable jurors may have thought they were precluded from considering any mitigating evidence unless all 12 jurors agreed on the existence of a particular such circumstances. Therefore, the state courts did not unreasonably apply Mills. Assuming arguendo that failing to object to the absent jury instruction was deficient performance, defendant failed to show prejudice. Accordingly, the Texas state courts' application of Strickland to defendant's ineffective assistance of counsel claims was not unreasonable. The court affirmed the denial of habeas relief. View "Young v. Davis" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Abigail Ross was allegedly raped by a fellow student at the University of Tulsa. The alleged rape led plaintiff to sue the university for money damages under Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the University of Tulsa, and plaintiff appealed. On the first theory, the dispositive issue was whether a fact-finder could reasonably infer that an appropriate person at the university had actual notice of a substantial danger to others. On the second theory, there was a question of whether a reasonable fact-finder could characterize exclusion of prior reports of the aggressor's sexual harassment as "deliberate indifference." The Tenth Circuit concluded both theories failed as a matter of law: (1) campus-security officers were the only university employees who knew about reports that other victims had been raped, and a reasonable fact-finder could not infer that campus-security officers were appropriate persons for purposes of Title IX; (2) there was no evidence of deliberate indifference by the University of Tulsa. View "Ross v. University of Tulsa" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs were families with children enrolled in the Douglas County School District RE-1 (“DCSD”) and the American Humanist Association (“AHA”). Plaintiffs filed suit challenging various DCSD practices as violations of the Establishment Clause and the Equal Access Act (“EAA”), contending DCSD engaged in a pattern and practice of promoting Christian fundraising efforts and permitting faculty participation in Christian student groups. The Tenth Circuit found most of the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that they or their children experienced “personal and unwelcome contact with government-sponsored religious” activities. Furthermore, they failed to demonstrate their case for municipal taxpayer standing because they could not show expenditure of municipal funds on the challenged activities. The sole exception is plaintiff Jane Zoe: she argued DCSD violated the Establishment Clause when school officials announced they were “partnering” with a Christian student group and solicited her and her son for donations to a “mission trip.” The district court held that because Zoe’s contacts with the challenged actions were not conspicuous or constant, she did not suffer an injury for standing purposes. The Tenth Circuit found "no support in our jurisprudence" for the contention that an injury must meet some threshold of pervasiveness to satisfy Article III. The Court therefore concluded Zoe had standing to seek retrospective relief. View "American Humanist Assoc. v. Douglas County School District" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-appellant Mary Anne Sause filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that defendants Officers Lee Stevens and Jason Lindsey violated her rights under the First Amendment stemming from a noise complaint investigation emanating from plaintiff's residence. The district court dismissed plaintiff's complaint with prejudice for failure to state a claim. Because plaintiff failed to demonstrate that the contours of the right at issue were clearly established, the Tenth Circuit agreed with the district court that the defendants were entitled to qualified immunity. And the Court likewise agreed that allowing plaintiff leave to amend her complaint would have been futile. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the district court’s order to the extent that it dismissed with prejudice plaintiff's claims for money damages. But because the Court concluded that plaintiff lacked standing to assert her claims for injunctive relief, the Tenth Circuit reversed in part and remanded with instructions to dismiss those claims without prejudice. View "Sause v. Bauer" on Justia Law

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Two men robbed a store. The security video shows that one pointed a shotgun at the clerk. The gunman wore a black sweatshirt with a white skeleton pattern that zipped to form a skull hood. The gunman’s exposed hands appeared black to the clerk and on the video. The accomplice took cash. The men fled. Weeks later, officers visited Bailey’s mother. She showed the detectives Bailey's bedroom. They saw a skeleton hoodie and prepared an affidavit for a search warrant, noting that they had received an anonymous tip that Bailey, an African-American, had committed the robbery. A judge approved the warrant. Detectives seized the sweatshirt. Officers arrested Bailey after he fled. Bailey was indicted for armed robbery, possession of a short-barreled shotgun, and resisting arrest. The prosecutor dropped two charges; Bailey pleaded guilty to resisting. Bailey sued, under 42 U.S.C. 1983, claiming violations of his Fourth Amendment rights, citing inconsistencies in the description. The district court denied motions to dismiss, based on purported falsehoods in the affidavit. The Sixth Circuit reversed. The warrant did not say whether the description came from the victim or the video and mentioned both sources; it was not deliberately false. There were few disparities between the video and the warrant description. Even if the warrant were stripped of possible falsities, a fair probability remained that the officers would find evidence of the robbery in Bailey’s home; his Fourth Amendment claim and his Monell claim against the city fail as a matter of law. View "Bailey v. City of Ann Arbor" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated Defendant’s conviction of murder in the first degree on theories of deliberate premeditation and extreme atrocity or cruelty. The court held (1) while not overwhelming, the evidence presented at trial was sufficient as a matter of law to support Defendant’s conviction of murder in the first degree, and therefore, there was no error in the judge’s denial of Defendant’s motion for a required finding; but (2) the trial judge’s failure to require an explanation of the prosecutor’s peremptory challenge of a prospective juror, who was African-American, was error, and because the error constituted structural error for which prejudice is presumed, the case must be remanded to the superior court for a new trial. View "Commonwealth v. Jones" on Justia Law