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Plaintiff was arrested for felony cyberstalking for repeatedly sending mean-spirited messages to her ex-husband, but the charges were later dropped. Plaintiff then filed suit against her ex-husband and others under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that her First and Fourth Amendment rights had been violated. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment against plaintiff, holding that plaintiff failed to show that the ex-husband acted under color of state law. The court need not address the parties' other arguments. View "Moody v. Farrell" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and 1988, alleging that defendants violated his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights during his arrest. The Fifth Circuit held that plaintiff presented sufficient facts to allege a violation of his constitutional right to be free from excessive force against Officers Fruge, Garza, and Nevue; the law at the time of the arrest clearly established that it was objectively unreasonable for several officers to tackle an individual who was not fleeing, not violent, not aggressive, and only resisted by pulling his arm away from an officer's grasp; the failure to intervene claim was waived; and summary judgment was appropriate as to plaintiff's municipal liability claim against Round Rock and plaintiff's failure to train or supervise claim. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Trammell v. Fruge" on Justia Law

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When plaintiff learned that the State Bar Association of North Dakota (SBAND) was using his compulsory fees to oppose a measure that he volunteered time and money to support, he filed suit seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. In Knox v. Service Employees International Union, Local 1000, 567 U.S. 298 (2012), a public-sector union provided an annual Hudson notice calculating germane expenses and permitting non-members to opt out of non-germane expenses by objecting within thirty days. The Eighth Circuit held that the opt-out issue debated by the Supreme Court in Knox was simply not implicated by SBAND's revised license fee statement. Accordingly, because Knox did not overrule prior cases holding that the First Amendment does not require an opt-in procedure, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment and dismissal of the case. View "Fleck v. Wetch" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the superior court’s denial of Defendant’s motion for a new trial. Following a jury-waived trial, Defendant was convicted of rape, subsequent offense, and indecent assault and battery on a person age fourteen or older. In his motion for a new trial, Defendant argued that his jury waiver was neither knowing nor negligent and that defense counsel was constitutionally ineffective because neither the trial judge nor counsel disclosed that the judge’s son was employed as an assistant district attorney in the office of the district attorney for the district that prosecuted the indictments. The Supreme Judicial held (1) the trial judge’s failure to inform Defendant of his familial relationship with a member of the prosecuting attorney’s office during the jury-waiver colloquy was not error; and (2) although counsel’s failure to inform Defendant of the judge’s familial relationship with a member of the prosecuting attorney’s office fell below behavior that might be expected from an ordinary lawyer, counsel’s failure to do so was not prejudicial. View "Commonwealth v. Duart" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions for murder in the first degree on the theories of extreme atrocity or cruelty and felony murder with home invasion and armed burglary, assault on occupant as the predicate felonies, and declined to grant relief under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 278, 33E. The court held (1) there was no error in the trial court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress statements he made during an interview with the police; (2) there was no prejudicial error in the admission of hearsay testimony from various witnesses; (3) the trial judge erred in denying Defendant’s request for a DiGiambattista instruction where a portion of Defendant’s interview with the police was not audio recored, but the error was not prejudicial; (4) the trial court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion for a mistrial following the jury’s exposure to inadmissible evidence; and (5) a statement made in the prosecutor’s closing argument was impermissible, but no substantial likelihood of a miscarriage of justice arose from the statement. View "Commonwealth v. Santana" on Justia Law

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James Gardner Dennis, an inmate in the Greenville Correctional Center, petitioned the circuit court to change his name to James Gardner Wright pursuant to Va. Code 8.01-217. The circuit court dismissed the application for lack of “good cause.” Dennis appealed, arguing that the circuit court erred in dismissing his application for lack of good cause because he asserted a religious purpose as the reason for his change of name. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court clearly failed to consider Dennis’s alleged reason for the application, as required by statute. The court remanded the case to the circuit court with direction to accept Dennis’s application and to proceed with a hearing before exercising its discretion in determining whether Dennis’s request for a name change should be granted. View "In re Dennis" on Justia Law

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The limitation on voter choice expressed in Tex. Elec. Code 61.033 impermissibly narrows the right guaranteed by Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act. In this case, OCA challenged the Texas voting law, which imposes a restriction on the interpretation assistance that English-limited voters may receive. The district court entered summary judgment for OCA and issued an injunction against Texas. After determining that it had jurisdiction, the Fifth Circuit held that the VRA validly abrogated state sovereign immunity; the Texas statute could not restrict the federally guaranteed right to the act of casting a ballot by enacting a statute tracking its language, then defining terms more restrictively than as federally defined; but the injunction exceeded the scope of the parties' presentation. Accordingly, the court vacated the injunction and remanded for the entry of a new injunction. The court affirmed in all other respects. View "OCA-Greater Houston v. Texas" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and his wife filed suit against his employer, the school district, and two of his supervisors, alleging discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. The trial court granted defendants' special motion to strike the complaint pursuant to section 425.16 of the Code of Civil Procedure (the anti-SLAPP statute). Defendants argued that the gravaman of the complaint was based on protected activity—speech or communicative conduct either made as part of or as a precursor to the internal investigation that the school district undertook in response to a molestation allegation made against plaintiff. The Court of Appeal affirmed and held that, on balance, plaintiffs' claims at issue were based on protected activity because they arose from statements for communicative conduct that were protected and were integral, not incidental, to plaintiffs' claims. The court also held that plaintiffs did not show a probability of prevailing on their race and national origin discrimination claim; plaintiffs' failure to prevent discrimination claim necessarily failed as well; plaintiffs failed to demonstrate a likelihood of prevailing on their emotional distress claim, harassment claim, and federal civil rights claim; and plaintiffs forfeited their argument about the trial court's evidentiary hearings. View "Okorie v. Los Angeles Unified School District" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress certain evidence, including a loaded firearm found when law enforcement searched Defendant’s home. Defendant pleaded guilty to being a prohibited person in knowing possession of a firearm or ammunition, reserving his right to challenge the denial of his motion to suppress. The First Circuit held (1) the protective sweep of Defendant’s residence was not lawful in light of the circumstances surrounding Defendant’s arrest; and (2) therefore, the evidence that was recovered during and following the sweep should have been excluded as the illegal fruit of that sweep. View "United States v. Delgado-Perez" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court accepted certification of questions of law from a federal district court and answered (1) for split confinement sentences, Tennessee trial judges are authorized to fix a percentage the defendant must serve in actual confinement before becoming eligible to earn work credits, and (2) Tennessee law imposes no duty on a sheriff to challenge an inmate’s sentence as improper or potentially improper. The certified questions of law arose from a lawsuit Plaintiff brought in federal district court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983 alleging that his civil rights were violated when his sentence was not reduced by the work credits he earned as a trusty while confined in Madison County jail on his split confinement sentence. View "Ray v. Madison County" on Justia Law