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The First Circuit affirmed Appellant’s federal convictions and resulting sentence for five counts of bank robbery. The court held that, contrary to the arguments raised by Appellant on appeal, the district court did not err in denying Appellant’s motions for (1) a hearing pursuant to Franks v. Delaware, 438 U.S. 154 (1978), based on Appellant’s failure to make the requisite preliminary showing, regarding warrants that were issued to install Global Positions System (GPS) tracking devices; (2) the suppression of evidence obtained from the GPS tracking devices installed pursuant to those warrants where the supporting affidavit provided probable cause for the warrants and for the installation of the GPS tracking devices; and (3) the suppression of evidence obtained as the result of Appellant’s arrest where the probable cause standard was met. View "United States v. Patterson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied Petitioner’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus, holding that Petitioner’s sentence of 110 years’ imprisonment, without the possibility of parole, for deliberate homicide with the use of a weapon did not violate his Eighth Amendment rights even where Petitioner committed the offense when he was seventeen years old. At issue was whether Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), and Montgomery v. Louisiana, __ U.S. __ (2016), apply to Montana’s discretionary sentencing scheme and whether Petitioner’s sentence qualifies as a de facto life sentence to which Miller and Montgomery apply. The Supreme Court held (1) Miller and Montgomery apply to discretionary sentences in Montana; and (2) Petitioner’s sentence, when viewed in light of Petitioner’s eligibility for day-for-day good time credit and the concurrent sentence he was serving in Washington, did not qualify as a de facto life sentence to which Miller’s substantive rule applied. View "Steilman v. Michael" on Justia Law

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In 2012, minor political parties challenged Pennsylvania’s election laws under the First and Fourteenth Amendment, 42 U.S.C. 1983. Minor parties gather a considerable number of signatures to place candidates on the ballot; the validity of those signatures can be challenged. A successful challenge may result in an award of costs (which may be considerable). The threat of these high costs has deterred some candidates. The court held that the statutes were, in combination, unconstitutional as applied to the parties, and ultimately adopted the Commonwealth’s proposal, based on a pending Pennsylvania General Assembly bill, that minor party candidates be placed on the ballot if they gather two and one-half times as many signatures as major party candidates must gather for the office of Governor, at least 5,000 signatures must be gathered with at least 250 from at least 10 of the 67 counties. For other statewide offices, the bill required 1,250-2,500 signatures with at least 250 from at least five counties. The court did not find any facts, nor explain its decision. The Third Circuit vacated, finding the record inadequate to support the signature gathering requirement. The appropriate inquiry is concerned with the extent to which a challenged regulation actually burdens constitutional rights and is “fact-intensive.” The court can impose the county-based signature-gathering requirements if it concludes that the requirements would have no appreciable impact on voting rights. View "Constitution Party of Pennsylvania v. Cortes" on Justia Law

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The Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Morgan Stanely in a civil rights action. Plaintiff alleged that she was terminated on the basis of her sex and that Morgan Stanley allowed her coworkers to create a hostile work environment. The court held that plaintiff was not entitled to a trial on her discrimination claim because she presented no evidence that her sex influenced the decision to terminate her and she presented no evidence of discrimination based on the cat's paw theory. The court also held that plaintiff was not entitled to a trial on her hostile work environment claim because the statute of limitations restricted the allegations that the court could consider as part of her claim and the remaining conduct did not create a hostile work environment. View "Milligan-Grimstad v. Morgan Stanley" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, Jewish inmates at prisons operated by the Indiana Department of Corrections, were transferred from one DOC facility to another (Wabash Valley) in order to maintain a kosher diet. Plaintiffs allege that Liebel, the DOC Director of Religious and Volunteer Services, violated the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment by failing to delay that transfer until the new facility offered opportunities for Jewish group worship and study. At the time of the transfer, the DOC was unable to recruit Jewish volunteers to Wabash Valley to lead worship or train inmate leaders. In their suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, the district court granted Liebel summary judgment, citing qualified immunity. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, finding that Liebel did not violate clearly established law. Plaintiffs cited no case holding that the Free Exercise Clause provides prisoners the right to group worship when outside volunteers were unavailable to lead or train inmates or holding that a prison official violates the Free Exercise Clause by transferring inmates to a facility that does not provide congregate worship and study, or by failing to delay a transfer until the new facility provides congregate worship and study. View "Kemp v. Liebel" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order compelling arbitration of putative class action claims against AT&T by customers who alleged that AT&T falsely advertised their mobile service plans as "unlimited" when in fact it intentionally slowed data at certain usage levels. The panel held that there was no state action in this case, rejecting plaintiffs' claim that there was state action whenever a party asserts a direct constitutional challenge to a permissive law under Denver Area Educational Telecommunications Consortium, Inc. v. FCC, 518 U.S. 727 (1996). The panel held that Denver Area did not broadly rule that the government was the relevant state actor whenever there was a direct constitutional challenge to a "permissive" statute, and did not support finding state action here. The panel also held that the Federal Arbitration Act merely gives AT&T the private choice to arbitrate, and did not encourage arbitration such that AT&T's conduct was attributable to the state. View "Roberts v. AT&T Mobility, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court denying Defendant’s automatic motion to modify the jury’s verdict of death and imposing a judgment of death in this case in which Defendant pleaded guilty to two counts of first degree murder under the special circumstances of multiple murder and murder in the course of a robbery. In affirming, the Supreme Court held (1) Defendant’s counsel provided constitutionally effective assistance; (2) the trial court did not prejudicially err in denying Defendant’s motion to change venue; (3) no prejudicial error occurred during jury selection; (4) Defendant’s challenges to the admission of certain testimony were unavailing; (5) reliance on evidence in aggravation of two crimes of violence Defendant committed when he was seventeen years old and of his conviction for one of those crimes did not violate Defendant’s rights under the Eighth Amendment; (6) there was no error in excluding evidence of the impact of Defendant’s execution on his family; and (7) none of Defendant’s remaining arguments warranted relief from the judgment. View "People v. Rices" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against defendants, challenging on First Amendment grounds, a school uniform policy that required their two minor children to wear shirts or sweatshirts with a logo consisting of the name of the school, a stylized picture of a gopher (the school mascot), and the motto "Tomorrow’s Leaders." Given the failure of the Ninth Circuit's en banc call, the panel held that the uniform policy—both the motto requirement and the exemption—violated the First Amendment. The panel reasoned that there can hardly be interests more compelling than fostering children's educational achievement and providing a safe and supportive educational environment. However, requiring students to display the motto "Tomorrow's Leaders" on their uniforms was not narrowly tailored to serve those interests. The panel held that the Individual Defendants were entitled to qualified immunity because the applicable law was not sufficiently clear to put them on notice that the uniform policy would violate the First Amendment. However, because the Institutional Defendants were not individuals, they were not protected by qualified immunity. Accordingly, the panel affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Frudden v. Pilling" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for murder in the first degree and aggravated rape and declined to exercise its extraordinary power under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 278, 33E to reduce the verdict in this case arising from a reopened investigation into a previously unsolved murder. The court held (1) challenged statements made by the prosecutor during closing argument did not create a substantial likelihood of a miscarriage of justice; and (2) because there was no error in the prosecutor’s statements during closing argument, Defendant failed in his argument that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the improper statements in the prosecutor’s closing. View "Commonwealth v. Diaz" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the denial of Defendant’s motion to exclude the results of a breathalyzer test taken by the Alcotest 7110 MK III-C at his trial for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. In an earlier appeal, the Supreme Judicial Court remanded this case to the district court to conduct a hearing on the scientific reliability of the Alcotest. After a hearing, the district court concluded that the Alcotest was capable for producing scientifically reliable breath test results and denied Defendant’s motion to exclude this evidence. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the district judge did not abuse his discretion in finding that the Alcotest satisfies the Daubert-Lanigan standard for the admissibility of scientific evidence. View "Commonwealth v. Camblin" on Justia Law