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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for an officer based on qualified immunity in a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action alleging excessive force. The panel held that the district court did not err by raising the issue of qualified immunity sua sponte and by addressing it on summary judgment. The panel also held that, in viewing the record in the light most favorable to plaintiff, the officer's use of deadly force was objectively reasonable under the Fourth Amendment. In this case, the officer could have reasonably feared that plaintiff had a gun and was turning to shoot him when the officer shot plaintiff following a traffic stop. View "Easley v. City of Riverside" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a devout Christian, alleged violations of his right to religious liberty under the First Amendment and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. 2000cc-1, and the denial of due process. In this case, plaintiff committed a disciplinary violation and was terminated from his kitchen assignment job after he refused to work on a religious holiday. The Ninth Circuit held that plaintiff's two inmate letters did not exhaust his administrative remedies, but that he exhausted administrative remedies through the disciplinary process. The panel held that defendants did not consider plaintiff's request for accommodation and RLUIPA mandated consideration of the requested accommodation. Finally, in regard to the district court's dismissal of certain defendants at the screening stage under 28 U.S.C. 1915A, the panel held that plaintiff's complaint did not explain how the dismissed defendants violated his rights under the First Amendment or RLUIPA. Therefore, the panel reversed the district court's ruling that plaintiff failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies; affirmed the section 1915A screening decision; and remanded for consideration of the merits of plaintiff's First Amendment and RLUIPA claims. View "Fuqua v. Ryan" on Justia Law

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Department of Correction impoundments do not violate the First Amendment but the failure to give proper notice of them does violate the Fourteenth Amendment. PLN filed suit contending that the Department's impoundments of its monthly magazine violated its constitutional rights. Applying the Turner standard to determine whether the impoundments of PLN's magazine violated the First Amendment, the court held that limiting three-way calling ads, pen pal solicitation ads, cash-for-stamps ads, prisoner concierge and people locator ads was not so remote from the Department's security and safety interests as to render the impoundments arbitrary or irrational; there were alternative means for PLN to send alternate publications; the impact of accommodating the asserted right favored the Department; and the Department's decision to impound was not an exaggerated response. The court held, however, that the power to impound comes with a duty to inform PLN of the reasons for the impoundments, and thus the district court did not abuse its discretion in entering an injunction to require the Department to adhere to its own notice rules. View "Prison Legal News v. Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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The circuit court erred in admitting evidence seized as the result of an unlawful, warrantless search, a search that failed to satisfy any of the exceptions to the warrant requirement. Petitioner was convicted and sentenced for possession of a controlled substance, cocaine, with intent to deliver. On appeal, Petitioner argued that the circuit court erred by admitting evidence seized from his person because the evidence was obtained without a search warrant and that none of the exceptions to the warrant requirement were satisfied. The Supreme Court agreed and reversed Petitioner’s conviction, holding that the evidence was seized unlawfully and that the admission of the evidence was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. The Court remanded the case for a new trial. View "State v. Barefield" on Justia Law

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Laux broke into his ex‐wife’s home and murdered her with a crowbar. An Indiana jury decided that the aggravating circumstance that he committed murder during a burglary outweighed the primary mitigating circumstance that he had no criminal history and recommended a sentence of life without parole, which the court imposed. Indiana state courts affirmed Laux’s convictions and sentence. After a post‐conviction hearing, they also rejected the claim that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance. Laux filed a federal habeas corpus petition. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of relief, rejecting a claim that trial counsel was ineffective by not fully investigating and presenting all of the available mitigating evidence about Laux’s childhood that surfaced at his post‐conviction hearing. The state courts’ conclusion that Laux received effective assistance of counsel was not unreasonable. A defendant can often point to some additional subject and argue it should have been pursued further. The Sixth Amendment does not require counsel to investigate every conceivable line of mitigation evidence—it requires counsel to make reasonable decisions about which matters to pursue. The evidence of Laux’s childhood failed to show significant hardship; he was never a victim of abuse or neglect, was never in trouble, and excelled in high school and college. View "Laux v. Zatecky" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and dismissed in part the order of the circuit court denying Appellant’s petition for postconviction relief filed pursuant to Ark. R. Crim. P. 37.5. The Court reversed and dismissed as to the issue of whether trial counsel’s failure to present the affirmative defense of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect was ineffective assistance of counsel, holding that the trial court did not have jurisdiction to consider this issue. The Court otherwise affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not err in finding that counsel did not provide ineffective assistance as to Appellant’s remaining allegations of defective representation; and (2) the cumulative error rule in allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel should not be recognized in Arkansas. View "Lacy v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court denying Defendant’s application for postconviction relief in which Defendant argued that he had received ineffective assistance of counsel because his lawyer was not licensed to practice law in Rhode Island. Defendant pled nolo contendere to two criminal offenses and admitted to violating his probationary sentence. In his postconviction relief application, Defendant argued that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because his defense counsel, who was not licensed to practice law in Rhode Island, was engaging in unlawful conduct. Defendant further argued that his defense counsel’s associate, who was licensed in Rhode Island and who appeared in court with Defendant, was a “straw man” and thus complicit in the scheme to practice law without a license. The superior court denied the application. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial justice properly found that defense counsel’s associate, not defense counsel, represented Defendant with respect to his pleas; and (2) Defendant’s argument that defense counsel and the associate had a conflict of interest in representing Defendant lacked merit. View "Millette v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions of aggravated murder with a death specification, felony-murder, kidnapping, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, and other crimes and the trial court’s imposition of the death penalty. On appeal, Defendant presented eighteen propositions of law. The Supreme Court examined each of Defendant’s claims and found that none had merit. Accordingly, the Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions and sentence of death, holding that there was no reversible error committed in the proceedings below and that Defendant was not entitled to relief. View "State v. Myers" on Justia Law

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The limited right to counsel recognized in Friedman v. Commissioner of Public Safety, 473 N.W. 2d 828 (Minn. 1991), applies only to implied-consent cases. The district court in this case suppressed the results of a urine sample provided by Defendant at a jail after his arrest for driving while impaired (DWI) because the sheriff’s deputy, when asking Defendant if he would consent to urine testing, failed to read the implied-consent advisory that would have advised Defendant of his right to counsel. The court concluded that, by failing to read the advisory, the deputy failed to allow Defendant to vindicate his right to counsel prior to testing. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because the officer did not read the implied-consent advisory in this case, under Friedman, the limited right to counsel was not triggered; and (2) therefore, the district court erred in suppressing the urine test results on that ground. View "State v. Hunn" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reiterated its holding in State v. Murray, 169 P.3d 955, 964 (2007), that a trial court must engage a defendant in an on-the-record colloquy to ensure the defendant is intelligently, knowingly, and voluntarily relinquishing the right to have all elements of a charged criminal offense proven beyond a reasonable doubt before the court may accept the defendant’s admission of an element of the crime. Further, the Court declined to establish an exception to the colloquy requirement when a stipulation is based on trial strategy or time constraints. Defendant was charged with operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant (OVUII). Defendant stipulated to the fact that her blood was drawn and that the blood test results showed a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.1056 grams of alcohol per hundred milliliters or cubic centimeters of blood. The district court found Defendant guilty of OVUII. The Supreme Court vacated Defendant’s OVUII conviction, holding that the district court plainly erred in failing to engage Defendant in an on-the-record colloquy regarding the stipulation to the blood test results, as required by Murray, and erred in accepting the stipulation as evidence proving that Defendant’s BAC was .08 or more grams of alcohol per one hundred milliliters or cubic centimeters of blood. View "State v. Ui" on Justia Law