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Plaintiff and her daughter filed suit against the county, challenging an in-school Bible lesson program for public elementary and middle school students as violating the Establishment Clause. The Fourth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of the complaint, holding that plaintiffs have standing because they alleged two actual, ongoing injuries: (1) near-daily avoidance of contact with an alleged state-sponsored religious exercise, and (2) enduring feelings of marginalization and exclusion resulting therefrom. The court also held that plaintiffs' claims were redressable because an injunction would meaningfully redress their injuries. The court also held that the district court erred in treating the temporary suspension of the program as raising ripeness concerns, and plaintiffs' claims were not moot. View "Deal v. Mercer County Board of Education" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court finding Defendant guilty of one count of second-degree murder and one count of discharging a firearm while committing a crime of violence, holding that the trial justice did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress or in failing to exclude certain evidence. Specifically, the Court held (1) law enforcement’s failure to comply with Miranda does not require the suppression of the physical evidence acquired as a result of a suspect’s unwarned, but voluntary, statements; (2) Defendant’s statements leading detectives to a firearm and ammunition were voluntary, and therefore, the gun and ammunition were admissible; and (3) the trial justice did not err in concluding that the police’s seizure through the impounding of Defendant’s vehicle and the subsequent search of the vehicle were constitutional, and therefore, the evidence obtained therein admissible. View "State v. Beauregard" on Justia Law

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Ofem, age 18, was arrested for a misdemeanor and taken to Chicago lockup. During rounds, officers asked him screening questions. Ofem displayed no signs of pain, injury, or infection; he did not appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol or showing signs of withdrawal; he did not seem to be despondent or irrational, and was not carrying medication. Ofem refused food in lockup. At 1:10 p.m., on Ofem’s second day in lockup, a guard glanced at the video monitor and saw Ofem hanging from a horizontal bar in his cell. Guards immediately went to the cell, approximately 15 feet away, where Ofem had used his jeans to hang himself. Ofem was transported to a hospital where he died the following day. His mother sued the city under 42 U.S.C. 1983, for failing to prevent her son’s death. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the city, noting the lack of evidence that the city was deliberately indifferent to the risk of suicide for detainees held in lockups or that the city’s policies and practices were the cause of Ofem’s death. Illinois Lockup Standards were in effect at the time of Ofem’s death. Ofem’s estate focused on the narrow circumstances of Ofem’s death rather than on official policies or unofficial but wide-spread practices or customs. View "Lapre v. City of Chicago" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's request for an evidentiary hearing and denial of his application for a certificate of appealability (COA). Petitioner was a member of the "Texas Seven," a group that escaped from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and violently took hostages and stole guns and ammunition. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying an evidentiary hearing where an evidentiary hearing would not enable petitioner to establish a right to federal habeas relief. The court also denied a COA on petitioner's claim that the state trial court violated his constitutional rights by preventing him from offering the Ranking Document as mitigating evidence, Brady violation claim, ineffective assistance of counsel claim, Enmund/Tison culpability claim, and ineffective assistance of appellate counsel claim. View "Halprin v. Davis" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) against St. James after she was terminated from her teaching position when she told the school that she had breast cancer and would need to miss work to undergo chemotherapy. The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the school, holding that, based on the totality of the circumstances test under Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church & School v. E.E.O.C., 565 U.S. 171 (2012), the First Amendment's ministerial exception did not foreclose plaintiff's claim. In this case, plaintiff did not have any credentials, training, or ministerial background; there was no religious component to her liberal studies degree or teaching credential; St. James had no religious requirements for her position; and St. James did not hold plaintiff out as a minister. View "Biel v. St. James School" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court judge allowing Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence that was found in plain view during a protective sweep on the basis that the officers’ entry into Defendant’s home was not justified based on exigent circumstances, holding that the judge properly found that the police created the exigency that prompted their warrantless entry into Defendant’s dwelling. Specifically, the Supreme Judicial Court held (1) article 14 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights provides greater protection than the Fourteenth Amendment where the police have relied on a reasonably foreseeable exigency to justify the warrantless entry into a dwelling; (2) under the circumstances of this case, the arrest of Defendant in his dwelling without a warrant was unreasonable; and (3) the Commonwealth waived the argument regarding whether, if the permissible observations from the affidavit were redacted, the search warrant was based on probable cause. View "Commonwealth v. Alexis" on Justia Law

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Horshaw was beaten by other inmates at Menard Correctional Center. Horshaw still suffers from pain and brain trauma. Before the attack Horshaw received an anonymous letter stating that he would be “eradicated” for disrespecting the gang’s leader. In his 42 U.S.C. 1983 suit, Horshaw claimed that he gave Casper, a guard, a letter describing the threat, that Casper promised to investigate yet did nothing, and that he sent a note to then-warden Atchison, asking for protection. Both Casper and Atchison deny receiving the documents or having any reason to think that Horshaw was in danger. The district court found Casper not liable because, whether or not he received the letter, it did not establish a specific or substantial threat and found Atchison not liable because he did not receive Horshaw’s note. The Seventh Circuit vacated. Casper does not contend that he deemed the threat false or that Horshaw had lost his credibility; Atchison testified that, if he had received the letter or Horshaw’s note, he would have put Horshaw in protective custody immediately. Horshaw testified that he wrote a note to Atchison, put Atchison’s name on the envelope, and saw a guard collect the note. Placing the note in the prison mail system supports an inference of receipt. The factual disputes may be hard to resolve given the lapse of time and Horshaw’s brain injury, but if his facts are accurate, neither Casper nor Atchison is entitled to immunity. View "Horshaw v. Casper" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court concluding that Plaintiff was not discriminated against but that Defendant’s decision to terminate her employment, rather than impose lesser discipline, was in retaliation for protected conduct, holding that the district court’s rulings were not erroneous or an abuse of discretion. In her complaint, Plaintiff, a former employee of the U.S. Postal Service, argued that her termination was unlawfully discriminatory due to her race and national origin and, independently, was in retaliation for her having filed earlier complaints. Defendant appealed the ruling that Defendant’s termination was in retaliation for protected conduct, and Plaintiff appealed the remedy awarded - back pay but not reinstatement or front pay. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that there was no error in the district court’s judgments. View "Anderson v. Brennan" on Justia Law

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Sinn was incarcerated within the Indiana Department of Corrections (IDOC), 2011-2015. In 2014, at Putnamville Correctional Facility, he suffered injuries from two separate assaults by other inmates. Sinn filed suit (42 U.S.C. 1983) against various prison officials, alleging deliberate indifference in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Putnamville was designed for 1,650 inmates, but it had a recorded average daily population of 2,490 state prisoners in 2013; the facility was unable to fill vacancies in a timely manner. The district court granted judgment on the pleadings as to Putnamville Sergeant Rodgers and Correctional Officer Hoskins; summary judgment as to former Putnamville Unit Manager Brush, former Putnamville Superintendent Knight, and former IDOC Commissioner Lemmon. The Seventh Circuit affirmed except as to Brush. Sinn did not refute Rodgers’s and Hoskins’s entitlement to qualified immunity. While Knight and Lemmon may not have known about Sinn’s individual circumstances, Sinn alleged that Brush had knowledge, the basis of deliberate indifference. Brush had an in‐person conversation with Sinn about the first attack and, per Brush’s instructions,, Sinn wrote Brush a letter the next day to further de‐cribe his concerns and relocation request; it is reasonable to infer that Brush received the letter with enough time before the second attack to read and respond to it. View "Sinn v. Lemmon" on Justia Law

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California law provides that the death penalty shall be inflicted by either lethal gas or by “an intravenous injection of a substance or substances in a lethal quantity sufficient to cause death, by standards established under the direction of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.” (Pen. Code 3604 (a)). Death-row inmates and the ACLU challenged the law as impermissibly delegating the Legislature’s authority to nonelected agency officials. The court of appeal affirmed that section 3604 does not violate the doctrine of separation of powers. The statute’s purpose gives the Department adequate guidance. The Eighth Amendment prohibits governmental imposition of cruel and unusual punishments, and bars infliction of unnecessary pain in the execution of the death sentence. In developing a protocol for lethal injections, the Department must meet these standards: it may not inflict unnecessary pain and it must seek to avoid a lingering death. The Legislature did not need to provide more explicit standards and safeguards. View "Sims v. Kernan" on Justia Law