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After the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals held that plaintiff was "actually innocent" of assault on a public servant in Texas court, he filed suit against the City and law enforcement officers under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Plaintiff alleged a Brady claim against the City and the district court granted summary judgment in his favor. The Fifth Circuit reversed and dismissed the action with prejudice, holding that plaintiff's guilty plea precludes him from asserting a Brady claim under section 1983. View "Alvarez v. City of Brownsville" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, heirs of Norman F. Hicks, Sr., filed suit against the County and other defendants under 42 U.S.C. 1983, the Texas Tort Claims Act, and the Texas Wrongful Death Act. The district court ultimately granted summary judgment and final judgment for the County. The Fifth Circuit affirmed and held that plaintiffs have not met their evidentiary burden of showing a genuine dispute of material fact as to the existence of a persistent, widespread practice of city officials or employees, which, although not authorized by officially adopted and promulgated policy, was so common and well settled as to constitute a custom that fairly represents municipal policy; plaintiffs have failed to produce competent summary judgment evidence of the County's failure to train regarding responses to assaults by inmates and medical aid following a response incident; and the magistrate judge did not abuse her discretion in denying leave to amend after the amendment deadline. View "Hicks-Fields v. Pool" on Justia Law

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In rural Brown County, most buildings depend on septic systems. Simpson, who installed and repaired septic systems, received a letter demanding immediate repair of the septic system on Simpson’s mother’s property and threatening that if Simpson did not make the repairs, the county would request action through the prosecutor’s office and “may request an executive meeting of the Health Board to recommend that [Simpson’s] license to install septics be rescinded.” Two weeks later, without further process or an opportunity to be heard, Simpson received a letter: “Based on the findings our Health Board members approved the removal of your name from our list of approved septic contractors.” The letter did not inform Simpson of any law he had violated, and did not identify any opportunities for administrative or judicial review. Simpson filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The district court dismissed, reasoning that post-deprivation remedies, such as common-law judicial review, satisfied the due process requirement and that Simpson had not availed himself of such remedies. The Seventh Circuit reversed, finding that Simpson plausibly alleged that he was denied the pre-deprivation notice and hearing he was due and that even if the County had some basis for summary action, it has not shown there is an adequate state law post-deprivation remedy. View "Simpson v. Brown County" on Justia Law

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There is no equal protection violation for the procedural difference between when a supervising agency files a petition to modify, revoke, or terminate a criminal defendant’s parole or postrelease community supervision, its petition must be accompanied by a written report containing information specified by statute and the California Rules of Court, and when a district attorney files such a petition, its petition need not be accompanied by such a report. Therefore, the Court of Appeal held that the trial court correctly overruled the demurrer in this case. View "People v. Castel" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against his former employer, Neiman Marcus, alleging interference with the exercise of his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12203(b). The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's order finding this action moot and granting summary judgment to Neiman Marcus. The panel held that section 12203 authorized the district court to award nominal damages as equitable relief to plaintiff. Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Bayer v. Neiman Marcus Group, Inc." on Justia Law

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Oregon sought a declaratory judgment that, under state law, the DEA must obtain a court order to enforce investigative subpoenas. The ACLU intervened, arguing that the DEA's use of subpoenas violated their Fourth Amendment rights. The district court reached the merits of the Fourth Amendment claim and found a violation of privacy interests asserted by the ACLU. The Ninth Circuit reversed without reaching the merits of the Fourth Amendment claim, holding that the ACLU lacked Article III standing to seek declaratory and injunctive relief prohibiting the DEA from obtaining prescription records without a warrant supported by probable cause. The panel explained that the Supreme Court recently clarified this independent standing requirement for intervenors in Town of Chester v. Laroe Estates, No. 16-605, slip op. at 6 (U.S. June 5, 2017). The panel also held that the federal administrative subpoena statute, 21 U.S.C. 876, preempted Oregon's statutory court order requirement. View "OR Prescription Drug Monitoring Program v. ACLU" on Justia Law

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In petitioner’s state capital murder trial, the court overruled counsel’s objection to a proposed jury and submitted the instruction to the jury, which convicted petitioner. Appellate counsel did instruction not challenge the jury instruction; petitioner’s conviction was affirmed. Petitioner’s state habeas counsel did not raise the instructional issue or challenge appellate counsel’s failure to raise it. The state habeas court denied relief. Petitioner then sought federal habeas relief. The Fifth Circuit and Supreme Court affirmed denial of relief. The ineffective assistance of postconviction counsel does not provide cause to excuse the procedural default of ineffective-assistance-of-appellate-counsel claims. Attorney error during state postconviction proceedings, for which the Constitution does not guarantee the right to counsel, cannot supply cause to excuse a procedural default that occurs in those proceedings except where state law requires a claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel to be raised in an “initial-review collateral proceeding,” rather than on direct appeal or where the state’s “procedural framework, by reason of its design and operation, makes it unlikely in a typical case that a defendant will have a meaningful opportunity to raise” the claim on direct appeal. Extending the exception is not required to ensure that meritorious claims of trial error receive review by at least one state or federal court. A claim of trial error, preserved by trial counsel but not raised by counsel on appeal, will have been addressed by the trial court. View "Davila v. Davis" on Justia Law

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In 2010, a U.S. Border Patrol agent standing on U.S. soil shot and killed Hernandez, an unarmed 15-year-old Mexican national, standing on Mexican soil. Hernandez had been playing a game that involved running up the embankment on the U.S. side of the border. After the Justice Department closed an investigation, declining to file charges, Hernandez’s parents filed suit, including a “Bivens” claims for damages against the agent. The Fifth Circuit affirmed dismissal. The Supreme Court vacated and remanded. A “Bivens” implied right of action for damages against federal officers alleged to have violated a citizen’s constitutional rights is not available where there are special factors counselling hesitation in the absence of affirmative action by Congress. In light of recent Supreme Court precedent (Abbasi), the Fifth Circuit must consider “whether the Judiciary is well suited, absent congressional action or instruction, to consider and weigh the costs and benefits of allowing a damages action to proceed.” The Court noted that the Fourth Amendment question is sensitive and may have far-reaching consequences. Qualified immunity shields officials from civil liability if their conduct does not violate clearly established constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known. The lower court concluded that the prohibition on excessive force did not apply to Hernandez, as a foreign national on foreign soil, but the Court noted that Hernández’s nationality and the extent of his ties to the U.S. were unknown to the agent at the time of the shooting. View "Hernandez v. Mesa" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against her employer, the Office of Attorney General for the State of Louisiana (DOJ), alleging failure to accommodate, harassment, and retaliation in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law (LEDL). The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in the DOJ's favor, holding that there was no genuine issue of material fact as to whether plaintiff has established a prima facie case on any of her disability-based claims. In regard to the failure to accommodate claim, plaintiff failed to demonstrate that she was a qualified individual, i.e., that she can perform the essential functions of her job unaided or with the assistance of a reasonable accommodation; in regard to the disability-based harassment claim, the difficulties plaintiff managed while attempting to manage her serious illness and employment were not sufficient to create a hostile work environment; and the record did not support that any of the DOJ's actions were taken in retaliation for plaintiff's protected activity. View "Credeur v. Louisiana" on Justia Law

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After the University found that two former students violated the University's sexual misconduct policy, the students filed suit alleging that they were denied constitutional due process and were discriminated against in violation of Title IX. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the University and the individual defendants, holding that the students did not meet their summary judgment burden to demonstrate a genuine factual dispute that the process surrounding their disciplinary cases was constitutionally defective. The court rejected the students' allegations of selective enforcement and deliberate indifference. In this case, there was no sound basis for an inference of gender bias and the pleadings here did not meet the high standard of misconduct for deliberate indifference. View "Plummer v. University of Houston" on Justia Law