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The First Circuit reversed the judgment of the bankruptcy court allowing The Patriot Group, LLC to amend its pleadings in its adversary complaint requesting denial of the discharge in bankruptcy of Steven Fustolo’s debt and denying Fustolo’s discharge pursuant to the newly added claim, holding that the allowance of this belated amendment failed to satisfy the prescripts of due process underlying Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(b)(2) and was therefore an abuse of discretion. Specifically, the Court held that Appellant did not receive adequate notice of an unpleaded claim and did not provide his implied consent. Therefore, the bankruptcy court’s order must be reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings. View "Fustolo v. Patriot Group LLC" on Justia Law

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If plaintiffs in 42 U.S.C.1983 actions demonstrate that their conditions of confinement have been restricted solely because of overcrowding or understaffing at a prison facility, a deference instruction ordinarily should not be given. Similarly, if plaintiffs in 42 U.S.C. 1983 actions demonstrate that they have been subjected to search procedures that are an unnecessary, unjustified, or exaggerated response to concerns about jail safety, the court need not defer to jail officials. Plaintiff appealed the partial grant of summary judgment for defendants on her 42 U.S.C. 1983 action alleging inadequate medical care, and the denial of her motion for a new trial. Plaintiff challenged several conditions of her confinement and the procedures that the County used to classify her as mentally ill. The Ninth Circuit held that the magistrate judge should not have given the deference instruction to plaintiff's conditions of confinement claims, where the only justification that jail officials offered for curtailing her meals, showers, and recreation was a concern about overcrowding and understaffing in the facility. The panel also held that the magistrate judge erred in instructing the jury to give deference to the jail officials on plaintiff's claim of excessive search, because substantial evidence supporter her arguments that this search practice was an unnecessary, unjustified, and exaggerated response to jail officials’ need for prison security. Accordingly, the panel vacated and remanded. View "Shorter v. Baca" on Justia Law

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Because Defendant was not self-represented during his testimony, the trial court’s decision to allow Defendant to testify in narrative form did not cause him to be self-represented without a proper waiver of his right to counsel. During the trial for the murder of his father and the physical assault of his elderly mother, Defendant demanded to testify that Satan had taken over his body and performed these acts. Based on the Rules of Professional Conduct, defense counsel requested that Defendant be permitted to give that testimony in narrative form. The trial court granted the request, and Defendant testified in that manner. After Defendant was convicted, he appealed, claiming that, pursuant to State v. Francis, 118 A.3d 529 (2015), he was entitled to a new trial because in order to exercise his right to testify, he was compelled to self-represent without a proper waiver of his right to counsel. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Francis does not control the present case; and (2) under the facts of this case, Defendant was not self-represented during his narrative testimony or at any other point during the trial. View "State v. Jan G." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, several Texas healthcare providers licensed to perform abortions in the state, filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that the costs imposed by regulations regarding the disposal of embryonic and fetal tissue would violate Due Process by burdening the rights of women seeking an abortion. The district court granted a preliminary injunction, finding that some terms in the regulations were unconstitutionally vague and that the rules impermissibly burdened abortion access. While the appeal was pending, the Texas legislature signed into law SB8, a larger abortion-related bill that specified legitimate methods for disposing of fetal remains. The Bishops subsequently filed an emergency appeal from an extraordinary discovery order by the district court to a religious body, compelling document production of the group's internal communications. The Fifth Circuit denied plaintiffs' motion to dismiss and reversed the district court's order denying the motion to quash and compelling discovery of internal communications within TCCB. The court held that the district court discounted the burdens of production on TCCB and failed to require more than a minimal, if any, rationale for discovery of TCCB's internal communications. The district court abused its discretion because it was too quick to reject TCCB's privilege claims and thus deprived TCCB of a fair opportunity to make its case for quashing the discovery. View "Whole Woman's Health v. Smith" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against State's Attorney Oglesby for violations of his civil rights, and the State of Maryland under Title VII, asserting a vicarious liability claim against Maryland. The Fourth Circuit held that prosecutorial immunity barred plaintiff's claims against Oglesby where the reviewing and evaluating evidence in preparation for trial, making judgments about witness credibility, and deciding which witnesses to call and which cases may be prosecuted all were directly connected to the judicial phase of the criminal process, protected by absolute immunity. The court held, however, that no reasonable employee could believe that Oglesby violated Title VII at the trial-preparation meeting to which plaintiff objected, and thus plaintiff's allegations failed to state a claim under Title VII and should be dismissed. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, and reversed in part, and remanded. View "Savage v. Maryland" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment finding that Officers Martorano and Moton used excessive force in their apprehension and arrest of plaintiff and award of damages to plaintiff. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the deposition testimony of an unavailable medical expert witness where the expert qualified as an expert and had been extensively cross-examined during his deposition, he was unavailable, and defendants had notice; the district court did not err in submitting plaintiff's punitive damage claim to the jury and the award against Moton was supported by substantial evidence; and the district court did not err in denying the officers' Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) motion to deduct from the judgment amount sums plaintiff had received from pretrial settlements with other defendants. View "Fletcher v. Tomlinson" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's judgment against plaintiff in an action alleging that Hughes violated the California Disabled Persons Act (DPA). Plaintiff alleged that under the DPA, the store was obliged to designate an accessible path of travel from the street to the store’s entrance that did not require wheelchair-bound patrons to travel behind parked vehicles. The court found no error in the trial court's conclusion that the 2013 CBSC standards applied to all the incidents identified in the first amended complaint; under the 2013 CBSC standards, Hughes was not required to provide an accessible route that did not pass behind parked cars for persons using wheelchairs; and the trial court did not err by determining that plaintiff failed to plead a signage-based claim. View "Baskin v. Hughes Realty, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant, after a jury trial, of murdering James Madden and sentencing Defendant to death. On appeal, Defendant raised a number of issues, most of which focused on purported errors made by the trial court. Defendant also took issue with the Supreme Court’s decision not to supplement the appellate record with the trial transcripts of his codefendants and also challenged the constitutionality of California’s death penalty scheme. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court in its entirety, holding that there was no reversible error in this case. View "People v. Spencer" on Justia Law

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In 1995, a Pennsylvania jury found Abdul-Salaam guilty of first-degree murder, robbery, and conspiracy. After a one-day penalty phase hearing in which Abdul-Salaam’s counsel presented three mitigation witnesses, the jury sentenced Abdul-Salaam to death. Abdul-Salaam, after exhausting his state remedies, filed a federal petition for habeas corpus, 28 U.S.C. 2254, challenging his sentence, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel by failing to investigate adequately and to present sufficient mitigation evidence at sentencing. The Third Circuit reversed the denial of relief. Trial counsel could not have had a strategic reason not to investigate Abdul-Salaam’s background, school, and juvenile records, to acquire a mental health evaluation, or to interview more family members about his childhood abuse and poverty, counsel’s performance was deficient. There is a reasonable probability that the un-presented evidence would have caused at least one juror to vote for a sentence of life imprisonment instead of the death penalty. Abdul-Salaam has met the prejudice prong of the ineffective assistance of counsel inquiry. View "Abdul-Salaam v. Secretary Pennsylvania Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of summary judgment to a police officer based on qualified immunity in an action brought by plaintiff under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that the officer applied excessive force when he brought plaintiff to the ground. The court held that, viewed in a light most favorable to plaintiff, the facts gave rise to a question of unreasonable and excessive force for the ultimate finder of fact. In this case, plaintiff neither posed a threat to anyone's safety nor resisted arrest at the time that the officer executed the arm-bar takedown, and therefore his right to be free from unreasonable and excessive force was violated. Furthermore, the right was clearly established at the time. View "Neal v. Ficcadenti" on Justia Law