Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

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Plaintiff and his family challenged the City's ordinance restricting where certain individuals convicted of sex offenses may live within the city. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the city, holding that even assuming the ordinance deprived plaintiff of a liberty interest, due process does not entitle him to a hearing to establish a fact that is not material under the statute. In this case, the fact that defendant seeks to prove his current dangerousness is of no consequence under the ordinance. The court also held that the ordinance did not violate the Equal Protection Clause because its challenged classification rationally furthers a legitimate state interest. View "Duarte v. City of Lewisville, Texas" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed the dismissal of his 42 U.S.C. 1983 pro se complaint as frivolous and for failure to state a claim. The Fifth Circuit affirmed, holding that plaintiff's claims for declaratory and injunctive relief under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), was moot after his transfer to a different detention center; plaintiff's First Amendment claim failed because, other than not being allowed to attend Jumu'ah prayer services, he has not identified any other restrictions on his ability to express or exercise his faith; plaintiff's claims regarding the denial of medical care, negligent or deliberately indifferent infliction of injury, interference with his mail/denial of access to the courts, denial of equal protection, and retaliation were either not briefed at all or not adequately briefed; and plaintiff filed a formal motion requesting leave to file his proposed third amended complaint, and his "proposed order" accompanying that complaint did not qualify as such a motion. The court denied plaintiff's motion for a proposed settlement, and noted that the dismissal of this complaint counts as a strike under 28 U.S.C. 1915(g). Because plaintiff has at least three other strikes, he is barred from proceeding in forma pauperis. View "Coleman v. Lincoln Parish Detention Center" on Justia Law

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Two former sheriff's deputies were terminated for violating the Sheriff's Code of Conduct because they moved in with each other's wife and family before getting divorced from their current wives. The district court held that the Code policies invoked against the deputies were supported by the rational grounds of preserving a cohesive police force and upholding the public trust and reputation of the Sheriff's Department, and that the Code was not unconstitutionally vague as written or enforced. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of defendants, holding that the district court made no reversible error of fact or law. The court explained that Obergefell v. Hodges does not alter applicable law, and did not create "rights" based on relationships that mock marriage. View "Coker, v. Whittington" on Justia Law

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Pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 28 U.S.C .1915(g), a third strike bars a prisoner from proceeding in forma pauperis unless the prisoner is under imminent danger of serious physical injury. A strike issues when a prisoner's action is dismissed as frivolous, malicious, or for failure to state a claim. However, a strike does not issue when only some claims are dismissed on section 1915(g) grounds. In this case, plaintiff's claims were dismissed for failure to state a claim while others were adequately pleaded but failed at summary judgment. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff's claim that defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, but vacated the strike because the strike did not issue when only some of plaintiff's claims were dismissed on section 1915(g) grounds. View "Brown v. Megg" on Justia Law

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Petitioner challenged the district court's transfer of his habeas petition to the Fifth Circuit based on the ground that the petition was second or successive. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the transfer order, holding that there was no intervening judgment here because the 2014 Texas Court of Criminal Appeal decision was not the one authorizing petitioner's confinement. In the alternative, the Fifth Circuit found that petitioner had made a requisite prima facie showing to file a successive habeas petition and the court granted his motion for authorization to file a successive petition. In this case, petitioner's Atkins claim relied on a previously unavailable new rule of constitutional law and his Atkins claim had merit. View "In Re: Eric Cathey" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a former student of the school district, filed suit alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. 1983; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. 1681(a); Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. 794; and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq. Plaintiff alleged that he was sexually assaulted when he was in the second or third grade by a male student in the bathroom. The district court granted the school district's motion to dismiss. The Fifth Circuit affirmed, concluding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in considering the school district's second Rule 12(b)(6) motion; the district court did not abuse its discretion by not allowing further discovery or granting a continuance; the section 1983 claims were properly dismissed because plaintiff failed to prove a constitutional violation where the claims were not based on the private conduct of his assailant but on the school district's shortcomings in monitoring the students, training the teachers, and establishing a reporting system for sexual assault; the district court did not err in dismissing the Title IX claim because plaintiff failed to show the school district's actual knowledge required to establish liability under Title IX; and the district court also did not err in dismissing the Section 504 and ADA claims. View "Doe v. Columbia-Brazoria Independent School District" on Justia Law

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After a jury convicted Lisa Jo Chamberlin of two counts of capital murder and sentenced her to death, the district court granted habeas relief on the ground that the state court erred in finding that there was no racial exclusion of jurors at her trial. Chamberlin, a white defendant, had challenged the exclusion of black jurors. The court affirmed the district court's judgment on the ground that the Mississippi court's decision was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts under 18 U.S.C. 2254(d)(2). In this case, the court explained that clear and convincing evidence, including more damning comparative juror analysis than existed in Miller-El v. Dretke or Reed v. Quarterman, rebuts the state court's finding of no discrimination. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Chamberlin v. Fisher, Commissioner" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, sentenced to death for his involvement in a murder-for-hire, sought a certificate of appealability (COA) to challenge the district court's denial of his habeas petition. The court denied a COA as to the procedural default ruling because the grounds petitioner cited for cause were either not raised in the district court or sought an extension of Martinez/Trevino beyond the realm of ineffective assistance claims for which there was no supporting authority. The court also concluded that petitioner failed to met the COA standard for any of his claims relating to the failure to disclose the circumstances surrounding a codefendant's confession; claims relating to the denial of petitioner's right to present mitigating evidence; claims of error for the trial court to allow the prosecution to introduce evidence of past adjudicated offenses; and a claim that petitioner did not pull the trigger in the victim's murder. Accordingly, the court denied the application of COA. View "Prystash v. Davis" on Justia Law

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This case arose out of a police shooting of John Lincoln. John was shot and killed in front of his daughter, Erin. Erin and her aunt Kelly subsequently filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against the Cities of Colleyville and North Richland Hills, Texas, and several officers involved in the incident, including Officer Barnes. On appeal, Barnes challenged the district court's denial of qualified immunity. Erin asserted that officers violated her Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizure when they took her into custody without a warrant, probable cause, or justifiable reason and interrogated her against her will for many hours, refusing her access to her family. The court concluded that the police violate the Fourth Amendment when, absent probable cause or the individual's consent, they seize and transport a person to the police station and subject her to prolonged interrogation. Because the right was clearly established at the time of the violation, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Lincoln v. Barnes" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against law enforcement officers and the city under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging violations of his First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights after officers pulled him over for suspicious activity and subsequently arrested him for resisting a search. The district court granted the officers' motion to dismiss all claims. The court could not conclude as a matter of law that plaintiff failed to state a Fourth Amendment claim for unlawful detention. In this case, the most the officer could have observed was a man (plaintiff) briefly looking around a vehicle in the parking lot, turning to get into a car, noticing a police car, continuing to get into the car, and beginning to drive further into the parking lot. This was not a "headlong flight," nor "evasive" behavior. The court also concluded that the officers did not have probable cause to arrest plaintiff for resisting a search under Texas law, and because no objectively reasonable officer would conclude that such probable cause did exist, the court held that plaintiff has stated a Fourth Amendment claim; and the officers are not entitled to qualified immunity from that claim at the motion to dismiss stage. The court concluded, however, that plaintiff did not state a valid claim for retaliation under either the First or Fifth Amendments. Finally, the court concluded that plaintiff's alleged injuries—though perhaps not sufficient on their own to satisfy the de minimis requirement—were enough to support a claim for excessive force at the motion to dismiss stage. Accordingly, the court reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded. View "Alexander v. City of Round Rock" on Justia Law