Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

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Petitioner was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. The Fifth Circuit granted a certificate of appealability on two issues: (1) a Mills claim that the omission of a jury instruction—required under Texas law—that jurors need not agree on what particular evidence they found mitigating created a substantial risk that the jurors may have mistakenly believed mitigating evidence needed to be accepted unanimously and (2) that petitioner's trial counsel's failure to object to the missing instruction constituted ineffective assistance of counsel under Strickland v. Washington. In regard to the Mills claim, the court held that, given the record, there did not exist a reasonable likelihood or substantial probability that reasonable jurors may have thought they were precluded from considering any mitigating evidence unless all 12 jurors agreed on the existence of a particular such circumstances. Therefore, the state courts did not unreasonably apply Mills. Assuming arguendo that failing to object to the absent jury instruction was deficient performance, defendant failed to show prejudice. Accordingly, the Texas state courts' application of Strickland to defendant's ineffective assistance of counsel claims was not unreasonable. The court affirmed the denial of habeas relief. View "Young v. Davis" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit challenging a provision in the Texas Administrative Code regulating advertising in the field of dentistry, Tex. Admin. Code 108.54. Section 108.54 prohibits dentists from advertising as specialists in areas that the ADA does not recognize as specialties. The district court enjoined defendants from enforcing section 108.54 and granted summary judgment for defendants on plaintiffs' remaining Fourteenth Amendment claims. The Fifth Circuit held that plaintiffs' proposed speech was not inherently misleading; even if it were, the Board may regulate potentially misleading speech if the regulation satisfied the remaining elements of the Central Hudson test; the Board had a substantial interest in ensuring the accuracy of commercial information in the marketplace, establishing uniform standards for certification, and protecting consumers from misleading professional advertisements; but the Board failed to meet its burden to show that section 108.54 advances the asserted interests in a direct and material way. Even if the Board demonstrated that section 108.54 directly advanced the interests asserted, it failed to demonstrate that it was not more extensive than was necessary to serve those interests. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "American Academy of Implant Dentistry v. Parker" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a wrongful termination suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and 1988, alleging violations of procedural and substantive due process stemming from legislation that abolished the University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA) and the University of Texas at Brownsville (UTB). The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings with respect to plaintiff's section 1983 claims because plaintiff failed to demonstrate that he had a constitutionally protected interest in employment or tenure at UTRGV or the UT System at large. The court explained that plaintiff's protected property interests were limited to an interest in continuing appointment at the institution that granted him tenure, UTPA, an interest which terminated when the university was abolished. Furthermore, the court denied by implication plaintiff's motion for leave to amend pleadings, and denied plaintiff's motion to alter or amend the judgment. The court also declined to exercise jurisdiction over and dismissed plaintiff's declaratory judgment claim. View "Edionwe v. Bailey" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging claims arising out of injuries he sustained while he was detained at a facility operated by Nueces County and was under the care of the facility's medical professionals, Deborah Charette and Chelsea Johnson. The Fifth Circuit held that the district court did not err in concluding that plaintiff's claims against Charette and Johnson were barred by the statute of limitations. However, the district court erred in dismissing plaintiff's claims against the County because the amended complaint pleaded facts sufficient to support a municipal liability claim that was plausible on its face. View "Balle v. Nueces County" on Justia Law