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In 2000, Peppers was indicted for numerous federal firearms and drug offenses, including murder with a firearm. After a trial, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. On remand, Peppers pleaded guilty as an armed career criminal in possession of a firearm, 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1) and 924(e)(1). The charging document stated that Peppers had previously been convicted of felonies in six separate proceedings. Peppers was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment--the mandatory minimum under the Armed Career Criminal Act. In his second habeas petition, Peppers challenged that sentence, citing the Supreme Court’s “Johnson” decision, which invalidated ACCA’s residual clause. The district court denied relief. The Third Circuit vacated. The jurisdictional gatekeeping inquiry for successive section 2255 motions based on Johnson requires only that a defendant prove he might have been sentenced under the now-unconstitutional residual clause, not that he was actually sentenced under that clause. A Rule 11(c)(1)(C) guilty plea does not preclude a defendant from collaterally attacking his sentence if his sentence would be unlawful once he proved that ACCA no longer applies to him. A defendant seeking a sentence correction in a successive section 2255 motion based on Johnson, who uses Johnson to satisfy the section 2255(h) gatekeeping requirements, may rely on post-sentencing cases to support his claim. Peppers’s convictions under Pennsylvania’s robbery statute, are not categorically ACCA violent felonies. Peppers did not prove his Johnson claim with respect to his Pennsylvania burglary conviction. The court remanded for analysis of whether treating the robbery convictions as predicate offenses under ACCA, was harmless in light of his other convictions. View "United States v. Peppers" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against corrections officials at Crossroads Correctional Center for violation of his Eighth Amendment rights under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the jury's finding that the officials were deliberately indifferent to plaintiff's serious medical need by failing to take reasonable steps to abate the risk of harm that secondhand smoke posed to him. In this case, there was sufficient evidence to show that the officials violated plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights by being deliberately indifferent to the fact that plaintiff's asthma was exacerbated by offenders smoking indoors. However, there was insufficient evidence to justify an award of punitive damages where plaintiff failed to show that the officials were motivated by evil motive or intent or showed callous indifference to plaintiff's rights. Therefore, the court vacated the award of punitive damages and remanded for further proceedings. View "Washington v. Denney" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. 1983 action against the City and a municipal judge, seeking costs and attorney's fees after plaintiff successfully defended himself in municipal court against a charge that he violated an ordinance for disorderly conduct. The court affirmed the district court's holding that no municipal liability under section 1983 was present in this case because the municipal court's ruling did not constitute a final municipal policy decision. The court also held that the judge was not a policymaker, and thus relief under section 1983 was foreclosed. View "King v. The City of Crestwood" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Wells Fargo in an action alleging that the bank violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) in terminating plaintiff's employment. The court held that the district court identified exactly the two policies that plaintiff challenged. The court also held that plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case of disparate impact discrimination under the ADEA where plaintiff was disqualified for the job he held due to a prior conviction for fraud and he failed to present statistical evidence of any kind that the two challenged policies created a disparate impact among Wells Fargo employees older than 40. View "Eggers v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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The warrant application was supported by statements from “Doe,” that for the previous six months she regularly bought heroin from T (Doe only knew him by sight and street name) in a house, which she identified while driving with the police. A judge questioned Doe under oath and issued the warrant. Executing the warrant, officers found Walker in a house that looked like a drug house. Walker stated that she had a gun but could not remember where it was. The search took 90-120 minutes. Officers left without drugs or evidence of T’s whereabouts. Walker sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The district court granted defendants summary judgment; more than 16 months passed before the judge released her opinion. Walker appealed that day. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, first noting that under Fed.R.App.P. 4(a)(7)(A)(ii), a judgment is deemed to be entered on the earlier of the Rule 58 judgment or 150 days after a dispositive order is entered. “Deferring the opinion until after the time allowed by Rule. 4(a)(7)(A)(ii) is never appropriate, as it can spell disaster for a litigant not versed in the appellate rules.” Addressing the merits, the court stated that Walker’s goal was to have a jury decide whether the state judge should have issued the warrant but with the benefit of “great deference” the state judge’s probable-cause evaluation must prevail. Nothing was concealed from the judge and, under the circumstances, a two-hour search was not unreasonable. View "Walker v. Weatherspoon" on Justia Law

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Harrington was convicted in 2009 of seven drug offenses, including conspiring to manufacture, distribute, and possess with intent to distribute heroin and at least 50 grams of cocaine base, resulting in death (Count 1); and distributing heroin, resulting in death (Count 7). Citing 21 U.S.C. 841 and 851, the government filed notice that Harrington was subject to a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment by reason of a 2002 felony drug conviction. The district court sentenced Harrington to concurrent terms of life in prison on Counts 1 and 7, and 360 months on each remaining count. In 2014, the Supreme Court held, in Burrage, that where use of the drug distributed by the defendant is not an independently sufficient cause of the victim’s death or serious bodily injury, a defendant cannot be liable under the penalty enhancement provision unless such use was a but-for cause of the death or injury. Harrington unsuccessfully sought relief under 28 U.S.C. 2241. In 2017, Harrington filed a second petition. The district court dismissed. The Sixth Circuit vacated. Harrington’s claim is properly construed as one of actual innocence. Because Burrage is retroactive, Harrington is entitled to an evidentiary hearing to determine whether it is more likely than not that no reasonable juror would have convicted him, if given the proper jury instruction. View "Harrington v. Ormond" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of murder in the first degree and declined to exercise its extraordinary power to set aside or reduce the verdict under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 278, 33E, holding that Defendant’s claims of ineffective assistance of counsel failed and that the trial judge did not commit reversible error in her rulings. Specifically, the Court held (1) the trial judge did not err in admitting portions of a recorded police interview; (2) the trial judge properly admitted testimony regarding an argument a witness had with the victim; (3) the judge did not err in disallowing defense counsel’s line of questioning to a witness; and (4) Defendant did not receive ineffective assistance of trial counsel during the proceedings below. View "Commonwealth v. Cruzado" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendants, under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, following his involuntary civil commitment. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's ADA claims as barred by state sovereign immunity. The court held that the district court erred by dismissing plaintiff's claim that defendants' use of restraints amounted to a due process violation, because the claim was not barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the remaining section 1983 claims by the favorable termination rule established in Heck. The court vacated and remanded plaintiff's due process claim of unlawful bodily restraint against Defendants McMichael, Chastain, and Savoie. Finally, the court vacated the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's pendant state law claim on this issue to permit the district court to choose whether to exercise supplemental jurisdiction. View "Smith v. Hood" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit held that its order denying a certificate of appealability (COA) to petitioner in this case should not be reconsidered. The court held that petitioner was not entitled to a COA for two distinct reasons: first, his claim arose from the rule announced in Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado, 580 U.S. ___, 137 S. Ct. 855 (2017), and that rule did not apply retroactively; and second, he has failed to show cause to overcome his procedural default. View "Tharpe v. Warden" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed in part the district court’s grant of summary judgment against Plaintiff, a faculty member, on her claim of retaliation under Title VII and the Maine Human Rights Act against Defendant, the university that employed her, holding that genuine issues of material fact precluded summary judgment. In her complaint, Plaintiff alleged that the university retaliated against her after she complained about sexual harassment by her department chair and supervisor. The alleged retaliatory acts included Plaintiff’s transfer to a new department after obtaining her consent to transfer by making misrepresentations about how the transfer would affect her professional responsibilities. The First Circuit remanded the case, holding that summary judgment was improper because there were genuine disputes of material fact as to whether Defendant misled Plaintiff into transferring departments and as to whether Plaintiff’s transfer was the true reason for her change in teaching assignments. View "Carlson v. University of New England" on Justia Law