Justia Weekly Opinion Summaries

Constitutional Law
July 7, 2023

Table of Contents

Clemente v. Lee

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Griffin v. Carnes

Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

U.S. v. Aybar-Peguero

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Eva Palmer v. Liberty University, Incorporated

Civil Procedure, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Education Law, Labor & Employment Law

US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Stephen Porter v. Board of Trustees of N. C. State University

Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Labor & Employment Law

US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

US v. Jacob Ross

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Nelson v. Lumpkin

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Price v. Montgomery County

Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Reed v. United States

Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Hess v. Garcia

Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Education Law

US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

United States v. States

Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

Tiffany Janis v. United States

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

United States v. Mujera Lung'aho

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

GLORIA JOHNSON, ET AL V. CITY OF GRANTS PASS

Civil Rights, Constitutional Law

US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

KENNETH TIEDEMANN V. BARBARA VON BLANCKENSEE, ET AL

Civil Rights, Constitutional Law

US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

PROJECT VERITAS, ET AL V. MICHAEL SCHMIDT, ET AL

Civil Procedure, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law

US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

USA V. ARMANDO OROZCO-BARRON

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

USA V. JERRAMEY ROPER

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Rosales v. Bradshaw, et al.

Civil Rights, Constitutional Law

US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

USA v. Deunate Tarez Jews

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

Flyers Rights Education Fund, Inc. v. FAA

Aviation, Constitutional Law, Government & Administrative Law

US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Thomas Massie v. Nancy Pelosi

Constitutional Law

US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

West Flagler Associates, Ltd. v. Debra Haaland

Constitutional Law, Gaming Law, Native American Law

US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Brown v. City of Inglewood

Constitutional Law, Labor & Employment Law, Personal Injury

California Courts of Appeal

California v. Fletcher

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

California Courts of Appeal

California v. Hilburn

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

California Courts of Appeal

In re D.L.

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

California Courts of Appeal

P. v. Gaines

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

California Courts of Appeal

P. v. Hernandez

Civil Procedure, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

California Courts of Appeal

P. v. Newell

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

California Courts of Appeal

Price v. Superior Court

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

California Courts of Appeal

Arbelaez v. State

Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Florida Supreme Court

Allen v. Georgia

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Supreme Court of Georgia

Middleton v. Georgia

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Supreme Court of Georgia

Wood v. Georgia

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Supreme Court of Georgia

Members of the Medical Licensing Bd. v. Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai'i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, Inc.

Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Health Law

Supreme Court of Indiana

State v. Buchanan

Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Kansas Supreme Court

Commonwealth v. Armstrong

Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

New Hampshire v. Jordan

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

New Hampshire Supreme Court

S.D. v. N.B.

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

New Hampshire Supreme Court

New Jersey v. Amer

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Supreme Court of New Jersey

Abbott v. City of San Antonio

Constitutional Law, Health Law

Supreme Court of Texas

Mahmutovic v. Washington County Mental Health Services, Inc.

Constitutional Law, Government & Administrative Law, Labor & Employment Law

Vermont Supreme Court

McHenry v. State

Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Wyoming Supreme Court

303 Creative LLC v. Elenis

Civil Rights, Communications Law, Constitutional Law

US Supreme Court

Browse upcoming and on-demand Justia Webinars

Constitutional Law Opinions

Clemente v. Lee

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Docket: 21-279

Opinion Date: July 5, 2023

Judge: SACK

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

On April 10, 2008, Petitioner was convicted of murder in the second degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree by a New York state-court jury. The court sentenced him to concurrent indeterminate prison terms of twenty years to life for the murder count and five to fifteen years for the weapon possession count. Petitioner filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Respondent, the Warden of the facility in which Petitioner is imprisoned, moved to dismiss a subset of the claims in the petition on the ground that they were time-barred under 28 U.S.C. Section 2244(d)(1). The district court agreed and entered an order supported by a memorandum decision granting the motion. Petitioner filed a notice of appeal and sought a certificate of appealability. The Second Circuit granted a certificate of appealability. Petitioner contends that under Section 2244(d)(1), all the claims raised in his petition were timely because at least one claim asserted therein was timely filed within the applicable one-year limitations period.
 
The Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s order. The court concluded that Section 2244(d)(1)’s statute of limitations requires a claim-by-claim approach. The court explained that Petitioner’s sole argument in support of his entitlement to equitable tolling is that his lawyer told him the wrong deadline for filing a habeas petition that included the arguments that he advanced in his direct appeal. But this argument has been squarely foreclosed by the Supreme Court. Accordingly, the district court correctly determined that Petitioner was not entitled to equitable tolling and properly dismissed his claims as time-barred.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Griffin v. Carnes

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Docket: 22-1134

Opinion Date: June 30, 2023

Judge: Per Curiam

Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Plaintiff, pro se and incarcerated, appealed from the dismissal of his 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 action. The district court dismissed his complaint, concluding that Plaintiff was barred from proceeding in forma pauperis (“IFP”) because he had accumulated three “strikes” under 28 U.S.C. Section 1915(g) of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”). At issue on appeal is whether (1) a res judicata dismissal and (2) a dismissal of an entire complaint on several alternative grounds—one of which qualifies as a strike under existing precedent—can constitute strikes under Section 1915(g).
 
The Second Circuit affirmed. The court explained that Section 1915(g) bars a prisoner from proceeding IFP, absent a showing of imminent danger, if on three or more occasions while incarcerated, he has brought an action or an appeal that was “dismissed on the grounds that it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” The court reasoned that Section 1915(g) does not provide Plaintiff an opportunity to relitigate his prior cases. The court considered Plaintiff’s remaining arguments and concluded they are meritless. The district court correctly concluded that Griffin was barred by the PLRA’s three strikes provision from proceeding IFP, and, therefore, properly dismissed his complaint.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

U.S. v. Aybar-Peguero

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Docket: 21-1711

Opinion Date: July 6, 2023

Judge: JOHN M. WALKER, JR.

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Defendant pled guilty to drug trafficking in violation of 21 U.S.C. Sections 841 and 846 and concealment money laundering in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 1956(a)(1)(B)(i). During his plea colloquy, speaking through a Spanish-English interpreter, Defendant repeatedly failed to acknowledge that he had intended to conceal the proceeds of his drug trafficking, an element of concealment money laundering. On appeal, Defendant contends that his conviction for concealment money laundering should be reversed because an insufficient factual basis existed for his guilty plea pursuant to Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.
 
The Second Circuit vacated Defendant’s Section 1956(a)(1)(B)(i) conviction and sentence and remanded. The court explained that the district court’s error is “plain.” In this case, Defendant did not admit to a concealment purpose—an offense element—and the other evidence did not establish that intent either. Thus, it is clear and obvious that Rule 11(b)(3) was not satisfied. Second, the district court’s error prejudicially affected Defendant’s substantial rights. The court reasoned that it appears likely that Defendant would not have pled guilty to violating Section 1956(a)(1)(B)(i) had he understood its mens rea requirement and been told that he needed to state a concealment purpose. Defendant was consistent and persistent in maintaining that his purpose was otherwise. Last, the plain and prejudicial error seriously harmed the legitimacy of the judicial proceeding. The district court’s acceptance of the guilty plea without Defendant’s acknowledgment that he intended to conceal the source of his funds casts serious doubt upon the “fairness, integrity and public reputation of the judicial proceedings.”

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Eva Palmer v. Liberty University, Incorporated

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Docket: 21-2390

Opinion Date: June 30, 2023

Judge: KING

Areas of Law: Civil Procedure, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Education Law, Labor & Employment Law

In consolidated appeals, Plaintiff challenged the district court’s award of summary judgment to defendant Liberty University, Inc. (“Liberty”) on Palmer’s claim of age discrimination, pursued under provisions of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (the “ADEA”)  (the “Statutory Ruling”). On the other hand, Liberty, by cross-appeal, challenged an earlier award of summary judgment that was made to Plaintiff, in which the court ruled that Plaintiff was not a “minister” for purposes of the First Amendment’s so-called “ministerial exception” (the “Constitutional Ruling”).
 
The Fourth Circuit affirmed the Statutory Ruling, dismissed Liberty’s cross-appeal, and vacated the Constitutional Ruling. The court explained that it agreed with the district court that Plaintiff failed to produce sufficient evidence of age-based discrimination to overcome Liberty’s summary judgment motion on that issue. Accordingly, the court was satisfied to affirm the Statutory Ruling in favor of Liberty. Moreover, in light of that disposition — and pursuant to the constitutional avoidance doctrine — the court refrained from resolving whether Plaintiff was a minister for purposes of the First Amendment’s ministerial exception. As a result, the court wrote it was obliged to dismiss Liberty’s cross-appeal and vacate the Constitutional Ruling.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Stephen Porter v. Board of Trustees of N. C. State University

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Docket: 22-1712

Opinion Date: July 6, 2023

Judge: THACKER

Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Labor & Employment Law

Appellant filed suit alleging that he suffered adverse employment action in retaliation for unpopular protected speech. Appellant’s complaint alleges that he has been outspoken in recent years concerning the focus on “so-called 'social justice’ affecting academia in general” and “his concern that the field of higher education study is abandoning rigorous methodological analysis in favor of results-driven work aimed at furthering a highly dogmatic view of 'diversity,’ 'equity,’ and 'inclusion.’” In this vein, Appellant identified three statements or communications he made between 2016 and 2018, which, in his view, are protected speech. According to Appellant, he was eventually subject to adverse employment actions in retaliation for these three communications. The district court dismissed Appellant’s complaint.
 
The Fourth Circuit affirmed the dismissal finding that Appellant has failed to allege a causal connection between the only communication that is arguably protected under the First Amendment and the alleged adverse employment action. The court held that the survey question incident and the faculty hiring email were not protected speech. Even assuming the “Woke Joke” blog post was protected speech, Appellant has failed to allege that it was a “but for” cause for any alleged adverse employment action.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

US v. Jacob Ross

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Docket: 22-4054

Opinion Date: June 30, 2023

Judge: GREGORY

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Defendant was convicted of producing and possessing child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 2251(a) and 18 U.S.C. Section 2252A, respectively, and sentenced to fifty-five years in prison. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred by identifying him for a key government witness after the witness was initially unable to make the in-court identification herself. Defendant also contends that his sentence was grossly disproportionate to his offenses in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

The Fourth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that it cannot infer that Defendant’s fifty-five-year sentence is grossly disproportionate to his offenses. The court reasoned that even if it assumes that his sentence is the functional equivalent of a life sentence without the possibility of parole,his child pornography offenses “are at least as grave as the drug offense in Harmelin, which the Supreme Court deemed sufficiently egregious to justify a similar sentence.” On multiple occasions, Defendant paid a woman in the Philippines not only to pose very young children in a pornographic manner, but also to molest them for his own sexual gratification. Defendant’s offenses, which directly facilitated the exploitation and sexual abuse of particularly vulnerable victims, are far from “one of the most passive felonies a person could commit.”

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Nelson v. Lumpkin

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Docket: 17-70012

Opinion Date: June 30, 2023

Judge: Edith H. Jones

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Petitioner was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death for his involvement in the robbery and murder of a pastor. After exhausting his state remedies, Petitioner filed a federal habeas petition under 28 U.S.C. Section 2254 and sought investigative services under 18 U.S.C. Section 3599. The district court rejected his petition for relief, concluded that investigative services were not reasonably necessary, and denied a certificate of appealability (COA). Petitioner then petitioned this court for a COA. We granted that petition on a single issue: Whether Petitioner’s trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate and present at the penalty phase of the trial, two alleged accomplices’ participation in the robbery and murder.
 
The Fifth Circuit affirmed and held that Petitioner’s attempt to reframe his Sixth Amendment counsel ineffectiveness claim in federal court does not save it from the strictures of AEDPA review. The court explained that Petitioner cannot demonstrate a reasonable probability that at least one juror would have recommended a life sentence had his trial counsel investigated the co-conspirators’ involvement and presented evidence about the same at sentencing. He was not prejudiced, and his ineffective assistance of counsel claim would fail even if it were not assessed under the rigorous standards of AEDPA Section 2254(d).

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Price v. Montgomery County

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Docket: 21-6076

Opinion Date: July 5, 2023

Judge: Chad A. Readler

Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Officers discovered Brewer’s naked body tied to his bed frame; he had been shot twice. The case went cold for several years before an inmate told officers that Miller and Hall and two women had set up a threesome with Brewer in order to rob him. DNA found at the scene did not implicate either woman. The women implicated Martin. Officers knew the story was false but nonetheless interviewed Martin; the interview was not recorded. Martin, who claimed to have been "very high" on the night of the murder, waffled between denying any involvement and other stories. Officers falsely told her that her DNA was found at the scene and implied her children could be taken away. Martin failed a polygraph examination. Martin was told that “she’[d] walk” if she revealed the killer but that if she did not implicate anybody else, she would “go down.” Eventually, with a plea agreement, she implicated Miller. Martin repeatedly attempted to recant. Kentucky indicted Miller but eventually dropped the charges.

Miller filed suit (42 U.S.C. 1983) for malicious prosecution, fabrication of evidence, destruction of exculpatory evidence, due process violations, and conspiracy. The Sixth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the defendants. Because the conduct at issue was in furtherance of genuine prosecutorial interests, the prosecutor has absolute immunity for his actions, including ordering the destruction of evidence and purported thwarting of a court order. The other defendants were entitled to qualified immunity.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Reed v. United States

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Dockets: 21-6161, 22-5030

Opinion Date: June 30, 2023

Judge: Ronald Lee Gilman

Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Tennessee law enforcement was alerted to a drug distribution operation and executed a search warrant that resulted in the seizure of over 200 grams of pure meth. Agents executed additional warrants and intercepted phone calls. Twelve individuals, including Reed and Brown, were charged with conspiring to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute, at least 50 grams of meth. According to trial testimony by the law-enforcement agents, Brown and Reed both admitted to purchasing meth on numerous occasions and named several others. Four co-conspirators testified at trial. The parties agreed, and the judge confirmed, that Brown should not be mentioned during testimony to avoid the possibility of incriminating him. An officer read directly from his report, inadvertently mentioning Brown before stopping midsentence. Brown’s counsel made no objection. A joint stipulation was entered regarding the quantity and purity of the meth seized from various codefendants. No meth was seized from either Brown or Reed, who asked the district court to instruct the jury that “a conspiracy requires more than just a buyer-seller relationship.”

The Sixth Circuit affirmed the convictions of Brown and Reed but vacated their 360-month sentences. The defendants’ request for a buyer-seller jury instruction was appropriately denied. The district court procedurally erred when calculating the defendants’ Guidelines ranges; it provided no basis to conclude that at least 4.5 kilograms of the meth distributed was actual meth.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Hess v. Garcia

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

Docket: 22-1550

Opinion Date: July 5, 2023

Judge: HAMILTON

Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Education Law

Hess, a 17-year-old student, was required to participate in a ride-along with Hammond Officer Garcia. Her complaint describes a day-long sequence of inappropriate comments and questions punctuated by unwelcome physical sexual contact. Garcia allegedly rubbed his arm against her breast, repeatedly placed his hand on Hess’s thigh, put his hand on her buttocks, stated that Hess wanted to become a prostitute, and, while in a secluded location, asked another officer if he wanted to have sex with Hess. After Hess’s ride along, another female classmate participated in the course-required ride with Garcia. When the classmate told Hess that Garcia had acted inappropriately, the girls reported their experiences.

Hess sued Garcia and Chief Doughty in their individual capacities under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the claim against Doughty for lack of allegations of the requisite level of involvement in the alleged violations. The court reversed the dismissal of the claim against Garcia. It is well established that sexual assault by a government official acting under the color of law can violate the Equal Protection Clause as sex discrimination, the Fourth Amendment right “of the people to be secure in their persons,” and the right to bodily integrity protected by the Due Process Clause. The court rejected arguments that the alleged conduct was simply “boorish” and not serious enough to implicate the Constitution. Sexual assault is an intentional act that never serves a legitimate governmental purpose.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

United States v. States

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

Docket: 22-1477

Opinion Date: July 5, 2023

Judge: St. Eve

Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

As a Chicago gang member, States participated in drug trafficking and kidnappings. Officers went to his apartment to arrest him. States fired five shots through the door and hit an officer in the finger. A jury convicted him on 12 counts. The court sentenced him to life in prison, plus 57 years in consecutive sentences under 18 U.S.C. 924(c)—two for carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, and one for carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime. States subsequently moved to vacate his sentence, 28 U.S.C. 2255. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the reimposition of his sentence.

The Supreme Court subsequently held (Johnson) that the ACCA residual clause, 18 U.S.C. 924(e)(2)(B), was unconstitutionally vague. Section 924(c) has an analogous residual clause (later struck down). States filed a successive 2255 motion to vacate his 924(c) convictions. His predicate crimes of violence were Hobbs Act extortion and attempted murder of a federal officer, 18 U.S.C. 1113–1114. The court vacated the extortion-predicate conviction but denied the motion with respect to the conviction predicated on attempted murder; then-controlling circuit precedent established that an attempt to commit a crime of violence is a crime of violence under 924(c)'s elements clause. The Seventh Circuit affirmed his sentence--concurrent 20-year terms plus two consecutive five-year sentences for the 924(c) convictions. The district court correctly held that attempted murder of a federal officer is a crime of violence and that drug trafficking and kidnapping offenses could not be grouped.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Tiffany Janis v. United States

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Docket: 22-2471

Opinion Date: July 6, 2023

Judge: BENTON

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Petitioner shot and killed her husband when she found him cheating. She pled guilty to second-degree murder in Indian country. She also pled guilty to discharging a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence. A year later, Petitioner moved to vacate her Section 924(c) conviction, believing that intervening Supreme Court cases rendered it unlawful. Specifically, she argued that federal second-degree murder could not be considered a “crime of violence” under Section 924(c)(3)(A). The district court dismissed her motion. She appealed.
 
The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that federal l murder requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed an “unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought.” The statute lists the killings that qualify as first-degree murder.3 “Any other murder is murder in the second degree.” Second-degree murder thus has two elements: (1) unlawful killing of a human being; with (2) malice aforethought. Petitioner argued that killing a person “with malice aforethought” can be done without “using force against the person or property of another.” The court reasoned that the history and definition of “malice aforethought” demonstrate that federal second-degree murder satisfies Section 924(c)’s force clause. The phrase “malice aforethought” necessarily denotes the oppositional conduct that the force clause requires. Second-degree murder is thus a crime of violence.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

United States v. Mujera Lung'aho

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Docket: 22-3168

Opinion Date: July 6, 2023

Judge: STRAS

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Defendant faced 13 federal charges. Included among them are three counts of arson: “maliciously damaging or destroying]” by “fire or an explosive,” a “vehicle . . . owned or possessed by . . . an institution or organization receiving” federal funding. The arson charges are also the driving force behind three counts of possessing a “destructive device” in connection with a “crime of violence.” Under the government’s theory, the Molotov cocktails were destructive devices, and the three counts of arson were crimes of violence.
 
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment dismissing three destructive device counts against Defendant. The court held that arson is not a “crime of violence.” The court explained that the differences between recklessness, malice, and knowledge come down to a sliding scale of probabilities. From “substantial and unjustified” (recklessness), to a “likelihood” (malice), to “practical certainty” (knowledge), each requires more risk and culpability than the last. In many cases, there may be “little difference” between these mental states. But little does not mean none. The court explained that consciously creating a “likelihood” of harm to property does not satisfy the force clause, despite the high risk involved. In short, the arson counts cannot support the charges for using a “destructive device” in connection with a “crime of violence.”

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

GLORIA JOHNSON, ET AL V. CITY OF GRANTS PASS

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Docket: 20-35752

Opinion Date: July 5, 2023

Judge: Silver

Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Constitutional Law

The City of Grants Pass maintains ordinances that preclude homeless persons from using a blanket, a pillow, or a cardboard box for protection from the elements while sleeping within the City’s limits. Three homeless individuals filed a putative class action complaint against the City, arguing a number of City ordinances were unconstitutional. The district court certified a class of “involuntarily homeless” persons and later granted partial summary judgment in favor of the class. The district court issued a permanent injunction prohibiting enforcement against the class members of some City ordinances, at certain times, in certain places. The City appealed.
 
In the amended opinion, the Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part the district court’s summary judgment and permanent injunction in favor of Plaintiffs; affirmed certification of a class of “involuntary homeless” persons; and remanded. The panel rejected the City’s argument that the district court lacked jurisdiction because Plaintiffs’ claims were moot or because Plaintiffs failed to identify any relief that was within a federal court’s power to redress. The panel held that the district court did not err by finding Plaintiffs satisfied the requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a) such that a class could be certified under Rule 23(b)(2). The panel affirmed the district court’s ruling that the City of Grants Pass could not enforce its anticamping ordinances against homeless persons for the mere act of sleeping outside with rudimentary protection from the elements or for sleeping in their car at night when there was no other place in the City for them to go.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

KENNETH TIEDEMANN V. BARBARA VON BLANCKENSEE, ET AL

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Docket: 21-15073

Opinion Date: July 3, 2023

Judge: Rakoff

Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Constitutional Law

Plaintiff, a federal prisoner, challenges the 300-minute-per-month cap on his phone calls applied by the federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”). Plaintiff argued that BOP, by applying the policy to him without exemption, unconstitutionally infringes on his First and Fifth Amendment rights to familial association with his three children. Although the district court found that Plaintiff stated plausible First and Fifth Amendment claims, it dismissed his claims as moot after BOP moved Plaintiff between facilities since his complaint did not name the new facility’s warden.
 
The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part. Although the panel agreed with the district court that Plaintiff’s claims for injunctive relief were moot as to his two previous wardens who were no longer in a position to grant Plaintiff relief at his present facility, one defendant—BOP’s regional director for the Western Region—still plausibly had the authority to redress his claimed injury by directing his current warden to offer him more phone time. And even if that were not the case, the district court clearly erred by offering Plaintiff no opportunity to amend his complaint to name his current warden since amendment would have resolved the sole stated ground for dismissal.
 
Accordingly, the panel affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s claim for injunctive relief as to his two former wardens, reversed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s claim for injunctive relief as to the Regional Director defendant, and held that Plaintiff should be given leave to amend his complaint to add his current warden as a co-defendant.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

PROJECT VERITAS, ET AL V. MICHAEL SCHMIDT, ET AL

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Docket: 22-35271

Opinion Date: July 3, 2023

Judge: Sandra Segal Ikuta

Areas of Law: Civil Procedure, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law

Project Veritas sued the Oregon Attorney General, Ellen Rosenblum, and the District Attorney of Multnomah County, Oregon, Michael Schmidt (collectively, Oregon), challenging section 165.540 as an unconstitutional restriction of protected speech. Oregon moved to dismiss the complaint. The district court partially granted the motion, and the parties agreed to dismiss the remaining claims with prejudice. Project Veritas appealed.
 
The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissal. The law provides two exceptions relevant to this appeal: (1) section 165.540(1)(c) does not apply to a person who records a conversation during a felony that endangers human life, and (2) section 165.540(1)(c) allows a person to record a conversation in which a law enforcement officer is a participant if the recording is made while the officer is performing official duties and meets other criteria. Applying Animal Legal Def. Fund. v. Wasden, 878 F.3d 1184 (9th Cir. 2018), the panel held that section 165.540(1)(c) regulates protected speech (unannounced audiovisual recording) and is content-based because it distinguishes between particular topics by restricting some subject matters (e.g., a state executive officer’s official activities) and not others (e.g., a police officer’s official activities). The panel further determined that section 165.540(1)(c) burdens more speech than is necessary to achieve its stated interest, and there were other ways for Oregon to achieve its interests of protecting conversational privacy. Because section 165.540(1)(c) is not a valid time, place, or manner restriction, it cannot be saved by striking the two exceptions at issue here.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

USA V. ARMANDO OROZCO-BARRON

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Docket: 21-50298

Opinion Date: July 3, 2023

Judge: Ikuta

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Defendant appealed his conviction for attempted illegal reentry after deportation in violation of 8 U.S.C. Section 1326. He contends that the district court erred in denying his motion to dismiss his information for violations of the Speedy Trial Act.
 
The Ninth Circuit amended (1) a May 22, 2023, opinion affirming Defendant’s conviction for attempted illegal reentry after deportation and (2) Judge Christen’s dissent in a case in which the majority held that the district court, in denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss his information for violations of the Speedy Trial Act, did not clearly err in excluding periods of delay resulting from ends of justice continuances granted due to events caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic. The focus of the parties’ dispute was on whether the period from August 14, 2020 (the day after the information was filed) until December 1, 2020 (a total of 110 days) was excluded from computing the time within which the trial had to commence under the Speedy Trial Act. The panel concluded that the district court complied with the applicable statutory requirements. Citing United States v. Carrillo-Lopez, 68 F.4th 1133 (9th Cir. 2023), the panel rejected Defendant’s argument that the district court erred by not dismissing his information on the ground that 8 U.S.C. Section 1326 violates the Equal Protection Clause.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

USA V. JERRAMEY ROPER

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Docket: 22-30021

Opinion Date: July 6, 2023

Judge: Ezra

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

In 2013, Defendant pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine base with intent to distribute in and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense. The district court applied a “career-offender enhancement” to the sentence on the drug offense, which the Sentencing Guidelines recommend if, among other things, “the defendant has at least two prior felony convictions of either a crime of violence or a controlled substance offense.” Over the next decade, intervening case law disqualified three of Defendant’s prior convictions as predicates for the career-offender enhancement. Defendant moved for sentence reduction in 2021. Although the district court concluded that Defendant’s Guideline range would be reduced to 140 to 175 months if he were sentenced at the time of his motion, it denied relief.
 
The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court’s denial and remanded for the district court to consider the motion anew. The panel held that district courts may consider non-retroactive changes in post-sentencing decisional law affecting the applicable Sentencing Guidelines when assessing whether a defendant has established the requisite “extraordinary and compelling reasons.” The panel wrote that the logic of United States v. Chen, 48 F.4th 1092 (9th Cir. 2022), which rested on Concepcion v. United States, 142 S. Ct. 2389 (2022) applies with full force when the relevant change in sentencing law is decisional. The panel wrote that considering decisional law in the extraordinary-and-compelling-reasons inquiry does not circumvent habeas, as Defendant does not claim that his original sentence violated the Constitution or federal law and does not seek to correct sentencing errors.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Rosales v. Bradshaw, et al.

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

Docket: 22-2027

Opinion Date: July 5, 2023

Judge: Moritz

Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Constitutional Law

This case arose from events involving Defendant-appellant David Bradshaw, a sheriff’s deputy who was off duty, out of uniform, and driving his personal vehicle with his child in the front passenger seat. After a vehicle being driven by Plaintiff-appellant Mario Rosales legally passed Bradshaw, Bradshaw decided to follow Rosales. He then declined backup assistance from another deputy, followed Rosales all the way home, blocked Rosales in his driveway, and began shouting and yelling at Rosales, all before identifying himself as law enforcement. In response, Rosales became afraid and exited his vehicle with a legal and openly carried gun in his pants pocket, intending to protect himself and his property but also to deescalate the situation. Bradshaw, however, continued to shout and pointed his gun at Rosales. Though Rosales feared being shot, he remained calm and nonthreatening throughout the encounter. When Bradshaw eventually identified himself as law enforcement and told Rosales to put his gun back in his vehicle, Rosales complied, and the encounter wound down from there. As a result of this incident, Bradshaw’s employment was terminated, and he was convicted in state court of aggravated assault and child endangerment. Rosales then filed this suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging in part that Bradshaw violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizures. The district court granted Bradshaw’s motion to dismiss, ruling that he was entitled to qualified immunity because he did not violate clearly established law when he unreasonably pointed his gun at Rosales. The critical distinguishing fact, for the district court, was that Rosales was armed. The Tenth Circuit reversed: Bradshaw violated Rosales’s constitutional right to be free from unreasonable seizures, and his "egregious and unlawful conduct was obviously unconstitutional. Bradshaw is therefore not entitled to qualified immunity, and Rosales’s § 1983 claim against him may proceed."

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

USA v. Deunate Tarez Jews

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

Docket: 22-10502

Opinion Date: July 6, 2023

Judge: NEWSOM

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Defendant who pleaded guilty to illegally possessing a firearm in violation of federal law, was sentenced to 60 months in prison based on a Guidelines range of 70–87 months. In calculating Defendant’s range, though, the district court concluded that an earlier Alabama youthful-offender adjudication constituted an “adult” conviction within the meaning of the applicable Guidelines provisions. Defendant contends that the court erred in doing so.
 
The Eleventh Circuit vacated his sentence and remanded for resentencing. The court held that Defendant’s Alabama YO adjudication wasn’t “adult” under either U.S.S.G. Section 2K2.1 or Section 4A1.2. His Guidelines range of 70–87 months was thus wrong in two respects. The court explained that the Pinion factors favor Defendant, indicating that his YO adjudication wasn’t “adult.” The sentence-length and time-served factors, the court held, yield to the stronger indications of the classification and nature factors: Because of the defendant’s age, Alabama law doesn’t even treat YO adjudications as convictions, let alone adult convictions. And the law further shields YOs “from the stigma and practical consequences of a conviction for a crime.” Alabama’s YO system differs from the adult system from stem to stern, in both substance and procedure.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Flyers Rights Education Fund, Inc. v. FAA

Court: US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Docket: 21-5257

Opinion Date: June 30, 2023

Judge: TATEL

Areas of Law: Aviation, Constitutional Law, Government & Administrative Law

On October 29, 2018, 189 people boarded a Boeing 737 MAX airplane in Jakarta, Indonesia. A few minutes after takeoff, the plane crashed. No one survived. Five months later, 157 people aboard a 737 MAX in Ethiopia suffered the same fate. The Federal Aviation Administration then grounded the 737 MAX, prompting modifications by Boeing that eventually led the agency to recertify the plane. In this Freedom of Information Act suit, Flyers Rights Education Fund and its president seek documents that the FAA relied upon during the recertification process. Congress exempted from FOIA’s reach “commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential,” and the district court determined that is precisely what the FAA withheld.
 
The DC Circuit affirmed. The court explained that when an agency incorporates exempt information into its own comments, it will often be able to release at least part of those comments without revealing the exempt information. Here, however, the FAA explained that these documents “contained FAA comments to Boeing’s project deliverables, which in themselves would reveal technical data and Boeing’s proprietary methods of compliance.” Notably, the FAA released two other documents containing its comments in redacted form. That fact, coupled with the FAA’s nonconclusory affidavits and Vaughn index, demonstrates that it understands the difference between comments that reveal Boeing’s confidential information and comments that do not. Accordingly, even as to these two withheld documents, the FAA has demonstrated that it complied with its segregability obligations.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Thomas Massie v. Nancy Pelosi

Court: US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Docket: 22-5058

Opinion Date: June 30, 2023

Judge: RAO

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law

In January 2021, the United States House of Representatives adopted Resolution 38, which required wearing a mask when in the Hall of the House and provided fines for the failure to do so. When three representatives entered the House chamber without masks, they were each fined $500. The Representatives sued the Speaker of the House, the Sergeant-at-Arms, and the Chief Administrative Officer, challenging the constitutionality of the Resolution and its enforcement. The district court dismissed the complaint, holding the Speech or Debate Clause barred the suit.
 
The DC Circuit affirmed. The court explained that the Speech or Debate Clause’s immunity from suit extends to all legislative acts, including matters within the constitutional jurisdiction of the House. The House adopted the Resolution pursuant to its authority to “determine the Rules of its Proceedings,” and it fined the Representatives pursuant to its authority to “punish its members for disorderly Behaviour.” Both the adoption and execution of the Resolution are legislative acts over which the Speech or Debate Clause confers immunity.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

West Flagler Associates, Ltd. v. Debra Haaland

Court: US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Docket: 21-5265

Opinion Date: June 30, 2023

Judge: WILKINS

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Gaming Law, Native American Law

The Seminole Tribe of Florida (“Tribe”) and the State of Florida entered into a compact under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (“IGRA”). That gaming compact (“Compact”) purported to permit the Tribe to offer online sports betting throughout the state. The Compact became effective when the Secretary of the Interior failed to either approve or disapprove it within 45 days of receiving it from the Tribe and Florida. The Plaintiffs, in this case, brick-and-mortar casinos in Florida, object to the Secretary’s decision to allow the Compact to go into effect because, in their view, it violated IGRA. They also believe that the Compact violates the Wire Act, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, and the Fifth Amendment and that the Secretary was required to disapprove the Compact for those reasons as well. The district court denied the Tribe’s motion and granted summary judgment for Plaintiffs.
 
The DC Circuit reversed and remanded with instructions to enter judgment for the Secretary. The court explained that IGRA does not prohibit a gaming compact—which is, at bottom, an agreement between a tribe and a state—from discussing other topics, including those governing activities “outside Indian lands.” Accordingly, the court explained that the district court erred by reading into the Compact a legal effect it does not (and cannot) have, namely, independently authorizing betting by patrons located outside of the Tribe’s lands. The court held only that the district erred by reading into the Compact a legal effect it does not (and cannot) have, namely, independently authorizing betting by patrons located outside of the Tribe’s lands.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Brown v. City of Inglewood

Court: California Courts of Appeal

Docket: B320658(Second Appellate District)

Opinion Date: June 30, 2023

Judge: Frances Rothschild

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Labor & Employment Law, Personal Injury

Plaintiff sued the City and several members of the Inglewood City Council (the council), alleging that after she reported concerns about financial improprieties, the City and the individual defendants defamed and retaliated against her. She alleged causes of action for (1) defamation; (2) violation of Labor Code section 1102.5, subdivisions (b) and (c), which prohibit retaliation against an employee based on the employee reporting or refusing to participate in what the employee reasonably believes to be illegal activity by the employer (the section 1102.5 retaliation claim); and (3) intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED), based both on the alleged retaliation and the alleged defamation. The City and the individual defendants filed a joint special motion to strike the complaint as a strategic lawsuit against public participation, or SLAPP, under the antiSLAPP statute. The court granted the motion in part but denied it as to the section 1102.5 retaliation claim and the retaliation-based IIED claim against all Defendants. Defendants appealed, arguing the court incorrectly denied the anti-SLAPP motion as to the retaliation-based claims against the individual defendants.
 
The Second Appellate District reversed the trial court’s order on the Defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion to the extent it denies the motion as to Plaintiff’s Section 1102.5 retaliation claim against the individual Defendants and Plaintiff’s retaliation-based IIED claim against the individual Defendants. In all other respects, the order regarding the anti-SLAPP motion is affirmed. The court explained that it agrees with Defendants that the section 1102.5 retaliation claim is not legally sufficient because Plaintiff is not an “employee” for the purposes of that statute.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

California v. Fletcher

Court: California Courts of Appeal

Docket: E077553(Fourth Appellate District)

Opinion Date: June 30, 2023

Judge: Raphael

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

After a joint trial, defendants and appellants Larry Fletcher and Eric Taylor, Jr. were convicted of several crimes stemming from a shooting outside of a convenience store. At trial, an expert opined that both Fletcher and Taylor were members of the Four Corner Hustler Crips gang. The jury found appellants guilty on all charges and enhancements. The trial court then found the allegations on the prior convictions to be true. Given their strike priors, Fletcher was sentenced to 56 years and four months to life, and Taylor 100 years to life. One of the issues presented on appeal was one of first impression: whether, and to what extent, appellants were entitled to relief under California Assembly Bill No. 333 (2021-2022 Reg. Session), which narrowed the applicability of certain punishments for offenses involving a criminal street gang. Although the Court of Appeal agreed with the parties that Assembly Bill 333 required the Court to reverse the conviction for active participation in a criminal street gang (count 2) and the gang enhancements (counts 1, 5, and 6), the Court held that the new law did not apply to the findings on serious felony and strike priors. In the unpublished portion of its opinion, the Court rejected several of appellants’ other challenges to their convictions and sentences, reversed on various counts and findings based on other new laws, and remanded to the trial court for further proceedings.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

California v. Hilburn

Court: California Courts of Appeal

Docket: D080175(Fourth Appellate District)

Opinion Date: July 5, 2023

Judge: McConnell

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Defendant-appellant Seth Hilburn was charged with first degree burglary of an inhabited dwelling, first degree robbery, and carjacking, with allegations that he personally used a firearm in the commission of all three offenses. Before trial, Hilburn entered into a plea agreement, pleading guilty to the first degree robbery charge and the related firearm enhancement in exchange for the dismissal of the remaining charges and a maximum sentence of 13 years in prison. At the sentencing hearing, the court considered aggravating and mitigating factors and imposed an eight year sentence, consisting of the middle term of four years for both the first degree robbery conviction and the admission of the firearm enhancement allegation. Hilburn appealed the sentence, asserting the court violated his Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial by imposing the middle, and not low terms, on the charges. Hilburn argued recent changes to the sentencing laws required the court to impose the low terms for the crimes he pleaded guilty to because the aggravating factors relied on by the court were not stipulated or proven to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. Hilburn also argued the court abused its discretion by imposing the middle terms because the aggravating factors did not outweigh those in mitigation. Finding no reversible error in the trial court's judgment and sentence, the Court of Appeal affirmed.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

In re D.L.

Court: California Courts of Appeal

Docket: A164432(First Appellate District)

Opinion Date: July 5, 2023

Judge: Markman

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

The juvenile court found that at a 2020 neighborhood party, 17-year-old D.L. shot and killed a six-year-old boy and shot an adult twice. Video footage showed D.L. running down a hill seconds after the shooting, stumbling, and then running. Officers recovered a handgun in a dirt-filled hole where D.L. had stumbled. DNA swabbed from the handgun was a match with D.L.’s DNA. D.L. admitted to several felonies prior to the incident, including assault, robbery, and theft in 2018, and burglary in 2019. D.L. appealed his conviction for possession of a loaded firearm in San Francisco. (Pen. Code 25850(a)), arguing that under the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 “Bruen” holding section 25850 must be facially unconstitutional based on its relationship to California’s laws for obtaining a concealed-carry license.

The court of appeal affirmed. Before Bruen, California required an applicant for a concealed carry license to show “good cause,” usually by establishing a specific need to carry a gun for self-defense. D.L. argued that the requirement was substantially similar to the “proper cause” requirement for a New York unrestricted firearm license, struck down in Bruen. California’s “good cause” requirement did not survive Bruen but is severable from the other requirements for obtaining a concealed carry license, saving California’s regulatory framework for gun possession and preserving D.L.’s conviction.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

P. v. Gaines

Court: California Courts of Appeal

Docket: F083168(Fifth Appellate District)

Opinion Date: July 5, 2023

Judge: HILL

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Defendants B.G. and D.R. were making a purchase at a convenience store where they exchanged words with a man who was accompanied by his girlfriend and her two young children. A short time after leaving the store, B.G. stopped his vehicle in the street near where the man, girlfriend, and children were walking on the sidewalk while D.R. exited the vehicle and shot at the individuals multiple times. Defendants were convicted of premeditated attempted murder and related charges and were sentenced to terms of seven years to life plus 10 years (as to B.G) and seven years to life plus 49 years and eight months (as to D.R). Defendants challenged their convictions for discharging a firearm from a vehicle and permitting someone to discharge a firearm from a vehicle because Ross was not in the vehicle when the shooting occurred. Defendants argued that recent amendments to the sentencing law require we remand their cases for resentencing.
 
The Fifth Appellate District vacated the sentences and remanded for resentencing in accordance with section 1170, as amended by Senate Bill 567. The judgments are otherwise affirmed. The court explained that when a court is unaware of the scope of its discretionary powers, “the appropriate remedy is to remand for resentencing unless the record 'clearly indicate[s]’ that the trial court would have reached the same conclusion even if it had been aware that it had such discretion. After reviewing the trial court’s comments and sentence in this case, the court was unable to conclude that the trial court would not exercise its discretion to impose different sentences.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

P. v. Hernandez

Court: California Courts of Appeal

Docket: B315243(Second Appellate District)

Opinion Date: July 3, 2023

Judge: STRATTON

Areas of Law: Civil Procedure, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

On August 31, 2012, in San Bernardino County Superior Court, Appellant entered a no-contest plea to one count of assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury. He was placed on three years formal probation. Shortly after being placed on probation, Appellant was deported. He later illegally reentered the country. In 2014, his probation was reinstated, and on June 25, 2015, the sentencing court transferred probation supervision and jurisdiction from San Bernardino County to Los Angeles County, where Appellant permanently resided, pursuant to section 1203.9. On April 6, 2021, Appellant filed a motion in Los Angeles County Superior Court to vacate his plea pursuant to section 1473.7. By then, he had already completed his probationary sentence. On August 23, 2021, the trial court concluded it lacked jurisdiction to hear Appellant’s motion and directed him to refile the motion in San Bernardino County Superior Court.
 
The Second Appellate District affirmed. The court concluded that Appellant should have filed his motion to withdraw his plea in the county where he was prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced. The question was whether the phrase “full jurisdiction” is meant to remove the authority of the original sentencing court from everything associated with the case or whether “full jurisdiction” refers only to matters relating to the probationary sentence. The court held that section 1203.9 was enacted solely to effectuate more streamlined and effective supervision of probationers statewide by ensuring that the court of their county of residence is empowered to supervise and adjudicate issues arising as a result of the probationary grant.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

P. v. Newell

Court: California Courts of Appeal

Docket: B320195(Second Appellate District)

Opinion Date: July 6, 2023

Judge: GILBERT

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Defendant attempted to appeal the denial of his petition for resentencing based on Senate Bill No. 483 (2021-2022 Reg. Sess.) (Sen. Bill No. 483). In 2012, Defendant was sentenced to state prison for 49 years to life. He claims his current sentence is invalid due to recent legislative changes involving sentencing enhancements.
 
The Second Appellate District dismissed Defendant’s appeal. The court explained that Section 1172.75, subdivision (d)(2), provides: “The court shall apply the sentencing rules of the Judicial Council and apply any other changes in the law that reduce sentences or provide for judicial discretion so as to eliminate disparity of sentences and to promote uniformity of sentencing.” The court must appoint counsel for the defendant and hold a resentencing hearing unless a hearing is waived. Section 1172.75 contains no provision for an individual defendant to file the type of petition Defendant has filed. The court wrote that Section 1172.75 simply does not contemplate resentencing relief initiated by any individual defendant’s petition or motion.” Defendant has not shown that the DCR did not comply with its statutory duty.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Price v. Superior Court

Court: California Courts of Appeal

Docket: E078954(Fourth Appellate District)

Opinion Date: July 3, 2023

Judge: Fields

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Defendant Ahmad Raheem Price petitioned for a writ of prohibition, directing the superior court to grant his motion to set aside the information charging him with the 2019 first degree, premeditated murder of Jovany R., and unlawfully possessing a firearm on the same day. The information further alleged Price personally and intentionally discharged a firearm causing the death in count 1, and that Price had two prior serious felony convictions and two prior strikes. At the preliminary hearing and as part of his section 995 motion to set aside the information, Price moved to quash, traverse, and suppress all evidence obtained pursuant to 11 search warrants for electronic information, including a geofence warrant to Google, LLC (Google). In the suppression motion, Price claimed that the geofence warrant and several of the other 10 warrants for electronic information: (1) failed to satisfy the Fourth Amendment’s probable cause and particularity requirements; (2) had to be traversed based on material factual omissions in their affidavits; and (3) violated the particularity and notice requirements of the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act (CalECPA). Price also moved to suppress evidence that the gun used in the shooting was found in Price’s vehicle during a January 2020 parole search. Price claimed that the gun evidence was fruit of Price’s unlawful detention for being lawfully parked on a private driveway. The suppression motion was denied in its entirety. In the writ petition to the Court of Appeal, Price renewed his arguments made to the magistrate court. In the published portion of its opinion, the Court of Appeal concluded the geofence warrant satisfied the probable cause and particularity requirements of the Fourth Amendment and was not overbroad; the good faith exception to the warrant requirement precludes the suppression of the geofence warrant evidence and its fruits, even if the geofence warrant was invalid under the Fourth Amendment; and CalECPA did not require the suppression of the geofence warrant evidence despite the government’s violation of CalECPA’s notice provisions. In the unpublished portion, the Court rejected Price’s claims concerning the other 10 warrants and the gun evidence.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Arbelaez v. State

Court: Florida Supreme Court

Dockets: SC2015-1628, SC2018-0392

Opinion Date: May 25, 2023

Judge: Per Curiam

Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

The Supreme Court denied Appellant's petition for a writ of habeas corpus, holding that Appellant failed to establish that he was entitled to the writ.

Appellant was convicted in 1991, following a jury trial, of first-degree murder and kidnapping. Decades later, Appellant filed his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. In his petition, Appellant claimed that Chapter 2017-1, Laws of Florida, created a substantive right that must be retroactively applied under the state and federal Constitutions. The Supreme Court denied relief, holding that this Court had consistently rejected as without merit the claim that chapter 2017-1 created a substantive right that must be retroactively applied, and Appellant's arguments did not compel departing from precedent.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Allen v. Georgia

Court: Supreme Court of Georgia

Docket: S23A0436

Opinion Date: July 5, 2023

Judge: Peterson

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Sean Allen appealed his conviction for felony murder for the 2021 shooting death of Daquan Gillett. Allen argued: (1) the trial court erred when it failed to grant him immunity from prosecution based on self-defense; (2) the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his conviction; (3) the trial court erred by limiting his ability to argue the law of self-defense in closing argument; and (4) trial counsel was ineffective in several respects. Finding no reversible error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Middleton v. Georgia

Court: Supreme Court of Georgia

Docket: S22G1050

Opinion Date: July 5, 2023

Judge: Boggs

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Patrick Middleton moved to suppress evidence obtained during a search by Officer Amanda Graw of the Kingsland Police Department (“KPD”), arguing that she did not have authority to stop or search him because she was outside the territorial jurisdiction of the KPD. Officer Graw claimed that she did have authority to perform the stop and search because she had been deputized by the Camden County Sheriff’s Office (“CCSO”) seven years earlier. After the trial court granted the motion to suppress, the State appealed. The Court of Appeals reversed, concluding that Officer Graw had presented sufficient evidence of her deputization. After its review, the Georgia Supreme Court vacated the Court of Appeals’ opinion with direction that it vacate the trial court’s order and remand the case to the trial court with direction to clarify its basis for ruling that the search and seizure of Middleton was unlawful.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Wood v. Georgia

Court: Supreme Court of Georgia

Docket: S23A0637

Opinion Date: July 5, 2023

Judge: Colvin

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Appellant Bobby Wood, Jr. was convicted of felony murder in connection with the 2020 shooting death of Aaron Skinner. On appeal, Appellant contended: (1) the trial court abused its discretion in denying him the opportunity to cross-examine the State’s expert witness about Skinner’s alleged arrest for criminal trespass on the day before the shooting; (2) the trial court violated his right to due process by denying him access to certain physical evidence post-trial; (3) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the State’s redirect examination of the State’s expert witness as outside the scope of redirect examination; and (4) the cumulative effect of the alleged errors committed by the trial court and trial counsel deprived Appellant of a fair trial. Finding no reversible error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Members of the Medical Licensing Bd. v. Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai'i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, Inc.

Court: Supreme Court of Indiana

Docket: 22S-PL-00338

Opinion Date: June 30, 2023

Judge: Molter

Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Health Law

The Supreme Court vacated a preliminary injunction granted by the trial court preliminarily enjoining the State from enforcing Senate Bill 1, which broadly prohibits abortion but makes exceptions in three circumstances, holding that Plaintiffs could not show a reasonable likelihood of success on their facial challenge.

Plaintiffs, several abortion providers, brought this lawsuit seeking to invalidate Senate Bill 1 on the grounds that the law materially burdened a woman's exercise of her right to "liberty" under Ind. Const. Art. I, 1. The trial court agreed and granted the preliminary injunction. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Plaintiffs had standing to contest the constitutionality of Senate Bill 1; (2) Senate Bill 1 was judicially enforceable; (3) Article 1, Section 1 protects a woman's right to an abortion that the extent that it is necessary to protect her life or to protect her from a serious health risk, but, otherwise, the General Assembly retains legislative discretion in determining the extent to which prohibit abortions; and (4) the record in this case did not support a preliminary injunction.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

State v. Buchanan

Court: Kansas Supreme Court

Docket: 123100

Opinion Date: June 30, 2023

Judge: Marla J. Luckert

Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions for several crimes after he intentionally set a fire that damaged several apartments, holding, among other things, that the Kansas Legislature has defined the unit of prosecution for aggravated arson as each damaged building or property in which there is a person.

Defendant intentionally set fire in the stairwell in front of his daughter's apartment, leading to his conviction, following a jury trial, of six counts of aggravated arson, three counts of attempted first-degree murder, and one count of animal cruelty. On appeal, Defendant argued, among other things, that the district court judge violated his right to be free from double jeopardy by sentencing him on six counts of aggravated arson when the arsonist started only one fire. The Supreme Court disagreed and affirmed, holding (1) Defendant's right to be free from double jeopardy was not violated; (2) the State presented sufficient evidence to support Defendant's convictions for attempted first-degree murder; and (3) the trial judge did not err in denying Defendant's untimely motion for a new trial.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Commonwealth v. Armstrong

Court: Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Docket: SJC-13134

Opinion Date: June 30, 2023

Judge: Wendlandt

Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant's conviction for murder in the first degree on the theories of deliberate premeditation and extreme atrocity or cruelty and sentence of life without parole, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on his allegations of error and that there was no reason to grant relief under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 278, 33E.

Specifically, the Supreme Judicial Court held (1) the motion judge did not err in denying Defendant's motion to suppress evidence from the police officers who arrested him; (2) the trial judge did not err in denying Defendant's request for a mental impairment jury instruction; (3) testimony by the Commonwealth's fingerprint analysis expert was not improper; and (4) this Court discerns no reason to grant relief under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 278, 33E.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

New Hampshire v. Jordan

Court: New Hampshire Supreme Court

Docket: 2021-0605

Opinion Date: June 29, 2023

Judge: Gary E. Hicks

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Defendant Michael Jordan appealed a superior court order denying his motion for earned time credits. On appeal, defendant argued the trial court erred when it declined to approve the recommendations made by the Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Corrections that the defendant receive several 60-day reductions of his minimum and maximum sentences. The New Hampshire Supreme Court agreed with the trial court that courts have broad discretion to consider all relevant factors in their decision to grant, or decline to grant, approval for earned time credit, and that the court was free to consider either the crime for which the defendant was convicted or the degree of harm suffered by the victims when it exercises this discretion. Finding no abuse of such discretion, the Supreme Court affirmed the superior court's order.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

S.D. v. N.B.

Court: New Hampshire Supreme Court

Docket: 2022-0114

Opinion Date: June 29, 2023

Judge: Gary E. Hicks

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Defendant N.B. appealed a final civil stalking protective order entered for the protection of plaintiff S.D. Plaintiff and Defendant knew each other since high school, but never had a personal relationship. Sometime after high school, Defendant developed a fixation with Plaintiff. Plaintiff testified that Defendant began to contact her via the internet sometime in 2017. Defendant agreed that he had made postings regarding Plaintiff, but testified that they began in 2019. The postings about Plaintiff included sexual suggestions and threats. The trial court held a final hearing on the stalking petition on February 8, 2022, and found that Defendant had stalked Plaintiff. Defendant argued that: (1) the evidence was insufficient to support a finding that he stalked Plaintiff; and (2) the court’s protective order violated his right to free speech under the First Amendment to the Federal Constitution. Finding no reversible error, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed the trial court.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

New Jersey v. Amer

Court: Supreme Court of New Jersey

Docket: A-9-22

Opinion Date: July 3, 2023

Judge: Anne M. Patterson

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Defendant Rami Amer moved to dismiss his New Jersey indictment for offenses related to a series of burglaries, alleging a violation of his speedy trial rights under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers (IAD). Defendant was arrested in New Jersey in November 2016 in connection with seventeen burglaries. He was arrested the next month in Pennsylvania in connection with a series of burglaries committed in that state. In October 2017, defendant pled guilty to the charges pending against him in Pennsylvania and was incarcerated there. On February 23, 2018, the State received defendant’s notice under the IAD, in which he requested the prompt disposition of his New Jersey charges. Defendant was transported from Pennsylvania to New Jersey the same day. On May 21, defendant filed two motions to suppress, which were denied on July 13. During jury selection on July 24, the trial judge informed counsel that after July 31, the trial would resume on September 13. Neither party objected to that proposed schedule, but when jury selection resumed the next day, defense counsel stated that the IAD required the trial to begin on August 22, 2018, and argued that defendant’s rights under the IAD would be violated if, for example, the court began a trial but “put it off [for] six months.” The trial court ultimately entered an order stating that trial had commenced for IAD purposes on July 24, 2018, when jury selection began, and that the IAD’s 180-day time period had been tolled between the filing and the denial of defendant’s motions. In an August 28, 2018 letter, defendant contended that the trial court had violated his rights under the IAD. Treating defendant’s letter as a motion to dismiss his indictment, the trial court denied the motion. In October 2018, the jury convicted defendant on four counts. The Appellate Division affirmed on that issue. The New Jersey Supreme Court found the trial court did not violate defendant’s speedy trial rights under the IAD, and it properly denied defendant’s motion to dismiss his indictment. The Court did not agree with the Appellate Division that defense counsel waived defendant’s rights under the IAD. But the Court affirmed the Appellate Division’s other determinations: that the IAD’s 180-day time period was tolled during the pendency of defendant’s pretrial motions, and that defendant was “brought to trial” when jury selection began prior to the deadline.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Abbott v. City of San Antonio

Court: Supreme Court of Texas

Docket: 21-1079

Opinion Date: June 30, 2023

Judge: Blacklock

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Health Law

The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the trial court's judgment issuing in July 2021 a temporary restraining order prohibiting enforcement of executive order GA-38, holding that this case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this Court's opinion in Abbott v. Harris County, 22-0124, which concerned the scope and constitutionality of the Governor's authority under the Disaster Act to prohibit local governments from imposing mask requirements.

The City of San Antonio and Bexar County jointly filed this lawsuit challenging GA-38, which prohibited local officials from requiring masks in response to the coronavirus epidemic. The district court issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting enforcement of the executive order and then temporarily enjoined the Governor and others from enforcing GA-38 to the extent that such a requirement would interfere with the local official's authority to require masks in government-owed buildings and schools. The court of appeals affirmed the temporary injunction. In light of this Court's decision in Abbott v. Harris County, the Supreme Court vacated the judgment below, holding that remand was required.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Mahmutovic v. Washington County Mental Health Services, Inc.

Court: Vermont Supreme Court

Citation: 2023 VT 37

Opinion Date: June 30, 2023

Judge: Cohen

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Government & Administrative Law, Labor & Employment Law

Claimant Semir Mahmutovic appealed a Vermont Department of Labor decision concluding that claimant’s prior employer was not obligated to reimburse claimant for lost wages under 21 V.S.A. § 640(c), and that the statute was not unconstitutional as applied to claimant. The Vermont Supreme Court determined that claimant conceded that the Commissioner properly interpreted § 640(c), and further concluded that claimant did not have standing to challenge the constitutionality of § 640(c).

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

McHenry v. State

Court: Wyoming Supreme Court

Citation: 2023 WY 68

Opinion Date: July 6, 2023

Judge: Kautz

Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Defendant's motion to withdraw his pleas of no contest to voluntary manslaughter, attempted voluntary manslaughter, two counts of aggravated robbery, and four counts of interference with a peace officer, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Defendant's motion to withdraw his no contest pleas.

Defendant pleaded no contest to the charges against him pursuant to a plea agreement with the State. Before he was sentenced, Defendant moved to withdraw his pleas, arguing that his right to a speedy trial was violated and that defense counsel did not provide effective assistance of counsel. The district court denied the motion and sentenced Defendant according to the plea agreement. That Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendant's motion to withdraw his pleas.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

303 Creative LLC v. Elenis

Court: US Supreme Court

Docket: 21-476

Opinion Date: June 30, 2023

Judge: Neil M. Gorsuch

Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Communications Law, Constitutional Law

Smith, wanting to expand her graphic design business to include wedding websites, worried that the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act would require her to create websites celebrating marriages that defy her belief that marriage should be between one man and one woman. Smith intends to produce a story for each couple using her own words and original artwork, combined with the couple’s messages. The Tenth Circuit affirmed the denial of Smith’s request for an injunction.

The Supreme Court reversed. The First Amendment prohibits Colorado from forcing a website designer to create expressive designs conveying messages with which the designer disagrees. The First Amendment protects an individual’s right to speak his mind regardless of whether the government considers his speech “misguided.” Generally, the government may not compel a person to speak preferred messages. The wedding websites Smith seeks to create involve her speech and are pure speech protected by the First Amendment. Colorado seeks to put Smith to a choice prohibited by precedent. If she wishes to speak, she must either speak as Colorado demands or face sanctions for expressing her own beliefs.

Public accommodations laws are vital to realizing the civil rights of all Americans; governments have a “compelling interest” in eliminating discrimination in places of public accommodation. States may protect gay persons, just as they protect other classes of individuals. However, public accommodations laws are not immune from the demands of the Constitution. Smith does not seek to sell an ordinary commercial good but intends to create “customized and tailored” expressive speech “to celebrate and promote the couple’s wedding.” Speakers do not shed their First Amendment protections by accepting compensation or employing the corporate form to disseminate their speech. Smith will gladly conduct business with those having protected characteristics when the product she is creating does not violate her beliefs.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

About Justia Opinion Summaries

Justia Weekly Opinion Summaries is a free service, with 63 different newsletters, each covering a different practice area.

Justia also provides 68 daily jurisdictional newsletters, covering every federal appellate court and the highest courts of all US states.

All daily and weekly Justia newsletters are free. Subscribe or modify your newsletter subscription preferences at daily.justia.com.

You may freely redistribute this email in whole.

About Justia

Justia is an online platform that provides the community with open access to the law, legal information, and lawyers.

Justia

Contact Us| Privacy Policy

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Justia

Unsubscribe from this newsletter

Justia | 1380 Pear Ave #2B, Mountain View, CA 94043


Unsubscribe from all Justia newsletters