Justia Daily Opinion Summaries

Constitutional Law
September 22, 2023

Table of Contents

DiMartile v. Hochul

Constitutional Law, Government & Administrative Law

US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Elisa W. v. City of New York

Class Action, Constitutional Law, Family Law, Government & Administrative Law, Juvenile Law

US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Murphy v. Hughson et al.

Civil Rights, Constitutional Law

US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

United States v. Davis

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

United States v. Hunt

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Durham v. Kelley

Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Hebrew v. TDCJ

Civil Procedure, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law

US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

I F G Port Hold v. Lake Charles Harbor

Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Insurance Law, Legal Ethics

US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Jackson v. Wright

Civil Rights, Constitutional Law

US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

LA Fair Housing Action v. Azalea Garden

Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Government & Administrative Law, Public Benefits

US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

USA v. Mora-Carrillo

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Immigration Law

US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

USA v. Recio-Rosas

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Immigration Law

US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

USA v. State of Mississippi

Civil Rights, Constitutional Law

US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Biggs v. Chicago Board of Education

Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Education Law

US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

Elijah Wells v. Creighton Preparatory School

Civil Procedure, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Education Law

US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Samantha LaCoe v. City of Sisseton

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

US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

MIRANDA WALLINGFORD, ET AL V. ROBERT BONTA, ET AL

Civil Procedure, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Government & Administrative Law

US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

USA V. RICHARD MARSCHALL

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

United States v. Coates

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

United States v. Jackson

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Native American Law

US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

Vincent v. Garland, et al.

Constitutional Law

US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

California v. Burns

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

California Courts of Appeal

California v. Morones

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

California Courts of Appeal

Davis Boat Manufacturing-Nordic, Inc. v. Smith

Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts

California Courts of Appeal

P. v. Suazo

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

California Courts of Appeal

Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center, Inc. v. County of L.A.

Constitutional Law, Government & Administrative Law, Health Law

California Courts of Appeal

Shaw v. L.A. Unified School Dist.

Class Action, Constitutional Law, Education Law

California Courts of Appeal

State v. Robles

Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Connecticut Supreme Court

Zack v. State

Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Florida Supreme Court

Adams v. Georgia

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Supreme Court of Georgia

Carter v. Georgia

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Supreme Court of Georgia

Hamilton v. Georgia

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Supreme Court of Georgia

Kennebrew v. Georgia

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Supreme Court of Georgia

Roberts v. Cuthper

Constitutional Law, Government & Administrative Law

Supreme Court of Georgia

Salvesen v. Georgia

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Supreme Court of Georgia

Wise Business Forms, Inc. v. Forsyth County, et al.

Constitutional Law, Government & Administrative Law, Real Estate & Property Law, Zoning, Planning & Land Use

Supreme Court of Georgia

Idaho v. Pendleton

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Idaho Supreme Court - Criminal

People v. Lozano

Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Supreme Court of Illinois

Commonwealth v. Fisher

Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Ringsred v. City of Duluth

Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Labor & Employment Law

Minnesota Supreme Court

State v. Mosley

Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Minnesota Supreme Court

State v. Torgerson

Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Minnesota Supreme Court

State v. Pine

Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Montana Supreme Court

State v. Dolinar

Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Real Estate & Property Law

Nebraska Supreme Court

State v. Caffee

Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

South Dakota Supreme Court

Washington v. Reynolds

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Juvenile Law

Washington Supreme Court

Browse upcoming and on-demand Justia Webinars

Constitutional Law Opinions

DiMartile v. Hochul

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Docket: 21-2988

Opinion Date: September 15, 2023

Judge: CARNEY

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Government & Administrative Law

Plaintiffs are two couples, both engaged to be married when they filed suit and a New York-based minister. Together, the individuals brought a constitutional challenge to state COVID-19 regulations that limited to fifty the number of attendees at social gatherings. After the expedited briefing, the district court granted Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction just forty-five minutes before the start time of the first of the two scheduled weddings. The first of the couples married in their planned ceremony and held their wedding celebration involving over 100 guests. A Second Circuit judge issued a temporary administrative stay of the district court’s order. A separate panel later dismissed the appeal as moot and vacated the district court’s order after the second couple announced that, regardless of the outcome of the appeal, they no longer planned to hold a wedding. All five Plaintiffs then sought an award of attorney’s fees in the district court. The district court denied their motion.
 
The Second Circuit affirmed. The court explained that here, Plaintiffs managed to secure a preliminary injunction with just forty-five minutes to spare after an abbreviated briefing schedule. The court further wrote that their initial success was fleeting: Defendants succeeded in obtaining a stay of the injunction from the court within two weeks of its issuance, and the district court’s order was later vacated after Plaintiffs intentionally mooted their claims during the pendency of Defendants’ appeal. The preliminary injunction in this case does not support a determination that Plaintiffs are prevailing parties eligible for attorney’s fees under Section 1988.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Elisa W. v. City of New York

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Docket: 22-7

Opinion Date: September 19, 2023

Judge: JOSEPH F. BIANCO

Areas of Law: Class Action, Constitutional Law, Family Law, Government & Administrative Law, Juvenile Law

Plaintiffs-appellants, nineteen children in New York City’s foster care system, filed suit alleging “systemic deficiencies” in the administration of the City’s foster care system in violation of federal and state law. The named Plaintiffs moved to represent a class of all children who are now or will be in the foster care custody of the Commissioner of New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services and two subclasses. As remedies, they sought injunctive and declaratory relief to redress alleged class-wide injuries caused by deficiencies in the City’s administration—and the New York State Office of Children and Family Services’ oversight—of foster care. The district court denied Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification. Plaintiffs appealed, arguing that the district court erred in its analysis of the commonality and typicality requirements under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a).
 
The Second Circuit vacated the district court’s order denying class certification and remanded. The court held that the district court erred in its analysis of commonality and typicality under Rule 23. The court explained that the district court did not determine whether commonality and typicality exist with respect to each of Plaintiffs’ claims. Instead, it concluded that commonality was lacking as to all alleged harms because “Plaintiffs’ allegations do not flow from unitary, non-discretionary policies.” The court held that this approach was legal error requiring remand. Further, the court wrote that here, the district court largely relied upon its commonality analysis to support its finding that typicality was not satisfied. Thus, the deficiencies identified in its commonality inquiry can also be found in its handling of typicality.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Murphy v. Hughson et al.

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Docket: 21-2998

Opinion Date: September 21, 2023

Judge: CHIN

Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Constitutional Law

Plaintiff was sitting on a bus when police officers boarded the bus, removed him, and arrested him on a misdemeanor bench warrant. Plaintiff, then 67 years old, was a resident of the City of Elmira (the "City"), in Chemung County (the "County"), New York. Plaintiff was taken to the County Jail, where an officer subjected him to a visual body cavity strip search. In addition, although Plaintiff’s girlfriend promptly posted his bail, his release was delayed about two hours. Plaintiff sued the County, the City, and officers in the County Sheriff's Department and City Police Department in the Western District of New York pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Section 1983. The district court dismissed the claims against the City and County at the outset of the case and eventually granted summary judgment dismissing the claims against the individual defendants as well.  Plaintiff appealed the dismissal of the claims against the individual defendants.
 
The Second Circuit affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded. The court explained that on the record, a reasonable jury could find that, instead of simply following the orders of a superior officer, the corrections officer was a party to harassment and demeaning conduct culminating in the search -- conduct that he, and other reasonable officers, should have known had no legitimate penological purpose and was therefore unconstitutional. The court explained that a jury may find otherwise, but in light of these disputed material facts, the district court erred when it granted summary judgment on Plaintiff’s strip search claim.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

United States v. Davis

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Docket: 21-1782

Opinion Date: September 21, 2023

Judge: SACK

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Defendant pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition after previously having been convicted of a felony. The district court determined that Defendant’s recommended range of imprisonment under the Sentencing Guidelines was 15 to 21 months. On July 7, 2021, the court nevertheless sentenced Defendant principally to an above-Guidelines sentence of 48 months of imprisonment. Defendant argued that his sentence was both procedurally and substantively unreasonable because the district court failed to adequately explain its rationale for the sentence it imposed on Defendant and because the district court’s stated justifications were insufficient to support the sentence imposed.
 
The Second Circuit affirmed the judgment. The court explained that to hold that Defendant’s sentence was not ultimately reasonable, the court would need to conclude that the sentence he received was “shockingly high.” Defendant argued that his sentence meets that standard because, inter alia, he had a difficult upbringing, completed many rehabilitative program hours while in prison, and does not have a lengthy history of violence. The court explained that these facts weigh in Defendant’s favor and likely were part of the district court’s reasons for not sentencing Defendant to a 70-month imprisonment term as the government requested and as Defendant received when he was convicted of the same offense in 2005. However, they are not strong enough to demonstrate that the district court abused its discretion when sentencing Defendant to a 48-month imprisonment term. Accordingly, the court concluded that the district court did not commit any plain procedural error when imposing Defendant’s sentence.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

United States v. Hunt

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Docket: 21-3020

Opinion Date: September 20, 2023

Judge: JOHN M. WALKER, JR.

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

In the months following the 2020 presidential election, Defendant-Appellant threatened prominent elected officials in several posts on various social media platforms. A jury convicted Defendant of one count of threatening to assault and murder members of Congress. The district court sentenced Defendant to a prison term of nineteen months. On appeal, Defendant challenged the sufficiency of the evidence, a jury instruction, the partial closure of the courtroom due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and his sentence.

The Second Circuit affirmed. The court explained that the constitutional fact doctrine’s requirement that courts “determine for themselves whether the fact-finder appropriately applied First Amendment law to the facts” is inapplicable where, as here, the First Amendment is not implicated. The court found that the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s conviction.
 
Defendant also argued that the district court violated his right to a public trial by excluding his father from the courtroom during the trial. The court explained that the Sixth Amendment guarantees defendants in a criminal prosecution the right to a public trial. However, the court reasoned as a general matter, courts may constitutionally close a courtroom under certain circumstances. Applying the relevant four-part test, the court found that the district court did not plainly err by excluding Defendant’s father from the trial courtroom.
 
Defendant also challenged the district court’s sentence on the ground that it improperly considered a rehabilitative purpose in sentencing him to prison. The court explained that in sentencing Defendant, the district court did not impermissibly consider rehabilitation. Rather, it considered the factors prescribed by 18 U.S.C. Section 3553(a)

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Durham v. Kelley

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Docket: 21-3187

Opinion Date: September 19, 2023

Judge: Julio M. Fuentes

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

Durham, a prisoner with lumbar stenosis, received epidural steroid injections for pain and was prescribed a walking cane. In 2020, Durham was sent to a quarantine unit without his cane. For 10 days, Durham repeatedly, unsuccessfully requested his cane because he was in severe pain. His requests to see a doctor and to use a shower chair were ignored. Durham fell in the shower. Durham filed suit, alleging violations of the Eighth Amendment, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Rehabilitation Act (RA).

The district court dismissed the complaint, finding that Durham’s claims for money damages against the defendants in their capacity as state officials barred by Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity; Durham failed to state an Eighth Amendment claim, having failed to plausibly allege that the prison officials were “subjectively aware of a substantial risk of serious harm”; and Durham failed to state ADA and RA claims, having failed to show that he is a qualifying individual with a disability. The Third Circuit vacated. Durham is a “qualified individual” and the provision of showers in prison is an activity that must be made accessible to people with disabilities. Durham sufficiently pleaded that the defendants had knowledge that his federally protected ADA right was substantially likely to be violated. A state program that accepts federal funds waives its Eleventh Amendment immunity to RA claims. Durham adequately alleged deliberate indifference.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Hebrew v. TDCJ

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Docket: 22-20517

Opinion Date: September 15, 2023

Judge: Andrew S. Oldham

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

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice fired Plaintiff after he refused to cut his hair and beard in violation of his religious vow. Plaintiff exhausted his administrative remedies. He then filed a pro se lawsuit against TDCJ and various officers, which alleged claims of religious discrimination and failure to accommodate under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants.
 
The Fifth Circuit, in accordance with the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Groff v. DeJoy, 143 S. Ct. 2279 (2023), reversed. The court explained that Title VII forbids religious discrimination in employment. The statute defines “religion” broadly to include “all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief.” Further, the court explained that Title VII also requires employers to accommodate the religious observances or practices of applicants and employees. The court held that TDCJ breached both duties. TDCJ (A) failed to accommodate Hebrew’s religious practice and (B) discriminated against him on the basis of his religious practice
 
The court reasoned that the only issue is whether TDCJ has met its burden to show that granting Hebrew’s requested accommodation—to keep his hair and beard—would place an undue hardship on TDCJ. The court held that (1) TDCJ cannot meet the undue hardship standard and (2) the Department’s counterarguments are unavailing. The court noted that, in this case, TDCJ cannot hide behind its “otherwise-neutral policy.” This policy must “give way” to Plaintiff’s requested accommodation.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

I F G Port Hold v. Lake Charles Harbor

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Docket: 22-30398

Opinion Date: September 21, 2023

Judge: Stephen A. Higginson

Areas of Law: Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Insurance Law, Legal Ethics

In this case, the parties consented to have their commercial dispute tried before a United States magistrate judge. But, allegedly unbeknownst to Defendant, the judge was longtime family friends with the lead trial lawyer for the plaintiff. Specifically, the lawyer had been a groomsman in the judge’s own wedding, and the judge officiated the wedding of the lawyer’s daughter three months before this lawsuit was filed. None of this information was disclosed to Defendant. After a twenty-day bench trial, the magistrate judge rendered judgment for the Plaintiff, awarding $124.5 million, including over $100 million in trebled damages. After the issuance of the judgment and award, Defendant learned about the undisclosed longstanding friendship and sought to have the magistrate-judge referral vacated. The district judge denied the request and denied discovery on the issue. Defendant appealed.
 
The Fifth Circuit vacated. The court concluded that the facts asserted here, if true, raise serious doubts about the validity of Defendant’s constitutionally essential consent to have its case tried by this magistrate judge. Further, the court explained remand was necessary because the facts were not sufficiently developed for the court to decide whether Defendant’s consent was validly given or whether vacatur of the referral was otherwise warranted. Accordingly, the court remanded for an evidentiary inquiry.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Jackson v. Wright

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Docket: 22-40059

Opinion Date: September 15, 2023

Judge: Andrew S. Oldham

Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Constitutional Law

Plaintiff is a music theory professor at UNT, a leading expert on the Austrian music theorist Heinrich Schenker, the director of the Center for Schenkerian Studies, and the founder of the Journal of Schenkerian Studies. Plaintiff published an article defending Schenker against charges of racism. The Dean of the College of Music announced that the College of Music would be launching a “formal investigation into the conception and production of” the Journal’s symposium issue. After interviewing eleven individuals, the panel produced a report. The provost sent Jackson a letter instructing him to “develop of a plan to address the recommendations.” After Plaintiff submitted his plan, Board members charged the department with launching a national search for a new editor-in-chief for the Journal, who is a full-time tenured faculty member. Plaintiff sued the Board defendants, among others, alleging a First Amendment retaliation claim under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983. The district court denied the defendants’ motions to dismiss.
 
The Fifth Circuit affirmed. The court found that sovereign immunity does not bar Plaintiff’s First Amendment claim. Further, the court found that Plaintiff has standing to bring his First Amendment claim against the Board defendants. Accordingly, the court found that Plaintiff has “alleged an ongoing violation of federal law and seeks relief properly characterized as prospective.” Thus, at the motion to dismiss stage, sovereign immunity does not bar Plaintiff’s First Amendment claim against the Board defendants. The court also found that Plaintiff also has standing to bring his First Amendment claim. For Article III standing.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

LA Fair Housing Action v. Azalea Garden

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Docket: 22-30609

Opinion Date: September 14, 2023

Judge: Cory T. Wilson

Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Government & Administrative Law, Public Benefits

Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center (LaFHAC) sued Azalea Garden Properties, LLC (Azalea Garden), alleging that Azalea Garden discriminated on the basis of race and disability at its apartment complex in Jefferson, Louisiana, in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA). The district court dismissed LaFHAC’s disability claim but allowed its disparate impact race claim to proceed, subject to one caveat: The district court certified a permissive interlocutory appeal on the issue of whether the “predictably will cause” standard for FHA disparate-impact claims remains viable after Inclusive Communities Project Inc. v. Lincoln Property Co., 920 F.3d 890 (5th Cir. 2019).
 
The Fifth Circuit remanded the case with instructions to dismiss LaFHAC’s claims without prejudice. The court held that the district court lacked jurisdiction over this case. Along the same lines, the court wrote that it cannot consider the district court’s certified question. The court explained that LaFHAC has plausibly alleged a diversion of resources, as it shifted efforts away from planned projects like its annual conference toward counteracting Azalea Garden’s alleged discrimination. But “an organization does not automatically suffer a cognizable injury in fact by diverting resources in response to a defendant’s conduct.” The court wrote that LaFHAC failed to plead an injury because it failed to allege how its diversion of resources impaired its ability to achieve its mission. Thus, the court held that because LaFHAC has not alleged a cognizable injury, it lacks standing to bring the claims it alleges in this action.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

USA v. Mora-Carrillo

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Docket: 21-51125

Opinion Date: September 14, 2023

Judge: Edith H. Jones

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Immigration Law

Defendant was convicted of illegally reentering the country after a previous deportation, in violation of 8 U.S.C. Section 1326(a) & (b)(2). He claimed that the district court wrongly denied his request for a jury instruction about duress and inappropriately applied an enhancement to his sentence for obstruction of justice. Mora argues that the district court’s finding did not address all the elements of perjury. The district court stated that “this Defendant lied under oath to that jury” and that “he obstructed justice.” Defendant posits that this does not address whether the lie was willful or material.
 
The Fifth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that the defendant must present proof of each element to receive a jury instruction on duress. The court wrote that even taking the evidence in the light most favorable to Defendant, he has not presented proof that he was in danger at the moment of his offense. The court reasoned that there is no reason to believe that he was detained, followed, or surveilled in the interim between his abduction and the commission of the offense.
 
Further, the court explained that the obstruction of justice enhancement applies if “the defendant willfully obstructed or impeded, or attempted to obstruct or impede, the administration of justice with respect to the investigation, prosecution, or sentencing of the instant offense of conviction, and . . . the obstructive conduct related to . . . the defendant’s offense of conviction and any relevant conduct.” The court wrote that it found that the district court’s finding “encompasses all of the factual predicates for a finding of perjury.”

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

USA v. Recio-Rosas

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Docket: 22-40720

Opinion Date: September 21, 2023

Judge: Per Curiam

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Immigration Law

Defendant a citizen of Mexico, has been deported from the United States repeatedly over the past three decades. The list of crimes he has committed in the United States is extensive. Most recently, Defendant pleaded guilty to illegally reentering the United States after a prior deportation. At the time of this offense, Defendant was 51 years old, but had only spent one year of his adult life in Mexico, his country of citizenship. Under the Sentencing Guidelines, Defendant’s recommended range spanned from 3 years and 10 months (46 months) to 4 years and 9 months (57 months). The district court sentenced Defendant to 6 years (72 months). Defendant challenged his sentence as procedurally and substantively unreasonable.
 
The Fifth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that the Government concedes that the district court mistakenly counted six prior theft convictions when there were only four and mistakenly suggested that Defendant had served 7 years for a 1991 vehicle burglary conviction when he actually served 10 months of the 7-year sentence. These, the Government admits, were obvious errors. Yet the Government argues, and we agree, that these misstatements did not affect Defendant’s substantial rights. Nor did they impugn the fairness, integrity, or reputation of the proceedings. Further, the court wrote it has previously affirmed the substantive reasonableness of a 72-month sentence for illegal re-entry. Thus, the court concluded that this sentence was substantively reasonable, as well.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

USA v. State of Mississippi

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Docket: 21-60772

Opinion Date: September 20, 2023

Judge: Edith H. Jones

Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Constitutional Law

The United States commenced an investigation of Mississippi’s mental health system. This investigation was not prompted any individual instance of discrimination against a person with serious mental illness. The United States filed suit against the state of Mississippi, alleging that its entire mental health care system violated the “integration mandate” prescribed by 28 C.F.R. Section 35.130(d) and reified in the Supreme Court’s decision, Olmstead v. L.C. ex rel. Zimring. The district court conducted a trial, upheld the federal government’s theory of liability, and ordered not only sweeping modifications to the state’s system but also the indefinite appointment of a monitor who would oversee the system. Mississippi contends that (1) the federal government has not proved a cause of action for discrimination in violation of the ADA (2) the court erred in rejecting its defense that remediation would require an impermissible “fundamental alteration” of its existing programs and (3) the court’s remedial order vastly exceeds the scope of claimed liability
 
The Fifth Circuit reversed. The court explained that the possibility that some un-named individual with serious mental illness or all such people in Mississippi could be unjustifiably institutionalized in the future does not give rise to a cognizable claim under Title II. The court further wrote that nor does such a vague and standardless theory license courts under the ADA to rework an entire state’s mental health system. Accordingly, the court held that the government did not prove that the state of Mississippi violated Title II pursuant to the statute, regulations, or Olmstead as properly construed.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Biggs v. Chicago Board of Education

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

Docket: 22-2031

Opinion Date: September 18, 2023

Judge: Lee

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

Biggs served as interim principal of Burke Elementary School on an at-will basis. Under the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Transportation Policy, no CPS school employee may drive a student in a personal vehicle without written consent from the school’s principal and the student’s legal guardian. The principal must retain copies of the driver's license and insurance documentation. An investigation revealed that for many years, Biggs had directed her subordinates to mark late students as tardy, rather than absent, regardless of how many instructional minutes they received in a day, which likely skewed Burke’s attendance data. Biggs admitted that she had ordered Burke employees to pick up students in personal vehicles without written parental consent and did not keep copies of the drivers’ licenses or insurance documentation. Biggs was fired and designated Do Not Hire. The designation does not necessarily prevent the employee from being hired at a non-CPS school. It was disclosed at community meetings that Biggs’s firing was “about integrity” and a redacted copy of the report was read aloud.

Biggs sued, 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging deprivation of her liberty to pursue her occupation without due process, citing "stigmatizing public statements" in connection with her termination. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the summary judgment rejection of the suit. No reasonable jury could find that Biggs had suffered a tangible loss of employment opportunities within her occupation; she experienced nothing more than the customary difficulties and delays that individuals encounter when looking for a new job, especially after being fired.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Elijah Wells v. Creighton Preparatory School

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Docket: 22-2340

Opinion Date: September 20, 2023

Judge: STRAS

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

Creighton Preparatory School expelled Plaintiff after he made lewd remarks about a teacher. Plaintiff sued Creighton under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 on the theory that the school had discriminated against him by failing to perform an “adequate and impartial investigation.” The district court granted Creighton’s motion to dismiss. It first dismissed the Title IX claim because Plaintiff had failed to “allege [that] his sex played any part in the disciplinary process at all.” Then, with the federal question gone, it declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s breach-of-contract claim.

The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that Plaintiff does not allege that Creighton faced external pressure to punish male students, much less gave in by expelling him. The court reasoned that without an allegation of that kind, the complaint fails to plausibly allege the sort of “causal connection between the flawed outcome and gender bias” required to make an erroneous outcome theory work.

Further, the court wrote that treating men and women differently can support an inference of sex discrimination, but it requires identifying a similarly situated member of the opposite sex who has been “treated more favorably.” For Plaintiff, he had to find “a female accused of sexual harassment” who received better treatment. There are no female students at Creighton, an all-boys school, let alone any who have faced sexual-misconduct allegations. The court explained that to the extent that Plaintiff argues that believing them over him raises an inference of discrimination, there is nothing alleged that the school did so because of his sex.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Samantha LaCoe v. City of Sisseton

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Docket: 22-3552

Opinion Date: September 19, 2023

Judge: LOKEN

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

Plaintiff was hired as a Law Enforcement Officer by the Sisseton, South Dakota, Police Department. Plaintiff and the City signed a Sisseton Police Department Employment Contract (the “Contract”) requiring Plaintiff to reimburse the City for the cost of her training if she left the Department before completing 36 months of employment. In January 2022, Defendant, the City’s Chief of Police, informed Plaintiff that the Police Commission had lost confidence in her, and Defendant asked Plaintiff to resign, which she did. Plaintiff filed this 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 action, asserting, along with other claims, that the City and numerous individual defendants violated her Fourteenth Amendment procedural and substantive due process rights. The district court granted Defendants’ motion. Plaintiff appealed only the dismissal of her due process claims.
 
The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court agreed with the district court the Supreme Court of South Dakota would rule that the Contract did not change an at-will employment relationship. The court explained that for Plaintiff’s claim against the City to survive a motion to dismiss, her complaint must contain “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” The court agreed with the district court that the Complaint “failed to allege any unconstitutional policy or custom that enabled” Defendants to deprive Plaintiff of her alleged federal due process rights. Counsel for Plaintiff could only respond that the Complaint plausibly alleged the practice of violating the three-year term in the City’s employee reimbursement contracts. That practice was not alleged in the Complaint and, in any event, is nothing more than a “facially lawful municipal action.”

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

MIRANDA WALLINGFORD, ET AL V. ROBERT BONTA, ET AL

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Docket: 21-56292

Opinion Date: September 21, 2023

Judge: Bennett

Areas of Law: Civil Procedure, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Government & Administrative Law

Plaintiffs’ neighbor petitioned for a civil harassment restraining order against Plaintiffs and was granted a temporary restraining order. As a result of the TRO, Plaintiff was ordered to surrender his firearms to a California licensed firearms dealer. Certain California laws make it unlawful for any person subject to a “civil restraining order” issued by a California state court (including temporary restraining orders) to possess firearms or ammunition. Plaintiffs claim these laws violate the Second Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution as applied to them. Though Plaintiffs were subject to civil restraining orders when they filed their suit, the orders against them have expired, and in January 2023, a California court denied the latest request to extend them.
 
The Ninth Circuit dismissed Plaintiffs’ action as moot. The panel rejected Plaintiffs’ argument that, although they were no longer subject to any firearm restrictions, the case fell within the “capable of repetition, yet evading review” exception to mootness. The panel noted that this doctrine is to be used sparingly, in exceptional situations, and generally only where (1) the challenged action is in its duration too short to be fully litigated prior to cessation or expiration, and (2) there is a reasonable expectation that the same complaining party will be subject to the same action again. The panel held that this case was moot because the relevant restraining orders have expired, a three-year-long restraining order is not too brief to be litigated on the merits, and there was no reasonable expectation that Plaintiffs will be subject to the same action again

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

USA V. RICHARD MARSCHALL

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Docket: 22-30048

Opinion Date: September 20, 2023

Judge: Collins

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Defendant appealed from his conviction under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (“FDCA”) for shipping misbranded drugs in interstate commerce. Along with other challenges, Defendant contended that the district court erred in concluding that the charged offense did not require proof that Defendant knew that the drugs he shipped were misbranded. Defendant moved to dismiss the indictment, and the district court denied that motion.
 
The Ninth Circuit affirmed Defendant’s conviction. The panel first held that the text of the various provisions of the FDCA at issue does not contain any language that imposes a scienter requirement of the sort that Defendant advocates. The panel then addressed whether there are convincing reasons to depart from the presumption that Congress intended to require a defendant to possess a culpable mental state regarding each of the statutory elements that criminalize otherwise innocent conduct, even when Congress does not specify any scienter in the statutory text. The panel concluded that such convincing reasons are present here. The panel wrote that this is the unusual case in which a public welfare offense lacks a scienter element even though it is a felony with moderately severe potential penalties, given the confluence of circumstances: (1) Congress augmented, into a felony, a predicate misdemeanor offense that concededly lacks a scienter requirement; (2) it did so by adding, not a scienter requirement, but a prior conviction requirement; (3) this action contrasts with Congress’s explicit addition of a scienter requirement in the other clause of Section 333(a)(2); and (4) the prior conviction requirement largely serves the same purposes as an express scienter requirement.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

United States v. Coates

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

Docket: 22-3122

Opinion Date: September 18, 2023

Judge: Michael R. Murphy

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

In 2019, defendant-appellant Larry Coates was caught possessing child pornography. At the time, he was serving supervised release for Kansas-state child exploitation violations. Coates pleaded guilty to a single count of violating 18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(5)(B), (b)(2). In anticipation of sentencing, the probation office prepared a presentence investigative report (“PSR”) which recommended a pattern of activity enhancement pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 2G2.2(b)(5). Coates objected to the enhancement, reasoning it could only apply if the Guidelines' commentary’s definition of pattern was used. In doing so, Coates advocated the district court rely on the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Kisor v. Wilkie, 139 S. Ct. 2400 (2019), which determined courts could only defer to commentary accompanying executive agency regulations when the associated regulation was “genuinely ambiguous.” Absent express guidance from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, the district court declined to apply Kisor and it did not otherwise believe the commentary inconsistent with the guideline. The Tenth Circuit confirmed this approach in United States v. Maloid, 71 F.4th 795 (10th Cir. 2023). Concurring with the district court's judgment, the Tenth Circuit affirmed.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

United States v. Jackson

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

Docket: 22-7015

Opinion Date: September 18, 2023

Judge: Stephanie Kulp Seymour

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

Defendant-appellant Michael David Jackson was convicted and sentenced for several offenses stemming from the sexual abuse of his young niece, including two counts of possession of child pornography. On appeal Jackson argued, and the government conceded, that the possession convictions were multiplicitous and violated the Fifth Amendment’s Double Jeopardy Clause. To this the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed and therefore remanded to the district court with instructions to vacate one of these convictions. Jackson also challenged his sentence, contending: it was procedurally unreasonable because the application of several sentencing enhancements constituted impermissible double counting; and it was substantively unreasonable. The Tenth Circuit noted the district court will have discretion to consider the entire sentencing package on remand. The Court rejected these challenges and concluded that the sentence imposed was both procedurally and substantively reasonable.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Vincent v. Garland, et al.

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

Docket: 21-4121

Opinion Date: September 15, 2023

Judge: Robert Edwin Bacharach

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law

Roughly 50 years ago, Congress banned the possession of firearms by convicted felons. After Congress enacted this ban, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment guaranteed a personal right to possess firearms. Based on the Court’s language, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the constitutionality of the ban on convicted felons’ possession of firearms. The Supreme Court recently created a new test for the scope of the right to possess firearms. Based on the Supreme Court’s creation of a new test, plaintiff-appellant Melynda Vincent challenged the constitutionality of the ban when applied to individuals convicted of nonviolent felonies. To resolve this challenge, the Tenth Circuit had to consider whether the Supreme Court’s new test overruled Tenth Circuit precedent. The appellate court concluded that its precedent was not overruled.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

California v. Burns

Court: California Courts of Appeal

Docket: D080779(Fourth Appellate District)

Opinion Date: September 21, 2023

Judge: Dato

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

In August 2010, after the California v. Samaniego, 174 Cal.App.4th 1148 (2009) and California v. Nero, 181 Cal.App.4th 504 (2010) were decided, defendant Brandon Burns was convicted on one count of first degree murder arising out of his participation with a codefendant in a gang-related shooting. The jury was instructed using the now-disapproved version of CALCRIM No. 400, but his counsel did not argue he was guilty of a lesser crime than the codefendant. Neither did the attorney argue the instruction was given in error. In 2022 however, Burns petitioned for resentencing under Penal Code section 1172.6, claiming he “could not presently be convicted of murder…because of changes made to [sections] 188 and 189, effective January 1, 2019.” He argued that based on the error in former CALCRIM No. 400, the jury might have convicted him based on some “other theory under which malice is imputed to a person based solely on that person’s participation in a crime.” This possibility, he argued, required he be granted an evidentiary hearing. Even accepting Burns’ argument regarding the flaw in the earlier version of CALCRIM No. 400, the Court of Appeal found the alleged error he identified had nothing to do with the 2018 and 2021 legislative changes that gave rise to section 1172.6’s petition process. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the trial court’s finding that Burns failed to establish a prima facile case for relief under section 1172.6.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

California v. Morones

Court: California Courts of Appeal

Docket: C095560(Third Appellate District)

Opinion Date: September 19, 2023

Judge: Earl

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

While his two teenaged children were across the hall, defendant Anthony Morones, Jr., fired a gun outside a bathroom window. After he was arrested and a complaint was filed against him, he attempted to persuade his children to lie to law enforcement about the incident. A jury found defendant guilty of grossly negligent discharge of a firearm, two counts of misdemeanor child endangerment, felon in possession of a weapon, and two counts of dissuading a witness. On appeal, defendant contended his witness dissuasion convictions under Penal Code section 136.11 should have been reversed because the statute only applied to efforts to dissuade a witness prior to charges being filed. He also contended the trial court erred when it failed to properly instruct the jury on elements of the offenses and consider section 654 in sentencing. After review, the Court of Appeal reversed two of defendant’s convictions for witness dissuasion, but otherwise affirmed the judgment.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Davis Boat Manufacturing-Nordic, Inc. v. Smith

Court: California Courts of Appeal

Docket: F083253(Fifth Appellate District)

Opinion Date: September 19, 2023

Judge: DETJEN

Areas of Law: Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts

Plaintiff Davis Boat Manufacturing-Nordic, Inc. (Davis Boat), which prevailed in a breach-of-contract action against Defendant applied for an order to sell Defendant’s home. The Stanislaus County Superior Court denied the application on the basis of Code of Civil Procedure section 699.730, a recently added statute that prohibits the forced sale of a judgment debtor’s principal place of residence to satisfy a “consumer debt” except under certain circumstances.
 
The Fifth Appellate affirmed. The court rejected Davis Boat’s assertions on appeal and held that the definition of “consumer debt” in section 669.730 is not latently ambiguous, and that section 669.730 neither violates the contract nor the equal protection clauses of the federal and state Constitutions. The court explained that section 699.730, subdivision (a) defines “consumer debt” as “debt incurred by an individual primarily for personal, family, or household purposes.” Thus, a debt incurred for business or commercial reasons would not be a debt incurred for “personal, family, or household purposes.” The court wrote that notwithstanding the plain meaning of the statute, Davis Boat suggests “consumer debt” is latently ambiguous. The court reasoned that it does not believe that the purpose of Assembly Bill No. 2463 is frustrated simply because the language approved by the Legislature means debt incurred by an individual primarily for personal, family, or household purposes.” Moreover, the court wrote that it cannot deem a statutory exemption that allows financial institutions to force the sale of a judgment debtor’s principal place of residence to satisfy a high-priced debt “so devoid of even minimal rationality that it is unconstitutional as a matter of equal protection.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

P. v. Suazo

Court: California Courts of Appeal

Docket: F082140(Fifth Appellate District)

Opinion Date: September 19, 2023

Judge: DETJEN

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Defendant, while having an elevated blood-alcohol level, drove his 2008 Ford Focus at a high rate of speed off the highway, through a fence, and into agricultural equipment parked in an adjacent yard. His passenger was ejected from the vehicle and killed. Defendant was charged and convicted with various offenses related to this incident. On appeal, among other claims, Defendant contends remand is required for the court to resentence him in light of Senate Bill No. 567 (2021-2022 Reg. Sess.), statutes 2021, chapter 731 (Senate Bill No. 567), and Assembly Bill No. 124 (2021-2022 Reg. Sess.), statutes 2021, chapter 695 (Assembly Bill No. 124), and the court erred in ordering restitution in favor of Garton, the agricultural equipment company whose property was damaged in the collision, because the company was not a direct or derivative victim of a crime of which Defendant was convicted.
 
The Fifth Appellate District remanded the matter for resentencing consistent with Senate Bill No. 567 and Assembly Bill No. 124. However, the court affirmed in all other respects. The court explained that as the People concede, Senate Bill No. 567 and Assembly Bill No. 124 are ameliorative changes in law that apply retroactively to Defendant. Here, the trial court imposed an upper-term sentence on count 5, thus implicating Senate Bill No. 567. Additionally, Defendant’s statement in mitigation, submitted to the trial court at sentencing, suggests defendant may have a history of childhood trauma, including childhood abuse, thus potentially implicating Assembly Bill No. 124.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center, Inc. v. County of L.A.

Court: California Courts of Appeal

Docket: B318954(Second Appellate District)

Opinion Date: September 18, 2023

Judge: MOOR

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

Plaintiffs-Appellants Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center, Inc. (SPARC) and Lucky Pup Dog Rescue (Lucky Pup) (collectively Appellants) appealed a judgment of dismissal following the trial court’s order sustaining, without leave to amend, Defendant County of Los Angeles’s (the County) demurrer to Appellants’ petition for writ of mandate. Appellants contend that the Hayden Act and, more specifically, Food and Agriculture Code section 31108 and similar provisions impose on the County a ministerial duty to (1) release a dog or other shelter animal to a requesting animal adoption or rescue organization with Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3) status prior to euthanasia without first determining whether the animal has behavioral problems or is adoptable or treatable, and (2) release the aforementioned animal to the requesting animal rescue or adoption organization without requiring the organization to meet qualifications additional to having Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3) status.
 
The Second Appellate District reversed the trial court’s judgment and directed the trial court to vacate its order sustaining the demurrer without leave to amend. The court concluded that the demurrer was improperly granted because the County lacks discretion to withhold and euthanize a dog based upon its determination that the animal has a behavioral problem or is not adoptable or treatable. However, the County has discretion to determine whether and how a nonprofit organization qualifies as an animal adoption or rescue organization.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Shaw v. L.A. Unified School Dist.

Court: California Courts of Appeal

Docket: B315814(Second Appellate District)

Opinion Date: September 19, 2023

Judge: CURREY

Areas of Law: Class Action, Constitutional Law, Education Law

Plaintiffs alleged that during the COVID-19 pandemic, Defendants Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD or the District) and its then Superintendent adopted distance-learning policies that discriminated against poor students and students of color in violation of the California Constitution. Plaintiffs rest their challenge on various side letter contract agreements between LAUSD and the teacher’s union, Defendant United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), which Plaintiffs contend implemented the distance-learning framework established by the Legislature in a discriminatory fashion. However, the District has returned to in-person instruction, and both the side letter agreements and the statutory framework that authorized them have expired. Nevertheless, Plaintiffs continue to seek injunctive relief to remedy what they contend are ongoing harms caused by the allegedly unconstitutional policies. The trial court sustained, with leave to amend, LAUSD’s demurrer on mootness grounds and granted, with leave to amend, its motion to strike the prayer for relief, reasoning that the requested remedies would not be manageable on a class-wide basis.
 
The Second Appellate District reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded with instructions. The court held that the trial court prematurely struck the prayer for relief at the pleading stage, notwithstanding the end of distance learning. Because Plaintiffs propose a seemingly viable remedy for the past and continuing harms they allege, their constitutional claims are not moot. The court wrote that the constitutionality of expired policies is measured by reference to the statewide standards that existed when the policies were in effect. Accordingly, the trial court erred by sustaining LAUSD’s demurrer to the eighth cause of action on mootness grounds.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

State v. Robles

Court: Connecticut Supreme Court

Docket: SC20452

Opinion Date: September 19, 2023

Judge: Seeley

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

The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the trial court finding Defendant guilty of manslaughter in the first degree, criminal possession of a firearm, and possession of a weapon in a motor vehicle, holding that the evidence was insufficient to support Defendant's conviction of possessing a weapon in a motor vehicle.

Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) any claimed error on the part of the trial court in violating Defendant's right to confront the witnesses against him under the Sixth Amendment by allowing the chief medical examiner to testify about the results of the victim's autopsy, which the chief medical examiner had not performed himself, was harmless; and (2) the evidence was insufficient to support Defendant's conviction of possessing a weapon in a vehicle in violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. 29-38(a).

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Zack v. State

Court: Florida Supreme Court

Docket: SC2023-1233

Opinion Date: September 21, 2023

Judge: Francis

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

The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the postconviction court summarily denying the claims in Michael Duane Zack, III's fourth successive postconviction motion and denied Zack's motion for stay of execution and request for oral argument, holding that Zack was not entitled to relief.

Defendant was sentenced to death for the murder of Ravonne Smith and was scheduled for execution on October 3, 2023. In his successive postconviction motion Defendant claimed that his execution should be barred under the Eighth Amendment. The postconviction court summarily denied the claims as untimely, procedurally barred, and meritless. The Supreme Court affirmed and denied Zack's motion for stay of execution and request for oral argument, holding that the postconviction court did not err by summarily denying Defendant's claims as untimely, procedurally barred, and meritless.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Adams v. Georgia

Court: Supreme Court of Georgia

Docket: S23A0758

Opinion Date: September 19, 2023

Judge: Ellington

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Leon Adams IV (“Leon”) was convicted by jury of malice murder and other offenses in connection with the shooting death of Laron Lowe and the aggravated assault of Ronda Dobson. Leon contended: (1) the evidence was constitutionally insufficient to support his convictions; and (2) his trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective because counsel had an actual conflict of interest arising out of his joint representation of Leon and his co-defendant and brother, Isaiah Adams. For the reasons set forth below, we discern no reversible error and affirm the judgment of conviction. Finding no reversible error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed Adams' convictions.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Carter v. Georgia

Court: Supreme Court of Georgia

Docket: S23A0522

Opinion Date: September 19, 2023

Judge: Carla Wong McMillian

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Appellant Rafael Carter appealed the trial court’s dismissal of his pro se motion to withdraw his guilty plea stemming from the murder of Terrance Fields during an armed robbery. The January 2016 term of court in which Carter entered his guilty plea expired on Friday, March 4, 2016, and a new term of court commenced on Monday, March 7, 2016. So both his March 11, 2016 and his October 11, 2021 motions to withdraw were filed after the expiration of the term of court in which he entered his plea. Nonetheless, Carter maintains that his convictions and sentences are void and illegal due to merger errors, thus providing the trial court with jurisdiction to permit the withdrawal of his guilty plea. The Georgia Supreme Court found Carter’s sentence was not void because his felony murder convictions were vacated by operation of law despite the trial court’s purported merger of those counts; the trial court has properly merged Carter’s conviction for the aggravated assault of Fields (Count 9) into his malice murder conviction (Count 1); no other merger error appeared; and each sentence imposed was within the range that the law allows. Therefore, the Court found the trial court properly dismissed Carter's motion to withdraw his guilty plea.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Hamilton v. Georgia

Court: Supreme Court of Georgia

Docket: S23A0670

Opinion Date: September 19, 2023

Judge: Bethel

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Nuwrulhaqq Hamilton was convicted of felony murder and other crimes in connection with the shooting death of Antonio Felton. On appeal, Hamilton argued: (1) the trial court erred by denying his motion for directed verdict as to the counts of felony murder, aggravated assault, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony; and (2) the trial court plainly erred by failing to give, and his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to request, a jury charge on Hamilton’s good character. Finding no reversible error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed Hamilton’s convictions.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Kennebrew v. Georgia

Court: Supreme Court of Georgia

Docket: S23A0530

Opinion Date: September 19, 2023

Judge: Colvin

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Following a reversal of his convictions on appeal and a retrial, Appellant Phillip Kennebrew was convicted of malice murder and related crimes in connection with the 2011 beating and stabbing death of Breyon Alexander. On appeal, Appellant argued that the trial court erred in allowing the State to introduce into evidence testimony from a witness who testified at Appellant’s first trial but was unavailable to testify at his second trial. Appellant contended the witness’s testimony was inadmissible hearsay that did not fall within the prior testimony hearsay exception, OCGA § 24-8-804 (b) (1), and that violated his rights under the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Appellant further argued that, even if the witness’s prior testimony was not altogether inadmissible, the trial court abused its discretion in failing to exclude double hearsay within that testimony. Appellant also challenged the trial court’s admission of hearsay statements made by the victim, which were admitted under the residual hearsay exception, OCGA § 24-8-807. Finding no reversible error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Roberts v. Cuthper

Court: Supreme Court of Georgia

Docket: S23A0631

Opinion Date: September 19, 2023

Judge: LaGrua

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Government & Administrative Law

In April 2019, Kevin Roberts applied to Judge Clarence Cuthpert, Jr., probate judge for Rockdale County, for a weapons carry license pursuant to OCGA § 16-11-129. Judge Cuthpert denied Roberts’s application, finding that Roberts’s criminal history revealed five arrests between 1992 and 2004 for aggravated assault, affray, obstruction of the judiciary, cruelty to children in the first degree, simple battery, battery, and family violence battery. Judge Cuthpert noted that Roberts’s criminal history did not list the dispositions of Roberts’s arrests for obstruction of the judiciary or simple battery, but the other arrests had dispositions of not prosecuted, dismissed, or nolle prossed. Judge Cuthpert concluded that Roberts “lack[ed] good moral character[4] . . . [d]ue to his arrest[s] for several violent offenses” and that “the court need[ed] additional information[, including police reports,] to determine if this application should be approved.” After reconsideration, Judge Cuthpert again denied the petition, concluding that, “[b]ased upon [Roberts’s] history of violent offenses and failure to comply with the Court’s instructions to provide the incident reports and dispositions for [his previous five arrests],” Roberts was “not of good moral character.” Roberts thereafter filed a complaint seeking mandamus relief against Judge Cuthpert “in his official capacity,” declaratory judgment against Judge Cuthpert “in both his official and individual capacities,” and costs and attorney’s fees. The Georgia Supreme Court held that the General Assembly waived sovereign immunity for claims brought under OCGA § 16-11-129 (j) and that the Separation of Powers Provision of the Georgia Constitution was not implicated by the recovery of costs, including reasonable attorney’s fees, against a probate judge pursuant to OCGA § 16-11-129 (j) because processing a weapons carry license did not involve the exercise of judicial power. The Court also concluded the probate judge in this case waived the defense of judicial immunity on the costs-and-fees claim asserted against him in his official capacity.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Salvesen v. Georgia

Court: Supreme Court of Georgia

Docket: S23A0433

Opinion Date: September 19, 2023

Judge: Bethel

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Walter Salvesen, III was convicted of malice murder and other crimes in connection with the 2015 shooting death of Johnathan Martin. On appeal, Salvesen contended: (1) the trial court admitted unduly prejudicial photographs from Martin’s autopsy and the scene where Martin’s body was found; (2) the trial court erred by failing to recharge the jury on the lesser offenses of voluntary and involuntary manslaughter when it recharged on malice murder and felony murder; and (3) trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance to the extent the foregoing alleged errors were not preserved for appellate review. The Georgia Supreme Court was not persuaded: (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the photographs; (2) the trial court acted within its discretion in solely recharging the jury on the definitions it requested and not the lesser offenses; and (3) Salvesen has not demonstrated that his trial counsel was deficient. The Court therefore affirmed Salvesen’s convictions.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Wise Business Forms, Inc. v. Forsyth County, et al.

Court: Supreme Court of Georgia

Docket: S22G0874

Opinion Date: September 19, 2023

Judge: LaGrua

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Government & Administrative Law, Real Estate & Property Law, Zoning, Planning & Land Use

Wise Business Forms, Inc. (“Wise”) was the nation’s fourth largest printer of business forms, and was headquartered in Forsyth County, Georgia. A 36-inch metal pipe (“Subject Pipe”) ran underneath Wise’s property and had been in place since 1985. Approximately twenty-five feet of the drainage pipe extended into a two-acre tract of land west of Wise’s property (“Corner Tract”). The Corner Tract was undeveloped and forms a natural detention basin into which a large vertical concrete drainage structure with a large stormwater outlet pipe (“Feeder Structure”) was constructed. Wise asserted in its complaint that water from the Feeder Structure on the Corner Tract was designed to flow through the Subject Pipe underneath Wise’s property. The McFarland Parkway Widening Project extended McFarland Road from two lanes to four lanes and was completed in 2000. Wise alleged in its complaint that this project resulted in a substantial increase of the surface and stormwater runoff flowing underneath its property. In 2020, Wise filed a complaint against Forsyth County and the Georgia Department of Transportation (the “DOT”) raising claims for per se taking of Wise’s property, inverse condemnation by permanent nuisance, attorney fees. Wise amended its complaint to add a claim for inverse condemnation by abatable nuisance. The Georgia Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case to clarify the standards for determining when a claim for inverse condemnation by permanent nuisance accrues for purposes of applying the four-year statute of limitation set forth in OCGA § 9-3-30 (a). The Court concluded that, although the Court of Appeals articulated one of the correct standards to apply in determining when the applicable statute of limitation begins to run on a permanent nuisance claim, the Court of Appeals failed to construe the allegations of the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff as the non-moving party; erred in concluding there was only one harm in this case that was “immediately observable” to the plaintiff when the nuisance at issue was completed; and erred in concluding that the statute of limitation had run on the plaintiff’s claim as a matter of law.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Idaho v. Pendleton

Court: Idaho Supreme Court - Criminal

Docket: 50078

Opinion Date: September 20, 2023

Judge: Moeller

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Edo, a dog used by the Boise Police Department to detect controlled substances, alerted on defendant-respondent Shawna Pendleton’s vehicle during a traffic stop. Videos of the incident raised questions about the reliability of Edo’s performance. Through a series of discovery requests, Pendleton sought additional videos and police reports from past stops to challenge Edo’s reliability in detecting drugs. The district court, over repeated objections from the State, ultimately granted her motion to compel the evidence on finding it material to her defense.
On appeal, the State argued the district court abused its discretion by denying its motion for reconsideration because: (1) Pendleton failed to establish that the requested evidence was material to her defense; (2) the production of four-months’ worth of Edo’s reports and videos was unduly burdensome, and (3) not all of the requested evidence was within the prosecutor’s possession, custody, or control. The Idaho Supreme Court concluded the State failed to show an abuse of discretion in compelling production of the videos and reports regarding Edo and his handler for the four months prior to Pendleton’s arrest. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s determination that the evidence sought by Pendleton was material, not unduly burdensome, and in the “possession, custody or control” of the prosecution pursuant to Idaho Criminal Rule 16.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

People v. Lozano

Court: Supreme Court of Illinois

Citation: 2023 IL 128609

Opinion Date: September 21, 2023

Judge: Mary Jane Theis

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

Chicago police arrested Lozano, who was subsequently charged with burglary and possession of burglary tools. Lozano moved to suppress evidence (a car radio, a wallet, and two screwdrivers) arguing that when the officers stopped, detained, and searched him, they neither possessed a warrant nor saw him committing any crimes and could not reasonably suspect that he had committed or was about to commit any crimes or that he was armed and dangerous. Officer Rodriguez testified that he and his partner were driving in an unmarked car, on patrol, and saw Lozano “running at a fast rate of speed” and holding his front pocket. It was raining and wet outside. Rodriguez made a U-turn and approached Lozano, who fled up the stairs of an apparently abandoned building. Rodriguez pursued Lozano and saw a “big bulge” in Lozano’s pocket. Rodriguez handcuffed Lozano, then touched his hooded sweatshirt and felt a rectangular box. He reached inside Lozano’s front pocket and recovered a wallet, two screwdrivers, and a radio. The wallet and radio had been taken from a parked car.

The Illinois Supreme Court reversed the trial and appellate courts and held that the officers lacked reasonable suspicion to stop Lozano. The act of running in the rain while holding the front of his pocket did not provide a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to justify an investigatory stop consistent with the Fourth Amendment and the Illinois Constitution.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Commonwealth v. Fisher

Court: Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Docket: SJC-13340

Opinion Date: September 20, 2023

Judge: Cypher

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

The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant's convictions for murder in the first degree based on a theory of felony-murder, among other charges, holding that a police officer's identification testimony was admitted improperly, but its admission did not prejudice Defendant.

On appeal, Defendant challenged the denial of his motion to suppress, among numerous other allegations of error. For the claimed errors, Defendant requested that the court reduce his verdict or order a retrial. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) a police officer's testimony identifying Defendant in a video recording at trial was improperly admitted, but the admission did not prejudice Defendant; and (2) Defendant was not entitled to relief on his remaining allegations of error.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Ringsred v. City of Duluth

Court: Minnesota Supreme Court

Docket: A22-0374

Opinion Date: September 13, 2023

Judge: Lorie Skjerven Gildea

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

The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the determination of the district court that the underlying First Amendment retaliation claim brought under 42 U.S.C. 1983 was time-barred, holding that the continuing violation doctrine did not apply to toll the statute of limitations.

Plaintiff brought this action alleging that Defendant, the City of Duluth, retaliated against him in violation of his rights under the First Amendment by making false statements and engaging in other negative conduct toward him. In dismissing the claim, the trial court rejected Plaintiff's reliance on the continuing violation doctrine. The court of appeals reversed and reinstated Plaintiff's section 1983 retaliation claim against the City, concluding that the continuing violation doctrine did not apply because the acts Plaintiff alleged as retaliation were discrete acts that were actionable when committed and therefore did not constitute a continuing violation that tolled the statute of limitations. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the continuing violation doctrine did not apply in this case.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

State v. Mosley

Court: Minnesota Supreme Court

Docket: A22-1073

Opinion Date: September 6, 2023

Judge: Lorie Skjerven Gildea

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

The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court granting Defendant's motion to suppress evidence discovered in the vehicle that Defendant was driving, holding that the totality of the circumstances supported probable cause to search the vehicle.

Law enforcement initiated a traffic stop after receiving a tip from an informant that a male in possession of a firearm was in the vehicle Defendant was driving. The district court granted Defendant's motion to suppress the firearm on the grounds that the officers lacked probable cause to search the vehicle. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the State met its burden and established probable cause to search the vehicle that Defendant was driving.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

State v. Torgerson

Court: Minnesota Supreme Court

Docket: A22-0425

Opinion Date: September 13, 2023

Judge: McKeig

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

The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court granting Defendant's motion to suppress evidence found during a search of his vehicle, holding that the odor of marijuana emanating from a vehicle, alone, is insufficient to create the requisite probable cause to search a vehicle under the automobile exception to the warrant requirement.

After a traffic stop and subsequent search of his vehicle Defendant was convicting of possession of methamphetamine paraphernalia in the presence of a minor and fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance. Defendant moved to suppress the evidence, arguing that the odor of marijuana, alone, is insufficient to create the requisite probable cause to search a vehicle under the automobile exception to the warrant requirement. The district court granted the motion and dismissed the complaint. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that evidence of medium-strength odor of marijuana, on its own, is insufficient to establish a fair probability that the search would yield evidence of criminally-illegal conduct or drug-related contraband.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

State v. Pine

Court: Montana Supreme Court

Citation: 2023 MT 172

Opinion Date: September 19, 2023

Judge: Laurie McKinnon

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

The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of aggravated kidnapping, sexual intercourse without consent, and partner or family member assault, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on any of his allegations of error.

Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) Mont. Code Ann. 45-5-303(2) is not facially unconstitutional because it permits a judge, rather than a jury, to apply factors that reduce the maximum penalty; (2) Defendant's level three offender designation was objectionable, not illegal, and Defendant did not properly reserve his objection to the designation during sentencing; and (3) Defendant's counsel was not ineffective for failing to argue that the maximum sentence for kidnapping was ten years based on mitigating factors and failing to object to Defendant's level-three sex offender designation.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

State v. Dolinar

Court: Nebraska Supreme Court

Citation: 315 Neb. 257

Opinion Date: September 15, 2023

Judge: Freudenberg

Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Real Estate & Property Law

The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Appellant's plea in bar alleging that a trial on the pending charges for violations of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act would subject him to Double Jeopardy, holding that forfeiture under Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-431, as amended in 2016, is civil in nature, and therefore, the district court did not err in denying the plea in bar.

In his plea in bar, Appellant argued that he was already criminally punished for the same crime in a separate forfeiture action brought pursuant to section 28-431. In denying the plea in bar, the district court concluded that Appellant had failed to demonstrate he was punished by the forfeiture. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the sanction imposed by forfeiture under section 28-431 is civil and not criminal for purposes of a double jeopardy analysis.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

State v. Caffee

Court: South Dakota Supreme Court

Citation: 2023 S.D. 51

Opinion Date: September 20, 2023

Judge: Kern

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

The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court convicting Defendant of first-degree manslaughter and aggravated assault and sentencing him to life imprisonment, holding that Defendant's sentence did not violate the Eighth Amendment.

Defendant pled guilty to first-degree manslaughter and aggravated assault. The circuit court sentenced Defendant to life without the possibility of parole for first-degree manslaughter and to a term of fifteen years for aggravated assault to run concurrently with his life sentence. Defendant appealed, arguing that his life sentence constituted cruel and unusual punishment and that the circuit court abused its discretion by imposing a life sentence without the possibility of parole. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Washington v. Reynolds

Court: Washington Supreme Court

Docket: 100,873-2

Opinion Date: September 21, 2023

Judge: Sheryl Gordon McCloud

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Juvenile Law

Michael Reynolds Jr. received a mandatory sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole for a crime he committed at age 33. The events triggering that sentence, though, were his two “strikes” under Washington’s “three strikes” law—one of which Reynolds committed at age 17, when he was a juvenile. If Reynolds’ current sentence constituted punishment for his earlier offense committed at age 17, then it would be unconstitutional under case law. But under the Washington Supreme Court’s more recent precedent, his current sentence did not constitute punishment for that prior offense. In Washington v. Moretti, decided two years after Bassett, the Supreme Court held that a “three strikes” sentence of mandatory life in prison without possibility of parole constituted punishment for the last crime or third “strike,” not the earlier first or second “strikes.” “And for years, we have held that our state’s 'three strikes’ law as applied to adults does not violate article I, section 14.2 That assessment could certainly change over time. But in this case, the parties have not asked us to overrule it.” The Court therefore affirmed the Court of Appeals.

Read Opinion

Are you a lawyer? Annotate this case.

Browse upcoming and on-demand Justia Webinars

About Justia Daily Opinion Summaries

Justia Daily Opinion Summaries is a free newsletter service with over 65 newsletters covering every federal appellate court and the highest court in each U.S. state.

Justia also provides weekly practice area newsletters in 60+ different practice areas. All daily and weekly Justia Newsletters are free. You may request newsletters or modify your preferences by visiting daily.justia.com.

You may freely redistribute this email in whole.

About Justia

Justia’s mission is to make law and legal resources free for all.

Justia

Contact Us| Privacy Policy

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn LinkedIn Justia

Unsubscribe from this newsletter

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


Unsubscribe from all Justia Newsletters