Justia U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

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Defendant appealed his conviction for two counts of distribution of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. The court concluded that the evidence was sufficient to support his conviction for distribution. Further, the court concluded that the district court did err by applying a two-level enhancement under U.S.S.G. 2G2.2(b)(6) because the offense involved the use of a computer and U.S.S.G. 2G2.2(b)(3)(F) because the offense involved distribution other than distribution described in the other subsections of section 2G2.2(b)(3). Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Roetcisoender" on Justia Law
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Gate Guard filed suit against the DOL seeking a declaration that it was in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201 et seq., and attorneys' fees if it prevailed. Before Gate Guard served the complaint, the DOL filed its own FLSA enforcement action against Gate Guard. The district court found that the DOL's case was weak and granted summary judgment for Gate Guard. The district court awarded Gate Guard attorneys’ fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act’s (EAJA) substantially-justified provision, 28 U.S.C. 2412(d), but denied fees under the EAJA’s bad faith provision, 28 U.S.C. 2412(b). On appeal, the DOL challenged the grant of attorneys' fees. The court concluded that the circumstances giving rise to an award included both the government’s conduct before and during litigation as well as a legally insupportable case. The government’s conduct here was sufficiently egregious to warrant an award under section 2412(b). Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Gate Guard Svc. v. Perez" on Justia Law
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Plaintiffs are two same-sex couples who seek to marry in Texas or to have their marriage in another state recognized in Texas. The district court subsequently issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the state from enforcing any laws or regulations prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying or prohibiting the recognition of marriages between same-sex couples lawfully solemnized elsewhere. While the appeal was under submission, the Supreme Court decided Obergefell v. Hodges, which held in part that there is no lawful basis for a State to refuse to recognize a lawful same sex marriage performed in another State on the ground of its same-sex character. Because, as both sides now agree, the injunction appealed from is correct in light of Obergefell, the preliminary injunction is affirmed and the matter remanded for entry of judgment in favor of plaintiffs. View "DeLeon v. Abbott" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, seven same-sex couples and an organization whose membership includes same-sex couples and their families, seek to marry in Louisiana or to have their marriage in another state recognized in Louisiana. The district court granted summary judgment to defendants. While this appeal was under submission, the Supreme Court decided Obergefell v. Hodges, which held in part that there is no lawful basis for a state to refuse to recognize a lawful same-sex marriage performed in another state on the ground of its same-sex character. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for entry of judgment in favor of plaintiffs. View "Robicheaux v. Caldwell" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, convicted of capital murder, appealed the district court's denial of federal habeas relief on his claim that he is ineligible to be executed because he is intellectually disabled. Considering all of the evidence presented at the Atkins v. Virginia hearing, the court concluded that it was not unreasonable for the TCCA to conclude that petitioner failed to show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that he satisfied the Ex parte Briseno test for adaptive behavioral deficits. The court concluded that it is not necessary for the court to address petitioner’s arguments that the state court’s findings on significantly subaverage intellectual functioning and onset before age 18 are unreasonable. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Henderson v. Stephens" on Justia Law
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Defendant, a BP engineer, was prosecuted for deleting text messages and emails related to oil spill calculations of the Macondo well from the Deepwater Horizon accident site. Defendant was convicted of obstruction of justice for deleting a text message exchange between himself and his boss. Defendant's counsel later discovered that the jury foreperson, Juror 1, overheard in a courthouse elevator that other BP employees were being prosecuted. During a deadlock in deliberations, Juror 1 told the rest of the jury that she had overheard something that increased her confidence in voting guilty. Other members of the jury prevented her from revealing what she had overheard. The district court granted a new trial based on the jury's exposure to extrinsic evidence and the government appealed. The court affirmed the judgment, concluding that defendant met his initial evidentiary burden of showing that prejudice was likely, both as to the information overheard by Juror 1 and as to the information that she relayed to the rest of the jury, and the government did not prove lack of prejudice. View "United States v. Mix" on Justia Law
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SMI filed suit against BCS and ARGO, alleging violations of various Texas state law claims related to defendants' alleged theft of trade secrets in connection with a software program developed and sold by SMI. After removal to federal court, the district court denied SMI's motion to remand and subsequently granted defendants' motion for summary judgment. The court concluded that the district court was correct to consider only the Original Petition when deciding SMI’s motion to remand; held that state law claims based on ideas fixed in tangible media are preempted by section 301(a) of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 301(a), and that the technical trade secrets found within VaultWorks fall within the subject matter of copyright; affirmed the district court’s denial of SMI’s motion to remand and held that it properly exercised jurisdiction over this action as a result of complete preemption by the Copyright Act; concluded that it would not be reasonable for a jury to infer that defendants used SMI’s trade secrets and therefore, the court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of SMI’s claim of misappropriation of trade secrets; and concluded that SMI has waived its remaining claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Spear Marketing, Inc. v. BancorpSouth Bank" on Justia Law

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TES filed suit against State Farm, seeking a declaratory judgment that State Farm owes TES a duty to defend in an underlying lawsuit with Robin Singh Education Services involving test preparation services. The court concluded that the factual allegations in Singh’s Amended Counterclaim do not potentially include a trade dress infringement claim. Instead, the Amended Counterclaim alleges trademark infringement and false advertising claims. Neither of those claims is covered under the policy. Therefore, the district court was correct to grant summary judgment in favor of State Farm and the court affirmed the judgment. View "Test Masters Educ. Svc. v. State Farm Lloyds" on Justia Law
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The Counties filed suit against defendants, alleging that defendants violated Texas Local Government Code 192.007 and Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code 12.002, and, alleging claims of fraudulent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment. The court agreed with the district court's holding that it had no authority to grant the requested relief under the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. 2201, because the Texas Legislature did not create a private right of action to enforce section 192.007. The court also agreed with the district court's holding that even if there were a right of action, section 192.007 does not impose a duty to create and record assignments of deeds of trust when an interest in the related promissory note is transferred. Dallas County's common law claim for fraudulent misrepresentation failed based upon the reliance and injury elements. Finally, the unjust enrichment claim failed because any benefit from recording a mortgage was derived not from the county clerk, but from Texas law recognizing lien priority. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of all of the Counties' claims. View "Dallas County, TX v. MERSCORP, Inc." on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of three counts of unlawful exporting based on his sale of hundreds of AK-47 magazines out of his army surplus store. On appeal, defendant argued that the empty AK-47 magazines are not a prohibited item under the export laws. Defendant contended that empty AK-47 magazines do not qualify as firearm components because the Munitions List does not mention assault rifle magazines in the definition of “component.” The court concluded that an AK-47 magazine plainly meets the State Department’s definition of component. Further, the district court properly concluded that the Munitions List - which is a list of categories, not specific products - encompasses AK-47 magazines whether or not they are loaded with cartridges when shipped. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Gonzalez" on Justia Law
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