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

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Plaintiff, T.M.'s mother, filed suit against the County and others after T.M., a middle school student, was arrested for a fight on school property, taken to a juvenile detention center, and subjected to a strip and cavity search. Plaintiff alleged, inter alia, that the strip and cavity search violated T.M.'s Fourth Amendment rights. The district court granted partial summary judgment for the County on the Fourth Amendment claim. The court applied the deferential test in Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders because the deference given to correctional officials in the adult context applies to correctional officials in the juvenile context as well. Applying Florence, the court concluded that plaintiff failed to make a substantial showing that the Center's search policy is an exaggerated or otherwise irrational response to the problem of Center security. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Mabry v. Lee County" on Justia Law

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Petitioner was convicted and sentenced to death for murder for remuneration. In this appeal, petitioner claimed that the court erred in determining that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals had denied his Wiggins claims on the merits rather than based on state procedural grounds. Petitioner appears to argue that there is a middle ground between the deferential standard necessitated by the state court's "on the merits" dismissal of his Wiggins claims and a finding that he had procedurally defaulted. The court explained that the Supreme Court has held that 28 U.S.C. 2254(d) applies even where the state court issues a summary denial without an accompanying statement of reasons. In this case, the court's holding that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed his petition on the merits necessarily triggered the deferential standard he faced under section 2254(d) when he returned six years later. Accordingly, the court denied petitioner's motion to withdraw the mandate. View "Ruiz v. Stephens" on Justia Law
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Defendant pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute fifty grams or more of methamphetamine and possession with intent to distribute gamma hydroxybutyric acid. The court concluded that defendant waived the right to challenge the denial of the motion to suppress because he entered a voluntary, unconditional plea of guilty. The court also concluded that the district court properly applied the career-offender enhancement under USSG 4B1.1 based on defendant's two convictions of possession for sale of methamphetamine in violation of California Health & Safety Code 11378. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Olson, II" on Justia Law
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Defendant Brewer and Boyd plead guilty to one count of bank robbery and were sentenced as career offenders in separate proceedings. In these consolidated appeals, defendants challenged the career-offender enhancement. The court agreed with its sister circuits that federal bank robbery is a crime of violence under USSG 4B1.2(a)(1), where defendants failed to present any cases showing that robbery by intimidation can be accomplished without at least an implicit threat to use force. Therefore, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Brewer" on Justia Law
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Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against three officers and the City of Fort Worth, alleging violations of his First and Fourth Amendment rights. Plaintiff's suit stemmed from his arrest after he was video recording a police station from a public sidewalk and refused to identify himself to officers. The district court granted the officers' motion to dismiss based on qualified immunity. The court concluded that all three officers are entitled to qualified immunity on the First Amendment claim because there was no clearly established First Amendment right to record the police at the time of plaintiff's activities. The court explained for the future that First Amendment principles, controlling authority, and persuasive precedent demonstrate that a First Amendment right to record the police does exist, subject only to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions. The court also concluded that Officer Grinalds and Dyess's initial questioning or detention of plaintiff before he was handcuffed was objectively unreasonable in light of clearly established law. Therefore, Grinalds and Dyess are entitled to qualified immunity on plaintiff's claim that they violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from detention absent reasonable suspicion. However, the court concluded that no objectively reasonable person in these officers' position could have believed that there was probable cause to arrest plaintiff and thus they are not entitled to qualified immunity on plaintiff's Fourth Amendment claim that the officers violated his right to be free from warrantless arrest absent probable cause. Finally, Lieutenant Driver is entitled to qualified immunity on plaintiff's Fourth Amendment claims where Driver acted objectively reasonably in light of the circumstances. Accordingly, the court affirmed as to this claim. View "Turner v. Driver" on Justia Law

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Twelve individuals in the Houston area who receive Section 8 housing assistance filed suit against AmeriPro and Wells Fargo, alleging discrimination in violation of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), 15 U.S.C. 1691 et seq., on the basis of their receipt of public assistance income. The district court granted defendants' Rule 12(b)(6) motion and dismissed the claims. The court concluded that the Wells Fargo Applicants did not plausibly allege that Wells Fargo discriminated against them on the basis of their Section 8 income or failed to consider their Section 8 income in assessing their creditworthiness; the AmeriPro Inquirers did not plausibly allege that they are "applicants" under the ECOA because they did not actually apply for credit with AmeriPro; and the AmeriPro Applicants did not plausibly allege that Wells Fargo was a "creditor" with respect to them. Therefore, the court affirmed as to these claims. The court concluded that the AmeriPro Applicants did plausibly allege violations of the ECOA by alleging that AmeriPro refused to consider their Section 8 income in assessing their creditworthiness as mortgage applicants, and that they received mortgages on less favorable terms and in lesser amounts than they would have had their Section 8 income been considered. Accordingly, the court reversed as to these claims and remanded for further proceedings. View "Alexander v. Ameripro Funding" on Justia Law

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Father initiated proceedings for the return of his two young daughters under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, Oct. 25, 1980, T.I.A.S. No. 11,670, 1343 U.N.T.S. 89. The children resided in Mexico City until Mother took them on vacation and wrongfully detained them in the United States. The district court ordered the children returned to Mexico. The court affirmed the district court's denial of Father's post-judgment motions, concluding that the courts in Mexico, the state of the children's habitual residence, are the appropriate forum to grant relief to address his concerns. The court explained that, subject only to the confines of Mexican law, Mexican courts are free to grant Father full custody over the children and to prohibit or restrict their international travel, and there is no international legal void that requires the Convention’s intervention. In regard to Mother's challenge of the district court's denial of her motion to vacate the Original Return Order, the arrest warrant for Mother's arrest does not establish clear and convincing evidence of a grave risk of harm to the children. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's denial of Mother's motion to vacate. View "Vergara Madrigal v. Tellez" on Justia Law

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The court treated plaintiff's Petition for Rehearing En Banc as a Petition for Panel Rehearing and denied the Petition. The court withdrew the prior opinion and substituted this opinion. This interlocutory appeal arose out of a wrongful termination suit filed by plaintiff, a nurse supervisor, against the Medical Center. Plaintiff alleged that the Medical Center discharged her in retaliation for raising age-discrimination complaints. The district court dismissed plaintiff's claims for pain and suffering damages and punitive damages because Fifth Circuit precedent bars such recoveries under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. 623(d). The court concluded that the district court correctly determined that Dean v. Am. Sec. Ins. Co., required dismissal of plaintiff's pain and suffering and punitive damages claims. The court explained that Dean is not distinguishable from this case and an intervening change in law did not justify setting Dean aside. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Vaughan v. Anderson Regional Medical Center" on Justia Law

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Before debtor and his wife received the purchase offer on their home, the couple executed and filed a Partition Agreement, which sought to recharacterize their home from community property to separate property, one half belonging to each spouse. Then debtor filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 7, claiming an exemption for his separate interest in the home under Texas law. Debtor's wife subsequently initiated an adversary proceeding seeking a declaratory judgment recognizing that the Partition Agreement gave her a one-half separate property interest in the net proceeds from the sale. The Trustee counterclaimed to avoid the Partition Agreement and for a declaration that the remaining proceeds from the sale were property of the estate. The bankruptcy court declared the Partition Agreement avoidable as a fraudulent transfer, leaving the amount of the net sale proceeds in excess of debtor's exemption to be nonexempt property of the estate, and determined that debtor's wife had no right or interest in the Homestead Net Sale Proceeds by virtue of the Partition Agreement. The court affirmed the bankruptcy court's judgment. In this case, the court explained that allowing the wife to sidestep the statutory limits for homestead exemptions and obtain approximately $500,000 in proceeds that otherwise are for creditors would lay waste to the provisions of the Bankruptcy Code involved here. View "Wiggains v. Reed" on Justia Law
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Defendant was convicted of ten counts of sexual exploitation of a child and child pornography, sentenced to 600 months in prison and five years of supervised release, and ordered to pay criminal monetary penalties consisting of a $1000 special assessment and a $1000 fine. On appeal, defendant challenged the district court's order requiring the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to turn over as payment all but $1000 held in defendant's inmate trust account after he failed to pay the monetary penalties. The court affirmed the judgment, concluding that the Government's enforcement of the order against defendant's property, including surplus funds held in his inmate trust account, did not exceed the terms of the original judgment. View "United States v. Diehl" on Justia Law
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