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

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The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal of Speech First's First and Fourteenth Amendment challenges to several policies that intend to regulate speech at the University of Texas at Austin. Speech First sought a preliminary injunction against enforcement of these policies, but the district court dismissed the case based on lack of standing.The court held that Speech First has standing to seek a preliminary injunction. After determining that the case was not moot, the court held that the chilling of allegedly vague regulations, coupled with a range of potential penalties for violating the regulations, was, as other courts have held, sufficient "injury" to ensure that Speech First has a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy. In this case, Speech First's three student-members at the University have an intention to engage in a certain course of conduct, namely political speech; it is likely that the University's policies arguably proscribe speech of the sort that Speech First's members intend to make; and the existence of the University's policies, which the University plans to maintain as far as a federal court will allow it, suffices to establish that the threat of future enforcement, against those in a class whose speech is arguably restricted, is likely substantial. The court also held that the causation and redressability prongs are easily satisfied here. The court remanded for assessment of the preliminary injunction. View "Speech First, Inc. v. Fenves" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for harboring illegal aliens. The court held that defendant's duplicity argument is waived; even if the district court erred by applying the reckless endangerment and bodily injury sentencing enhancements, the errors were harmless; the district court did not impermissibly delegate judicial authority through the wording of two special conditions of supervised release; and defendant failed to show error, plain or otherwise, in the district court's imposition of his within-Guidelines sentence. View "United States v. Medel-Guadalupe" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Fifth Circuit affirmed Defendants Shelton Barnes, Michael Jones, Henry Evans, Paula Jones, and Gregory Molden's convictions and sentences for offenses related to Medicare fraud. In regard to Barnes, the court held that the evidence was sufficient to support his convictions; the district court correctly concluded that the prosecution's remarks during rebuttal were improper, but they did not affect defendant's substantial rights; the district court did not abuse its discretion when it refused to admit the proffered consent forms into evidence; and the district court did not abuse its discretion by refusing to read Barnes's proffered instructions to the jury.The court also held that the evidence was sufficient to support Michael Jones's convictions. In regard to Henry Evans, the court held that there was sufficient evidence to support his convictions; there was no error in allowing a certain expert witness to testify; and the district court did not procedurally or substantively err in sentencing him. In regard to Paula Jones, the court held that there was sufficient evidence to support her convictions; the district court did not abuse its discretion when it declined to grant her severance motion; and the district court did not procedurally err when calculating the total-loss amount applicable to her sentence and restitution order. In regard to Gregory Molden, the court held that the evidence was sufficient to support his convictions; the district court did not abuse its discretion when it refused to read the proffered instructions to the jury; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in permitting the expert witness at issue to testify. View "United States v. Barnes" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's decision affirming the bankruptcy court's denial of plaintiff's motion for leave to amend. In this case, plaintiff sought to amend his complaint to include allegations that the Brewer & Pritchard attorneys assured him during a brief recess during bankruptcy proceedings that they would treat the bankruptcy court's proposed fees as part of plaintiff's "Gross Recovery" under his written agreement with Brewer & Pritchard.The court held that had plaintiff been granted leave to amend his complaint, his proposed claims—whatever their merit—would not have been subject to dismissal under the doctrine of res judicata. The court explained that the "conduct" plaintiff seeks to challenge is the alleged breach of fiduciary duty—the failure to follow through on the new representations supposedly made to him during the November 2017 hearing. Furthermore, at the time of the hearing, plaintiff could not have even known that the attorneys' assurances were misrepresentations, let alone that he should challenge them as such. The court remanded with instructions that plaintiff's motion for leave to amend be granted. View "Rohi v. Brewer" on Justia Law

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The judge may not delegate to the probation officer the decision to require inpatient, rather than outpatient, treatment because of the liberty interests at stake. The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's modification of defendant's conditions of supervised release to include a provision that he participate in an inpatient or outpatient substance abuse treatment program supervised by defendant's probation officer. The court held that the option to require inpatient rehabilitation delegates to the probation officer the judicial decision to significantly restrict defendant's liberty during treatment. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. Martinez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence of 300 months in prison for healthcare fraud. Defendant's conviction stemmed from his involvement as a medical doctor in Medicare fraud. The court held that taking the Amex and QC/EverBright schemes together, the district court correctly calculated the loss amount and correctly increased defendant's offense level by 26 points; the district court did not err by increasing defendant's offense level under USSG 2B1.1(b)(11)(C)(i) and 2B1.1(b)(2)(A)(i); and the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant a hearing at sentencing. View "United States v. Ramirez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Under 28 U.S.C. 1782, a person may seek the assistance of a federal district court to obtain evidence for use in a foreign proceeding. Banca Pueyo and others invoked section 1782 to obtain discovery from three Texas-based entities for use in Portuguese proceedings. The district court authorized the requested subpoenas and denied a first motion to quash. Respondents then appealed. However, respondents' second motion to quash the subpoenas remained pending.The Fifth Circuit granted petitioners' motion to dismiss and dismissed respondents' appeal based on lack of jurisdiction. The court explained that once the district court fully resolves the second motion to quash, the scope of section 1782 discovery should be definitively resolved. When that conclusive determination comes, the court stated that an appeal would be appropriate. View "Banca Pueyo SA v. Lone Star Fund IX (US)" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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Two years after the Fifth Circuit held that it lacked jurisdiction to review the denial of petitioner's motion to reopen because he had committed an offense covered in 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii), the Supreme Court issued Guerrero-Lasprilla v. Barr, 140 S. Ct. 1062, 1068 (2020). In Guerrero-Lasprilla, the Court held that even in cases involving aliens who are removable for having committed certain crimes, courts of appeals have jurisdiction to consider constitutional claims or questions of law. Therefore, the Supreme Court concluded that courts of appeals have jurisdiction to determine whether an undisputed set of facts demonstrates diligence on the part of an alien requesting equitable tolling.On remand from the Supreme Court, the Fifth Circuit held that the BIA did not err in measuring petitioner's diligence from the issuance of Carranza-De Salinas v. Holder, 700 F.3d 768, 773–75 (5th Cir. 2012), in which this court held that the repeal of former Section 212(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act could not be retroactively applied to aliens in petitioner's position. The court rejected petitioner's contention that the extraordinary circumstances that stood in his way was the fact that he was prohibited from filing a motion to reopen prior to this court's decision in Lugo-Resendez v. Lynch, 831 F.3d 337, 339 (5th Cir. 2016). The court explained that, contrary to petitioner's view, Lugo-Resendez resolved an open question. However, it did not constitute an intervening change in binding precedent. Rather, the intervening changes that affected petitioner's ability to obtain relief were Vartelas v. Holder, 566 U.S. 257, 273–75 (2012), and Carranza-De Salinas. View "Londono-Gonzalez v. Whitaker" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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Plaintiffs filed suit against Sundance, SEA Eagle, Noble, and others for royalties pursuant to a Texas mineral lease. Plaintiffs allege that defendants negligently calculated royalty distributions and attempted to coerce them to sign an indemnity agreement when the error was brought to their attention.The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of all claims against Sundance, SEA Eagle, and Noble without prejudice for lack of personal jurisdiction. After splitting defendants into two groups, the court held that the district court correctly found that defendants do not have sufficient minimum contacts with the state of Louisiana to support an exercise of specific personal jurisdiction. View "Libersat v. Sundance Energy, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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This action is one of many related to the collapse of First NBC Bank of New Orleans. The FDIC filed an action in the district court seeking to enforce an administrative subpoena that ordered defendant to submit to a deposition. The district court granted the motion to enforce the subpoena and defendant appealed. In the interim, the district court denied defendant's request for a stay pending the outcome of this appeal. Defendant then sat for the deposition.The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's judgment enforcing the FDIC's subpoena and remanded for further proceedings. The court held that the district court erred by holding that the FDIC, in its capacity as the Bank's receiver, was "the appropriate Federal functional regulator" in this case, entitling it to receive otherwise confidential and privileged documents from the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB). Rather, the FDIC was not "the appropriate Federal functional regulator" in this case, and the PCAOB lacked the authority under 15 U.S.C. 7215(b)(5)(B) to share transcripts of defendant's deposition testimony before it with the FDIC. View "Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. v. Belcher" on Justia Law

Posted in: Banking