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The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for conspiracy and several counts of mail fraud. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant's motion for a new trial and request for an evidentiary hearing; the admittance of a special agent's testimony regarding the admissions of a codefendant did not violate defendant's Confrontation Clause rights; the district court did not misapply the Sentencing Guidelines in enhancing defendant's offense level; and there was no abuse of discretion in the district court's restitution and forfeiture orders. View "United States v. Dickerson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiff's motion for attorney's fees. The court held that there were special and unusual circumstances justifying the denial of attorney's fees. In this case, plaintiff's counsel charged duplicative and excessive fees. The court agreed with the district court's reasoning and the magistrate judge's stunned reaction to plaintiff's request for $130,000 in attorneys' fees and concurred that the record reflected neither the legal work necessary for the requested hourly billing rate of $450 per hour, nor the quantity of work claimed. View "Davis v. Credit Bureau of the South" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics

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The Fifth Circuit denied a petition for rehearing en banc; treated the petition for rehearing en banc as a petition for panel rehearing; and granted the petition for panel rehearing. The court withdrew its prior opinion and substituted the following opinion. Three exotic dancers under the age of 21 filed suit challenging Louisiana's amendment of two statutes (Act No. 395) that required entertainers on premises licensed to serve alcohol and whose breasts or buttocks are exposed to view be 21 years of age or older. The district court concluded that plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits of their claims that the Act was unconstitutionally overbroad and vague, and issued a preliminary injunction barring enforcement of the Act. The court vacated the injunction and held that the district court erred in holding that the Act was overbroad, either for the lack of narrow tailoring necessary under United States v. O'Brien, 391 U.S. 367, 376 (1968), or for "substantial overbreadth" under such cases as Broadrick v. Oklahoma, 413 U.S. 601, 612 (1973). Determining that plaintiffs had standing to bring their vagueness claim, the court held that the Act survived a facial challenge for vagueness. The court explained that it was enough that the Act required the full coverage of commonly understood anatomical terms. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Doe v. Marine-Lombard" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit granted a petition for review of the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's deportation order. The court held that the BIA erred in construing 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii) to apply to an individual who was a naturalized citizen at the time of conviction. In this case, petitioner was not rendered an "alien" at the time of conviction by nature of his subsequent ab initio denaturalization. Therefore, petitioner was not subject to deportation under section 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii) because he was a naturalized citizen at the time he was convicted. View "Okpala v. Whitaker" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law

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Plaintiff, who was injured on the job, filed suit against his employer for retaliation and age discrimination. After the case proceeded to trial, the district court granted the employer's renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law at the close of the evidence on the retaliation claim, but sent the age discrimination issue to the jury. The jury returned a verdict for the employer. The Fifth Circuit reversed and remanded the adverse ruling on the retaliation claim, holding that, under Texas law, sufficient evidence of retaliation was presented to support submission to the jury under Cont'l Coffee Prods. Co. v. Cazarez, 937 S.W.2d 444, 451. The court reasoned that this outcome would be the same whether it considered the Continental Coffee list as "elements" or merely "factors." In this case, there was stark temporal proximity between plaintiff's injury and his termination, there was evidence to support the expression of a negative attitude and the treatment compared to similarly situated employees, and there was considerable evidence that would support a jury verdict in plaintiff's favor. View "Cristain v. Hunter Buildings and Manufacturing, LP" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit certified two questions regarding the "unpaid commission due" under the Texas Sales Representative Act to the Supreme Court of Texas: (1) What timing standard should courts use to determine the existence and amount of any "unpaid commissions due" under the treble damages provision of TEX. BUS. & COM. CODE 54.004(1)? (2) May a plaintiff recover reasonable attorney's fees and costs under TEX. BUS. & COM. CODE 54.004(2), if the plaintiff does not receive a treble damages award under TEX. BUS. & COM. CODE 54.004(1), and under what conditions? View "JCB, Inc. v. Horsburgh & Scott Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law

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Under the Defend Trade Secrets Act, a defendant is not eligible for fees when the plaintiff obtains a dismissal without prejudice because such a dismissal does not establish the winner of the dispute. The Fifth Circuit held that taking the lead early in the lawsuit did not make defendants eligible for fees, nor did the trial court's postponement of the litigation when it allowed plaintiff to dismiss the federal suit without prejudice. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's denial of fees. View "Dunster Live, LLC v. LoneStar Logos Management Co." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit denied a petition for review of a final order of removal issued by the BIA. Petitioner claimed that he never received notice of his removal hearing. The court held that petitioner failed to provide the immigration court with his correct mailing address, and failed to rebut the weak presumption of delivery of his notice of hearing. View "Mauricio-Benitez v. Sessions" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's imposition of a $5,000 special assessment and held that 18 U.S.C. 3014 allows the district courts to consider defendant's future earning capacity when determining whether a defendant is indigent. In this case, the district court found defendant non-indigent based on evidence that he took accelerated placement courses in high school, obtained his GED, and briefly attended college; had a wide range of vocational skills; had a long history of employment; had previously earned $40,000 annually; and was able bodied. View "United States v. Graves" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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After the Department of Education issued a proposed determination that Texas was ineligible for $33.3 million of future grants because of the shortfall in both aggregate and per capita state funding, the state argued that it had complied with the "maintenance of state financial support" (MFS) requirement because funding under a weighted-student model had remained constant. The Fifth Circuit denied Texas' petition for review and held that the weighted-student model contravenes the plain meaning of the MFS clause. The court explained that, under the weighted-student model, Texas may reduce the amount of funding for special education if it determines that the needs of children with disabilities have changed. In this case, Texas violated the plain requirements of the MFS clause by doing so and was therefore ineligible for the corresponding amount of future Individuals and Disabilities Education Act Part B grants. Finally, the MFS clause did not exceed Congress's spending power by failing to provide sufficiently clear notice of its requirements. View "Texas Education Agency v. United States Department of Education" on Justia Law