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

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Defendant pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm after a felony conviction and was sentenced under 18 U.S.C. Section 924(e), the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), to a mandatory minimum of 180 months in prison. He appealed, arguing that his prior Mississippi convictions for burglary do not qualify as crimes of violence under the ACCA and that the convictions, which occurred when he was a minor, are invalid because the juvenile court never properly transferred jurisdiction to the circuit court. The Government disagreed. It also moved to dismiss based on a waiver of appeal in Defendant’s plea agreement.   The Fifth Circuit concluded that Defendant’s arguments are without merit. Thus, the court pretermitted the waiver issue. The court also declined to consider an argument Defendant first raised in his reply brief. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court and denied the Government’s motion to dismiss. View "USA v. Thompson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Two brothers from Nigeria petition this court to overturn the Board of Immigration Appeals’ refusal to allow their removal proceedings to be reopened. They argue their counsel’s ineffectiveness caused their application for asylum and other relief to be incomplete and therefore denied, and that counsel’s failures constituted extraordinary circumstances justifying reopening of their removal proceedings.   The Fifth Circuit denied the petitions. The court explained that it need not decide f ineffective assistance of counsel would be an extraordinary circumstance justifying equitable tolling of the deadline for seeking reopening. The failure to move in timely fashion to reopen was an independent basis for the BIA to deny relief. The court wrote it need not consider the issue of ineffective counsel as to the biometrics information. The could concluded that Petitioners have not shown any basis for equitable tolling of the filing deadline for reopening. View "Eneugwu v. Garland" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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Petitioner petitioned for review of a final order of removal issued by the Board of Immigration Appeals, dismissing his appeal from the decision of the immigration judge (“IJ”) to deny his motion to reopen. Defendant principally contended that the IJ lacked authority to conduct the removal proceedings because the NTA was defective. Petitioner submitted an affidavit in which he stated that he received the NTA but that it did not contain the date and time of his removal proceedings. Now he contends that the court should remand the matter to the Board for reconsideration of his NTA challenge in light of Rodriguez v. Garland, 15 F.4th 351 (5th Cir. 2021).   The Fifth Circuit denied the petition. The court explained that here, Petitioner received the NTA and does not dispute that he also received the subsequent NOH. The fact that Petitioner received the NOH (or does not dispute receiving the NOH) makes Rodriguez distinguishable. View "Campos-Chaves v. Garland" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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Appellant a Louisiana attorney representing oil spill claimants in the settlement program, was accused of funneling money to a settlement program staff attorney through improper referral payments. In a disciplinary proceeding, the en banc Eastern District of Louisiana found that Appellant’s actions violated the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct and suspended him from practicing law before the Eastern District of Louisiana for one year. Appellant appealed, arguing that the en banc court misapplied the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct and abused its discretion by imposing an excessive sanction.   The Fifth Circuit found that the en banc court misapplied Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1.5(e) and 8.4(a) but not Rule 8.4(d). Additionally, the en banc court did not abuse its discretion by imposing a one-year suspension on Appellant for his violation of 8.4(d). Accordingly, the court reversed the en banc court’s order suspending Appellant from the practice of law for one year each for violations of Rule 1.5(e) and 8.4(a). The court affirmed the en banc court’s holding that Appellant violated Rule 8.4(d). Finally, the court remanded to the en banc court for further proceedings. On remand, the court is free to impose on Appellant whatever sanction it sees fit for the 8.4(d) violation, including but not limited to its previous one-year suspension. View "In re Jonathan Andry" on Justia Law

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Appellant Sanare Energy Partners, L.L.C. agreed to purchase a mineral lease and related interests from Appellee PetroQuest Energy, L.L.C. Later, PetroQuest filed bankruptcy, and Sanare filed an adversary suit in that proceeding. Sanare argued that the lack of certain third-party consents rendered PetroQuest liable for costs associated with some “Assets” whose transfer the sale envisioned. The bankruptcy court and the district court each disagreed with Sanare.   The Fifth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that the Properties are “Assets” under the PSA, including section 11.1, even if the Bureau’s withheld consent prevented record title for the Properties from transferring to Sanare. This conclusion is plain from the PSA’s text, which excludes Customary Post-Closing Consents such as the Bureau’s from the category of consent failures that alter the parties’ bargain. Consent failures that do not produce a void-ab-initio transfer also do not alter the parties’ bargain, so the Agreements, too, are Assets under the PSA’s plain text. View "Sanare Energy v. Petroquest" on Justia Law

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In 2015, Petitioner, a native and citizen of Venezuela was indicted for aiding and abetting and making false, fictitious, or fraudulent claims to the IRS alongside her co-defendant husband in violation of 18 U.S.C. Sec. 287. She was ordered to pay restitution jointly and severally with her husband in the amount of $45,365 and was sentenced to 48 months in prison.Following these convictions, Petitioner was placed in removal proceedings for the commission of a “crime involving moral turpitude” and seeking to procure a visa by fraud or misrepresentation. The Immigration Judge (“IJ”) sustained both charges of removability. In turn, Petitioner sought withholding of removal under the Immigration and Nationality Act and protection under the Convention Against Torture.The IJ denied the application, concluding that Hammerschmidt’s testimony regarding alleged persecution and torture was not credible. Even assuming her testimony was credible, the IJ held that her withholding claim would nevertheless fail because her conviction under Sec. 287 constituted an aggravated felony and a particularly serious crime, rendering her ineligible for both asylum and withholding of removal. The IJ also denied CAT relief. The BIA adopted and affirmed.The Fifth Circuit denied in part and dismissed in part Petitioner's petition for withholding of removal under the INA and protection under the CAT. The court noted a conviction need not meet the five-year sentence threshold to constitute a “particularly serious crime” for withholding purposes. The court also noted that the restitution order, which Petitioner conceded held her “joint and severally liable,” indicated that her conduct contributed to a total loss of more than $45,000. View "Hammerschmidt v. Garland" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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In 1998, Defendant pleaded guilty of attempted sexual assault of a minor in Colorado. In 2013, Defendant moved to Texas. In 2019, law enforcement discovered that Defendant was not registered as a sex offender in Texas and arrested him. Defendant pleaded guilty of failing to register as required by the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (“SORNA”), a crime under 18 U.S.C. Section 2250(a). He completed his term of imprisonment but violated the terms of his supervised release twice and is serving an 11-month revocation sentence. Defendant claims that his guilty plea for failing to register as a sex offender was insufficient as a matter of law because in 2019 he did not have an obligation to register as a sex offender.   The Fifth Circuit agreed with Defendant and vacated the conviction. The court explained that it is hard to deny that Defendant would not have pleaded guilty if he had correctly understood the tier of his predicate sex offense. Similarly, the district court would likely not have accepted the guilty plea if it had known Defendant had failed to satisfy the first element of the crime Further, affirming Defendant’s conviction would undermine the integrity of judicial proceedings by permitting the continued punishment of a man who is not guilty of the crime charged. View "USA v. Navarro" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The State of Texas appeals the district court’s decision that Plaintiffs’ federal Taking Clause claims against the State may proceed in federal court. Because we hold that the Fifth Amendment Takings Clause as applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment does not provide a right of action for takings claims against a state.   The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court’s decision for want of jurisdiction and remanded with instructions to return this case to the state courts. The court explained that the Supreme Court of Texas recognizes takings claims under the federal and state constitutions, with differing remedies and constraints turning on the character and nature of the taking; nothing in this description of Texas law is intended to replace its role as the sole determinant of Texas state law. View "Devillier v. State of Texas" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs allege that Boeing and Southwest Airlines defrauded them by, among other things, concealing a serious safety defect in the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. The district court certified four classes encompassing those who purchased or reimbursed approximately 200 million airline tickets for flights that were flown or could have been flown on a MAX 8.In reviewing Defendants' interlocutory appeal, the Fifth Circuit reversed the district court. The court found that Plaintiffs lacked Article III standing because they failed to allege any concrete injury. View "Earl v. Boeing" on Justia Law

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The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) is a federal law that nationalizes governance of the thoroughbred horseracing industry. To formulate detailed rules on an array of topics, HISA empowers a private entity called the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (the “Authority”), which operates under Federal Trade Commission oversight. Soon after its passage, HISA was challenged by various horsemen’s associations, which were later joined by Texas and the state’s racing commission. Plaintiffs argued HISA is facially unconstitutional because it delegates government power to a private entity without sufficient agency supervision. The district court acknowledged that the plaintiffs’ “concerns are legitimate,” that HISA has “unique features,” and that its structure “pushes the boundaries of public-private collaboration.” Nonetheless, the court rejected the private non-delegation challenge.   The Fifth Circuit declared that the HISA is unconstitutional because it violates the private non-delegation doctrine. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court’s decision and remanded. The court explained that while acknowledging the Authority’s “sweeping” power, the district court thought it was balanced by the FTC’s “equally” sweeping oversight. Not so. HISA restricts FTC review of the Authority’s proposed rules. If those rules are “consistent” with HISA’s broad principles, the FTC must approve them. And even if it finds an inconsistency, the FTC can only suggest changes. What’s more, the FTC concedes it cannot review the Authority’s policy choices. The Authority’s power outstrips any private delegation the Supreme Court or the Fifth Circuit has allowed. Thus the court declared HISA facially unconstitutional. View "National Horsemen's Benevolent v. Black" on Justia Law