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Defendant appealed his conviction for illegal reentry. Because the district court's factual findings provided an inadequate basis for appellate review, the Fifth Circuit remanded for the district court to make additional findings as to whether defendant was "in custody" within the meaning of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). The court declined to reach the other issues raised on appeal at this time. View "United States v. Arellano-Banuelos" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Chief Justice Valdez in his individual and official capacities, arguing that Valdez intervened in plaintiff's hiring as retaliation for plaintiff filing a complaint against Valdez. The Fifth Circuit held that Valdez is entitled to qualified immunity because it was not clearly established as of May 2014 that where a briefing attorney swore as part of his employment to comply with a code of conduct requiring him to report judicial misconduct to a specific state authority, he nonetheless spoke as a citizen in reporting a judge to that authority. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's order denying Valdez's motion for summary judgment in both his official and individual capacity. View "Anderson v. Valdez" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit granted a stay pending appeal by issuing a published opinion, as binding law of the circuit, on August 14, 2018. After the original appellants were defeated in the November 2018 elections, the current appellants moved for voluntary dismissal of the appeal. The clerk entered an order stating that, under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 42(b), the appeal was dismissed as of January 07, 2019. Appellees then brought an unopposed motion to vacate the court's August 14th opinion. The court denied the motion to vacate the opinion granting the stay and held that the panel majority published the opinion after making certain it was a correct rendition of the law and the facts, including its holding that the district court, on remand, had violated the mandate rule. The court explained that the published opinion granting the stay was this court's last statement on the matter and, like all published opinions, bound the district courts in this circuit. View "ODonnell v. Harris County" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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Henson v. Columbus Bank & Trust Co., which allows a plaintiff to litigate in federal court a claim previously dismissed in state court, was not binding and contravened preexisting full faith a credit precedent. The Fifth Circuit held that res judicata precedent barred plaintiff's workplace discrimination claims after a Georgia state court determined that related claims were time-barred. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's action on res judicata grounds. View "Thompson v. Dallas City Attorney's Office" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendant in an action alleging race and discrimination claims. After an internal affairs investigation regarding the injury of an arrestee was conducted, plaintiff and others were transferred to positions in the corrections department which defendant, the sheriff, believed were less likely to result in arrests. Plaintiff decided to quit rather than accept the transfer. Plaintiff never applied to resume work. In regard to the discrimination claim, the court held that plaintiff failed to create a genuine issue of material fact with respect to whether he was treated less favorably than other similarly situated employees outside the protected group and as to whether he was replaced with someone outside his protected class. In regard to the retaliation claim, the court held that plaintiff failed to produce evidence creating a genuine issue of material fact showing that his employer took an adverse employment action against him and that a causal connection existed between the protected activity and the adverse employment action. View "Thomas v. Tregre" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed Defendant Piper and Cortinas' conviction and sentence for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. The court held that Piper was not deprived of due process and compulsory process under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments when the government did not produce a witness at trial because the witness' hearsay statements were inadmissible. Because the testimony was not clearly admissible, Piper could not show that denying the motion to continue would have resulted in serious prejudice. Therefore, the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying the motion. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying Piper's motion for a new trial and the district court's application of a two-level enhancement for importation was not clearly erroneous. In regard to Cortinas and Piper's joint claim, the court held that the district court did not commit plain error in charging the jury and the verdict form was not ambiguous, inconsistent, nor did it incorrectly state the law. View "United States v. Piper" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Texas Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act's good faith affirmative defense does not allow defendants to retain fraudulent transfers received while on inquiry notice of the Ponzi scheme. In this case arising out of the Stanford International Bank Ponzi scheme, the Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's judgment and rendered judgment in favor of plaintiff. Because the jury determined that defendants were on inquiry notice here when they received $79 million in fraudulent transfers, their TUFTA good faith defense was defeated. View "Janvey v. GMAG, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Banking

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After the union filed a grievance against Southwest for using non-union vendors to clean the interiors of remaining overnight aircraft, the arbitrator ruled that the grievance was timely because the union filed it within ten working days after the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was signed. The Fifth Circuit reversed the arbitration award in favor of the union and held that the arbitrator erroneously ruled that the CBA became effective on the date it was signed. In this case, the arbitrator ignored the unambiguous terms of the CBA. Therefore, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Southwest Airlines Co. v. Local 555" on Justia Law

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Springboards filed suit against the school district under the Lanham Act, alleging that the school district used the company's marks in the course of operating a summer reading program. At issue was the school district's use of "Houston ISD Millionaire Club" on its incentive items and informational material. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the school district, holding that a reasonable jury could not find that the allegedly infringing use of the marks created a likelihood of confusion. The court held that no reasonably jury could conclude that it was likely potential purchasers of Springboards' products would have believed that Springboards was affiliated with HISD's summer reading program. View "Springboards to Education, Inc. v. Houston Independent School District" on Justia Law

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Federal Rule of Evidence 601 requires federal courts to apply state rules of witness qualification when determining the competency of expert witnesses to testify regarding medical malpractice claims that turn on questions of state substantive law. Plaintiff filed suit challenging the district court's grant of summary judgment on some of her claims and the dismissal of her other claims brought against the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The Fifth Circuit held that the district court was correct in its determination that Rule 601 requires that plaintiff's proffered expert witness must satisfy the state law standards for expert witness competency in addition to the Federal Rule of Evidence 702 standards for the admissibility of expert witness testimony. However, the district court erred in its assertion that it was "undisputed" that the expert was not "practicing medicine" as the term is used in Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. 74.401. Therefore, the court vacated the district court's judgment deeming it to be undisputed that the expert was not competent to testify as a medical expert and remanded for the dispute to be adjudicated in the first instance. The court also held that the district court erred in analyzing plaintiff's privacy-related allegations as federal Privacy Act claims brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act, but the district court nonetheless did not err by dismissing the claims. The district court did not err by granting summary judgment for the government on the three privacy-related claims that it construed as Privacy Act claims and considered on the merits. Although the district court erred by holding plaintiff's claim of assault and battery was jurisdictionally-barred, summary judgment was nevertheless appropriate. View "Coleman v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Military Law