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The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence after he pleaded guilty to being unlawfully present in the United States after removal following his conviction for an aggravated felony. The court held that the district court did not plainly erred by applying a 10 level sentencing enhancement under USSG 2L1.2(b)(2)(A) based on an aggregate sentence of five years. View "United States v. Ponce-Flores" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Fifth Circuit granted a motion for stay pending appeal brought by fourteen judges in a class action against Harris County and its officials under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that the County's system of setting bail for indigent misdemeanor arrestees violates Texas statutory and constitutional law and the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court entered a stay of Sections 7, 8, 9, and 16 pending plenary resolution of this appeal by a merits panel. In this case, the expansive injunction entered on remand repeated the mistake of the original injunction because it amounted to the outright elimination of secured bail for indigent misdemeanor arrestees. View "O'Donnell v. Harris County" on Justia Law

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The Commissioner issued a final partnership administrative adjustment that determined PBBM was not entitled to a charitable contribution deduction to the North American Land Trust and assessed a penalty for the overvaluation of the conservation easement. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's disallowance of a readjustment. The court held that while the contribution protected the conservation purpose of preserving land for outdoor recreation by the general public under 26 U.S.C. 170(h)(4)(A)(i), it did not meet the perpetuity requirement of section 170(h)(5)(A). Accordingly, the donation did not qualify for a deduction. Finally, the court found no error in the tax court's valuation of the easement or its determination of a penalty. View "PBBM-Rose Hill, Ltd. v. Commissioner" on Justia Law

Posted in: Tax Law

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Under Section 506(a) of the Bankruptcy Code, delivery and setup costs should not be included in the valuation of a retained mobile home in a Chapter 13 proceeding. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy action where the bankruptcy plan allowed her to retain her mobile home and pay 21st Mortgage the secured value (plus 5% interest) over the life of the plan. The court held that, in light of the statutory requirements and the Supreme Court's determination that the "proposed disposition or use" of collateral is crucial to its valuation, delivery and setup costs must not be included in the valuation of a retained mobile home under section 506(a). Therefore, the court held that the delivery and setup costs should not be included in debtor's mobile home valuation. View "21st Mortgage Corp. v. Glenn" on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendant's motion for judgment as a matter of law under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50. In this action asserting breach of contract, the court held that, assuming without deciding that the motion did not sufficiently apprise plaintiff of deficiencies in proof and that the district court therefore erred in granting defendant's Rule 50 motion, under a de novo standard of review, plaintiff failed to establish that the error was harmless. In this case, plaintiff could not have presented legally sufficient evidence to support his claim for breach of contract. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its exceedingly wide discretion by denying plaintiff's motion for a continuance. View "Kelso v. Butler" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendants, under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, following his involuntary civil commitment. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's ADA claims as barred by state sovereign immunity. The court held that the district court erred by dismissing plaintiff's claim that defendants' use of restraints amounted to a due process violation, because the claim was not barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the remaining section 1983 claims by the favorable termination rule established in Heck. The court vacated and remanded plaintiff's due process claim of unlawful bodily restraint against Defendants McMichael, Chastain, and Savoie. Finally, the court vacated the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's pendant state law claim on this issue to permit the district court to choose whether to exercise supplemental jurisdiction. View "Smith v. Hood" on Justia Law

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Defendant moved to rescind a settlement from a lawsuit about golf carts and to vacate the dismissal under state contract law. The Fifth Circuit held that the district court did not have jurisdiction to resolve the motion on state law terms because the parties' unconditional dismissal deprived it of subject matter jurisdiction. The court explained that, to reopen this case, defendant must lean on Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 60(b), but that Rule 60(b)'s six grounds to relieve a party from a final judgment, order, or proceeding were unavailable to defendant. View "National City Golf Finance v. Scott" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for father and girlfriend in an action brought by stepfather, alleging malicious-prosecution and intentional-infliction-of-emotional-distress (IIED) claims under Louisiana law after father reported sexual misconduct inflicted on his child by stepfather. The court held that the independent investigation conducted by the STPSO broke the chain of causation between father and girlfriend's complaint and the criminal proceedings initiated against stepfather. Therefore, the district court did not err in granting summary judgment on the malicious-prosecution claim. The court also held that stepfather provided only cursory reference to the contention that the district court improperly dismissed his IIED claim. View "James v. Woods" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendants Peter Hoffman, Michael Arata, and Susan Hoffman challenged their convictions for crimes related to the submission of fraudulent claims for tax credits related to the film industry in Louisiana. The government challenged defendants' convictions. The Fifth Circuit rejected defendants' contention that the Louisiana tax credits are not "property" covered by the federal fraud statutes. The court held that the district court correctly found the tax credits were property subject to prosecution under the mail and wire fraud statutes, and this prosecution alleging the use of fabricated invoices and misleading bank transactions to obtain a financial benefit lies at the historic core of the federal fraud statutes and neither offends due process nor exceeds federal power. The court also held that the evidence was sufficient to convict Peter of 21 counts, Arata of 10 counts, and Susan of 3 counts. Furthermore, no ruling during the trial caused a miscarriage of justice. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's denial of defendants' motions to dismiss the indictment; affirmed the denial of defendants' motion for judgment of acquittal; affirmed in part and reversed in part the grant of defendants' motions for judgment of acquittal; and affirmed the denial of defendants' motion for a new trial. Finally, the court affirmed the district court's forfeiture; vacated Peter's sentence and remanded for resentencing; affirmed Susan's sentence; and vacated Arata's sentence and remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Arata" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Would-be plaintiff–intervenors filed a motion to intervene after the district court had already entered a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1) stipulated dismissal of plaintiffs' claims. When the district court held that it lacked jurisdiction to consider the motion, it did not have the benefit of Sommers v. Bank of American, N.A., which rejected the suggestion that intervention was always improper after a case has been dismissed. The Fifth Circuit held that, because Sommers was controlling in this case, the district court has jurisdiction to consider the would-be intervenors' motion. The court agreed with Wal-Mart that, if jurisdiction was found to exist, the court should remand for consideration of Rule 24's basic requirements. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's order denying intervention on jurisdictional grounds and remanded for further proceedings. View "Odle v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure