Articles Posted in Civil Rights

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The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of a petition for habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254. The court held that petitioner's Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) motion was timely filed and tolled the deadline for filing a notice of appeal until the entry of the order disposing of the motion. The court also held that this case presented one of those "extreme situations" in which the court was justified in finding a violation of the Sixth Amendment based on implied juror bias during the punishment phase of his trial. Although petitioner's conviction for possession of methamphetamine must stand, his sentence of life imprisonment could not. Accordingly, the court remanded with instructions. View "Uranga v. Davis" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against the city and two officers, alleging the use of excessive force under 42 U.S.C. 1983, and negligence under the Texas Tort Claims Act (TTCA). The Fifth Circuit held that the district court erred in disregarding plaintiff's proposed amended complaint because it stated plausible claims against the officers. The proposed amended complaint alleged that Officer Vela approached to arrest plaintiff and that she did not physically assault either Vela or her father. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded to the district court to consider whether plaintiff's pleadings survived the officers' defense of qualified immunity. The court held that the claims against the city failed. Therefore, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "Pena v. Rio Grande City, Texas" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment against plaintiff in an action alleging that he was unlawfully terminated under the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA), 12 U.S.C. 5567(a)(1). Plaintiff, a car salesman, alleged that Sonic would not extend credit to minorities. The court held that nothing in section 5519(a) precluded the Department of Labor, a separate federal entity, from enforcing the anti-retaliation provision against dealers even though the CFPB could not; the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), 15 U.S.C. 1691, as applied to automobile dealers, was not a statute subject to the jurisdiction of the Bureau, and thus, as a matter of law, Sonic could not have violated section 5567(a); and a reasonable belief that discrimination was occurring under the ECOA could not extend the jurisdictional scope of the CFPA to include actors to which the statute did not apply. View "Calderone v. Sonic Houston JLR" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of summary judgment to the administrators of a university on their immunity defenses. Plaintiff filed suit alleging that he was deprived of his property interest in his job without due process and tortious interference with his employment contract. The court held that the district court erred in denying the administrators qualified immunity against the section 1983 claim because plaintiff did not have a clearly established property right. Furthermore, state law compelled a similar result on the tortious interference claim. Accordingly, the district court should have granted immunity to the administrators. View "Wilkerson v. University of North Texas" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the State in this capital murder case. The court held that petitioner failed to present clear and convincing evidence sufficient to overcome the state trial court's determination that he was competent to waive counsel and plead guilty. The court rejected petitioner's claims of ineffective assistance of appointed trial counsel and claims that he did not receive a fair trial and juror bias. Finally, the court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying his request for an evidentiary hearing. View "Austin v. Davis" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 after Jeremy W. Vann was shot and killed by police in a retail parking lot when he was maneuvering his car in an effort to escape. The district court granted summary judgment for the police officers and the city. The Fifth Circuit held that there were genuine disputed issues of material fact regarding Sergeant Logan's actions, and thus the court vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment to Logan. In this case, the central disputed fact was whether Logan ran to the opening and shot Vann to stop him from fleeing or whether Logan ran between the cars to get out of Vann's way and then shot Vann because Vann was going to hit him. The court affirmed the district court's judgment as to the remaining defendants. View "Vann v. City of Southaven" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a federal inmate, filed suit under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), and under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), alleging retaliation after he filed a grievance expressing safety concerns following several power outages at the prison. The district court dismissed plaintiff's claims. The Fifth Circuit vacated in part, holding that plaintiff alleged facts that supported plausible claims of retaliation and conspiracy. The court remanded those claims for further proceedings. The court affirmed as to the remaining claims. View "Brunson v. Nichols" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants on plaintiff's failure to accommodate claim under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12132, and on his claims for unjustified detention, excessive use of force, and municipal liability under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and the Fourth Amendment. In regard to the ADA claim, the court held that the record contained no evidence that plaintiff requested an accommodation for his neck disability; in regard to the claim of unjustified detention, the undisputed facts established reasonable suspicion and plaintiff failed to demonstrate that the length of the traffic stop transformed it into an arrest; in regard to the excessive force claim, the seizure was justified by reasonable suspicion and was conducted in a reasonable manner; and because plaintiff failed to demonstrate the existence of a constitutional violation, the County was entitled to judgment on his Monell claim as a matter of law. View "Windham v. Harris County, Texas" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's claim that the cell phone found in the victim's home, and the subsequently discovered call records linking him to the scene of the murder, were obtained from an unconstitutional search conducted pursuant to a deficient warrant. The court rejected petitioner's defaulted Fourth Amendment claim and held that the evidence fell within the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule. View "Evans v. Davis" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendant's motion to dismiss based on qualified immunity. After police shot and killed her father, plaintiff alleged that defendant picked her up, threw her over his shoulder, and carried her to a police car, where she sat handcuffed against her will. The court held that plaintiff sufficiently pled unconstitutional seizure and excessive force; in regard to the unconstitutional seizure claim, it was not clearly established at the time that defendant needed probable cause to detain plaintiff; and, in regard to the excessive force claim, plaintiff waived her argument as to the clearly established law prong and could not overcome qualified immunity. View "Lincoln v. Turner" on Justia Law