Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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Petitioner appealed the denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. 2241. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the ineffective assistance of counsel and violation of the Ex Post Facto Clause claims for failure to exhaust administrative remedies; affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff's parole revocation claim; affirmed the denial of credit towards his sentence for the time he spent in prison in the United Kingdom; affirmed the dismissal of petitioner's claims for ineffective assistance of counsel and unlawful seizure of his property in his original criminal case and the denial of his motion for compensation; and declined to consider defendant's claim that the district court should have resolved his actions filed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) as ancillary matters to his section 2241 petition. View "Fillingham v. United States" on Justia Law

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After Jermaine Darden suffered a heart attack and died during his arrest, the administrator of Darden's estate filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against the arresting officers and the City. The district court granted summary judgment for all defendants. The Fifth Circuit held that Officer Snow was not entitled to qualified immunity where there were genuine disputes of material fact as to whether Darden was actively resisting arrest and whether the force Officer Snow used was clearly excessive and clearly unreasonable. Therefore, the district court erred in granting his motion for summary judgment. The court held that a reasonable jury could conclude that Officer Romero used excessive force, and thus he was not entitled to qualified immunity. Therefore, the district court erred in granting his motion for summary judgment. Because plaintiff had adequately alleged facts that made out violations of a clearly established constitutional right, the court vacated the district court's dismissal of the claims against the City and remanded the case for further consideration of municipal liability. View "Darden v. City of Fort Worth" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging that members of the Livingston Parish Council and Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office maliciously conspired to prosecute him in retaliation for his online comments about certain Council members. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff's First and Fourth Amendment claims. The court held that the arrest warrants did not insulate defendants from liability at this stage because plaintiff pleaded that defendants' false and misleading affidavits tainted the magistrate's deliberations. Although plaintiff pleaded a Fourth Amendment violation, the violation was not clearly established at the time because the court could not say that every reasonable officer would understand that he was seized for purposes of the Fourth Amendment. Finally, the district court did not err by dismissing plaintiff's First Amendment claim where plaintiff's allegations were insufficient to allege curtailment of his speech. View "McLin v. Ard" on Justia Law

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The Constitution does not require that officers always take arrestees suspected to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or reported by relatives to be at risk, to a hospital against their wishes. Diana Simpson's family filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that the county violated Simpson's constitutional rights when she died in the county jail from a probable suicide-caused drug overdose the evening after she was arrested for public intoxication. The district court granted summary judgment to the county and dismissed the complaint. The court held that, although Simpson's decision to take her own life was tragic, the county could not be held responsible for fatal decisions she made that were, under all the circumstances, not obvious to government employees. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment to the extent it rejected plaintiffs' episodic acts and omissions claim. The court vacated and remanded for consideration in the first instance of plaintiffs' unconstitutional conditions of confinement claim. View "Sanchez v. Young County, Texas" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, an inmate in custody and an adherent to the Rastafari religion who has dread locks, filed suit seeking a declaration that the Department of Corrections grooming policies violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) and an injunction against the grooming policies being applied to him. The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of relief, holding that the Department failed to satisfy its burden to show the polices were the least restrictive means of serving a compelling interest. In this case, the Department had a full and fair opportunity during a two-day bench trial to satisfy this burden. The court rendered judgment granting plaintiff's request for a declaration that the grooming policies, as applied to him, violated RLUIPA and enjoining the Department from enforcing the grooming policies against him. View "Ware v. Louisiana Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, an insanity acquittee who has been in the custody of the Eastern Louisiana Mental Health System (ELMHS) since 1999, appealed the denial of his petition for habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254. The Fifth Circuit noted that it was troubled that the state court seemingly failed to follow Louisiana state law in denying petitioner relief, but held that the state court decision was not contrary to clearly established Supreme Court law. In this case, petitioner did not make any clear, independent argument that the state court's denial of conditional release involved an unreasonable application of clearly established Supreme Court law. View "Poree v. Collins" on Justia Law

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In this appeal stemming from the desegregation of the school district, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's rejection of the School Board's latest proposed candidate, approving instead the candidate supported by plaintiffs and the Court Compliance Officer. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in modifying the academic-qualifications requirement and the selection-and-approval process. The court also held that the district court did not err by denying the motion for relief from judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b) where a candidate's role with the Ministerial Alliance did not justify holding that the district court abused its discretion in appointing the candidate as Chief Desegregation Implementation Officer (CDIO). View "Moore v. Tangipahoa Parish School Board" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of habeas relief based on his claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel at the penalty phase. The court held that counsel's performance in raising and developing petitioner's claim for ineffective assistance of trial counsel at the penalty phase was not deficient. Furthermore, petitioner failed to establish prejudice. View "Wessinger v. Vannoy" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment against plaintiff on his failure to accommodate and hostile work environment claims. Because plaintiff failed to brief his intentional infliction of emotional distress claim, the court confined its review to his Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq., claims. The court held that plaintiff's failure to accommodate claim was unexhausted and plaintiff failed to provide sufficient evidence showing that defendants knew of his disability. The court also held that plaintiff failed to demonstrate that either defendant failed to take prompt, remedial action addressing the alleged harassment. View "Patton v. Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of habeas relief. The court held that petitioner's Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial was not violated; his due process and Confrontation Clause rights were not violated when he could not cross-examine his brother on the brother's alleged violence; and petitioner's right to present a complete defense and present witnesses were not violated when his expert on confessions and interrogations was barred from testifying. View "Boyer v. Vannoy" on Justia Law