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Petitioner, a native of El Salvador, petitioned for review of the BIA's order upholding the denial of his motion to reopen removal proceedings and declining to reopen proceedings sua sponte or to grant administrative closure. The Fifth Circuit denied the petition in part because the BIA did not abuse its discretion in dismissing the petition and declining to administratively close the case. In this case, the controlling statutory requirements, of which petitioner had notice, obligated him to keep the immigration court apprised of his current contact information. Therefore, the court rejected petitioner's claims of lack of notice and violation of due process. The court dismissed in part because it lacked jurisdiction to review the BIA's refusal to reopen proceedings sua sponte. View "Hernandez-Castillo v. Sessions" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law

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After a tugboat collided with an oil-filled barge and caused 300,000 gallons of oil to spill in the Mississippi River, the United States filed suit against ACL, the statutorily-defined responsible party under the Oil Pollution Act (OPA), 33 U.S.C. 2704(a), seeking a declaration that ACL was liable for all removal costs and damages, and to recover costs that it incurred. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the United States and final judgment ordering ACL to pay the United States $20 million. The court held that ACL failed to establish that it was entitled to the third-party defense because the conduct that caused the spill occurred "in connection" with DRD's contractual relationship with ACL. The court also held, in the alternative, that ACL was not entitled to OPA's general limit on liability because DRD's conduct fell within the exception from limited liability for spills proximately caused by gross negligence, willful misconduct, or federal regulatory violations. View "United States v. American Commercial Lines, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendants' convictions for conspiracy to defraud Medicare, pay unlawful kickbacks, and launder money. The court held that the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions; there was no merger of the money laundering promotion conspiracy with the health care fraud conspiracy because the two counts were distinct conspiracies, neither of which had as an element any overt act that could have overlapped to create a merger problem; the district court did not commit reversible error in the minor limitation of one cross-examination; the district court properly admitted a co-defendant's out-of-court confession over a Bruton objection; the district court did not err by giving a deliberate ignorance jury instruction; and there was no merit in one of the defendant's restitution objections. Finally, the cumulative error doctrine did not apply in this case. View "United States v. Gibson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence of 30 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to possession with the intent to distribute more than 50 kilograms of marijuana. The court held that the district court properly applied the sentencing guidelines and considered the substance of Amendment 794; the district court properly concluded that defendant was not a minor participant; and the district court was free to analyze defendant's indispensable or essential role along with other considerations. View "United States v. Amieva-Rodriguez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging breach of express warranty under Texas law, after a Medtronic device implanted in his back to relieve pain did not last as long as the company promised. The Fifth Circuit held that the warranty on Medtronic's website goes beyond what the FDA considered and thus the narrow breach of express warranty claim plaintiff asserted was not preempted by the FDA regulation. The court explained that a verdict finding that Medtronic misled consumers like plaintiff in making this representation would not undermine any FDA finding concerning the safety of the device. Rather, it would be enforcing a duty that also exists under federal law: to not make misleading representations about the device. To escape such liability, Medtronic would not need to redesign the device, but only to limit its warranties to those approved by the FDA. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Wildman v. Medtronic, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Products Liability

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The Sentencing Guidelines' obstruction-of-justice enhancement covers false statements made to obtain appointed counsel. Defendant pleaded guilty to failure to register as a sex offender and challenged the length of his prison term and some of the conditions of his supervised release. The Fifth Circuit followed the previous decisions of this court and those of the Ninth and Eleventh Circuits in holding that lying to a judicial officer, as defendant did in this case, to obtain appointed counsel qualifies as obstruction under the Guidelines. The court vacated the second condition of supervised release because allowing private therapists to set restrictions on a defendant's conduct, without the court having to approve those restrictions, usurps a judge's exclusive sentencing authority. The court affirmed in all other respects. View "United States v. Iverson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's calculation of defendant's criminal history points after he pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful possession of firearms with altered and obliterated serial numbers. However, the court held that the record did not clearly demonstrate that defendant's sentence was not influenced in any way by the erroneous Guideline calculation. The court vacated defendant's sentence and remanded for resentencing so that the district court may determine, in the first instance, whether supplemental evidence should be considered and, if so, whether such evidence is sufficient to establish the requisite intent. View "United States v. Soza" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Fifth Circuit vacated defendant's sentence after he pleaded guilty to illegal reentry. Defendant was sentenced in part based on two points for a North Carolina conviction for a drug offense in 2005. Another two points were for a North Carolina conviction for violating the same statute in 2006. The North Carolina court had consolidated those two cases into a single judgment and sentenced defendant accordingly. The court held that it was obvious error to score the consolidated sentence twice and the court chose to correct the error in light of its effect on the sentence combined with the nature of the error. Accordingly, the court remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Rios Marroquin" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal 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

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In these consolidated appeals, petitioner and his father sought review of the BIA's holding that petitioner was inadmissible to the United States and ineligible to adjust his citizenship status because his conviction for misprision of a felony is a crime involving moral turpitude. Furthermore, the government challenged two aspects of the district court's decision. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the BIA's order in the first appeal and denied the petition for review, holding that the BIA did not err in holding that misprision of a felony is a crime of moral turpitude. Although the district court correctly held that the residency requirements of 8 U.S.C. 1401 and 1409 violate equal protection, the court reversed the district court's judgment that petitioner is a United States citizen under a constitutional reading of those statutes in light of the limited remedy the Supreme Court announced for that violation. View "Villegas-Sarabia v. Sessions" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law