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Petitioner appealed the district court's order transferring his motion for relief from judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(6) to this court. The Fifth Circuit held that the motion was not a successive habeas petition and therefore vacated the order of transfer. However, based on circuit precedent binding on this panel, the court held that it lacked jurisdiction to treat the transfer order and defendant's requests for relief in this court as a request for a certificate of appealability. Therefore, the court remanded to the district court for further proceedings. View "Crutsinger v. Davis" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Fifth Circuit considered an issue of first impression under Mississippi insurance law: may an insurer rely on a consent-to-settle exclusion in an insurance policy to deny coverage of a claim made by an unnamed additional insured under that policy? The court held that absent evidence that the unnamed insured knew or should have known of the exclusion, the insurer may not enforce its contractual right to deny coverage because it had not consented to the settlement. In this case, there was no evidence that Atlantic attempted to inform plaintiff of the policy terms, and indeed there was testimony that policy was not released to Pearl River County Employees as a matter of county policy. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's denial of Atlantic's motion for summary judgment. View "Netto v. Atlantic Specialty Insurance, Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to one count of transporting illegal aliens. The court held that the district court did not err by applying a four-level sentencing enhancement under USSG 2L1.1(b)(3)(B) when one of the enhancement's predicate offenses could not be counted for criminal history points under USSG 4A1.2(e). The court held that the plain text of the Sentencing Guideline does not limit the predicate offense for the enhancement in section 2L1.1(b)(3) to offenses that could count for criminal history points, and note two in the commentary to section 2L1.1 did not compel a different result. View "United States v. Cortez-Gonzalez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In 2016, the Texas federal court enjoined the DOL's proposed Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Overtime Rule and specifically enjoined the DOL from implementing and enforcing that proposed rule, pending further order of that court. In 2017, a restaurant worker in New Jersey filed suit against her former employer, Chipotle, in the New Jersey federal court for unpaid overtime pay, relying on the proposed Overtime Rule. At issue was whether the Texas federal court may hold the restaurant worker and her attorneys in contempt for filing the FLSA lawsuit against Chipotle in the New Jersey federal court and contending that she was entitled to overtime pay according to the proposed Overtime Rule. The Fifth Circuit held that the Texas federal court did not have the authority under Rule 65(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to hold the restaurant worker and her attorneys in contempt, because she and her attorneys did not act in privity with, and she was not adequately represented by, the DOL in the injunction case. Therefore, the Texas federal court lacked personal jurisdiction over the worker and her attorneys. The court reversed the district court's judgment, including the award of attorneys' fees against her and her lawyers, rendering judgment in their favor. View "Texas v. United States Department of Labor" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit terminated a consent decree entered in 1977, which exempts Muslim inmates from the requirement that all religious gatherings and activities in Texas state prisons attended by more than four inmates must be directly supervised by either prison staff or a prison-approved outside volunteer. The court held that the consent decree does not remain necessary to correct current and ongoing violations of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, the Free Exercise Clause, or the Establishment Clause. Therefore, TDCJ's motion to vacate the consent decree should have been granted. The court vacated the award of attorneys' fees, because plaintiff and Inmate Intervenors were not prevailing parties. View "Brown v. Collier" on Justia Law

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Upon sua sponte panel rehearing, the Fifth Circuit withdrew its prior opinion and substituted the following opinion. The court vacated defendant's convictions for possessing and conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine, possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. The court held that defendant's rights under the Confrontation Clause were violated when a law enforcement officer testified that he knew defendant had received a large amount of methamphetamine because of what the officer was told by a confidential informant. In this case, the error was not invited by the defense and was not harmless. The court also vacated the related revocation of defendant's supervised release and remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. Jones" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The district court granted summary judgment to Cincinnati in an insurance coverage dispute action, concluding that the insured's intentional decision to drive while intoxicated meant that the collision was not an "accident" under Texas law. The Fifth Circuit reversed, holding that, as a matter of plain meaning and common usage, the term "accident" plainly includes the drunk driving collision that gave rise to this dispute. The court rejected Cincinnati's arguments to the contrary and held that Texas Supreme Court precedent did not command a different result. Accordingly, the court remanded for further consideration. View "Frederking v. Cincinnati Insurance Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law

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The Fifth Circuit denied the petition for rehearing en banc, granted the petition for rehearing, and withdrew its prior opinion, substituting the following opinion. The court affirmed the district court's partial grant of defendants' motion to dismiss a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action claiming that the Texas Medical Board's execution of an administrative subpoena in plaintiff's office violated the Fourth Amendment. The court held that it was clearly established at the time of this search that the medical profession as a whole is not a closely regulated industry, meaning that governmental agents violate the Constitution when they search clinics that are not pain management clinics without providing an opportunity for precompliance review. The court also held that, even assuming that pain management clinics are part of a closely regulated industry, on-demand searches of those clinics violate the constitution when the statutory scheme authorizing the search fails to provide sufficient constraints on the discretion of the inspecting officers. In this case, the unlawfulness of defendants' conduct was not clearly established at the time of the search. The court also held that the search was not pretextual; the district court did not abuse its discretion in abstaining from deciding the declaratory judgment claims; Director Robinson was not deliberately indifferent in delegating her subpoena authority in light of the fact she was acting pursuant to the regulations in the same way as her predecessors and the numerous subpoenas issued each year; and, to the extent plaintiffs sought to impose section 1983 liability on Defendants Kirby and Pease, through the subdelegation argument, that law also was not clearly established. View "Zadeh v. Robinson" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion for relief under 28 U.S.C. 2255 based on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant a second evidentiary hearing, and did not err in denying her section 2255 motion because defendant waived the conflict of interest claim when she pleaded guilty despite purportedly knowing of the alleged conduct. View "United States v. Palacios" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Plaintiff, an inmate, filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action against prison officials, alleging that they arranged for another inmate to attack him and stood by while the other inmate severely injured him. While the action was pending, plaintiff was released from prison. The district court granted summary judgment for defendants and dismissed plaintiff's claims. The Fifth Circuit vacated and held that fact issues remain as to whether the prescription period was suspended and, thus, as to whether plaintiff's claims were timely. Because the court additionally held that plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies, the proper disposition was therefore dismissal without prejudice. Accordingly, the court remanded with instructions to dismiss the claims without prejudice to his ability to refile now that he was no longer bound by the exhaustion requirements of the Prison Litigation Reform Act. View "Bargher v. White" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law