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An Indiana county may subsidize private dispute resolution in domestic-relations cases. Under Marion County's Plan, a party to a domestic-relations suit may request subsidized mediation, or the court may order it of its own accord. King asked the Marion Circuit Court to refer his case to mediation and authorize a subsidy. The court ordered both. King, who is deaf, also requested an American Sign Language interpreter. The judge denied that request. In court King would have had an interpreter at no cost to him. King proceeded through mediation, employing his stepfather as his interpreter. King then sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act, arguing that, by refusing to provide him with a free interpreter in mediation, the court “by reason of [his] disability … denied [him] the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity,” 42 U.S.C. 12132. The district court awarded him $10,380. The Seventh Circuit reversed without addressing the merits. The Marion Circuit Court is a division of the state. Indiana has asserted sovereign immunity. Congress cannot authorize federal litigation against the states to enforce statutory rights under grants of power other than the Fourteenth Amendment, such as the Commerce Clause; to the extent that statutory rules are unnecessary to prevent constitutional violations, they do not overcome sovereign immunity. View "King v. Marion County Circuit Court" on Justia Law

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Doornbos was leaving a Chicago train station when a plainclothes police officer confronted him, grabbed him, and with the help of other plainclothes officers, forced him to the ground. Doornbos was acquitted of resisting arrest. He sued the officers and the city for excessive force and malicious prosecution, claiming that Officer Williamson failed to identify himself as an officer and then used excessive force. Williamson claims that he properly identified himself and that Doornbos fled when Williamson attempted to stop and frisk him. The Seventh Circuit vacated a verdict in favor of the defendants. The court properly admitted evidence that Dornbos had marijuana in his pocket. Although the marijuana was unknown to the officers at the time, it arguably tended to corroborate their account of Doornbos’s behavior. The jury instructions on Terry stops, however, were inadequate. Over Doornbos’s objection, the court instructed the jury only on investigatory stops but not frisks. Williamson’s testimony indicated that he was starting a frisk when he first approached Doornbos and that he did not have reasonable suspicion that Doornbos was armed and dangerous. Doornbos was entitled to have the jury know that the attempted frisk, which produced the use of force, was unjustified. In addition, the jury asked whether plainclothes officers must identify themselves when conducting a stop. The judge said no. In all but the most unusual circumstances, where identification would itself make the situation more dangerous, plainclothes officers must identify themselves when initiating a stop. These errors were not harmless. View "Doornbos v. City of Chicago" on Justia Law

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Murphy was convicted of rape by force in Los Angeles 37 years ago and was required, while he resided in the state, to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. Murphy moved to Wisconsin 21 years later and was convicted of aggravated assault. While he never registered in Wisconsin as a sex offender, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections determined that because of his California conviction, Murphy should register as a sex offender for the rest of his life once he was released from prison, in Wisconsin. Murphy challenged that determination. The Department removed Murphy from the registry. For almost two years, Murphy was free from sex offender restrictions and from the state’s registration requirements. Murphy filed a civil rights suit. The Department determined that it had erred and returned him to the registry. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the defendants, rejecting an argument that Murphy was denied due process before being placed on the registry because he did not receive prior notice and an opportunity to be heard. The Supreme Court has been clear that the Constitution does not require that a state provide individuals with process before being placed on a sex offender registry if the decision is based upon a conviction. View "Murphy v. Rychlowski" on Justia Law

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Stinson spent 23 years in jail for a murder he did not commit. No eyewitness testimony or fingerprints connected him to the murder. Two dentists testified as experts that Stinson’s dentition matched the teeth marks on the victim’s body. A jury found Stinson guilty. After DNA evidence helped exonerate Stinson, he filed this civil suit against the lead detective and the dentists alleging that they violated due process by fabricating the expert opinions and failing to disclose their agreement to fabricate. The district court denied the defendants’ motions for summary judgment seeking qualified immunity. The Seventh Circuit dismissed appeals for lack of jurisdiction. The court distinguished between appeals from denials of summary judgment qualified immunity based on evidentiary sufficiency and those “presenting more abstract issues of law.” The appeals failed to take the facts and reasonable inferences from the record in the light most favorable to Stinson and challenge the sufficiency of the evidence on questions of fact, precluding interlocutory review. The court concluded that it had jurisdiction to consider and affirmed the denial of absolute immunity. That denial was correct because Stinson’s claims focus on the defendants’ conduct while the murder was being investigated, not on their trial testimony or trial testimony preparation. View "Stinson v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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Sumpter spent a month in the Wayne County Jail in Detroit and underwent four strip searches that she alleges violated her Fourth Amendment rights. Three searches occurred in the jail’s Registry, where inmates are routinely strip-searched when first arriving or returning to jail. Corporal Graham conducted the three Registry searches; no male deputies were present. Each time, Graham escorted plaintiff into the Registry with as many as five other women. The room’s window was covered, preventing anyone outside the Registry from observing the searches. Inside, Graham instructed the inmates to undress and to shake their hair, open their mouths, lift their breasts, and squat and cough, while Graham visually inspected for hidden contraband. The fourth search occurred in plaintiff’s cellblock. After searching the cells for contraband, an unidentified female guard gathered the inmates in the common area and conducted a group strip search. According to plaintiff, the strip search took place in view of the guards’ central command post inside the cellblock, called the “Bubble.” During this search, plaintiff purportedly saw male guards inside the Bubble. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the summary judgment rejection of Sumpter’s purported class action suit. Periodically conducting group strip searches when the number of inmates waiting to be processed makes individual searches imprudent does not violate clearly established Fourth Amendment law. View "Sumpter v. Wayne County" on Justia Law

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Robert Pulkrabek appealed the district court's judgment after a jury found him guilty of theft of property. Pulkrabek argued the district court erred when it did not tell the jury it had to unanimously agree on which theory of theft it believed he committed beyond a reasonable doubt. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed, finding that a jury was not required to unanimously agree upon which action the defendant committed under the subsections of N.D.C.C. 12.1.-23-02. View "North Dakota v. Pulkrabek" on Justia Law

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Defendant pled no contest to first degree murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Defendant was sixteen years old at the time of the murder. Defendant’s life sentence was later vacated pursuant to Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), and Defendant was granted a resentencing. The district court resentenced Defendant to imprisonment for eighty years to life after a hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s resentencing, holding (1) the sentencing court did not impose a de facto life sentence in violation of the Eighth Amendment and Neb. Const. art. I, 9 and 15; (2) the district court did not err when it did not make specific findings of fact regarding age-related characteristics; and (3) Defendant’s sentence of eighty years’ to life imprisonment with parole eligibility at age fifty-six was not unconstitutionally disproportionate. View "State v. Jones" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff was arrested for felony cyberstalking for repeatedly sending mean-spirited messages to her ex-husband, but the charges were later dropped. Plaintiff then filed suit against her ex-husband and others under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that her First and Fourth Amendment rights had been violated. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment against plaintiff, holding that plaintiff failed to show that the ex-husband acted under color of state law. The court need not address the parties' other arguments. View "Moody v. Farrell" on Justia Law

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Edward Benjamin Button was tried by jury and convicted on one count of corporal injury to a spouse or roommate, and one count of assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury. The trial court imposed a sentence of 240 days in the custody of the Sheriff, stayed execution of the portion of the sentence that Button had not yet served (220 days), and placed Button on formal probation for three years. On appeal, Button claimed the State failed to present sufficient evidence that he was not acting in self-defense when he punched the victim in the face, breaking her nose and causing her to suffer a concussion. In the unpublished portion of its opinion, the Court of Appeal concluded there was plainly evidence upon which the jury could have reasonably found that Button did not act in self-defense. Button also claimed the jury's true findings on the serious felony allegations had to be reversed because the findings were premised on an invalid stipulation entered into between the State and the defense pursuant to which Button effectively admitted the truth of the allegations. Button contended the stipulation was invalid because the trial court failed to admonish with respect to the constitutional rights that he was foregoing by entering into the stipulation, and also failed to advise him of the penal consequences of the stipulation. The Court of Appeal concluded the trial court was not required to provide the admonishments. View "California v. Button" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and 1988, alleging that defendants violated his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights during his arrest. The Fifth Circuit held that plaintiff presented sufficient facts to allege a violation of his constitutional right to be free from excessive force against Officers Fruge, Garza, and Nevue; the law at the time of the arrest clearly established that it was objectively unreasonable for several officers to tackle an individual who was not fleeing, not violent, not aggressive, and only resisted by pulling his arm away from an officer's grasp; the failure to intervene claim was waived; and summary judgment was appropriate as to plaintiff's municipal liability claim against Round Rock and plaintiff's failure to train or supervise claim. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Trammell v. Fruge" on Justia Law