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Thomas, an Illinois prisoner formerly confined at Hill Correctional Center, alleged that prison guards attacked him with excessive force and that the beating and subsequent disciplinary proceedings were in retaliation for lawsuits and grievances he filed. He sued the guards and other prison officials seeking damages under 42 U.S.C. 1983. In the course of pretrial proceedings, the district judge required the parties to stipulate to the events preceding the attack and ruled that certain inmate witnesses must appear, if at all, by video conference. The judge also declined Thomas’s request for recruited counsel, determining that he was competent to litigate the suit pro se. At trial, the judge entered judgment as a matter of law for the defendants on all claims except those asserting excessive force by two officers. The jury decided those claims against Thomas. The Seventh Circuit reversed in part. Because Thomas’s trial testimony allowed for a permissible inference of retaliation, the judge should not have taken the retaliation claims from the jury. The court rejected other challenges to evidentiary rulings and to the refusal to recruit counsel. View "Thomas v. Anderson" on Justia Law

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In the published portion of the opinion, the Court of Appeal noted that effective January 1, 2019, Code of Civil Procedure section 998 will have no application to costs and attorney and expert witness fees in a Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) action unless the lawsuit is found to be "frivolous, unreasonable, or groundless when brought, or the plaintiff continued to litigate after it clearly became so." In regard to the litigation that predated the application of the amended version of Government Code section 12965(b), the court held that section 998 does not apply to nonfrivolous FEHA actions and reversed the order awarding defendant costs and expert witness fees pursuant to that statute. View "Huerta v. Kava Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law

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Appellant Albert Turner was convicted of capital murder for killing his wife and mother-in-law during the same criminal transaction. The jury answered the special issues in such a manner that Appellant was sentenced to death. Direct appeal to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals was automatic. The Court remanded this case for a retrospective competency hearing, and later ordered supplemental briefing on the effect, if any, of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in McCoy v. Louisiana, 138 S.Ct. 1500 (2018). The Court of Criminal Appeals concluded Appellant was competent to stand trial, but also concluded that defense counsel conceded Appellant’s guilt of murder against Appellant’s wishes in violation of McCoy. Consequently, Appellant's conviction was reversed and the matter remanded for a new trial. View "Turner v. Texas" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging that a county deputy was deliberately indifferent to Jeffry Alan Barton's serious medical needs and that the county jail administrator failed to adequately train or supervise the deputy. Plaintiff also alleged that the county did not adequately train its detention facility workers and that its policies failed to ensure that detainees received adequate medical care. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of qualified immunity to the deputy where a jury could find that Barton was experiencing a medical need so obvious that a layperson would recognize the need for prompt medical attention, the deputy did not perform the healthcare screening the jail policies required, and it was clearly established at the time that booking Barton into jail would constitute deliberate indifference. The court reversed the denial of qualified immunity to the administrator and held that the administrator did not know that the deputy was inadequately trained or supervised. Finally, the court dismissed the county's appeal for lack of jurisdiction. View "Barton v. Ledbetter" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the Appellate Division affirming the judgment of Supreme Court granting Defendants' motion to compel Plaintiff to post a minimum of $500 security in this personal injury action, holding that N.Y. C.P.L.R. 8501(a) and 8503 do not violate the Privileges and Immunities Clause set forth in article IV, section 2 of the United States Constitution by depriving noncitizens of New York reasonable and adequate access to New York courts. At issue in this personal injury action was New York’s longstanding security for costs provisions that treat resident and nonresident litigants differently. Plaintiff was a New York resident when she commenced this action, but after she relocated to Georgia, Defendants moved, pursuant to sections 8501(a) and 8503, for an order compelling Plaintiff to post a minimum of $500 security for costs in the event she lost the case. Supreme Court granted Defendants’ motion, concluding that the statutes do not bar access to the courts. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that sections 8501(a) and 8503 do not unduly burden nonresidents’ fundamental right to access the courts because nonresidents are provided reasonable and adequate access to the New York courts. View "Clement v. Durban" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court denying Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence gathered from a vehicle after a traffic stop, holding that sufficient evidence did not exist for an extended stop. Defendant was charged with drug-related offenses. Defendant filed motion to suppress evidence obtained after a traffic stop. The district court denied the motion, concluding that the police officer had sufficient facts to expand the traffic stop into a drug investigation and particularized suspicion to justify a canine search of the vehicle’s exterior. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the officer lacked the particularized suspicion required to extend the traffic stop into a drug investigation, and the stop violated Mont. Code Ann. 46-5-403; and (2) the extension of the stop to request a search by a K-9 unit violated the constitutional prohibition against unreasonable searches. View "State v. Wilson" on Justia Law

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Courthouse News Service (CNS) sought injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. 1983, arguing that the First Amendment requires the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, to release newly filed complaints to the press at the moment of receipt by her office—not after processing. The Seventh Circuit reversed the district court’s order granting a preliminary injunction and ordered the action dismissed without prejudice, noting that neither the Seventh Circuit nor the U.S. Supreme Court provides the press with such instant access to court filings, but undertake certain administrative processing before a filing is made publicly available. Adhering to the principles of equity, comity, and federalism, the district court should have abstained from exercising jurisdiction over this case. The court noted that the procedures at issue involve a delay of no more than one business day in access to the vast majority of electronically filed complaints and stated that the state courts deserve the first opportunity to hear such a constitutional challenge to their internal procedures. View "Courthouse News Services v. Brown" on Justia Law

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This case involves the death of four-year-old MB, the daughter of petitioner Mark Friend’s girlfriend. During an interview with law enforcement on the day that MB was transported to the hospital (and before she died), Friend admitted to striking and throwing MB several times in the prior few days. Friend was ultimately charged with (1) first-degree murder-victim under twelve, position of trust; (2) child abuse resulting in death; (3) child abuse resulting in death- pattern of conduct; (4) two counts of child abuse causing serious bodily injury; and (5) child abuse causing serious bodily injury- pattern of conduct. In pleading each of these counts, the information generally tracked the language of the pertinent statutory provisions, but it did not indicate the specific facts supporting each count. This case principally presented two double jeopardy questions: (1) whether the child abuse statute, section 18-6-401, C.R.S. (2018), prescribed more than one unit of prosecution and whether the prosecution presented sufficient evidence to establish that petitioner committed more than one crime of child abuse; and (2) whether child abuse resulting in death under sections 18-6-401(1)(a) and (7)(a)(1), was a lesser included offense of first-degree murder of a child under section 18-3-102(1)(f), C.R.S. (2018) (“child abuse murder”). As to the first double jeopardy question presented here, the Colorado Supreme Court concluded the appellate court correctly determined that section 18-6-401 created one crime of child abuse that can be committed in alternative ways; each of the child abuse convictions must merge into one conviction for child abuse resulting in death. As to the second double jeopardy question at issue, The Supreme Court concluded the lower court erred in determining that Friend’s merged child abuse resulting in death conviction did not merge into his child abuse murder conviction. The Court therefore affirmed in part and reversed in part the lower court’s judgment. View "Friend v. Colorado" on Justia Law

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Erin Janis stabbed a man outside of a bar in Denver. The State charged Janis with first degree assault. She claimed self-defense, and the case went to trial. Although in custody, Janis asked through trial counsel to leave the courtroom during the victim’s testimony, ostensibly because she feared it might trigger her post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”). Without first advising her of her right to remain or inquiring with her directly about her desire to leave, the trial court granted her request. The jury found Janis guilty, and the trial court ultimately sentenced her to twelve years in prison. On appeal, Janis argued, in part, that she did not validly waive her right to be present during the victim’s testimony. More specifically, she contended that the trial court should have advised her of the right and then engaged her in a colloquy about her decision to waive it. By failing to do so, she asserted, the trial court failed to secure a valid waiver and thus committed reversible error. The Colorado Supreme Court held that a formal advisement of the right to be present at trial was not a prerequisite to a valid waiver of that right, even when a defendant is in custody. “Ultimately, the touchstone is whether, under the totality of the circumstances, the waiver was knowing, intelligent, and voluntary.” On this record, the Court concluded Janis’s waiver was knowing, intelligent, and voluntary. Accordingly, the Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and remanded to address any previously unresolved issues. View "Colorado v. Janis" on Justia Law

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The EEOC filed suit alleging that North Memorial violated 42 U.S.C. 2000e-3(a), by unlawfully retaliating against an employee. The district court granted summary judgment for North Memorial and dismissed the claim, concluding that North Memorial did not violate section 2000e-3(a) because it did not discriminate against the employee. The Eighth Circuit affirmed and held that the EEOC failed to establish a prima facie case of opposition-clause unlawful retaliation because merely requesting a religious accommodation was not the same as opposing the allegedly unlawful denial of a religious accommodation. The court reasoned that, when an employee or applicant requested a religious accommodation, and the request was denied by an employer such as North Memorial that accommodated reasonable requests that did not cause undue hardship, there was no basis for an opposition-clause retaliation claim under Sec. 2000e-3(a). The court held that the employee or applicant's exclusive Title VII remedy was an unlawful disparate treatment or disparate impact claim under section 2000e-2(a)(1). View "EEOC v. North Memorial Health Care" on Justia Law