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At issue was whether it is appropriate to use the categorical approach in determining what is a “crime of violence” under 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(3)(b). The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Appellant’s motion, before he entered a conditional plea of guilty to using, carrying, or brandishing a firearm in relation to a “crime of violence” in violation of 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(1), to dismiss a portion of the charge on the ground that the residual clause at 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(3)(B) is unconstitutionally vague under Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015), and Sessions v. Dimaya, 138 S. Ct. 1204 (2018). The First Circuit held that section 924(c)(3)(B) is not void for vagueness because the statute reasonably allows for a case-specific approach rather than a categorical approach and because Appellant’s conspiracy to commit a Hobbs Act robbery qualified as a “crime of violence.” View "United States v. Douglas" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner’s application seeking permission to file a successive motion under 28 U.S.C. 2255 to vacate her conviction and sentence for possessing a destructive device during and in relation to and in furtherance of a crime of violence, holding that Petitioner’s application did not meet the requirements for certification of a successive section 2255 motion. Petitioner sought to file this successive motion in 2016 following the Supreme Court’s decision in Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015). Petitioner then supplemented her motion after Sessions v. Dimaya, 138 S. Ct. 1204 (2018), was decided. Petitioner hoped to argue in the district court that the rule announced in Johnson and reiterated in Dimaya rendered the definition of “crime of violence” under which she was convicted unconstitutionally void for vagueness. The First Circuit denied the application, holding that Johnson’s rule, reaffirmed in Dimaya, did not extend to Petitioner’s conviction under 924(c)’s residual clause. View "Brown v. United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against state officials in state court, seeking injunctive and declaratory relief entitling them to an enhanced status in the retirement system for Alabama state employees. The state officials removed the action to federal court. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of immunity from suit to defendants, holding that the officials have either waived or forfeited any immunity from suit and that the court lacked jurisdiction to consider their immunity from liability on interlocutory appeal. View "Green v. Graham" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against her former employer, Pearson, alleging claims of Title VII sex discrimination and other claims, after she allegedly did not get the same chance to resign with severance pay that three male employees received. Plaintiff also claimed that Pearson lost a key email exchange. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court's overruling of plaintiff's objection about the emails and the district court's cure -- barring plaintiff from disputing her description of the emails but declining to grant further sanctions -- was sufficient. The court also affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on the severance-pay discrimination claim where the three proposed comparators were not similarly situated to plaintiff. The court held that there was no evidence of pretext and the misstatement of the standard of review was harmless because the court's review was de novo. View "Barbera v. Pearson Education, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the dismissal of an action alleging California consumer claims against MusclePharm Corporation, a manufacturer of nutritional supplements. The complaint alleged that MusclePharm made false or misleading statements about the protein in one of its products. The Ninth Circuit held that the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) and its implementing regulations concerned only the calculation and disclosure of protein amount; the FDCA preempted a state-law misbranding theory premised on the supplement's use of nitrogen-spiking agents to inflate the measurement of protein for the nutrition panel; but the FDCA did not preempt a state-law misbranding theory premised on the label's allegedly false or misleading implication that the supplement's protein came entirely from two specifically named, genuine protein sources. In this case, plaintiff's claims were not preempted to the extent they arose under this theory. View "Durnford v. MusclePharm Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, an Illinois state prisoner, filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that prison officials conspired to and did violate his First and Eighth Amendment rights while he was incarcerated at the Menard Correctional Center. The Seventh Circuit affirmed in part the district court's grant of defendants' motion for summary judgment, holding that no reasonable jury could conclude that plaintiff's grievances and complaints about the conditions of his confinement were a motivating factor in—or even factored into—Defendant Harrington's approval of placing him in segregation after a May 2012 incident. The court also held that no reasonable jury could find that Defendants Harrington or Page acted with deliberate indifference towards plaintiff or otherwise disregarded or failed to act on knowledge of a substantial risk to plaintiff's health and safety. Finally, plaintiff failed to identify any evidence, circumstantial or otherwise, of an agreement to deprive him of his constitutional rights. View "Daugherty v. Harrington" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for DCDC in an action alleging claims of gender, age, and disability discrimination under state and federal civil rights laws. Plaintiff, a 56 year old woman, worked as a correctional officer until she was injured in inmate altercations. After plaintiff worked the maximum allowable number of days of light duty pursuant to the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), she was terminated when no other suitable position was found. The court held that plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case of sex discrimination; plaintiff's prima facie evidence of bad faith supporting her claim of failure to accommodate/disability was rebutted by the incontrovertible evidence that plaintiff could not have been reasonably accommodated; and plaintiff's age discrimination claim failed because she did not produce evidence of a similarly situated younger person who was treated differently. View "Faulkner v. Douglas County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court overruling Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence obtained from a traffic stop, holding that this was an investigatory traffic stop supported by reasonable suspicion. Defendant moved to suppress the evidence obtained from the search of his car, arguing that the law enforcement officer did not have probable cause or reasonable suspicion to initiate the traffic stop. The district court found that the traffic stop was supported by probable cause and overruled the motion to suppress. The Supreme Court affirmed, although its reasoning differed from that of the district court, holding that the investigatory stop of Defendant’s car was supported by reasonable suspicion and was therefore constitutional. View "State v. Barbeau" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of operating while intoxicated (OWI), holding that the stop of the van in which Defendant was a passenger violated Iowa Const. art. I, section 8. After responding to a dispatch report of a vehicle in a roadside ditch, officers saw a van pass by on the road. Discovering that the van’s license plate was registered to another member of the same household that the vehicle in the ditch had been registered to, the officers followed the van and pulled it over. The driver of the car that had gone into the ditch was riding as a passenger in the van. That person, Defendant, was convicted of OWI. Defendant appealed the denial of his motion to suppress, arguing that the stop of the van was not permissible under the community caretaking doctrine. The Supreme Court agreed and reversed Defendant’s conviction and sentence, holding that the community caretaking exception did not apply under article I, section 8. View "State v. Smith" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's grant of habeas corpus ordering petitioner to be retried for killing the victim in a bar fight. The court held that the federal court failed to defer to the state court's reasonable application of Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), and therefore erred in granting petitioner habeas corpus relief. The court held that, given counsel's all-or-nothing strategy, he reasonably declined a "double-edged" manslaughter instruction that could have lowered petitioner's chances of an acquittal; even assuming counsel should have sought a sudden passion instruction, it was unlikely that the instruction would have changed petitioner's sentence; and neither conclusion would have been an objectively unreasonable application of Strickland by the state habeas court. View "Mejia v. Davis" on Justia Law