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Provider Plaintiffs and Individual Plaintiffs filed suit seeking a preliminary injunction against the OIG's decision to terminate the Medicaid provider agreements to Planned Parenthood affiliates throughout the state. The district court held that the Individual Plaintiffs possessed a private right of action under the "qualified-provider" provision of the Medicaid Act and issued a preliminary injunction. The Fifth Circuit held that the district court erred in evaluating the evidence de novo, rather than under the arbitrary and capricious standard, and in applying the reasoning in Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast v. Gee, 862 F.3d 445 (5th Cir. 2017), to its determination of a "qualified" provider in this context. Therefore, the district court erred legally and plaintiffs were unlikely to show a likelihood of success on the merits of their claim. Accordingly, the court vacated the preliminary injunction and remanded for the district court to limit its review to the agency record under an arbitrary-and-capricious standard. View "Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Family Planning and Preventative Health Services v. Smith" on Justia Law

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Lund and 30 others were charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin. The indictment alleged that the conspiracy resulted in overdose deaths of five individuals, 21 U.S.C. 841(b)(1)(A). Lund pleaded guilty but denied responsibility for two deaths, arguing that he had withdrawn from the conspiracy before those deaths. The district court judge rejected that argument and sentenced him in accordance with the 20-year mandatory minimum (“death results” enhancement). The Seventh Circuit affirmed. His sentence became final in 2013. In 2016, Lund filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence under 28 U.S.C. 2255 based on changes in the law occurring after his conviction. In Burrage, the Supreme Court held that finding a defendant guilty of the “death results” penalty “requires proof ‘that the harm would not have occurred in the absence of—that is, but for—the defendant’s conduct.’” This but-for causation rule applies retroactively. Lund argued that under Burrage, he is actually innocent of the “death results” enhancement because the heroin he provided to two individuals was not the but-for cause of their deaths. The district court found that there was no statutory basis to find his petition timely; it was filed more than a year after the Supreme Court decided Burrage and more than a year after the evidence he presented could have been discovered, The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Even assuming actual innocence can be premised on a change in the law, Lund cannot take advantage of the exception because he rests both his actual innocence claim and his claim for relief on Burrage. View "Lund v. United States" on Justia Law

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Frederick Theodore Rall III, a political cartoonist and blogger, filed suit against the Los Angeles Times after it published a "note to readers" and a later more detailed report questioning the accuracy of a blog post plaintiff wrote for The Times. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's grant of defendants' anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) motions to strike the complaint. The court held that The Times' articles were published in a public forum and concerned issues of public interest, and thus the written statements were protected free speech activity. Furthermore, the articles were absolutely privileged under Civil Code section 47, subdivision (d), because they were a fair and true report of an LAPD investigation that was central to the substance of the articles. Therefore, plaintiff failed to produce evidence demonstrating a probability of prevailing on his defamation claims. In regard to plaintiff's wrongful termination claims, the court held that plaintiff's employment claims arose directly from The Times's protected First Amendment conduct: deciding not to publish plaintiff's work. Therefore, plaintiff failed to establish a probability of prevailing on the merits of his employment claims. View "Rall v. Tribune 365 LLC" on Justia Law

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In 2001, a jury convicted Winfred Forkner of burglary of a storehouse, for which he was sentenced as a habitual offender to life without the possibility of parole. Forkner filed three prior motions for post-conviction relief (“PCR”) with the Mississippi Supreme Court. His fourth motion, filed January 18, 2018, he argued his conviction and sentence were void and illegal because the indictment had not charged all of the essential elements of the crime of burglary of a storehouse. Specifically, Forkner alleged error concerning the second element of the crime: “in which any goods, merchandise, equipment or valuable thing shall be kept for use, sale, deposit, or transport.” He argued that the indictment did not allege that items were kept in the storehouse “for use, sale, deposit, or transport.” A panel of the Supreme Court granted Forkner's petition and found Forkner's indictment was indeed defective. The State sought an en banc rehearing of the panel’s order. Forkner opposed the State’s motion and filed a Motion to Remand Petitioner to the Wilkinson County Jail and a Petition for Immediate Release. After due consideration, the Supreme Court granted the State’s motion for rehearing, vacated the panel order and dismissed Forkner’s Application for Leave to Proceed in the Trial Court. Also, Forkner’s Motion to Remand Petitioner and his Petition for Immediate Release were denied. View "Forkner v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Timothy Ronk was convicted of capital murder and armed robbery for the 2008 stabbing death of Michelle Craite and the intentional arson of where she resided. He was sentenced to death and thirty years in prison, respectively; the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed his convictions and sentences. Ronk sought post-conviction relief, raising five claims: (1) trial counsel was ineffective; (2) his sentence was disproportionate; (3) Mississippi’s death-penalty statute is unconstitutional; (4) cumulative error requires reversal; and (5) trial counsel failed to preserve the record for review. Finding that Ronk’s claims were either barred or failed to present a substantial showing of the denial of a state or federal right, the Supreme Court denied his motion. View "Ronk v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Lennon Thomas entered a small Hattiesburg, Mississippi convenience store with a bandana covering his face and carrying a gun. Once inside, he ran behind the cashier’s counter where the cashier had returned from a bank run, and was handling the store's money. The cashier’s husband had seen Thomas enter the store and yelled to warn his wife. He also pulled out his own gun in defense. Thomas grabbed the cashier by her neck and stuck his pistol to her head. She pleaded for her life. When her husband ran from the store to seek help, Thomas shot him in the back, dropping him on the concrete parking lot. Thomas then stuck his pistol in the cashier’s back and shot her before fleeing the store. Thomas was quickly captured by police officers in the nearby woods. He was arrested and later convicted of attempted armed robbery and two counts of aggravated assault. Thomas appealed, claiming that because no money was taken from the store, the State failed to prove he had attempted to commit an armed robbery. The Mississippi Supreme Court disagreed, and affirmed Thomas' conviction. View "Thomas v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action against the County and the City in state court, alleging violations of his constitutional rights to due process and a fair trial. In 1972, plaintiff was convicted of 28 counts of felony murder for causing a deadly fire at a Tucson hotel. In 2013, after plaintiff presented newly discovered evidence that arson did not cause the hotel fire, he entered into a plea agreement where the original convictions were vacated and he pleaded no contest to the same counts, was resentenced to time served, and released from prison. After the City removed the case to federal court, the district court granted in part and denied in part the County's motion to dismiss. The Ninth Circuit exercised its discretion under 28 U.S.C. 1292(b) to deny the County's application for permission to appeal the denial of qualified immunity; held that section 1291's collateral order doctrine did not apply to the County's appeal and thus the panel did not have jurisdiction over it; and dismissed the County's appeal. The panel held that a plaintiff in a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action may not recover incarceration-related damages for any period of incarceration supported by a valid, unchallenged conviction and sentence. Exercising its discretion under section 1292(b), the panel held that plaintiff's valid 2013 conviction and sentence were the sole legal causes of his incarceration, and thus he could not recover damages for wrongful incarceration. View "Taylor v. County of Pima" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court quashed the judgment of the superior court that granted Defendant’s application for postconviction relief and reinstated Defendant’s convictions, holding that the hearing justice erred in holding that trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance in certain respects. The Supreme Court reinstated Defendant’s conviction with respect to aiding-and-abetting counts for felony murder, robbery, using a firearm in the commission of a crime o violence, discharging a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence, and committing a crime of violence while armed and having available a firearm. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) trial counsels’ performance was not deficient in failing to propose aiding-and-abetting jury instructions in line with Rosemond v. United States, 572 U.S. 65 (2014), because that case was inapplicable here; and (2) the hearing justice erred when she held that trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence with respect to an aiding-and-abetting theory. View "Whitaker v. State" on Justia Law

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Defendant Davonte Stinson and codefendant Dontae McFadden approached S.A. in his parked car and, at gunpoint, took several items from him including his wallet, keys, and cell phone. Still at gunpoint, they made S.A. move from the driver’s seat to the trunk, placed him in the trunk and closed it, and then continued to look through the car. Defendant and codefendant then fled, leaving S.A. in the trunk. Shortly thereafter, using S.A.’s keys, defendant and codefendant entered the apartment S.A. shared with his fiancé, A.L.G., and her two children. At gunpoint, they demanded that A.L.G. give them whatever guns and money that were in the apartment. After obtaining two guns and other items, they left. Defendant and codefendant were tried together. The jury found defendant guilty of kidnapping to commit robbery, robbery in the second degree, possession of a firearm by a felon, and robbery in the first degree. On appeal, defendant argued: (1) the trial court abused its discretion in denying the defense motion to sever count six (felon in possession of a firearm alleged against codefendant), charging only codefendant with being a felon in possession of a firearm based on the discovery of a handgun in codefendant’s backpack approximately three months after the robberies of S.A. and A.L.G; (2) the evidence was legally insufficient to support the conviction of kidnapping to commit robbery because it failed to establish that the movement of S.A. from the driver’s seat to the trunk of his car was more than incidental to the commission of the robbery and that it increased the risk of harm to S.A.; and (3) the court erred in the manner in which it modified CALCRIM No. 1203. In the published portion of its opinion, the Court of Appeal concluded the trial court did not err in instructing the jury with the modified version of CALCRIM No. 1203. In the unpublished portions of this opinion, the Court concluded the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the defense motion to sever; nor were defendant’s due process and fair trial rights violated by the joinder. Furthermore, the evidence was legally sufficient to support the conviction of kidnapping to commit robbery. However, finding merit to the contentions raised by defendant in his supplemental briefing, the Court remanded this case back to the trial court for a Franklin hearing and for the trial court to exercise its discretion under Penal section 12022.53 (h), to consider whether to strike the section 12022.53 (b), enhancement. Otherwise, the Court affirmed. View "California v. Stinson" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's final judgment in an action alleging that an IRS test for determining certain liabilities was facially unconstitutional. The court held that Freedom Path did not have standing to bring this facial challenge and therefore the court dismissed the action based on lack of jurisdiction. In this case, plaintiff's claimed chilled speech injury was not fairly traceable to the text of Revenue Ruling 2004-6. View "Freedom Path, Inc. v. IRS" on Justia Law