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The State appealed a trial court's grant of defendant Ronald Dupuis's motion to suppress evidence arising from a game warden's warrantless search of his property, arguing that because defendant's "no trespass" postings did not comport with Vermont's hunting posting statute, he enjoyed no expectation of privacy. Defendant was charged with taking big game by illegal means as well as baiting and feeding deer. Although the warden testified that he saw no signs posted, defendant and others testified, and the trial court found, that defendant had posted between twenty-five and thirty signs stating "no trespassing" or "keep out" around the perimeter of his property, located approximately 100 to 150 feet apart. A gate with multiple "no trespassing" signs blocked the main entrance onto defendant's property. There was no evidence that the game warden had a warrant or suspicion of criminal activity at the time he entered defendant's land. The trial court granted defendant's motion to suppress evidence obtained from the warden's warrantless search, ruling that it violated Chapter I, Article 11 of the Vermont Constitution. The court held that by posting his land to the extent that he had, defendant "took the steps necessary to clearly communicate to the reasonable person that the public was excluded from his Bloomfield property," thereby preserving his expectation of privacy. Finding no reversible error in the trial court's judgment, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. View "Vermont v. Dupuis" on Justia Law

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Veritext filed suit challenging the Board's enforcement of La. Code Civ. Proc. Ann. art. 1434(A)(1), which provides that depositions shall be taken before an officer authorized to administer oaths, who is not an employee or attorney of any of the parties or otherwise interested in the outcome of the case. In 2012, the Board began enforcing Article 1434 more aggressively, declaring that the law prohibits all contracts between court reporters and party litigants, including volume-based discounts and concessions to frequent customers. The Fifth Circuit held that the district court was correct to dismiss all of the constitutional claims brought by Veritext as a matter of Supreme Court precedent. The court explained that Louisiana's interest in the integrity of its court reporting system was legally sufficient, and Veritext failed to clearly identify a burden on interstate commerce imposed by the Board's enforcement of Article 1434 that exceeds its local benefits. However, the court held that Veritext pled facts sufficient to support a finding that the Board's conduct did restrain trade and remanded so that Veritext could proceed on its Sherman Act claim. View "Veritext Corp. v. Bonin" on Justia Law

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Officer Pearson and other Chicago police officers executed a search warrant for “apartment 1.” There was a problem with the warrant. Apartment 1 did not exist. The building contained apartment 1A and apartment 1B. The officers searched apartment 1A but did not find the drugs and related items they were seeking. Pearson nonetheless arrested an occupant, Muhammed. The occupants filed sued Pearson under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging unlawful entry and false arrest. The district court granted Pearson summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed on narrow grounds. Law enforcement officers who discover that a search warrant does not clearly specify the premises to be searched must ordinarily stop and clear up the ambiguity before they conduct or continue the search. If they do not, they may lose the legal protection the warrant provides for an invasion of privacy and accompanying restraints on liberty. Pearson, however, testified that he did not know there were two apartments and offered undisputed, reliable, and contemporaneous documents confirming his after-the-fact testimony that the address searched was actually the correct target of the search authorized by the ambiguous warrant. Pearson had arguable probable cause to arrest plaintiff Muhammad for suspected drug trafficking, though Pearson quickly confirmed that Muhammad was not the right suspect and released him within 15 minutes, so summary judgment based on qualified immunity was also correct on that unlawful arrest claim. View "Muhammad v. Pearson" on Justia Law

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The police received an anonymous 911 call from a 14‐year‐old who borrowed a stranger’s phone and reported seeing “boys” “playing with guns” by a “gray and greenish Charger” in a nearby parking lot. A police officer drove to the lot, blocked a car matching the caller’s description, ordered the car’s occupants to get out of the car, and found that a passenger in the car, Watson, had a gun. He later conditionally pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm as a felon, 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1). The Seventh Circuit vacated the conviction. The police did not have reasonable suspicion to block the car. The anonymous tip did not justify an immediate stop because the caller’s report was not sufficiently reliable. The caller used a borrowed phone, which would make it difficult to find him, and his sighting of guns did not describe a likely emergency or crime—he reported gun possession, which is lawful. View "United States v. Watson" on Justia Law

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In these 30 consolidated appeals, individuals with severe autism filed suit against Disney, alleging that the company and its theme parks failed to accommodate their disabilities, in violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Plaintiffs claimed that access to all of Disney's rides must be both nearly immediate and in each plaintiff's individual, pre-set order to accommodate fully their impairments. The district court granted summary judgment to Disney and concluded that the Disability Access Service (DAS) program already accommodated plaintiffs' disabilities and that revising the DAS program was not necessary for plaintiffs to have equal access and enjoyment of Disney's parks. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed in part and held that Disney's generalized issuance of DAS Cards, in and of itself, did not violate the ADA. However, the DAS Card, as good as it may be, still failed to address plaintiffs' alleged impairments of the inability to wait virtually for rides and the need to adhere to a routine order of rides or repeat rides. Because factual disputes existed as to those impairments, the court reversed summary judgment on the necessary-modification inquiry. The court remanded for the district court to address Disney's alternative argument that plaintiffs' requested modification was not reasonable and would fundamentally alter the park experience. Finally, plaintiffs' complaints did not contain a cause of action for intentional or disparate-impact discrimination under the ADA and thus the court affirmed the district court's judgment as to that issue. View "A.L. v. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts US, Inc." on Justia Law

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Police stopped appellee Alexis Popielarcheck after observing her weaving onto and over road markers. A blood draw confirmed that she had in her system a combination of alprazolam, marijuana, cocaine, benzoylecognine, and hydrocodone. Popielarcheck plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of DUI, 75 Pa.C.S. 3802(d)(1)(i) (marijuana) and (d)(2) (various). The sentencing court modified her bail to require that she attend and complete recommended treatment at Greenbriar Treatment Center. Popielarcheck began treatment on June 23, 2015 and completed it on July 14, 2015. On September 1, 2015, the court conducted a sentencing hearing. Her discharge summary from Greenbriar, which was admitted into evidence without objection, reflected that her prognosis at the time of discharge was “poor” and that her success would depend upon her following through with aftercare recommendations. Popielarcheck, who had one prior DUI conviction in 2007, testified to relapsing “many times over.” The Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted review in this case to consider the interplay between two alternative sentencing schemes for persons convicted of a second offense for driving under the influence or alcohol or a controlled substance (“DUI”). In particular, the Court agreed to decide whether, when sentencing a repeat offender in need of further treatment to county intermediate punishment (“CIP”) under section 9763 of the Sentencing Code, 42 Pa.C.S. 9763, the sentencing court must impose the statutory maximum sentence under section 3804(d) of the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa.C.S. 3804(d). The Court concluded the Sentencing Code and the Vehicle Code establish independent alternative sentencing schemes, the sentencing court in this case was not required to impose the statutory maximum sentence when ordering Popielarcheck to serve a CIP sentence. Accordingly, the order of the Superior Court was affirmed. View "Pennsylvania v. Popielarcheck" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of summary judgment to a law enforcement officer based on qualified immunity in a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action alleging that he used excessive force when he tased plaintiff. The court held that the evidence was sufficient to show that the officer violated plaintiff's Fourth Amendment right to be free of excessive force. However, the officer's actions did not violate law that was clearly established at the time of the incident. In Caroll v. Ellington, and in this case, officers confronted a suspect whom they believed to be on drugs, attempted to verbally secure the suspect's compliance, and chose to deploy a taser despite their knowledge that the suspect was unarmed. The Carroll panel decided that no clearly established law made the officer's decision to resort to the taser unreasonable. View "Samples v. Vadzemnieks" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendant based on qualified immunity grounds in a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action alleging that defendant failed to disclose evidence that would have cast serious doubt on the star prosecution witness in plaintiff's trial. The panel held that the record demonstrated as a matter of law that defendant withheld material impeachment evidence under Brady v. Maryland and Giglio v. United States, and raised a genuine issue of material fact as to whether defendant acted with deliberate indifference or reckless disregard for plaintiff's due process rights. The panel also held that the law at the time of the 1997–98 investigation clearly established that police officers investigating a criminal case were required to disclose material, impeachment evidence to the defense. Finally, the panel held that the district court abused its discretion by striking the declaration of plaintiff's police practices expert. The panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Mellen v. Winn" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit denied a petition for review insofar as it raised due process claims related to the district court's rejection of petitioner's United States citizenship claim. First determining that petitioner had standing to bring the due process and equal protection claims, the panel held that, because a legitimate governmental interest was rationally related to 8 U.S.C. 1433's requirement that citizen parents petition to naturalize their adopted, foreign-born children, section 1433 did not violate the Fifth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. The panel also held that the district court did not err in ruling that the INS was not deliberately indifferent to whether petitioner's mother's application for his citizenship was processed; and, even if the INS did act with deliberate indifference, petitioner's due process claim failed because he could not demonstrate prejudice. The panel held that the district court correctly concluded that the INS was not deliberately indifferent to petitioner's adult application for citizenship and he could not establish prejudice. Finally, the panel held that the BIA erred in concluding that third-degree escape under Arizona Revised Statutes section 13-2502 was a crime of violence and thus an aggravated felony that would make petitioner removable. Accordingly, the panel denied in part, granted in part, and remanded in part the petition for review. View "Dent v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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An Illinois jury convicted McGhee of murder and attempted murder. McGhee’s defense attorney asked the judge to poll the jury after the verdict was read. The judge said, “[a]ll right,” but did not conduct the poll; he simply thanked and dismissed the jurors. An Illinois criminal defendant “has the absolute right to poll the jury after it returns its verdict.” Defense counsel did not object when the judge moved directly to closing remarks, nor did he raise the issue in a post-trial motion. McGhee’s appellate lawyer failed to challenge the error on direct review. McGhee’s conviction was affirmed on appeal and in state collateral review. He sought habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the denial of the petition. McGhee’s "Strickland" claims, that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the judge’s jury-polling error and his appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to raise the judge’s error on appeal, were waived because he did not present them in his section 2254 petition. McGhee procedurally defaulted his claim that appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to challenge trial counsel’s failure to preserve the polling error. McGhee failed to present the claim through one complete round of state-court review. View "McGhee v. Watson" on Justia Law