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Defendant Bernard Rougeau appealed a trial court’s requirement that he post $100,000 cash or surety bond to mitigate any potential risk that he flee from prosecution. He was being held in custody for failure to post bail while he awaited trial on three counts: aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer by threatening with a deadly weapon, and interference with access to emergency services. In October 2018, defendant’s sister telephoned the state police to report that defendant was suicidal and had cut himself. The police arrived at the home and an officer located defendant outside, emerging from the surrounding woods, armed. According to the affidavit of probable cause, the officer warned him to drop the weapon, yet defendant advanced toward the officer, still holding the gun. Then defendant raised the firearm. In that moment, according to the affidavit, the officer shot defendant in the abdomen. Defendant was taken into custody and airlifted to Albany Medical Center to treat his wounds. In November 2018, he waived extradition from New York and was arraigned in Vermont on the above-three counts. The State argued that defendant’s charges involved a “mental health break,” threats of self-harm, and a firearm. Moreover, “an individual who flees into the woods with a firearm, indicating to his mother that he wants to be shot by the police, poses a significant risk of flight.” The State also recounted defendant’s criminal history, which involved felony convictions for arson, DUI III, multiple contempt-of-court convictions, and a failure to appear. The trial court concluded defendant posed a flight risk, and set bail based on his criminal record, the seriousness of the offenses, and the nature and circumstances of those offenses. On appeal, defendant challenged the imposition of bail and the amount of bail imposed. Finding no reversible error or abuse of discretion, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. View "Vermont v. Rougeau" on Justia Law

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Defendant Mark Bergquist appealed after a jury convicted him of sexually assaulting his seven-year-old daughter, A.B. On appeal, defendant raised multiple arguments challenging the trial court’s: (1) admission of A.B.’s out-of-court statements pursuant to Vermont Rule of Evidence 804a; (2) exclusion of certain evidence concerning A.B.’s mother’s state of mind and conduct; (3) ruling allowing A.B. to testify out of defendant’s presence pursuant to Vermont Rule of Evidence 807(f); (4) denial of discovery of some of A.B.’s mental-health records; and (5) admission of expert testimony that he argues improperly “vouched” for A.B.’s credibility. Finding no reversible error, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed defendant's conviction. View "Vermont v. Bergquist" on Justia Law

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After plaintiff was fired from her tenured professorship by the Board of LSU, she filed suit against defendants alleging that they violated her First and Fourteenth Amendment right to free speech and academic freedom, and her Fourteenth Amendment procedural and substantive due process rights. Plaintiff also alleged a facial challenge to LSU's sexual harassment policies. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's as-applied challenge and held that the district court correctly concluded that plaintiff's speech was not protected by the First Amendment. In this case, plaintiff's speech was not a matter of public concern, because the use of profanity and discussion of professors' and students' sex lives were clearly not related to the training of Pre-K–Third grade teachers. The court vacated plaintiff's facial challenge and held that she failed to sue the proper party, the Board of Supervisors, which is responsible for the creation and enforcement of the policies at issue. Although the court need not address the district court's holding on qualified immunity because plaintiff's claims failed, the court nevertheless affirmed that all defendants were entitled to qualified immunity on her damages claims. View "Buchanan v. Alexander" on Justia Law

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Defendant was charged with aggravated battery of a child, heinous battery, and aggravated domestic battery. The indictments alleged that defendant immersed his six-year-old stepson, J.H. in hot water. The court admitted J.H.’s out-of-court statement to his nurse at Stroger Hospital. The state also offered expert testimony from Dr. Fujara, a specialist in child abuse pediatrics and from White, a retired investigator with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Defendant acknowledged that he falsely identified himself at the hospital. The trial court found him guilty. The appellate court held that the trial court erred in admitting J.H.’s statement identifying defendant as the offender under the hearsay exception for statements made for the purpose of medical diagnosis and treatment and held that the double jeopardy clause barred retrial because the evidence was insufficient to prove defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, reasoning that J.H.’s hearsay statement was the only identification evidence placing defendant in the bathroom when the injury occurred. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, concluding that the double jeopardy clause does not bar retrial. Dr. Fujara offered persuasive expert testimony that J.H.’s burns resulted from forcible immersion in hot water, ruling out alternative causes and rebutting defendant’s argument that J.H. may have been burned accidentally as a result of a faulty water heater. Defendant was the only adult present in the house at the time J.H. was injured and did not seek prompt treatment. View "People v. Drake" on Justia Law

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The circuit court found section 25(b)(2) of the Drug Dealer Liability Act, 740 ILCS 57/25(b)(2), facially unconstitutional. The Act provides a civil remedy for persons injured as a result of illegal drug use. Persons who may sue for damages include: a parent, legal guardian, child, spouse or sibling of the individual drug user, an individual who was exposed to an illegal drug in utero, an employer of the drug user, a medical facility, insurer, governmental entity, employer, or other entity that funds a drug treatment program or employee assistance program for the individual drug user or that otherwise expended money on behalf of the drug user, or a person injured as a result of the willful, reckless, or negligent actions of a drug user. Under section 25(b)(2), a plaintiff may seek damages from “[a] person who knowingly participated in the illegal drug market if: (A) the place of illegal drug activity by the individual drug user is within the illegal drug market target community of the defendant; (B) the defendant’s participation in the illegal drug market was connected with the same type of illegal drug used by the individual drug user; and (C) the defendant participated in the illegal drug market at any time during the individual drug user’s period of illegal drug use.” The Illinois Supreme Court concluded that the section is unconstitutional and severable. Section 25(b)(2) requires no relationship between the parties whatsoever for liability to attach and violates substantive due process protections. View "Wingert v. Hradisky" on Justia Law

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Webb was charged with misdemeanor unlawful use of weapons (UUW) statute (720 ILCS 5/24-1(a)(4)) after he was discovered carrying a stun gun in his jacket pocket while in his vehicle on a public street. Greco was charged under the same section after he was found carrying a stun gun in his backpack in a forest preserve, a public place. No concealed carry permit is available for stun guns. Both defendants moved to dismiss, arguing section 24-1(a)(4) operated as a complete ban on the carriage of stun guns and tasers in public and was, therefore, unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. The circuit court and Illinois Supreme Court agreed with defendants. Stun guns and tasers are bearable arms under the Second Amendment and may not be subjected to a categorical ban. Section 24-1(a)(4) constitutes a categorical ban. View "People v. Webb" on Justia Law

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The district court found that a woman, "Linda M.," charged with several misdemeanors was incompetent to stand trial and committed her to a state hospital. The hospital later brought petitions in the superior court for civil commitment and involuntary medication. Linda moved to dismiss or stay the proceedings, contending that the superior court was an improper forum because of the criminal case pending in the district court. The superior court denied the motion, asserted its jurisdiction to hear the case, and granted the hospital’s petition for authority to administer medication. Linda appealed. The Alaska Supreme Court held the superior court properly asserted its jurisdiction over the civil commitment and involuntary medication petitions and that the superior court did not err in finding that involuntary medication was in Linda's best interests. View "In Re Hospitalization of Linda M." on Justia Law

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Connor J. was living at a shelter for homeless youth, when his psychiatric condition allegedly began to deteriorate. A social worker filed a petition in superior court seeking authority to hospitalize Connor for evaluation. The petition noted Connor had a history of suicidal thoughts; that he had been diagnosed at various times with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and oppositional defiant disorder; and that he had been treated for mental illness in the past at a hospital and several counseling centers. Connor was transported to Alaska Psychiatric Institute (API) for an evaluation. A few days later API filed a petition for 30-day commitment and a proceedings were initiated that lead to his commitment. The superior court issued a 30-day involuntary commitment order after finding that Connor was "gravely disabled" and there were no less restrictive alternatives to hospitalization. The respondent appealed, arguing that it was plain error to find he waived his statutory right to be present at the commitment hearing, that it was clear error to find there were no less restrictive alternatives, and that the commitment order should be amended to omit a finding that he posed a danger to others, a finding the superior court meant to reject. The Alaska Supreme Court concluded it was not plain error to find that the respondent waived his presence at the hearing. We further conclude that it was not clear error to find that there were no less restrictive alternatives to a 30-day hospital commitment. However, because there was no dispute that the “danger to others” finding should not have been included in the commitment order, the case was remanded for issuance of a corrected order. View "In Re Hospitalization of Connor J." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment against plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. 1981 race discrimination claim. The court held that the employer articulated a legitimate, non-discriminatory basis for its hiring selection and plaintiff failed to demonstrate that the stated reason was a pretext for discrimination. In this case, the employer's regional executive selected another individual for a promotion, rather than plaintiff, because the individual scored the highest during the interviews and her duties were more directly relevant to the position. View "Nelson v. USAble Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the order and judgment of the circuit court granting the State’s motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction this challenge to the State’s implementation of Haw. Rev. Stat. 248-2.6, holding that the State’s application of section 248-2.6 was consistent with the statute’s plain language and legislative intent and that the statute does not violate the state or federal constitutions. Section 248-2.6 authorizes the State to be reimbursed for its costs in administering a rail surcharge on state general excise and use taxes on behalf of the City and County of Honolulu. Tax Foundation of Hawai’i filed a class action on behalf of all taxpayers in the City and County of Honolulu challenging the State’s application of section 248-2.6. The circuit court granted the State’s motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded with instructions to grant the State’s motion for summary judgment on the merits, holding (1) the circuit court had jurisdiction to hear Tax Foundation’s claims; (2) Tax Foundation had standing; (3) the State did not violate the statute by retaining ten percent of the surcharge gross proceeds; and (4) the State’s application of section 248-2.6 did not violate the state or federal constitutions. View "Tax Foundation of Hawaii v. State" on Justia Law