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The $25 fee assessed by the Authority is rationally related to the government's interest in recovering costs spent to collect unpaid tolls. Plaintiffs, drivers who were assessed fees after they repeatedly refused to pay tolls, contend that the $25 administrative fee violates their right to substantive due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. The Fifth Circuit held that, in addition to recovering costs, the fee is a mechanism that strongly encourages drivers to get a TollTag. The court explained that the nature of the Authority's interest in incentivizing TollTag usage is to sustain the Authority's financial health. In this case, the Authority's experiment sought to decrease congestion and increase access to the roads, two interests that often compete but could both be furthered by removing toll booths. View "Reyes v. North Texas Tollway Authority" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of habeas relief on petitioner's claim of ineffective assistance of counsel (IATC). The court held that, assuming counsel's performance was deficient, petitioner failed to show that he was prejudiced by the mitigation investigation of his trial counsel and therefore his IATC claim failed. View "Trevino v. Davis" on Justia Law

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Milwaukee police arrested Moseley at his house after M.K. accused him of domestic violence. While searching Moseley’s apartment, officers found handcuffs, rope, and other items associated with sexual bondage and seized Moseley’s computer, camera, external hard drive, and CDs and sent the electronic devices to the Department of Justice. When DOJ detectives searched the devices, they discovered nude photos of M.K. and of T.H., who worked with Moseley at a U.S. Marshal’s office. T.H. alleged that Moseley forced her into a sexual relationship by threatening her job. Her statement also chronicled his abusive behavior. The state charged Moseley with possessing nude photos of T.H. taken without her consent. Wis. Stat. 942.09(2). Moseley’s primary defense was that the two had been in a consensual relationship and that T.H. had consented to the photos. Before trial, Moseley unsuccessfully sought in camera review of T.H.’s mental-health records. Moseley was convicted. Wisconsin courts affirmed the denial of in camera review. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the denial of federal habeas relief. The state court decisions that the records did not contain material impeachment evidence and that whether T.H. consented to the relationship was immaterial to whether she consented to the photographs, were not contrary to, or an unreasonable application of Supreme Court precedent. View "Moseley v. Kemper" on Justia Law

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Carl Kirk was committed to the custody of the Department of Mental Health under the Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA), Mo. Rev. Stat. 632.480 through 632.525. On appeal, the court of appeals transferred the case to the Supreme Court on the ground that the appeal involved issues within the Supreme Court’s exclusive appellate jurisdiction as set forth in Mo. Const. art. V, section 3. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the issues raised in this case did not fall within the Supreme Court’s exclusive appellate jurisdiction, and even thought he court of appeals erred in transferring the case, the Supreme Court granted transfer prior to opinion pursuant to Rule 83.01 and therefore had jurisdiction; (2) the SVPA, among other things, evidences no punitive intent and violates no constitutional prohibits against ex post facto laws, and the standard of proof required under the SVPA and employed in Kirk’s case is not unconstitutional; and (3) Kirk’s remaining claims of error were unavailing. View "In re Care & Treatment of Kirk" on Justia Law

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On June 15, 2013, Johnson was shot by police while running down a Chicago alley. He died of his injuries. On March 23, 2015, Johnson’s mother, Liberty, filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, naming the city and unknown police officers, and claiming false arrest, excessive force, and violation of due process. She argued that the city adopted policies that permit police to use excessive force, and failed to properly train and supervise the officers. Her attorney, Mulroney, served a subpoena on the city one week after filing the complaint, requesting the production of reports pertaining to the incident. On May 21, Mulroney advised the city that the documents were needed to identify the unknown officers. On May 26, the city’s counsel emailed Mulroney reports that identified the officers who shot Johnson. On June 24, Liberty sought leave to file an amended complaint. The city did not object. An amended complaint, filed July 6, 2015, named the officers. Liberty failed to respond to the city’s motion to dismiss; the district court granted it. The Seventh Circuit affirmed dismissal of claims against the officers as time‐barred. Liberty’s claims began to accrue on June 16, 2013; the limitations period expired on June 16, 2015, eight days before she sought leave to amend. Liberty is not entitled to equitable tolling or equitable estoppel; she had the information essential to amending her complaint. View "Liberty v. City of Chicago" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging that the NCAA's policy of excluding anyone with a felony conviction from coaching at NCAA-certified youth athletic tournaments violates Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000a(a). Section 2000a(a) prohibits racial discrimination in places of public accommodation. The Ninth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the NCAA and held that even if disparate-impact claims were cognizable under Title II, plaintiff has not shown that an equally effective, less discriminatory alternative to the NCAA's felon-exclusion policy exists, as he must do under the three-step analysis for disparate-impact claims set forth in Wards Cove Packing Co. v. Atonio, 490 U.S. 642 (1989). The panel noted that it need not decide whether to endorse or reject disparate-impact liability under Title II. View "Hardie v. NCAA" on Justia Law

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San Francisco's Pregnancy Information Disclosure and Protection Ordinance, a law designed to protect indigent women facing unexpected pregnancies from the harms posed by false or misleading advertising by limited services pregnancy centers (LSPCs), is constitutional and not preempted by state law. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's decisions in favor of the City and held that the Ordinance is facially valid where it only regulates unprotected commercial speech and is not void for vagueness. The Ordinance was valid as applied to First Resort because it did not regulate First Resort's protected speech, First Resort's commercial speech was not inextricably intertwined with its protected speech, and the Ordinance did not discriminate based on viewpoint. The panel also held that the Ordinance does not violate the Equal Protection Clause, and is not preempted by California Business and Professions Code 17500. View "First Resort, Inc. v. Herrera" on Justia Law

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The fathers of minor children in New Jersey challenged the state law governing child custody proceedings between New Jersey parents. In a suit against state court judges, under 42 U.S.C. 1983, they argued that the “best interests of the child” standard that New Jersey courts use to determine custody in a dispute between two fit parents is unconstitutional. The fathers alleged that their parental rights were restricted, or that they were permanently or temporarily separated from their children, by order of the New Jersey family courts without adequate notice, the right to counsel, or a plenary hearing, i.e. without an opportunity to present evidence or cross-examine and that although mothers and fathers are, in theory, treated equally in custody disputes under New Jersey law, in practice courts favor mothers. The Third Circuit affirmed dismissal of the suit, after holding that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine did not bar the suit, which was not challenging the state court judgments, but the underlying policy that governed those judgments. The court concluded that the judicial defendants were not proper defendants, having acted in an adjudicatory capacity and not in an enforcement capacity. View "Allen v. DeBello" on Justia Law

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The district court denied state prisoner Michael Leatherwood’s habeas application. Leatherwood pled guilty in Oklahoma state court to two counts of Rape in the First Degree and four counts of Rape in the First Degree by Instrumentation. He was sentenced to six concurrent 20-year terms and suspended the sentence except for 90 days in jail. Upon completion of his jail time, Leatherwood would serve a suspended sentence and also be under probationary supervision. Leatherwood agreed to the Special Probation Conditions. One of the Special Probation Conditions, Rule 17, required that Leatherwood “[n]ot date, socialize, or enter into a romantic or sexual relationship with any person who has children under the age of eighteen (18) years present in their residence or custody at any time.” Leatherwood would violate Rule 17 twice, and “looking at the totality” of the circumstances, including Mr. Leatherwood’s own statements and deceptive behavior, the district court concluded he knew he had violated Rule 17. At his first violation, the court revoked five years of Leatherwood’s suspended sentence; after the second violation, the court revoked the remaining fifteen years. Leatherwood was granted a certificate of appealability (COA) on his claim that revocation of his suspended sentence violated his procedural and substantial due process rights. It denied a COA on his other claims. Finding no reversible error in that decision, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. The Tenth Circuit also denied Leatherwood’s request for additional COAs and a motion to supplement the record. View "Leatherwood v. Allbaugh" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suits against Hiland Dairy, alleging race discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq., and Nebraska law. The Eighth Circuit held that, because plaintiffs failed to produce direct evidence of discrimination, the court must apply the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework. Applying the framework, the court held that Hiland Dairy satisfied its burden by articulating and presenting evidence of a legitimate and indiscriminatory reason for firing them. In this case, Hiland Dairy cited "theft of time" and dishonest conduct as reasons for termination. The court rejected plaintiffs' claim that they were disciplined more severely than similarly-situated white employees because the reasons Hiland Dairy gave were significant and sufficient distinctions making the situations not similarly situated in all relevant respects. The court rejected plaintiffs' remaining contentions and affirmed the judgment. View "Edwards v. Hiland Roberts Dairy" on Justia Law