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In this declaratory relief action, the trial court ruled the Orange County Department of Education (Employer) had to pay approximately $3.3 million in additional contributions to fund pension benefits promised to its employees. Employer argued the Court of Appeal should independently review the legal issues raised in its complaint because the judgment arose from an order granting a motion for judgment on the pleadings. Applying this standard, the Court nevertheless reached the same conclusion as the trial court: the requested payment from Employer, which related to an unfunded liability of its employees’ pension benefits, was permissible and did not violate the California constitution. View "Mijares v. Orange Co. Employees Retirement System" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit held that members of the Financial Oversight and Management Board (Board Members) created by the 2016 Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) are “Officers of the United States” subject to the U.S. Constitution’s Appointments Clause and directed the district court to enter a declaratory judgment to the effect that PROMESA’s protocol for the appointment of Board Members is unconstitutional and must be severed. This matter arose from the restructuring of Puerto Rico’s public debt under PROMESA. May 2017, the Board exercised its authority under Title III of PROMESA to initiate debt adjustment proceedings on behalf of the Puerto Rico government. Appellants sought to dismiss the Title III proceedings, arguing that the Board lacked authority to initiate them because the Board Members were illegally appointed in contravention of the Appointments Clause. The district court rejected Appellants’ motions to dismiss. The First Circuit reversed in part, (1) the Territorial Clause does not displace the Appointments Clause in an unincorporated territory such as Puerto Rico; (2) Board Members are “Principal” “Officers of the United States” subject to the Appointments Clause; and (3) therefore, the process PROMESA provides for the appointment of Board Members is unconstitutional. View "Aurelius Investments, LLC v. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico" on Justia Law

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The panel opinion, special concurrence, and dissent previously issued in this case were withdrawn, and the following opinions were substituted in their place. Plaintiff filed suit against his employer, BNSF, for disability discrimination and retaliation after he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and later placed on medical leave. The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to BNSF on plaintiff's disability discrimination claim because there was a fact issue as to whether BNSF discriminated against plaintiff. However, the court affirmed the district court's judgment on the retaliation claim and held that plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case of an unlawful retaliation. View "Nall v. BNSF Railway Co." on Justia Law

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Defendant Cornelius Jones appealed his conviction of attempted premeditated murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and assault likely to produce great bodily injury. He argued on appeal: (1) the trial court erred by ruling the prosecution did not unconstitutionally excuse the sole potential African-American juror on the basis of race; (2) insufficient evidence supported the jury s finding he attempted to kill willfully, deliberately, and with premeditation; (3) the court imposed an unauthorized sentence; and (4) the court committed other sentencing and clerical errors. The California Supreme Court directed the Court of Appeal to vacate our earlier opinion in this matter and reconsider the cause in light of Senate Bill No. 1393 (Stats. 2018, ch. 1013) (SB 1393). Thus, defendant also contended: (5) the Court of Appeal should remand to allow the trial court to exercise its new discretion under SB 1393 to strike two five-year enhancements imposed for a serious felony prior. Except to remand to correct the sentencing and clerical errors, but not to reconsider the felony prior enhancements, the Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment. View "California v. Jones" on Justia Law

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A 2014 statute and 2013 regulation re-defined which abortions qualified as “medically necessary” for the purposes of Medicaid funding. The statute defined medically necessary abortions as those that “must be performed to avoid a threat of serious risk to the life or physical health of a woman from continuation of the woman’s pregnancy” as a result of a number of listed medical conditions; the regulation was similarly restrictive. Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest challenged both the statute and regulation as unconstitutional, and the superior court held that both measures violated the equal protection clause of the Alaska Constitution. The court reasoned that these measures imposed a “high-risk, high- hazard” standard on abortion funding unique among Medicaid services, and held that our 2001 decision striking down an earlier abortion funding restriction on equal protection grounds compelled the same result. The State appealed, arguing that the statute and regulation should be interpreted more leniently and therefore do not violate the Alaska Constitution’s equal protection clause. The Alaska Supreme Court affirmed the superior court’s decision: the statute’s and the regulation’s facially different treatment of pregnant women based upon their exercise of reproductive choice required the Court to apply strict scrutiny, and the proposed justifications for the funding restrictions "did not withstand such exacting examination." View "Alaska v. Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest" on Justia Law

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Philadelphia has received funds under the federal Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program every year since the program’s 2006 inception in 2006. The Justice Department notified the city that it was withholding its FY2017 award because the city was not in compliance with three newly implemented conditions that required greater coordination with federal officials on matters of immigration enforcement. The city filed suit and was awarded summary judgment. The Third Circuit affirmed the order to the extent that it enjoins enforcement of the challenged conditions against the city and vacated the order to the extent it imposed a requirement that the federal government obtain a judicial warrant before seeking custody of aliens in city custody.. Where, as here, the Executive Branch claims authority not granted to it in the Constitution, it “literally has no power to act … unless and until Congress confers power upon it.” Congress did not grant the Attorney General this authority and the Challenged Conditions were unlawfully imposed. The Byrne statute itself provides no such authority and the conditions are not authorized by 34 U.S.C. 10102, the provision establishing the “Duties and Functions of Assistant Attorney General.” View "City of Philadelphia v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law

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Sherman was incarcerated at the Trumbull County Jail where Drennan was a corrections officer. Drennen regularly patrolled the pod where Sherman lived with Rafferty, another female inmate. Three or four times, Sherman complied with Drennen's demand that Sherman expose her breasts to him. Once or twice, Sherman masturbated in Drennen’s presence “because he asked for it.” Sherman does not allege that Drennen ever touched her. Drennen never explicitly threatened Sherman. Sherman was deeply disturbed by Drennen’s demands. As a result of Drennen’s abuse, Sherman’s post-traumatic stress disorder worsened and her night terrors and flashbacks increased in severity. Sherman never reported Drennen to the jail administration because she felt intimidated. Sherman and Rafferty sued Drennen and county officials, alleging Fourth Amendment and Eighth Amendment claims against Drennen and Monell claims against the officials. The district court granted the defendants summary judgment on every claim except Sherman’s Eighth Amendment claim against Drennen, finding that Drennen was not entitled to qualified immunity. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Sherman satisfied the subjective component of her Eighth Amendment claim; a jury could conclude that Drennen acted with deliberate indifference or acted maliciously and sadistically for the purpose of causing her harm. When Drennen allegedly sexually abused Sherman, it was clearly established that such abuse could violate the objective prong of the Eighth Amendment. View "Rafferty v. Trumbull Cty" on Justia Law

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In 2014, CNB auditors conducted a surprise audit of the Burlington, Kansas Central National Bank (“CNB” or “Bank”) vault. The vault was missing $764,000. When they began to suspect defendant Denise Christy, she forged documents to purport that she had sent the missing cash to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City (“FRB”). A grand jury indicted her on one count of bank embezzlement, six counts of making false bank entries, six counts of failing to report income on her taxes, and 10 counts of money laundering. After a six-day trial, a jury found Christy guilty of all charges except four money laundering counts. On appeal, Christy argued: (1) cumulative prosecutorial misconduct violated her due process rights; (2) the evidence was insufficient for her money laundering convictions; and (3) the jury instructions improperly omitted a “materiality” element for the false-bank-entry charges. The Tenth Circuit: (1) rejected Christy’s prosecutorial misconduct challenge because she has not shown the prosecutor’s comments influenced the jury’s verdict; (2) reversed Christy’s money laundering convictions because the Government did not produce sufficient evidence of the intent to file a false tax return; and (3) affirmed Christy’s false-bank-entry convictions because, even assuming materiality was an implied element of 18 U.S.C. 1005, its omission from the jury instruction was harmless error. The matter was remanded to the district court with instructions to vacate the convictions for money laundering, resentence the defendant, and further proceedings. View "United States v. Christy" on Justia Law

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This case involved Florida's practice of counting vote-by-mail ballots only after verifying that the voter's signature provided with the ballot matches the voter's signature in the state's records. At issue in this appeal was NRSC's motion for emergency stay. The court denied NRSC's motion and held that NRSC failed to satisfy the requirements for the issuance of a stay. The court applied the factors in Nken v. Holder, 556 U.S. 418, 434 (2009), and held that NRSC has not made a strong showing that it was likely to succeed on appeal. In this case, NRSC has not made a strong showing that the burden imposed on the right to vote is constitutional as judged by the Anderson-Burdick balancing test and NRSC has not made a strong showing that it was likely to succeed on the merits of its laches argument. The court also held that the remaining Nken factors similarly disfavored a stay. View "Democratic Executive Committee of Florida v. Lee" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the University in a Title IX action alleging that plaintiff was excluded from participation in and denied the benefits of the educational programs at the University as a result of its response to her sexual assault by another student. The court assumed, without deciding, that plaintiff's claim survived Iowa's statute of limitations and held that plaintiff's Title IX claim failed on the merits. The court held that there was no genuine dispute as to whether the University was deliberately indifferent after its investigative report concluded that plaintiff was sexually assaulted. In this case, the University was waiting to take action until the hearing process concluded and it had instituted a no-contact order between plaintiff and the other student. View "Maher v. Iowa State University" on Justia Law