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Jones lived with Kelley. Kelley’s daughter (MK) went to a neighbor to call the police to report that Jones sexually assaulted her. Westville police officers went to the scene. Kelley stated that she was afraid of Jones; MK stated that she had been sexually assaulted by Jones for several years. Kelley stated that Jones was a convicted felon, was violent, and had guns in a bedroom safe. The officers verified that Jones was a felon, then went to the residence. Jones opened the door. Officers observed knives on a counter and told Jones that he needed to vacate the premises. Jones followed instructions. He was handcuffed at a picnic table, 10-20 feet from the door. Kelley signed a consent to search form. In the couple’s bedroom, officers found two gun safes, boxes of ammunition, and empty gun holsters. They saw several guns in one safe, which was partially open. The officers stopped the search, obtained a warrant, then seized 12 firearms, over a thousand rounds of ammunition, 17 clips, and several scopes. Jones was charged under 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1). The Seventh Circuit affirmed denial of a motion to suppress. Jones failed to object to the search when it occurred; the initial search was conducted with Kelley’s consent and the guns were in plain view, The officers did not unlawfully detain or remove Jones; they had probable cause to arrest him. The guns would have inevitably been discovered. View "United States v. Jones" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit challenging North Carolina's Senate Bill 2, which allows state magistrates to recuse themselves from performing marriages on account of a religious objection. The Fourth Circuit held that plaintiffs, simply by virtue of their status as state taxpayers, have not alleged a personal, particularized injury for the purposes of Article III standing. The court explained that, given that the Supreme Court has expressly upheld taxpayer standing on just two occasions, the application of the doctrine has been narrowly circumscribed. In this case, the link between legislative action and the expenditures in S.B. 2 is attenuated, and plaintiffs have not alleged a classic spending injury under the Establishment Clause. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Ansley v. Warren" on Justia Law

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The passage of Assembly Bill 97, a massive reform package designed to streamline public education financing and decentralize education governance, did not abrogate the Ninth Circuit's decisions in which the panel held that California school districts and county offices of education (COEs) are "arms of the state" entitled to state sovereign immunity. Applying the factors set forth in Mitchell v. Los Angeles Community College District, 861 F.2d 198, the panel held that school districts and COEs in California remain arms of the state and cannot face suit. Accordingly, the panel affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff's lawsuit against the Orange County Department of Education where plaintiff alleged claims related to his termination with the Department. View "Sato v. Orange County Department of Education" on Justia Law

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Ohio’s execution protocol allows for lethal injection using a three-drug combination of midazolam; either vecuronium bromide, pancuronium bromide, or rocuronium bromide, which are paralytics; and potassium chloride, which stops the heart. The midazolam is intended to ensure that the person being executed is insensate to the pain that the other drugs cause. If midazolam does not “render the prisoner unconscious,” then “there is a substantial, constitutionally unacceptable risk of suffocation . . . and pain” from the second two drugs. The district court granted a preliminary injunction to allow for further litigation regarding midazolam’s efficacy before Ohio executes three men. The Sixth Circuit initially affirmed, but following rehearing en banc, reversed. The court noted that about two decades have passed since the commission of the crimes, which included the rape-murder of a three-year-old. The court stated that “In a sense the claim is unprecedented: the Supreme Court ‘has never invalidated a State’s chosen procedure for carrying out a sentence of death as the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment.’” The State’s chosen procedure here is the same procedure (so far as the combination of drugs is concerned) that the Supreme Court has upheld. Every other court of appeals to consider that procedure has likewise upheld it. View "In re: Ohio Execution Protocol Litigation" on Justia Law

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Lambert was charged as a co-conspirator with and accomplice to Tillman’s 1997 acts of murder (Tilman’s former girlfriend’s mother), aggravated assault (Tilman’s former girlfriend), and burglary. Their trial was joint. Before trial, Tillman admitted to the act and claimed mental illness. He made statements to his expert psychiatrist that Lambert had given Tillman a gun. The prosecution presented no direct evidence of any criminal plan between Lambert and Tillman before Tillman’s third return to the house. It relied only on their prior friendship, Lambert’s presence, and that Lambert drove Tillman away after witnessing the shooting. Recognizing that Tillman (who did not testify) would not be subject to cross-examination when the psychiatrist recounted his statements, the trial judge required counsel to redact facially incriminating references to Lambert from that testimony. At trial, the psychiatrist’s testimony, in context, implicated Lambert, who was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. The Third Circuit vacated and remanded for an evidentiary hearing to determine whether the Commonwealth used Tillman’s testimonial statements for their hearsay purpose and, if so, whether trial counsel was ineffective in failing to request a limiting jury instruction. The court found ”some merit to his argument that his Confrontation Clause rights were violated.” View "Lambert v. Warden Greene SCI" on Justia Law

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Aguilar, an inmate, filed a pro se complaint under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that he was confined for 90 days without a hearing based on a purported violation of extended supervision, in violation of his rights under the Eighth Amendment and the Due Process Clause. For offenses committed before December 31, 1999, Wisconsin offenders are released from prison to “parole,” whereas for offenses committed after January 1, 2000, the offenders are released to “extended supervision.”Although the supervision for each status is essentially the same, there are legal differences between parole and extended supervision that dictate the punishments available for rule violations. Aguilar was convicted in 1996 and on February 23, 2010, he was released on parole. When Aguilar failed to report, his parole agent completed a Violation Investigation Report in which she properly checked the box indicating he was on “Parole,” but after Aguilar was arrested, she completed an Order to Detain form in which she erroneously checked the box indicating that Aguilar was on “Extended Supervision.” Aguilar admitted to violating rules. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment rejecting the claims. Aguilar’s evidence supported only a claim of negligent conduct, which is insufficient to support a due process claim or an Eighth Amendment claim. View "Aguilar v. Gaston-Camara" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's adverse grant of summary judgment on plaintiff's employment claim alleging retaliatory termination. The court held that a reasonable jury could conclude that her protected action was the but-for cause of her termination. In this case, it was undisputed that plaintiff's letter complaining of unequal pay based on her sex was a protected act and that she suffered an adverse employment action. View "Donathan v. Oakley Grain, Inc." on Justia Law

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Allco appealed the district court's dismissal of two related, but not formally consolidated, complaints that focus on Connecticut's implementation of Connecticut Public Acts 13-303 and 15-107. Allco argued that the state programs violate federal law and the dormant Commerce Clause, and that Connecticut's implementation of the programs has injured Allco. The Second Circuit affirmed and held that Allco failed to state a claim that Connecticut's renewable energy solicitations conducted pursuant Connecticut Public Acts 13-303 and 15-107 were preempted by federal law. The court also held that Allco failed to state a claim that Connecticut's Renewable Portfolio Standard program violates the dormant Commerce Clause. View "Allco Finance Ltd. v. Klee" on Justia Law

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The designation of prima facie evidence in Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 266, 37 - pursuant to which an individual commits larceny if, with the intent to defraud, he obtains goods or services in exchange for a check that the individual wrote knowing there were insufficient funds in the account from which the check draws - and the instruction stemming from the statute are unconstitutional. Defendant appealed his conviction of four counts of larceny by uttering a false check, arguing that the prima facie designation in the statute and the related instruction are constitutionally infirm because an individual’s failure to pay a check within two days of notice of dishonor does not have a sufficiently logical connection to the individual’s knowledge of insufficient funds or intent to defraud at the time the check was written. The Supreme Judicial Court agreed with Defendant but nonetheless affirmed his convictions because the instructional error in this case was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. View "Commonwealth v. Littles" on Justia Law

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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