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Around 8:30 p.m., Milwaukee officers responded to a complaint by a store employee that a Mercury Grand Marquis drove around the store’s parking lot five times. Officer Newport believed this was consistent with preparation for a robbery. He knew that this store had been robbed recently, with firearms. The store closed at 9 p.m. and would soon be empty. Newport observed a Mercury Marquis about 30 feet from the store's entrance, parked next to a Chevrolet Malibu, driven by Green. Newport claims, and Green disputes, that Lindsey, the Marquis driver, stood next to the Malibu's front passenger door, leaned inside, and stood back up. Newport suspected that Lindsey had concealed a weapon. The officers told the men to put up their hands and directed Green to exit the vehicle. Newport claims, and Green disputes, that Green exited with his right arm kept tight to his body while his left swung freely and that after asking Green to raise his arms, Green raised only his left arm. Newport grabbed Green’s wrist but Green resisted. Newport proceeded to pat him down and discovered a handgun in Green’s waistband. Green sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and 1988. The court ruled that the investigatory stop violated a clearly established constitutional right, and denied qualified immunity. The Seventh Circuit reversed. Newport had a plausible reason to suspect that Green was armed and dangerous. View "Green v. Newport" on Justia Law

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Kolton deposited money into an interest-bearing bank account in Illinois. Years passed without activity in the account, so the bank transferred Kolton’s money to the state as the Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act requires. The Act is not an escheat statute; it gives Illinois custody, not ownership, of “presumed abandoned” property. Most such property gets invested, with any income that accrues earmarked for Illinois’s pensioners. Owners may file a claim for return of their property, but the Act limits the Treasurer to returning the amount received into custody. Kolton brought a purported class action under 42 U.S.C. 1983, claiming violation of the Takings Clause, which protects the time value of money just as much as it does money itself. The judge dismissed for want of subject-matter jurisdiction, stating that under the Supreme Court’s “Williamson” holding, a plaintiff usually must try to obtain compensation under state law before litigating a takings suit. Kolton filed neither a claim with the Treasurer nor a lawsuit in state court seeking just compensation. The Seventh Circuit vacated, noting that Section 1983 does not create a cause of action against the state and the Treasurer, personally, did not deprive Kolton of his money. Williamson was not concerned with jurisdiction. View "Kolton v. Frerichs" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s conviction of being a felon in possession of a firearm. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress because there was not reasonable suspicion for the stop-and-frisk that resulted in the discovery of the firearm and that the district court erred by allowing him to direct his attorney not to pursue certain factual lines of defense at trial. The First Circuit disagreed, holding (1) there was reasonable suspicion sufficient to justify the stop and frisk, and therefore, Defendant’s motion to suppress was properly denied; and (2) there was no reversible error in the district court’s decision to allow Defendant to make certain choices in the conduct of his defense. View "United States v. Belin" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court ruling favor of Loudoun County on Dulles Duty Free, LLC’s challenge to the County’s imposition of a business, professional, and occupational license (BPOL) tax on a substantial potion of Duty Free’s sales. Specifically, the circuit court concluded that the Import-Export Clause of the United States Constitution did not bar the County from imposing the BPOL tax. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the BPOL tax as applied to Duty Free’s export goods in transit constitutes an impermissible impost upon an export in violation of the Import-Export Clause of the United States Constitution. View "Dulles Duty Free, LLC v. County of Loudoun" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction to enjoin the enforcement of two rules affecting his ability to speak in a public park. Plaintiff, an evangelical Christian and a branch director of Open-Air Campaigners, received a criminal trespass warning and was prohibited from returning to the park for 90 days. The court held that plaintiff failed to demonstrate a substantial likelihood of success on the merits on his claims that the structure rule and the public event rule were unconstitutional. In this case, the structure rule was narrowly tailored and left open ample alternative channels of communication; plaintiff's claim of unbridled discretion failed because the structure rule lacked a close nexus to expression; and the structure rule was not unconstitutionally vague. Finally, plaintiff's claim regarding the public event rule was moot based on defendants' concession that plaintiff's activity did not constitute a public event. View "Moore v. Dallas, Texas" on Justia Law

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A public employer generally may not subject all employee speech regarding a particular government program—whether fact or opinion, and whether liable to disrupt the workplace or not—to a blanket ban. The Ninth Circuit held that the sweeping policy imposed by Defendant Major Kevin Tice's email regarding the Nevada Highway Patrol K9 program violated the troopers' clearly established First Amendment rights. The panel affirmed the district court's denial of qualified immunity, holding that the policy covered speech outside the troopers' official duties, whether or not some speech within those duties was also covered; the policy reached speech on matters of public concern; and the prospective speech restriction imposed by defendant's email violated the First Amendment. The panel also held that a "robust consensus" of prior cases made clear at the time defendant issued his edict that an employer ordinarily may not prohibit its employees from all public discussion relating to a particular department or government program. View "Moonin v. Tice" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's order denying an award of attorney's fees to plaintiff in a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action. After plaintiff filed suit against Portland, it made a Rule 68 Offer of Judgment for $1,000, plus reasonable attorney's fees to be determined by the district court. Plaintiff accepted the offer, but when she moved for fees, the district court denied the motion on the ground that the award was a de minimis judgment under 42 U.S.C. 1988. The panel held that Portland's offer – and plaintiff's acceptance – which the panel interpreted as a contract, provided that plaintiff would receive her reasonable attorney's fees, without referencing section 1988 or otherwise reserving to the district court the antecedent question of whether plaintiff was entitled to a fee award. Accordingly, the panel remanded for a determination and award of a reasonable fee. View "Miller v. Portland" on Justia Law

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In 1991, Bruce and others went Vine’s mussel shell camp, tied up Vine and his fiance, shot them, set the house ablaze and completed a robbery. Federal authorities became involved, leading to Bruce’s 1996 convictions for witness tampering murder. In 2011, the Supreme Court decided “Fowler,” interpreting the statute under which Bruce was convicted, making it a crime “to kill another person, with intent to . . . prevent the communication by any person to a law enforcement officer . . . of the United States . . . of information relating to the . . . possible commission of a Federal offense,” 18 U.S.C. 1512(a)(1)(C). Fowler addressed situations where the defendant killed with the intent to prevent communication with officers in general but did not have federal officers in mind at the time. Ordinarily, federal prisoners collaterally challenge their convictions or sentences under 28 U.S.C. 2255. Bruce never pursued his statutory interpretation argument on direct appeal or in his initial section 2255 motion. Section 2255(h) does not permit a second petition for previously unavailable rules of statutory interpretation, but a savings clause allows a federal prisoner to seek habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2241 when 2255’s remedy “is inadequate or ineffective.” The Third Circuit concluded that the district court properly exercised jurisdiction under section 2241, but that this is not the extraordinary case in which a successful showing of actual innocence has been made View "Bruce v. Warden Lewisburg USP" on Justia Law

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Vanderklok wanted to fly from Philadelphia to Miami, to run a half-marathon. In his carry-on luggage, he had a heart monitor and watch stored inside a piece of PVC pipe, capped on both ends. During screening at the airport security checkpoint, the pipe and electronics prompted secondary screening, supervised by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employee Kieser. According to Vanderklok, Kieser was disrespectful, so Vanderklok stated an intent to file a complaint against him. Vanderklok claims that Kieser, in retaliation, called the Philadelphia police and falsely reported that Vanderklok had threatened to bring a bomb to the airport. Vanderklok was arrested. He was acquitted because Kieser’s testimony about Vanderklok’s behavior did not match airport surveillance footage. Vanderklok sued. The district court concluded that Kieser lacked qualified immunity as to Vanderklok’s First Amendment claim and that a reasonable jury could find in Vanderklok’s favor as to his Fourth Amendment claim. The Third Circuit vacated. Because Kieser sought and was denied summary judgment on the merits of Vanderklok’s Fourth Amendment claim, rather than on the basis of qualified immunity, that claim cannot be reviewed on interlocutory appeal. The court concluded that no First Amendment claim against a TSA employee for retaliatory prosecution even exists in the context of airport security screenings. View "Vanderklok v. United States" on Justia Law

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Sylvester was indicted on February 26, 2003. There were multiple superseding indictments. Sylvester went to trial on September 13, 2005 and was convicted of possession with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, possession with intent to distribute five grams or more of cocaine base, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking offense, felon in possession of a firearm, possession of marijuana, possession with intent to distribute oxycodone, diazepam, hydrocodone, and codeine, using interstate travel to acquire and transport five kilograms of cocaine, traveling in interstate commerce to acquire five kilograms of cocaine, and conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Sylvester moved to vacate his sentence (28 U.S.C. 2255), arguing that his trial and appellate counsel rendered ineffective assistance in failing to pursue Speedy Trial Act claims. The district court dismissed, finding that Sylvester failed to show that he was prejudiced. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Because the Speedy Trial Act was violated and those violations would have led to a dismissal of the charges brought under the First and Second Superseding Indictments, Sylvester’s counsel rendered deficient performance, however, there is no evidence of prosecutorial bad faith and Sylvester did not show that the court would have dismissed the charges with prejudice. View "Sylvester v. United States" on Justia Law