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Wandahsega was convicted of abusive sexual contact, 18 U.S.C. 2244(a)(5), after Wandahsega’s then-six-year-old son, H.D.W., told his grandmother and others that Wandahsega had touched him inappropriately. Wandahsega and H.D.W. are Native Americans and lived on the Hannahville Reservation. After his mother’s death, H.D.W. split his time between his maternal grandparents and Wandahsega’s apartment. Wandahsega denied touching his son but said that he sometimes blacks out from drinking and did not know what, if anything, he might have done to H.D.W. The Michigan State Police Forensic Laboratory found saliva on the inside rear portion of a pair of H.D.W.’s underwear, and testing established that the saliva contained a mixture of both H.D.W.’s and Wandahsega’s DNA. The Sixth Circuit affirmed Wandahsega’s conviction and 288-month sentence, rejecting an argument that the district court erred in allowing H.D.W. to testify by closed-circuit television and upholding the district court’s evidentiary rulings concerning the testimony of medical professionals and others about what H.D.W. told them. The court upheld the district court’s decision to deny Wandahsega the opportunity to present to the jury a video of a supervised visit between H.D.W. and Wandahsega. The evidence was sufficient to support the conviction and the sentence is procedurally and substantively reasonable. View "United States v. Wandahsega" on Justia Law

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Appellant Thomas Southon was employed by Oklahoma Tire Recyclers, LLC ("Employer"). In 2016, Southon sustained an injury while on the job and filed a claim for workers' compensation benefits. Employer fired Southon less than a month after he suffered the injury. Southon filed an action alleging Employer terminated him as retaliation for seeking workers' compensation benefits. Southon's petition further requested a declaratory ruling that 85A O.S.Supp. 2013 section 7 was unconstitutional. Employer moved to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction, arguing that under section 7 Southon's exclusive, and constitutionally sufficient, remedy was before the Workers' Compensation Commission and not the district court. The district court found 85A O.S.Supp. 2013 section 7 was constitutional, and agreed that the Workers' Compensation Commission had exclusive jurisdiction over Southon's claim and sustained Employer's motion to dismiss. Southon appealed, and this matter was retained and made a companion case to another cause concerning the same statutory provision. The issues presented for the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s review were: (1) whether 85A O.S.Supp. 2013 section 7 unconstitutionally restricted a plaintiff's right to jury trial; (2) whether section 7 denied Southon his right to due process; (3) whether section 7 wrongfully classifies workers' compensation claimants separately from other wrongful termination victims; and (4) whether a Burk tort was available to such plaintiffs in the district court. The Supreme Court concluded Southon's four assignments of error were without merit and affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Southon v. Oklahoma Tire Recyclers, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit filed an order withdrawing the opinion and concurring opinion filed on February 9, 2018, and issued a new opinion and dissenting opinion. The panel affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants in an action brought by a former probationary police officer alleging claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The panel held that the individual defendants were entitled to qualified immunity on plaintiff's claim of violation of her rights to privacy and intimate association, because it was not clearly established that a probationary officer's constitutional rights to privacy and intimate association are violated if a police department terminates her due to her participation in an ongoing extramarital relationship with a married officer with whom she worked, where an internal affairs investigation found that the probationary officer engaged in inappropriate personal cell phone use in connection with the relationship while she was on duty, resulting in a written reprimand for violating department policy. Circuit precedent also did not clearly establish that there was a legally sufficient temporal nexus between the individual defendants' allegedly stigmatizing statements and plaintiff's termination. Therefore, the individual defendants were entitled to qualified immunity on plaintiff's claim that the lack of a name-clearing hearing violated her due process rights. Finally, plaintiff conceded that her sex discrimination claims were not actually based on her gender. View "Perez v. City of Roseville" on Justia Law

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Wendy and Daryl Yurek were charged with tax evasion and bankruptcy fraud. After a joint jury trial, the Yureks were convicted on both offenses. The district court then sentenced Mrs. Yurek to a prison term of 27 months, leading her to appeal the conviction and sentence. On appeal, Mrs. Yurek challenged the sufficiency of the evidence presented against her, and claimed the district court erred in denying her motions for severance and a new trial. The Tenth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part: affirming Mrs. Yurek’s conviction, but vacated her sentence. The Court determined the district court applied the wrong test when deciding whether to grant a mitigating-role adjustment. View "United States v. Yurek (Wendy)" on Justia Law

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Charles Farrar, a Colorado state prisoner, appealed the district court’s denial of his petition for habeas relief. Farrar’s convictions stemmed from complaints of sexual abuse. The victim was Farrar’s stepdaughter, who complained of the alleged abuse when she was in the eighth grade. Based on the girl’s account, state officials charged Farrar with over twenty counts. Farrar denied the allegations. At the trial, the girl’s testimony supplied the prosecution’s only direct evidence of Farrar’s guilt. The jury found Mr. Farrar guilty of numerous counts of sexual assault and one count of child abuse, and the state trial court sentenced Mr. Farrar to prison for a minimum of 145 years and a maximum of life. In district court, Farrar claimed: actual innocence, deprivation of due process based on the recantation of a key prosecution witness, and deprivation of due process based on a state appellate decision establishing an overly restrictive standard for a new trial. The district court denied relief, and the Tenth Circuit affirmed based on three conclusions: (1) actual innocence did not supply a freestanding basis for habeas relief; (2) a private citizen’s false testimony did not violate the Constitution unless the government knew that the testimony is false; (3) the alleged error in the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision did not justify habeas relief. View "Farrar v. Raemisch" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, former correctional officers that had separated from service in good standing, sought to invoke the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) so that they could be able to carry concealed firearms as "qualified retired law enforcement officers." Plaintiffs filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief to require the District to recognize them as "qualified retired law enforcement officers" for purposes of the Act. In DuBerry I, the DC Circuit found that the Act's plain text, purpose, and context show that Congress intended to create a concrete, individual right to benefit individuals like plaintiffs and that is within the competence of the judiciary to enforce. Therefore, the court held that plaintiffs had sufficiently alleged that the federal right they seek to enjoy has been unlawfully deprived by the District of Columbia to be remediable under section 1983. On remand, the district court granted summary judgment for plaintiffs. The court affirmed the district court's judgment on remand and held that the law of the case doctrine controls the disposition of the District's principle argument that plaintiffs lacked the proper identification and thus have no enforceable right that is remediable under section 1983. Rather, the court held that the Act creates an individual right to carry that is remediable under section 1983. The court also held that the District's causation argument was meritless. View "DuBerry v. District of Columbia" on Justia Law

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The LNC filed suit alleging that the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), which imposes limits on both donors and recipients of political contributions, violates its First Amendment rights. This case stemmed from a dispute regarding how the LNC can spend the $235,000 Joseph Shaber left to it when he passed away. The LNC argued that FECA violates its First Amendment rights in two ways: first, by imposing any limits on the LNC's ability to accept Shaber's contribution, given that he is dead; and second, by permitting donors to triple the size of their contributions, but only if the recipient party spends the money on specified categories of expenses. The DC Circuit held that the current version of FECA—both its application of contribution limits to Shaber's bequest and its use of a two-tiered contribution limit—has achieved a constitutionally permissible balance. Although the court denied the Commission's motion to dismiss for lack of standing, the court rejected LNC's constitutional challenges on the merits. View "Libertarian National Committee v. FEC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court summarily dismissing Appellant's petition for post-conviction review alleging ineffective assistance of counsel in his probation revocation matter but that Appellant may file a motion for a new probation revocation hearing in the trial court within thirty-five days of the issuance of this mandate. The trial court concluded that Appellant's remedy for any claim of error arising from the revocation was to seek a discretionary appeal, as Appellant had already done. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) in a probation revocation hearing, a defendant has a right to the effective assistance of counsel; (2) Appellant's motion was properly dismissed, but Appellant was deprived of an opportunity to obtain meaningful review on his claim; and (3) a defendant who seeks to raise a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel after a probation revocation hearing may do so by filing a motion under Rule 33 of the Maine Rules of Unified Criminal Procedure for a new trial, which must be filed thirty-five days after the entry of judgment, and the judge who issued the revocation judgment will, if the defendant has made out a prima facie claim of ineffective assistance, will hold an evidentiary hearing or dismiss the motion. View "Petgrave v. State" on Justia Law

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Farris, a Tennessee judicial commissioner, issued a warrant for Norfleet’s arrest based on an affidavit from his probation officer saying that he had violated his probation. Norfleet went to jail for several months. A state court judge dismissed the warrant on the ground that Tennessee commissioners lack authority to issue such warrants. Norfleet sued Farris under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that she violated his Fourth Amendment rights by issuing a defective arrest warrant. Reversing the district court, the Sixth Circuit concluded that judicial immunity shielded Farris from the lawsuit. Issuing an arrest warrant is a judicial act and nothing clearly deprived Farris of subject matter jurisdiction to issue Norfleet’s probation-revocation warrant. A broad warrant-issuing authority with an open-ended list of duties combined with a non-exclusive revocation-warrant provision means the Tennessee statutory scheme does not plainly deprive Farris of jurisdiction. View "Norfleet v. Renner" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit treated the petition for rehearing en banc as a petition for panel rehearing pursuant to Fifth Circuit Internal Operating Procedures under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 35. The court denied the petition for rehearing, withdrew its prior opinion, and issued the following opinion in its place. The court affirmed the district court's denial of habeas relief to petitioner, who was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. The court held that, under federal law, if an actual-innocence claim were presented in a successive federal habeas petition, a clear-and-convincing-evidence standard would be applied; federal law does not require states to apply a less demanding standard in a successive state habeas proceeding; and, in the alternative, applying a preponderance-of-the-evidence standard, the TCCA's decision denying petitioner's Atkins claim was not based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented to it. In this case, no expert has ever opined that petitioner is intellectually disabled. The court also rejected petitioner's claim that he received ineffective assistance of counsel on direct appeal, and that his trial counsel was ineffective by failing to conduct an adequate sentencing investigation or by failing to present an adequate mitigation case during the penalty phase of trial. View "Busby v. Davis" on Justia Law