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Silva, a Brazilian citizen who self-identifies as Latino, worked as a correctional sergeant for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC). His use of force on an inmate triggered an internal review process and led to his discharge. The individual defendants, the warden, the human resources director, and a Corrections Unit Supervisor played roles in that review process. Silva filed discrimination claims against the DOC under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. 2000e–2(a)(1), against the individual defendants and the DOC under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging a violation of the Equal Protection Clause, and against all defendants under 42 U.S.C. 198. The Seventh Circuit reversed the award of summary judgment to the DOC on the Title VII claim and to the warden on plaintiff’s equal protection claim but otherwise affirmed. A reasonable jury could conclude that Silva and another correctional officer engaged in comparably serious conduct but Silva was discharged while the other officer was suspended for one day .A reasonable jury could conclude that the warden’s evolving explanations for the discrepancy support an inference of pretext. Qualified immunity does not shield the warden from liability. The Eleventh Amendment bars the equal protection claim against the DOC View "Silva v. State of Wisconsin, Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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In 2009, a jury convicted Vance Thumm of aggravated battery or aiding and abetting aggravated battery and of being a persistent violator of the law. In 2013, through counsel, Thumm petitioned for post-conviction relief to which the State responded by filing a motion for summary disposition. The district court eventually granted the State’s motion and dismissed the post-conviction petition. Thumm appealed alleging: (1) ineffective assistance of counsel at trial, sentencing, and on appeal; (2) a Brady violation; (3) prosecutorial misconduct; and (4) cumulative error. The Idaho Supreme Court found no reversible error, and affirmed the district court’s grant of summary disposition. View "Thumm v. Idaho" on Justia Law

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Carlos Cuesta-Rodriguez challenges his Oklahoma conviction for first-degree murder and his accompanying sentence of death. The victim, Olimpia Fisher, and her adult daughter, Katya Chacon, lived with Cuesta-Rodriguez in a home Fisher and Cuesta-Rodriguez had purchased together. In the year following the home purchase, Cuesta-Rodriguez and Fisher’s relationship was strained. Cuesta- Rodriguez feared Fisher was cheating on him. Whenever Fisher and Chacon would leave the house, Cuesta-Rodriguez would question them “about where they were going and what they would be doing.” The relationship deteriorated to the point that both Cuesta-Rodriguez and Fisher wanted the other to move out. An argument between the two ended when Cuesta-Rodriquez shot Fisher in both eyes. The district court denied relief and denied a certificate of appealability (COA). The Tenth Circuit concluded Cuesta-Rodriguez was not persuasive in his argument that combined errors led to a trial that wasn’t “fundamentally fair.” As such, the Court affirmed the district court's judgment that Cuesta-Rodriquez was not entitled to relief. View "Cuesta-Rodriguez v. Carpenter" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and common law, against the Tribe and tribal officers, seeking damages for their violation of his constitutional and civil rights stemming from his arrest and incarceration. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal with prejudice of claims against the Tribe and the individual defendants acting in their official capacities because those claims were barred by the Tribe's sovereign immunity. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal without prejudice of claims against defendants acting in their individual capacities based on failure to exhaust tribal court remedies. View "Stanko v. Oglala Sioux Tribe" on Justia Law

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Jose Batista-Salva, appealed his conviction for witness tampering following a jury trial in Superior Court. He was accused of the armed robbery of a Wendy's in Nashua, New Hampshire; he used to work at the restaurant, and though he was wearing a bandana to obscure his face, a manager there believed he recognized the robber's voice as Batista-Salva's. Batista-Salva raised three arguments on appeal, each of which was premised on an underlying argument that the witness tampering indictment was impermissibly constructively amended. To the extent his arguments were not preserved, he asked the New Hampshire Supreme Court to waive our preservation requirement or consider them under plain error review. The Court declined, finding that the record in this case was ambiguous as to whether defendant relied on the factual allegations in the indictment in defending against the witness tampering charge. The Court declined to waive the preservation requirement in the absence of the record it needed to properly evaluate the merits of defendant's argument. Given these conclusions, the court did not consider any of defendant's other arguments, rejecting the premise on which they relied. As such, the Court affirmed the trial court. View "New Hampshire v. Batista-Salva" on Justia Law

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Appellant Aaron Thompson appealed after a jury found him guilty of two counts of first degree murder, two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and first degree conspiracy. The charges arose from the double homicide of Joseph and Olga Connell, who were shot to death in 2013. The State’s theory of the case at trial was that Mr. Connell’s business partner, Chris Rivers, paid to have the Connells killed so he could collect on an insurance policy listing Mr. Connell as the insured and Rivers as the beneficiary. The theory was that Rivers paid Joshua Bey, who in turn hired Dominique Benson and Thompson to carry out the murders. The success of the State’s theory at Thompson’s trial largely depended on the testimony and credibility of Bey. Thompson contended throughout the trial that Bey was lying and made up the connection with Thompson to get himself a favorable plea deal. On appeal to the Delaware Supreme Court, Thompson argued: (1) two statements by the State during its rebuttal argument constituted prosecutorial misconduct that undermined the fairness of the trial; and (2) the trial court abused its discretion in allowing Bey’s recorded statement to the police to be played for the jury following his testimony, arguing that this was inadmissible hearsay not subject to an exception. The Supreme Court found no reversible error and affirmed Thompson's convictions. View "Thompson v. Delaware" on Justia Law

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In 2011, Richmond issued the city's first medical marijuana collective permit to RCCC. Other permits were later issued to the defendants. The ordinance governing the permits was amended in 2014, to reduce the number of dispensary permits from six to three, and to provide that if a permitted dispensary did not open within six months after the issuance of a permit, the permit would become void. RCCC lost its permit. RCCC sued, claiming that defendants, acting in concert, encouraged and paid for community opposition to RCCC’s applications and purchased a favorably zoned property. Defendants filed an anti-SLAPP motion to strike, Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16, which provides that a claim 'arising from any act of that person in furtherance of the person’s right of petition or free speech ... in connection with a public issue shall be subject to a special motion to strike," unless the court determines that the plaintiff has established a probability of success on the merits. One defendant admitted: “Our group declared war on RCCC. We conspired to prevent RCCC from getting any property in Richmond.“ The court ultimately determined that the defendants failed to show how the allegations were protected activity and denied the anti-SLAPP motion. The court of appeal affirmed, stating that the appeal had no merit and will delay the plaintiff’s case and cause him to incur unnecessary attorney fees. View "Richmond Compassionate Care Collective v. 7 Stars Holistic Foundation, Inc." on Justia Law

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The State appealed a trial court order limiting the admission of video evidence, and an order denying the State's motion to amend the criminal information. In February 2018, Richard Powley was charged with two counts of gross sexual imposition, both class AA felonies. The charges resulted from a series of videos seized from Powley's phone; at least one of the videos depicted sexual acts with the alleged victim. The videos were recorded between June 3, 2017 and June 5, 2017. Before trial, Powley made a motion under N.D.R.Ev. 412, seeking to admit five of the videos in order to demonstrate specific instances of the alleged victim's consensual sexual behavior with Powley. Powley emphasized it was significant all eight videos were recorded "within 44 hours of each other and they need to be viewed in that light." At the hearing the State agreed that Videos 1 through 5 "look[ed] consensual," and submitted Video 6, Video 7, and Video 8 to show the nonconsensual acts giving rise to the gross sexual imposition charges. The State argued those videos depicted the alleged victim unconscious and limp. The State argued Videos 6, 7, and 8 spoke for themselves and therefore there was no need to introduce Videos 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5. The court excluded Videos 1 through 5, 7 and 8, and limited the admission of 6. On appeal, the State argued the district court erred by sua sponte excluding portions of allegedly relevant video and that the court erred by denying the motion to amend the information because the proposed additional charge was not a different offense. The State alternatively requested the North Dakota Supreme Court exercise supervisory authority to review the district court rulings. The Supreme Court concluded the State had no statutory right to appeal these issues, and declined to exercise supervisory authority. The Court therefore dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. View "North Dakota v. Powley" on Justia Law

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The State appealed an order granting Robert Vetter's motion to suppress chemical test evidence and motion in limine. Vetter was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol under N.D.C.C. 39-08-01, a class B misdemeanor. He claimed the chemical test of his blood was conducted without a warrant, his consent was based on an inaccurate implied consent advisory, he did not voluntarily consent to the blood test, and therefore the search was unreasonable and violated his constitutional rights. Vetter also filed a motion in limine, arguing the evidence of the chemical test should be excluded under N.D.C.C. 39-20-01(3)(b) because the arresting officer did not read him the full post-arrest implied consent advisory. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court misapplied the law in interpreting statutory requirements under the implied consent law and the court failed to properly consider the totality of the circumstances to determine whether Vetter voluntarily consented to the blood test. The Court reversed the district court's order and remanded for additional findings and for the court to determine whether Vetter's consent was voluntary. View "North Dakota v. Vetter" on Justia Law

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Alexis Dowdy appealed after she conditionally pled guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol. Dowdy argued the arresting officer improperly added inaccurate and coercive language to the statutorily required implied consent advisory, and she did not voluntarily consent to chemical testing. The district court found Dowdy was read a complete implied consent advisory and she voluntarily consented to chemical testing. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "North Dakota v. Dowdy" on Justia Law