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Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against the medical administrator and a medical services contractor for the Mississippi Department of Corrections, alleging that defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights by failing to provide medically necessary hip replacement and reconstructive surgery. The district court granted summary judgment for defendants. The Fifth Circuit held that the district court properly granted summary judgment in the contractor's favor because there was no evidence that he failed to take reasonable measures to abate a substantial risk of serious harm to plaintiff. However, because the district court failed to address the Ex parte Young exception to sovereign immunity for claims for prospective injunctive relief as to the administrator, the court held that the injunctive relief claim should be remanded. The court further held that factual disputes about the reason for the delay prevented it from determining whether the administrator violated plaintiff's constitutional rights. Therefore, the court reversed as to this claim and remanded for further proceedings. Finally, the court vacated the district court's judgment denying appointment of counsel and remanded for reconsideration. View "Delaughter v. Woodall" on Justia Law

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A plaintiff need not plead that racism was the but-for cause of a defendant's conduct, but only that racism was a factor in the decision not to contract such that the plaintiff was denied the same right as a white citizen. Mixed-motive claims are cognizable under 42 U.S.C. 1981. Entertainment Studios, along with NAAAOM, filed suit alleging that Charter's refusal to enter into a carriage contract was racially motivated and in violation of section 1981. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of Charter's motion to dismiss, holding that the complaint sufficiently alleged that discriminatory intent played at least some role in Charter's refusal to contract with Entertainment Studios and thus denied Entertainment Studios the same right to contract as a white-owned company. The panel also held that plaintiffs' 1981 claim was not barred by the First Amendment where section 1981 was a content-neutral regulation that would satisfy intermediate scrutiny. The panel noted that the fact that cable operators engage in expressive conduct when they select which networks to carry did not automatically require the application of strict scrutiny in this case. View "National Association of African American-Owned Media v. Charter Communications, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs have failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact on whether racial considerations predominated the City of Los Angeles's redistricting process. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's protective order and its order granting summary judgment for the City in an action alleging that race was the predominant motivator in drawing the boundaries of council districts in the Council District 10 redistricting ordinance. Viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, the panel held that the record failed to show that successive boundary amendments were driven predominantly by racial considerations. Rather, the Commission sought to rebalance the populations in each Council District, while preserving communities and unifying as many Neighborhood Councils as possible in a single Council District. The panel also held that the legislative privilege protected local officials from being deposed. View "Lee v. City of Los Angeles" on Justia Law

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Christopher Mountjoy was convicted of reckless manslaughter, illegal discharge of a firearm, and tampering with physical evidence after he shot and killed V.M. outside of a bar for which he worked security. During sentencing, the trial court found that each crime involved extraordinary aggravating circumstances. In doing so, the trial court relied on factual findings that were made by the jury beyond a reasonable doubt on the related charges as aggravating factors for the offense for which he was being sentenced. As a result, the trial court doubled the statutory presumptive maximum of each sentence. Mountjoy appealed his sentences, arguing that aggravating his sentences in this way violated his constitutional rights to due process and trial by jury under Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000), and Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004). The court of appeals avoided the question of whether Apprendi and Blakely had been satisfied and concluded that, even assuming they were not satisfied, any error was harmless. The Colorado Supreme Court granted certiorari review and affirmed on alternate grounds: the trial court did not deny Mountjoy his rights to due process and trial by jury when it relied on facts found by the jury beyond a reasonable doubt on charges related to the offenses for which the aggravated sentences were imposed. View "Mountjoy v. Colorado" on Justia Law

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The Court of Federal Claims held that the government effected a physical taking of a 10-acre peninsula on the island of Culebra in Puerto Rico, when the Fish and Wildlife Service faxed its claim of ownership to a gun mount located on the peninsula to a potential purchaser. The location of the government’s claim had been disputed for many years. After the fax was sent, a potential buyer of the land around the claimed area backed out. The Federal Circuit reversed, first holding that the claim was not untimely under the Tucker Act, 28 U.S.C. 1491. Even if Plaintiffs “knew or had reason to know of the government’s claims" before 2006, a mere government assertion of ownership does not constitute a taking. The scope and location of the government’s alleged taking was not previously fixed as it was in the 2006 fax. The government’s mere sharing of information about its claim of ownership with a third party does not constitute a physical taking (or a per se regulatory taking) of that property; the government did not physically occupy part of Plaintiffs’ property, require Plaintiffs to suffer a permanent physical invasion, directly appropriate Plaintiffs’ property, constitute the functional equivalent of an ouster of Plaintiffs’ possession, or deprive Plaintiffs of all economically beneficial use of Plaintiffs’ property. View "Katzin v. United States" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the New Jersey Supreme Court’s review centered on the State’s use of the Alcotest 7110 MKIII-C (Alcotest) to obtain breath samples from drivers suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol. In 2008, the Supreme Court found Alcotest results admissible in drunk-driving cases to establish a defendant’s guilt or innocence for drunk driving. The Court also required that the devices be recalibrated semi-annually to help ensure accurate measurements. Defendant Eileen Cassidy pleaded guilty in municipal court to driving under the influence based solely on Alcotest results showing her blood alcohol level had exceeded the legal limit. Upon learning that the results of her test were among those called into question from the New Jersey State Police’s Alcohol Drug Testing Unit; the coordinator responsible for administering the calibrations was criminally charged, and the samples taken from some 20,000 people were procured by machines calibrated by that coordinator. Cassidy moved to withdraw her guilty plea. A special master issued a 198-page report concluding the reliability of the Alcotest had been undermined by the coordinator’s faulty calibrations. As such, the State could not carry its burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence the Alcotest was scientifically reliable. The Supreme Court exercised its original jurisdiction to vacate Cassidy’s conviction. View "New Jersey v. Cassidy" on Justia Law

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In 2015, defendant Norman McAllister was charged with one count of sexual assault and two counts of procuring a person for the purposes of prostitution, based on allegations that defendant entered into a sex-for-rent arrangement with S.L., the complaining witness, and arranged for a third person to have sex with S.L. in exchange for payment of her electric bill. After a jury trial, defendant was convicted of one count of procuring a person for the purposes of prostitution - the sex-for-electric bill arrangement - and acquitted of the other two charges. Defendant appealed that conviction. The Vermont Supreme Court found the trial court erred in: (1) admitting inadmissible evidence of prior bad acts involving defendant’s uncharged conduct with a deceased third party; and (2) instructing the jury, mid-deliberations, to disregard unstricken and admitted testimony. Accordingly, the conviction was reversed and the matter remanded for a new trial. View "Vermont v. McAllister" on Justia Law

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In this case concerning the vacancies created by the mandatory retirements of certain justices, the Supreme Court held that the phrase “within thirty days from the occurrence of a vacancy” in Fla. Const. art. V, 11(c) requires the Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) to make its nominations no later than thirty days after the occurrence of a vacancy and does not prohibit the JNC from acting before a vacancy occurs. On October 15, 2018, the Supreme Court issued an order holding that, assuming that Justices Pariente, Lewis, and Quince finish their terms, the vacancies created by the justices’ mandatory retirements would occur outside Governor Scott’s term in office. The Court directed the JNC to submit its nominations by November 10, 2018. The Court then further clarified its holding with this opinion and recognized that there was no impediment to the JNC reopening its application period for the vacancies at issue in this case. The Court denied any additional relief. View "League of Women Voters of Florida v. Scott" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit denied a petition for rehearing en banc; treated the petition for rehearing en banc as a petition for panel rehearing; and granted the petition for panel rehearing. The court withdrew its prior opinion and substituted the following opinion. Three exotic dancers under the age of 21 filed suit challenging Louisiana's amendment of two statutes (Act No. 395) that required entertainers on premises licensed to serve alcohol and whose breasts or buttocks are exposed to view be 21 years of age or older. The district court concluded that plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits of their claims that the Act was unconstitutionally overbroad and vague, and issued a preliminary injunction barring enforcement of the Act. The court vacated the injunction and held that the district court erred in holding that the Act was overbroad, either for the lack of narrow tailoring necessary under United States v. O'Brien, 391 U.S. 367, 376 (1968), or for "substantial overbreadth" under such cases as Broadrick v. Oklahoma, 413 U.S. 601, 612 (1973). Determining that plaintiffs had standing to bring their vagueness claim, the court held that the Act survived a facial challenge for vagueness. The court explained that it was enough that the Act required the full coverage of commonly understood anatomical terms. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Doe v. Marine-Lombard" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed in part and dismissed in part Defendant’s interlocutory appeal from the district court’s denial of her motion for summary judgment arguing that she was immune to Plaintiff’s damage claims, holding that this Court lacked appellate jurisdiction to the extent Defendant challenged the district court’s assessment of the record. Defendant, a police officer, shot Plaintiff as Plaintiff was cutting himself with a knife in the waiting area of a psychiatric center. Plaintiff sued Defendant under 42 U.S.C. 1983, arguing that Defendant violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizures. Defendant moved for summary judgment based, in part, on her qualified immunity to federal damage claims arising out of the performance of her official duties as a public employee. The district court denied the motion, concluding that Defendant could not constitutionally shoot Plaintiff unless he posed an immediate threat to herself or others and only after providing some kind of warning, if feasible. Defendant appealed. The First Circuit (1) dismissed the appeal to the extent it challenged the district court’s assessment of the factual record under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56; and (2) otherwise affirmed the district court’s denial of summary judgment. View "Begin v. Drouin" on Justia Law