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The Supreme Court affirmed the motion court’s judgment denying Appellant postconviction relief, holding that the motion court’s findings of fact and conclusions of law were not clearly erroneous. On appeal from the motion court’s denial of postconviction relief from his conviction and death sentence for first-degree murder, Appellant claimed that the motion court committed multiple errors. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment denying postconviction relief, holding (1) the judge did not err in limiting juror questioning; (2) the postconviction process was not tainted by a ruling on the juror issue by a judge who later refused; (3) defense counsel were not ineffective in failing to call additional lay and expert witnesses in the guilt and penalty phase; and (4) Appellant was not entitled to relief on his remaining claims of error. View "McFadden v. State" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's retaliation claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and grant of summary judgment for the VA on plaintiff's discrimination claim. Plaintiff filed his retaliation claim after he was subjected to a peer review process to look into his medical care of a patient who suffered renal failure. Plaintiff amended his complaint to add the discrimination claim after the VA issued a memorandum addressing an incident where plaintiff left a patient alone and outlining future expectations. In regard to the retaliation claim, the court held that plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies because he filed in federal court prematurely, and failed to make a waiver or estoppel argument to excuse his failure to exhaust. The court also held that plaintiff failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to the third element of the prima facie case of racial discrimination where he failed to show an adverse employment action. In this case, the VA's peer review process was not an adverse employment action under Title VII. View "Stroy v. Gibson" on Justia Law

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Gary Clark was having a psychotic episode. His brother was having trouble subduing Clark, and called the Broken Arrow Policy to assist. When Clark charged at one of the officers with a knife, he was shot. Clark ultimately survived his gunshot wounds, but had not fully recovered. Clark sued, claiming a violation of a number of his constitutional, state-common-law, and federal-statutory rights. The district court granted summary judgment to Wagoner County Board of Commissioners, Wagoner County Sheriff Robert Colbert, and former Wagoner County Jail Nurse Vicki Holland on Clark’s claims against them. Given the undisputed facts, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded a reasonable jury could not find the officers violated Clark’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from excessive force. In addition, Clark failed to adequately brief issues necessary to justify reversal on his Oklahoma-tort and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) claims. Therefore, the Court affirmed summary judgment in favor of the governmental officials. View "Clark v. Colbert" on Justia Law

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In 2006, Gilmore pleaded guilty to federal offenses and began serving a 188-month sentence. South Carolina, planning to charge Gilmore with assault and battery and failure to pay child support, filed a detainer, requesting that the Federal Bureau of Prisons notify it before releasing him. The Bureau notified Gilmore under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act. If he asked South Carolina to resolve the charges, the state would need to try him within 180 days. The Bureau notified the Solicitor of Richland County, South Carolina that Gilmore requested final disposition. Months later, that office replied that it “ha[d] no charges pending” and speculated that any charges originated in the Sheriff’s Department. The Bureau forwarded Gilmore’s request to the Magistrate Court. No one responded. Four years later, South Carolina sent another detainer request for failure to pay child support. Gilmore wrote the South Carolina judge that he had tried to resolve the matter for years; the detainers made it difficult for him to complete rehabilitative programs. No one responded. Gilmore filed federal habeas petitions. The South Carolina district court transferred both petitions to the Eastern District of Kentucky, which dismissed them. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. In naming the federal warden, Gilmore sued the wrong official--South Carolina was responsible for the alleged harm. The court noted that Gilmore should determine whether a violation of the Act states a cognizable federal habeas claim; whether exhaustion applies; and whether any limitation on a criminal charge applies. View "Gilmore v. Ebbert" on Justia Law

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Farrad was released from custody. Months later, informants reported observing Farrad in possession of firearms. Officer Garrison, using an undercover account, became Farrad's Facebook friend. Farrad’s Facebook photos included one showing what appeared to be three handguns on a closed toilet lid, uploaded on October 7, 2013. Execution of a warrant to search Facebook’s records yielded photos showing a person who looks like Farrad holding what appears to be a gun; others show a close-up hand holding what appears to be a gun. None show a date or unique distinguishing feature. The person in the photos has distinctive tattoos. Facebook records revealed that the photos were uploaded on October 11. Farrad was charged with having, “on or about October 11, 2013, . . . knowingly possess[ed] . . . a firearm.” The government argued that the photos were self-authenticating business records under Federal Rule of Evidence 803(6). Defense counsel argued that the photos did not authenticate who took the pictures or when they were taken. The court admitted the photos. Garrison testified that criminals are likely to upload photos of criminal deeds soon after committing those deeds. Hinkle testified about the similarities between the photos and a real gun. No witness claimed to have seen Farrad with a gun. The Sixth Circuit affirmed Farrad’s conviction. The district court’s error in deeming the photographs self-authenticating business records was harmless because admission was proper under Rule 901(a). Hinkle was qualified, his testimony was relevant and reliable. Admitting Garrison’s testimony was harmless error because defense counsel did not argue a “date theory.” View "United States v. Farrad" on Justia Law

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Petitioners sought a writ of mandate directing the superior court to vacate its order denying their motion for summary judgment and issue an order granting the motion. The Court of Appeal issued a stay pending this court's resolution of the petition and an order to show cause why a writ of mandate should not issue. In this case, real party in interest's complaint alleged that petitioners' breakfast cereals were required by California's Proposition 65 to display cancer and reproductive harm warnings because they contain acrylamide. The court held that the Proposition 65 claim was preempted by federal law and granted the petition. The court directed the superior court to vacate its order denying petitioners' motion and enter a new and different order granting the motion. View "Post Foods, LLC v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the judgment of the bankruptcy court allowing The Patriot Group, LLC to amend its pleadings in its adversary complaint requesting denial of the discharge in bankruptcy of Steven Fustolo’s debt and denying Fustolo’s discharge pursuant to the newly added claim, holding that the allowance of this belated amendment failed to satisfy the prescripts of due process underlying Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(b)(2) and was therefore an abuse of discretion. Specifically, the Court held that Appellant did not receive adequate notice of an unpleaded claim and did not provide his implied consent. Therefore, the bankruptcy court’s order must be reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings. View "Fustolo v. Patriot Group LLC" on Justia Law

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If plaintiffs in 42 U.S.C.1983 actions demonstrate that their conditions of confinement have been restricted solely because of overcrowding or understaffing at a prison facility, a deference instruction ordinarily should not be given. Similarly, if plaintiffs in 42 U.S.C. 1983 actions demonstrate that they have been subjected to search procedures that are an unnecessary, unjustified, or exaggerated response to concerns about jail safety, the court need not defer to jail officials. Plaintiff appealed the partial grant of summary judgment for defendants on her 42 U.S.C. 1983 action alleging inadequate medical care, and the denial of her motion for a new trial. Plaintiff challenged several conditions of her confinement and the procedures that the County used to classify her as mentally ill. The Ninth Circuit held that the magistrate judge should not have given the deference instruction to plaintiff's conditions of confinement claims, where the only justification that jail officials offered for curtailing her meals, showers, and recreation was a concern about overcrowding and understaffing in the facility. The panel also held that the magistrate judge erred in instructing the jury to give deference to the jail officials on plaintiff's claim of excessive search, because substantial evidence supporter her arguments that this search practice was an unnecessary, unjustified, and exaggerated response to jail officials’ need for prison security. Accordingly, the panel vacated and remanded. View "Shorter v. Baca" on Justia Law

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Jesse Leaverton was convicted of three counts of bank robbery. At sentencing, the district court concluded that 18 U.S.C. 3559(c) applied because Leaverton had been previously convicted of two serious violent felonies, enhancing his sentence from a maximum of twenty years to a mandatory term of life imprisonment. Leaverton appealed, arguing that his prior conviction for Oklahoma manslaughter did not qualify under section 3559(c). The Oklahoma statute contained three subsections. The government argued that Leaverton was convicted under a subsection that applied when a killing is “perpetrated without a design to effect death, and in a heat of passion, but in a cruel and unusual manner, or by means of a dangerous weapon; unless it is committed under such circumstances as constitute excusable or justifiable homicide.” At sentencing, the district court found that Leaverton had been convicted under subsection two, which qualified as a serious violent felony and thus Leaverton met the requirements of section 3559(c). Leaverton argued section 3559(c)(2)(F)(i) required the crime of conviction be equivalent to voluntary federal manslaughter. The Tenth Circuit found that the Oklahoma statute (section 711(2)) bore some similarity to the second definition provided in the Model Penal Code, the section 711(2) heat of passion element differed markedly from that applicable to generic manslaughter. The Tenth Circuit could not say that a conviction under section 711(2) “necessarily involved facts equating to” generic manslaughter. As such, the Court concluded Leaverton's offense did not constitute manslaughter as that term was used in section 3559(c)(2)(F)(i). The Court reversed and remanded this case for resentencing. View "United States v. Leaverton" on Justia Law

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Because Defendant was not self-represented during his testimony, the trial court’s decision to allow Defendant to testify in narrative form did not cause him to be self-represented without a proper waiver of his right to counsel. During the trial for the murder of his father and the physical assault of his elderly mother, Defendant demanded to testify that Satan had taken over his body and performed these acts. Based on the Rules of Professional Conduct, defense counsel requested that Defendant be permitted to give that testimony in narrative form. The trial court granted the request, and Defendant testified in that manner. After Defendant was convicted, he appealed, claiming that, pursuant to State v. Francis, 118 A.3d 529 (2015), he was entitled to a new trial because in order to exercise his right to testify, he was compelled to self-represent without a proper waiver of his right to counsel. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Francis does not control the present case; and (2) under the facts of this case, Defendant was not self-represented during his narrative testimony or at any other point during the trial. View "State v. Jan G." on Justia Law