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After Jerry Waller was shot and killed by a Fort Worth police officer, plaintiffs filed suit alleging that the officer did not reasonably fear for his safety when he shot Waller. The district court concluded that plaintiffs pleaded enough facts to plausibly allege that the officer did not reasonably fear for his safety when he shot Waller, and that defendant police officers conspired with the officer to veil the true circumstances of Waller's death. The Fifth Circuit agreed with the district court that plaintiffs plausibly alleged that Waller was unarmed and thus posed no reasonably perceivable threat when the officer killed him. However, the court held that plaintiffs' claims alleging that defendants denied them access to the courts were currently unripe. Finally, the court held that plaintiffs did not have standing to seek declaratory (as oppose to retrospective) relief for the past injury to Waller. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part. View "Waller v. Hanlon" on Justia Law

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After Officer John Doe was injured during a public protest, he filed suit against Black Lives Matter, the group associated with the protest and Defendant Mckesson, one of the leaders and organizers of the group. The Fifth Circuit held that Officer Doe has not adequately alleged that Mckesson was vicariously liable for the conduct of the unknown assailant or that Mckesson entered into a civil conspiracy with the purpose of injuring Officer Doe. However, Officer Doe adequately alleged that Mckesson was liable in negligence for organizing and leading the Baton Rouge demonstration to illegally occupy a highway. Therefore, the district court erred in dismissing the suit on First Amendment grounds. The court also held that Officer Doe has pleaded a claim for relief against Mckesson in his active complaint. Finally, although the district court erred by taking judicial notice of the legal status of Black Lives Matter, the court agreed that Officer Doe did not plead facts that would allow the court to conclude that Black Lives Matter is an entity capable of being sued. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "Doe v. McKesson" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of correctional officers in a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action brought by plaintiff, alleging excessive force and deliberate indifference claims. Plaintiff, a Florida inmate, alleged that the officers physically assaulted him and that one of them sprayed a chemical agent on him for 16 minutes after he was handcuffed and compliant. Plaintiff also alleged that three supervisory officers watched the attack without doing anything to intervene. The court held that the district court may have mistakenly relied on O'Bryant v. Finch, 637 F.3d 1207 (11th Cir. 2011), to exclude plaintiff's statements from consideration, or it may have viewed the evidence submitted by the officers as establishing the kind of record that no reasonable jury could disbelieve regardless of sworn statements to the contrary. Regardless, the district court erred in not accepting plaintiff's version of events as true for purposes of summary judgment. View "Sears v. Roberts" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment for two prison officers on an inmate's claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983 alleging violations of his federal constitutional rights, holding that the officers were entitled to qualified immunity. In his complaint, the inmate alleged (1) one of the officers pushed him against a pillar, allegedly causing him to hit his head on it, in violation of the Eighth Amendment; and (2) the other officer sprayed pepper spray into his cell, in violation of both the First Amendment and the Eighth Amendment. The district court granted Defendants' motion for summary judgment on qualified immunity grounds. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that no genuine dispute of material fact existed as to whether the officers violated either the First or the Eighth Amendment. View "Staples v. Gerry" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Defendant's motions to suppress evidence and to dismiss his indictment for outrageous government conduct, holding that the district court did not err in its judgment. Defendant was identified as a user of Playpen, an online forum that allowed users to upload, download, and distribute child pornography, and indicted for possession and receipt of child pornography. Defendant moved to suppress evidence resulting from an Network Investigative Technique warrant and also sought to dismiss the indictment on the grounds that the government engaged in outrageous conduct by running Playpen for two weeks after seizing its control. The district court denied the two motions. Defendant subsequently pled guilty to both charges. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court correctly denied Defendant's motion to suppress for lack of probable cause; and (2) under the totality of the circumstances, there were no grounds to reverse the district court's denial of Defendant's motion to dismiss the indictment. View "United States v. Anzalone" on Justia Law

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Convicted of bank robbery in 2015, 18 U.S.C. 2113(a), Bonds was sentenced to 60 months’ imprisonment. The evidence against him included the testimony of an FBI Latent Print Operations Unit fingerprint examiner, Glass, that Bonds’s fingerprints appeared on the demand notes used in the robberies. In 2004 the Unit incorrectly identified Mayfield as a person whose fingerprints suggested involvement in a terrorist bombing in Spain. Bonds wanted to use this episode to illustrate the potential for mistakes in the “analysis, comparison, evaluation, and verification” (ACE-V) method. The district judge permitted Bonds to cross-examine Glass about the reliability of the ACE-V method and to present other evidence suggesting that the approach is more error-prone than jurors might believe. Evidence about one particular error, the judge concluded, would be more distracting and time-consuming than its incremental value could justify. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting a Confrontation Clause argument. Presenting jurors with details of one wrongful imprisonment (especially on a mistaken charge of terrorism) would appeal to emotion rather than to reason. Bonds had ample opportunity to supply the jury with evidence about the reliability of the ACE-V method, including changes made in the last decade. In 2016, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology concluded that changes in ACE-V have bolstered its accuracy. The summary provides the defense bar with paths to cross-examine witnesses who used the ACE-V approach. View "United States v. Bonds" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the FCC and the Government, in an action alleging that part of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) contravenes the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. In relevant part, the Act prohibits calls to cell phones by use of an automated dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice, subject to three statutory exemptions. Specifically, plaintiffs alleged that one of the statutory exemptions to the automated call ban — created by a 2015 TCPA amendment — is facially unconstitutional under the Free Speech Clause. Although the Fourth Circuit agreed with the district court that strict scrutiny review applied in this case, it held that the debt collection exemption fails to satisfy strict scrutiny, constitutes an unconstitutional content-based restriction on speech, and therefore violates the Free Speech Clause. The court concluded that the flawed exemption could be severed from the automatic call ban. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded. View "American Association of Political Consultants, Inc. v. FCC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court reversed the motion judge's allowance of Defendant's motion to suppress, holding that police action causing an individual's cell phone to reveal its real-time location constitutes a search in the constitutional sense under article 14 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, but, in this case, the warrantless search was supported by probable cause and was reasonable under the exigent circumstances exception to the search warrant requirement. After the police identified Defendant as the suspect in a murder case, the police contacted Defendant's cellular service provider to request the real-time location of Defendant's cell phone. They did so without a warrant. The service provider "pinged" Defendant's cell phone, which caused the cell phone to transmit its real-time GPS coordinates to the service provider. The GPS coordinates were relayed to the police, and the police were able to use that information to locate Defendant. Defendant moved to suppress the evidence as the fruit of an unlawful search. The motion judge allowed the suppression motion. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed, holding that the motion judge erred in concluding that the warrantless ping of Defendant's cell phone was not justified by exigent circumstances. View "Commonwealth v. Almonor" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of one count of deliberate homicide and two counts of attempted deliberate homicide, holding that Defendant's ineffective assistance of counsel claim was not appropriately considered on direct appeal. On appeal, Defendant argued that his counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to object to irrelevant, highly prejudicial evidence concerning his criminal past in two video interviews admitted at trial. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment without prejudice to Defendant raising his ineffective assistance of counsel claim in a postconviction relief proceeding, holding that the record was not sufficient to address Defendant's claim on direct appeal. View "State v. Sawyer" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court dismissing Scott Israel's petition for writ of quo warranto challenging Governor Ron DeSantis's authority to suspend him from office in an executive order, holding that the Governor satisfied the constitutional requirements set forth in Fla. Const. art. IV, 7(a) and had the authority to suspend Israel from the office of Sheriff of Broward County. Following Israel's reelection, two mass shootings occurred during Israel's term in office, including the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. On January 2, 2019, Governor DeSantis issued an executive order suspending Israel from office, alleging that certain actions by Israel constituted neglect of duty and incompetence. Israel filed a petition for writ of quo warranto asserting that Governor DeSantis exceeded his constitutional authority when suspending Israel. The circuit court dismissed the petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the executive order suspending Israel alleged facts sufficient to support the suspension on the stated grounds. View "Israel v. DeSantis" on Justia Law