by
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

by
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

by
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of Hard Candy's request for a jury trial in an action under the Lanham Act. In this case, Hardy Candy sought every remedy permitted by the Act besides actual damages: an injunction to prevent future infringement, an accounting and the disgorgement of profits that the defendant made from the allegedly infringing goods, and declaratory relief, along with fees and costs. The court held that the remedy of an accounting and disgorgement of profits for trademark infringement is equitable in nature and has long been considered that way, and thus a plaintiff seeking the defendant's profits in lieu of actual damages is not entitled to a jury trial. The panel also held that the district court did not err in its merits determinations on infringement and fair use. View "Hard Candy, LLC v. Anastasia Beverly Hills, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Fourth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of a petition for habeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. 2255. The court held that the district court erred in substituting a previously unidentified conviction to sustain petitioner's career offender designation. Petitioner claimed ineffective assistance of counsel based on counsel's failure to challenge his designation as a career offender. In this case, the district court found that one of the predicate offenses identified by the State did not qualify as a crime of violence and thus could not support a career offender designation, but nevertheless found no prejudice from counsel's error. The district concluded that the career offender designation could be supported by another conviction in petitioner's record, even though the State did not identify this conviction as a basis for the designation at sentencing. View "United States v. Winbush" on Justia Law

by
The Fourth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to WCI on all of plaintiff's claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. 1981. The court held that the district court erred by finding that plaintiff, who is black, had failed to establish an appropriate comparator and to produce evidence of pretext. In this case, plaintiff produced evidence that a white employee with the same supervisor, who had several workplace infractions, was permitted to return to his job after the employee became angry and yelled at his supervisor before quitting. The court held that the record as a whole could permit a reasonable factfinder to conclude that plaintiff and that employee were proper comparators. Furthermore, plaintiff has produced evidence that WCI's reason for his termination has changed substantially over time, and therefore has presented sufficient evidence of pretext. View "Haynes v. Waste Connections, Inc." on Justia Law

by
In 2008, Aaron Copeland pled guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. The district court imposed an enhanced sentence of 15 years in prison under the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”) based on his two prior drug offenses and one prior burglary. Copeland did not appeal. After he brought several unsuccessful motions for habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2255, the Tenth Circuit authorized Copeland to bring a successive Section 2255 motion to assert that his sentence was invalid under Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015), which held that the ACCA’s definition of violent felony in its residual clause was unconstitutionally vague. In his motion, Copeland claimed the sentencing court relied on the unconstitutional residual clause to find that his prior burglary was a violent felony and therefore the court should not have enhanced his sentence. The district court denied the motion, finding that it did not sentence Copeland under the residual clause and that his motion accordingly could not rely on Johnson. The Tenth Circuit reversed, finding Copeland showed the district court relied on the residual clause when it sentenced him in 2008. Further, the Court determined Copeland showed he should have prevailed on the merits. View "United States v. Copeland" on Justia Law

by
Sixty-one year old defendant Joan Osborn has been diagnosed at different times with schizophrenia, possible depression, and possible post-traumatic stress disorder. In mid-October 2014, Defendant allegedly called a United States district court judge and left a voicemail conveying a variety of brutal and obscene threats. A grand jury subsequently indicted Defendant for threatening to assault and murder a United States judge. Based on a forensic psychologist's evaluation, defendant's disorder would interfere with her ability to assist in her own defense. The district court found Defendant incompetent to stand trial, and committed her to the custody of the Attorney General for hospitalization to gauge whether she could be restored to competency. The district court stayed its order of commitment so Defendant could appeal its competency determination to the Tenth Circuit. While that appeal was pending, the United States Marshals Service held Defendant at the Salt Lake County Jail in Utah. And while at jail, employees there forcibly injected Defendant with an antipsychotic drug against her will from approximately June to October 2016 without notifying her attorney. The district court initially ordered the jail to stop this practice after Defendant’s attorney brought an emergency motion to halt it. But after a hearing, the district court allowed the jail to continue its forcible medication of Defendant based on Washington v. Harper, 494 U.S. 210 (1990, "Harper") “after finding [that] her mental state had deteriorated so severely to the point where she presented a significant danger to herself and to other inmates and officers.” Two hearings pursuant to Sell v. United States, 539 U.S. 166 (2003) were held. Although just a little over a year prior, the district court had allowed Salt Lake County Jail officials to forcibly medicate Defendant under Harper because she was a danger, the district court concluded that “involuntary commitment pursuant to Harper is unwarranted.” After determining that the government had met each of Sell’s stringent requirements, the district court permitted the government to medicate Defendant with antipsychotic medication, every two weeks for six months. Defendant appealed the district court's order allowing her to be forcibly medicated under Sell. The issue this appeal presented to the Tenth Circuit was whether changed circumstances necessitated defendant be forcibly medicated under Harper but after the trial court already authorized forced medication under Sell. The Court held courts generally should vacate the Sell order and begin anew "armed with the findings of the intervening Harper proceedings." View "United States v. Osborn" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of operating under the influence, holding that the trial court did not err by denying Defendant's motion to suppress evidence obtained from a blood draw and that the court's jury instructions were sufficient and appropriate. Prior to trial court, Defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence from the blood draw and the corresponding blood-alcohol test result, arguing that the evidence was obtained without valid consent. The trial court denied the motion. After closing arguments, Defendant requested a curative instruction to remedy the State's alleged misstatement of the evidence in its closing argument. The court declined to give such an instruction. The jury subsequently found Defendant guilty of operating under the influence. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant had the capacity to give knowing consent to the blood draw, and his consent was voluntary; and (2) the prosecutor's closing statements to the jury did not misstate the evidence, demonstrate bad faith, or create any prejudice. View "State v. Ayotte" on Justia Law

by
Defendant Larry Mead was convicted by jury for possession of methamphetamine as a fourth-offense habitual offender. Defendant was a passenger in a car when the police pulled it over, ordered him out, and searched his backpack. He thought that search was unconstitutional, and "a straightforward application of well-settled Fourth Amendment jurisprudence - complicated only by a peremptory order of [the Michigan Supreme Court], People v LaBelle, 478 Mich 891 (2007) - says he’s right." The Supreme Court overruled LaBelle, concluding defendant had a legitimate expectation of privacy to his backpack, and the warrantless search of that item was unreasonable because the driver lacked apparent common authority to consent to the search. The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals, vacated the trial court's order denying defendant's motion to suppress, and remanded the case back to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Michigan v. Mead" on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of Cherry Knoll's complaint against the City of Lakeway, the city manager, and HDR Engineering in a dispute over a plat of land that Cherry Knoll had purchased in Lakeway. Cherry Knoll asserted a claim against the City under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for violating its rights to procedural due process, substantive due process, and equal protection by filing the Subdivision Plats without its consent and over its objection. The court held that these allegations satisfied the standard for official municipal policy under Pembaur v. City of Cincinnati and the district court erred in finding otherwise. The court also held that the district court erred in determining that the city manager was entitled to the protection of qualified immunity at the Rule 12(b)(6) stage. Finally, the court held that Cherry Knoll's well-pleaded factual allegations and supporting documents make plausible its claim that HDR was a "willful participant in joint action" for purposes of section 1983. Accordingly, the court remanded the matter and reinstated Cherry Knoll's state law claims. View "Cherry Knoll, LLC v. Jones" on Justia Law