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Justin Comer pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct in the first-degree (CSC-I) and second-degree home invasion. He was sentenced to concurrent prison terms of 51 months to 18 years for the CSC-I conviction and 51 months to 15 years for the second-degree home invasion conviction. The judgment of sentence included a line to be checked by the trial court, indicating: “The defendant is subject to lifetime monitoring under MCL 750.520n.” This line was not checked, and the trial court did not otherwise indicate that defendant was subject to lifetime electronic monitoring. At issue before the Michigan Supreme Court was whether the trial court’s failure to impose lifetime electronic monitoring as a part of defendant’s sentence for CSC-I rendered defendant’s sentence invalid and, if so, whether the trial court could correct the invalid sentence on its own initiative 19 months after the original judgment of sentence had entered. The Court held that defendant’s sentence was invalid because MCL 750.520b(2)(d) required the trial court to sentence defendant to lifetime electronic monitoring. Furthermore, the Court held that under MCR 6.435 and MCR 6.429, the trial court erred by correcting defendant’s invalid sentence on its own initiative absent a motion from either party. This case was remanded back to the trial court to reinstate the original judgment of sentence. View "Michigan v. Comer" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against her employer, the Office of Attorney General for the State of Louisiana (DOJ), alleging failure to accommodate, harassment, and retaliation in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law (LEDL). The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in the DOJ's favor, holding that there was no genuine issue of material fact as to whether plaintiff has established a prima facie case on any of her disability-based claims. In regard to the failure to accommodate claim, plaintiff failed to demonstrate that she was a qualified individual, i.e., that she can perform the essential functions of her job unaided or with the assistance of a reasonable accommodation; in regard to the disability-based harassment claim, the difficulties plaintiff managed while attempting to manage her serious illness and employment were not sufficient to create a hostile work environment; and the record did not support that any of the DOJ's actions were taken in retaliation for plaintiff's protected activity. View "Credeur v. Louisiana" on Justia Law

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After the University found that two former students violated the University's sexual misconduct policy, the students filed suit alleging that they were denied constitutional due process and were discriminated against in violation of Title IX. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the University and the individual defendants, holding that the students did not meet their summary judgment burden to demonstrate a genuine factual dispute that the process surrounding their disciplinary cases was constitutionally defective. The court rejected the students' allegations of selective enforcement and deliberate indifference. In this case, there was no sound basis for an inference of gender bias and the pleadings here did not meet the high standard of misconduct for deliberate indifference. View "Plummer v. University of Houston" on Justia Law

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Petitioner sought relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254 after the district court granted a certificate of appealability on the narrow procedural question of whether a habeas petitioner's claims raised for the first time in objections to a magistrate judge's proposed findings and recommendations must be heard by the district judge. The Fifth Circuit broadly answered in the affirmative, but found in this case that the district court did not commit reversible error. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Samples v. Ballard" on Justia Law

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Jewels by Park Lane, Inc. ("JBPL"), and Kathy Cassidy, the national director for JBPL, sought a writ of mandamus compelling the Circuit Court to vacate its order denying their motion to dismiss an action against them on the ground of improper venue arising out of a forum-selection clause, and to enter an order dismissing the case. JBPL was a multilevel marketing company that sold jewelry through independent contractors who host parties offering JBPL's jewelry line for sale. Jennifer Miller became a “director” for LBPL. Miller sued JBPL and Cassidy, alleging JBPL promised to employ her for a 12-month period and to pay her $4,000 a month for that period. Miller set out claims alleging account stated, open account, breach of contract, and fraud. Miller sought compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorney fees. The employment agreement contained a “forum selection clause” in which any disputes between the parties would be settled in accordance with the laws of Illinois. Miller admitted that the director agreement contained a forum selection clause but argued that she would not have entered into the agreement but for the fraud perpetuated by JBPL and Cassidy. The Alabama Supreme Court concluded JBPL and Cassidy have shown a clear legal right to have the action against them dismissed on the basis that venue in the Tallapoosa Circuit Court was, by application of the outbound forum-selection clause, improper. The trial court exceeded its discretion in denying their motion to dismiss Miller's action. View "Ex parte Jewels by Park Lane, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, the parents of six children, filed suit against the District, alleging that it was violating the "Child Find" requirement of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) by failing to provide special education to their children and hundreds of other preschoolers with disabilities. The district court certified the suit as a class action and entered a comprehensive injunction designed to bring the District into compliance with the IDEA. The DC Circuit held that the case was not moot where it remains justiciable under United States Parole Commission v. Geraghty, 445 U.S. 388 (1980), and where the relation back doctrine applied in this case. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by certifying subclasses pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(2). Finally, the court rejected the District's challenges to the injunction, affirming the district court in all respects. View "DL v. District of Columbia" on Justia Law

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The St. Croix River, part of the boundary between Wisconsin and Minnesota, is protected under federal, state, and local law. State and local regulations prevent the use or sale of adjacent riverside lots under common ownership as separate building sites unless they have at least one acre of land suitable for development. Petitioners’ parents purchased adjacent Troy, Wisconsin lots separately in the 1960s, and transferred one lot to petitioners in 1994 and the other to petitioners in 1995. Each lot is over one acre, but because of the topography, each has less than one acre suitable for development; common ownership barred their separate sale or development. Petitioners unsuccessfully sought variances, then filed suit, alleging a regulatory taking. The state courts and U.S. Supreme Court rejected the claims, regarding the property as a single unit in assessing the effect of the challenged governmental action. The Court noted the flexibility inherent in regulatory takings jurisprudence. Courts must consider several factors. Wisconsin’s merger provision is a legitimate exercise of state power and the valid merger of the lots under state law informs the reasonable expectation that the lots will be treated as a single property. The lots are contiguous. Their terrain and shape make it reasonable to expect their range of potential uses might be limited. Petitioners could have anticipated regulation of the property, given its location along the river, which was regulated by federal, state, and local law long before they acquired the land. The restriction is mitigated by the benefits of using the property as an integrated whole, allowing increased privacy and recreational space, plus an optimal location for any improvements. This relationship is evident in the lots’ combined valuation. View "Murr v. Wisconsin" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, convicted of attempted criminal contempt in the second degree and harassment in the second degree, petitioned for habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254. Petitioner was sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge, with the condition that she abide by a two-year order of protection. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the petition, holding that the order of protection did not place her "in custody" for purposes of section 2254(a). View "Vega v. Schneiderman" on Justia Law

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On September 26, 2014, plaintiff filed suit against the school district, alleging discrimination, hostile work environment, and retaliation claims (Welsh I). On December 16, 2014, the school district filed a plea to the jurisdiction in Welsh I, wherein the school district maintained, inter alia, that plaintiff's claims were barred by the statute of limitations because she filed her lawsuit more than two years after she filed her charge. The state district court granted the plea and dismissed the claims in Welsh I. On May 12, 2005, plaintiff filed this case against the school district (Welsh II), alleging claims for discrimination under Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), as well as retaliation claims. The Fifth Circuit held that the only claims in Welsh II that were barred under res judicata were those that were mature at the time that plaintiff filed her petition in Welsh I. The court vacated and remanded because the parties have not brief this issue under this framework and because at least some facts supporting plaintiff's alleged claims clearly were not extant at the time Welsh I was filed such that a claim could not have been mature based upon those facts. View "Welsh v. Fort Bend Independent School District" on Justia Law

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Halbach disappeared on Halloween 2005. Her family contacted police after she did not show up at the photography studio where she worked and her voice mailbox was full. Officers focused on the Avery Auto Salvage yard in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, the last place she was known to have gone. Avery, the son of the business owner, lived on the property. That day, Avery called Auto Trader magazine, for whom Halbach worked, to request that she photograph a minivan that he wished to sell. The police suspected that Avery’s 16‐year‐old nephew, Dassey, who also lived on the property, might have information about Halbach’s murder and called Dassey into the police station. After many hours of interrogation over several days, Dassey confessed that he, with Avery, had raped and murdered Halbach and burned her body. Before trial, Dassey recanted his confession. The state failed to find any physical evidence linking him to the crime. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. After unsuccessful state appeals and post‐conviction proceedings, Dassey sought federal habeas relief, claiming that he did not receive effective assistance of counsel and that his confession was not voluntary. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court in granting relief. The state court did not apply the proper standard; juvenile confessions require more care. “If a state court can evade all federal review by merely parroting the correct Supreme Court law, then the writ of habeas corpus is meaningless.” View "Dassey v. Dittmann" on Justia Law