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Coleman was convicted for a 1994 armed robbery, home invasion, residential burglary, and aggravated sexual assault. Three witnesses linked Coleman to the crimes. The court sentenced Coleman to 60 years’ imprisonment. Fifteen years later, a group of men came forward claiming they were responsible for the crimes. The Illinois Supreme Court vacated Coleman’s convictions and remanded for retrial. Rather than retry the case, the prosecution dropped it. Coleman was released in 2013; a later judicial order certified his innocence. Coleman sued the City of Peoria and four police officers, claiming that they elicited a false statement from an alleged accomplice through coercive interrogation techniques, employed improper and unduly suggestive identification procedures, and suppressed impeachment evidence. After three years of civil litigation, the district court granted defendants summary judgment on Coleman’s federal claims and state law malicious prosecution claim. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Coleman failed to present evidence supporting a reasonable inference that defendants knowingly fabricated false evidence, caused unreliable eyewitness identifications to taint his criminal trial, withheld material evidence, or arrested him without probable cause. A vacated criminal conviction does not automatically establish that an individual’s constitutional rights were violated, or that police officers and prosecutors are necessarily liable under 42 U.S.C. 1983. View "Coleman v. Peoria" on Justia Law

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The juvenile court found E.P. committed second degree burglary, possessed graffiti tools, received stolen property, and illegally possessed an alcoholic beverage. The Court of Appeal initially concluded that the evidence was insufficient to show that E.P. committed burglary when he stole items from locker rooms in a public ice hockey facility because the prosecution failed to prove that E.P. did not commit the new crime of shoplifting, as defined in Proposition 47. Because E.P. was not charged with shoplifting, the Court also concluded there was no bar to charging him with receiving stolen property. After the Court of Appeal issued its opinion, the California Supreme Court in California v. Colbert, 6 Cal.5th 596 (2019), held that “entering an interior room that is objectively identifiable as off-limits to the public with intent to steal therefrom is not shoplifting, but instead remains punishable as burglary.” The Supreme Court transferred the matter to the Court of Appeal with directions to vacate its decision and reconsider the case in light of Colbert. After review, the appellate court found Colbert did not change its conclusion that the prosecution failed to prove E.P. committed burglary. The evidence showed the locker rooms of the public ice hockey facility were not “objectively identifiable as off-limits to the public.” Accordingly, the Court reversed the finding E.P. committed burglary, but affirmed the findings he received stolen property and illegally possessed an alcoholic beverage. View "In re E.P." on Justia Law

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In 2006, Williams pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. He had prior convictions under Ohio law: attempted felonious assault, domestic violence, and assault on a peace officer, which subjected him to a mandatory-minimum sentence of 180 months’ imprisonment under the Armed Career Criminal Act, 18 U.S.C. 924(e) (ACCA). Williams twice unsuccessfully filed 28 U.S.C. 2255 petitions to vacate his sentence. In 2015, (Johnson) the Supreme Court found the ACCA's residual clause, section 924(e)(2)(B)(ii), unconstitutional and subsequently held that Johnson had announced a new substantive rule of constitutional law that applies retroactively to cases on collateral review. Williams filed a third motion, arguing that his prior convictions no longer counted as ACCA predicate offenses. The Sixth Circuit authorized the district court to consider whether Williams’ felonious assault conviction still qualifies as an ACCA violent felony, noting its 2012 holding (Anderson), that committing felonious assault in Ohio necessarily requires the use of physical force and is an ACCA predicate offense under the elements clause. The district court then held, and the Sixth Circuit agreed, that Anderson remained controlling precedent. The Sixth Circuit, en banc, subsequently overruled Anderson and held that a conviction for Ohio felonious assault no longer categorically qualifies as a violent felony predicate under the ACCA’s elements clause. The court then remanded Williams’ case. View "Williams v. United States" on Justia Law

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Richard Austin appealed a trial court order finding him in violation of a special condition of parole (condition 25) restricting him from contacting the "crime victim(s)," specified as "Lisa [H.] or Brent [M.]" According to Austin, a later order in the case made clear that the "crime victim" in that case was Brent, not Lisa. Austin claimed this order had a preclusive effect as to the meaning of parole condition 25, or at a minimum that condition 25 was unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. Austin did not contend a properly worded no-contact condition restricting contact with Lisa would be invalid. Rather, he argued the condition was vague as written, particularly in light of the finding in the underlying case that Lisa was never a protected party. The Court of Appeal concurred with Austin's argument with respect to the parole condition, reversed and remanded for further proceedings at the trial court to determined whether to modify the special condition. View "California v. Austin" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against the town and its mayor, alleging that they violated his federal and state constitutional rights by seeking—and then seeking to collect on—a judgment that he owed over $50,000 for violating a local ordinance. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on the 42 U.S.C. 1983 claims, holding that plaintiff failed to establish a municipal policy that was the moving force behind the violation of any constitutional right. However, the court vacated and remanded the state-law claim for the district court to assess its jurisdiction over this claim. View "Webb v. Town of Saint Joseph" on Justia Law

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A public utility filed a condemnation action seeking the land use rights necessary to construct a natural gas storage facility in an underground formation of porous rock. The utility held some rights already by assignment from an oil and gas lessee. The superior court held that because of the oil and gas lease, the utility owned the rights to whatever producible gas remained in the underground formation and did not have to compensate the landowner for its use of the gas to help pressurize the storage facility. The court held a bench trial to determine the value of the storage space. The landowner appealed the resulting compensation award, arguing it retained ownership of the producible gas in place because the oil and gas lease authorized only production, not storage. It also argued it had the right to compensation for gas that was discovered after the date of taking. The landowner also challenged several findings related to the court’s valuation of the storage rights: that the proper basis of valuation was the storage facility’s maximum physical capacity rather than the capacity allowed by its permits; that the valuation should not have included buffer area at the same rate as area used for storage; and that an expert’s valuation methodology, which the superior court accepted, was flawed. The Alaska Supreme Court concluded the superior court did not err in ruling that the landowner’s only rights in the gas were reversionary rights that were unaffected by the utility’s non-consumptive use of the gas during the pendency of the lease. Furthermore, the Court concluded the trial court did not clearly err with regard to findings about valuation. View "Kenai Landing, Inc. v Cook Inlet Natural Gas Storage, et al." on Justia Law

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Randell Jackson was charged with disorderly conduct, assault, and resisting arrest after a 2012 interaction with three police officers in Haines, Alaska. Amy Williams, an assistant district attorney, first prosecuted Jackson on these charges, but her efforts resulted in a mistrial. James Scott, the Juneau district attorney, oversaw the second round of proceedings against Jackson, which led to his conviction and sentencing. Jackson appealed his convictions in March 2016 to the superior court, which reversed his conviction for disorderly conduct but affirmed his assault and resisting arrest convictions. Jackson brought civil claims against the prosecutors who secured his convictions, alleging they committed various torts and violated his constitutional right to due process. The superior court dismissed his state and federal claims, concluding that the prosecutors enjoyed absolute immunity. The Alaska Supreme Court agreed the prosecutors were protected by absolute immunity from both the state and federal claims because they were acting in their official capacity as advocates for the State when they committed the acts that gave rise to the complaint. View "Jackson v. Borough of Haines, et al." on Justia Law

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The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT or the State) condemned a strip of property along the Parks Highway. DOT filed a declaration of taking, allowing it to take title immediately, and deposited approximately $15,000 in court as estimated compensation for the taking. The landowner challenged DOT’s estimate and was eventually awarded approximately $24,000, as well as attorney’s fees and costs. Pursuant to AS 09.55.440, the superior court awarded prejudgment interest to the landowner on the difference between the amount of DOT’s initial deposit and the amount the property was ultimately determined to be worth. The landowner appealed, arguing that the prejudgment interest should have been calculated on the difference between the deposit and his entire judgment, including significant amounts for attorney’s fees and appraisal costs. The Alaska Supreme Court concluded the landowner’s argument was not supported by the statutory language, legislative history, or policy. Furthermore, the Court rejected the landowner’s arguments that the superior court applied the wrong postjudgment interest rate and abused its discretion by denying discovery of the State’s attorneys’ billing records. The trial court failed to state its reasons for excluding attorney time from its attorney's fees award, and therefore vacated that award and remanded for reconsideration only of the fees award. View "Keeton v. Alaska, Department of Transportation and Public Facilities" on Justia Law

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A husband and wife appealed denials of their Permanent Fund Dividends (PFDs) for 2014 and 2015. The husband’s 2014 PFD application was denied because he had been absent from the state for more than five years, creating a presumption of nonresidence that he was unable to rebut. The wife’s application was denied because her PFD eligibility as an accompanying military spouse depended on her husband’s. After the denials were affirmed by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), the couple appealed to the superior court. While this appeal was pending they both applied for 2015 PFDs and were again denied. The husband’s 2015 application was denied because his residency for PFD purposes was severed in the 2014 PFD proceedings and he had not reestablished it. The wife’s application was again denied because of her accompanying-spouse status. They appealed the 2015 denials too; the superior court consolidated the 2014 and 2015 cases and affirmed both denials. The Alaska Supreme Court determined neither spouse met the residency requirements to qualify for either a 2014 or a 2015 PFD under the plain language of the applicable statute. The Court therefore affirmed the ALJs’ decisions. View "Jones v. Alaska, Department of Revenue" on Justia Law

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A fully nude strip club filed suit challenging the administrative action the city had taken against the club, the laws authorizing that action, and ordinances the city later enacted that regulated the fully nude strip club business. The district court dismissed all sixteen claims. The Eleventh Circuit held that counts III through VI failed to state claims and that one of the remaining claims was not ripe. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of one more of those claims because the club lacked standing to pursue it. However, the court held that the eight remaining appealed claims were ripe for the district court's review. In this case, counts XIII, XIV, and XV assert that the Ordinance was preempted by state and federal law; further factual development cannot assist in resolution of these facial challenges, which raise purely legal issues; and no institutional concerns of the court or the city render the issues unfit for review. Furthermore, the club's as-applied challenges, asserting an unconstitutional burden and tax on speech, an equal protection violation, and a contract clause violation, required no more factual development to be ripe for review. Finally, count XVI, challenging the ordinance under the Fourth Amendment, was also fit for review. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded in part. View "Club Madonna, Inc. v. City of Miami Beach" on Justia Law