by
The Hagys took a loan to purchase a mobile home and property on which to park it. In 2010, they defaulted. Green Tree initiated foreclosure. Hagy called Green Tree’s law firm, Demers & Adams, wanting to settling the claim. Demers sent a letter containing a Warranty Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure, stating, “In return for [the Hagys] executing the Deed … Green Tree has advised me that it will waive any deficiency balance.” The Hagys executed the Deed. Demers wrote to the Hagys’ attorney, confirming receipt of the executed Deed and reaffirming that “Green Tree will not attempt to collect any deficiency balance.” Green Tree dismissed the foreclosure complaint but began calling the Hagys to collect the debt that they no longer owed. Green Tree realized its mistake and agreed that the Hagys owed nothing. In 2011, the Hagys sued, citing the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act. Green Tree resolved the dispute through arbitration. The court granted the Hagys summary judgment, reasoning that Demers’ letter “fail[ed] to disclose” that it was “from a debt collector” under 15 U.S.C. 1692e(11). The court awarded them $1,800 in statutory damages and $74,196 in attorney’s fees. The Sixth Circuit dismissed an appeal and the underlying suit. The complaint failed to identify a cognizable injury traceable to Demers; Congress cannot override Article III of the Constitution by labeling the violation of any statutory requirement a cognizable injury. View "Hagy v. Demers & Adams" on Justia Law

by
Labor Code section 244, which does not require a litigant to exhaust administrative remedies before bringing a civil action, applies only to claims before the Labor Commissioner. The Court of Appeal explained that section 244 has no effect on Campbell v. Regents of University of California, (2005) 35 Cal.4th 311, which held that public employees must pursue appropriate internal administrative remedies before filing a civil action against their employer. In this case, plaintiff appealed the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of her former employer, the County, in a wrongful termination action. The court held that plaintiff did not exhaust her administrative remedies on her claims that the County terminated her job to discriminate against her; there were no triable issues of fact on plaintiff's claim that she was terminated because of her sexual orientation; and the trial court erred by awarding the County costs on the Fair Employment and Housing Act cause of action. View "Terris v. County of Santa Barbara" on Justia Law

by
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's complaint that alleged claims related to his termination from the police department. The court held that plaintiff's retaliation claim, on its face, was outside the bounds of the Title VII statute; nothing in plaintiff's complaint or his deposition testimony indicated that he was pursuing a Title VII claim encompassing race-based discrimination and thus he could not submit a claim via an affidavit at the summary judgment stage; and the district court correctly dismissed plaintiff's contract claim where the strain of public policy that plaintiff sought to invoke was simply inapposite to the facts in this case. View "Winfrey v. Forrest City, Arkansas" on Justia Law

by
A Robinson police officer heard a motorcycle “revving” before observing it making a “very wide” turn, nearly hitting a telephone pole. The officer followed, turned on his emergency lights, and activated his siren, but the motorcycle continued to weave across the road for about 12 blocks before turning into a driveway. The motorcycle was driven by Mark, whose wife, Petra, was a passenger on the back. Mark got off the motorcycle, exhibiting “a strong odor of alcohol,” slurred speech, and poor balance. A breath test revealed his blood alcohol concentration was 0.161, over twice the legal limit. Mark was charged with aggravated DUI and driving without a valid driver’s license. Since 1996, his license had been summarily suspended multiple times; it was revoked following his 2008 DUI conviction. That revocation was extended after he was convicted of driving with a revoked license. Police seized the 2010 Harley-Davidson. The state sought forfeiture (720 ILCS 5/36-1(a)(6)(A)(i)). Petra was shown to be the vehicle’s title owner, although Mark maintained it and had the key. The court entered an order of civil forfeiture, finding Petra’s testimony not credible, and that she consented to Mark driving, knowing he was intoxicated and did not have a valid license. The court rejected her claim that forfeiture constituted an as-applied violation of the Eighth Amendment's excessive fines clause. The Illinois Supreme Court agreed. Petra’s culpability in Mark’s aggravated DUI was far more than negligible and she did not establish the motorcycle’s value for purposes of showing disproportionality. View "Hartrich v. 2010 Harley-Davidson" on Justia Law

by
Defendant Corey Franklin pled guilty to one count of first-degree, willful and deliberate murder, the only offense currently designated as a “capital felony,” in exchange for life in prison with a possibility of parole. Due to his first-degree murder conviction, Defendant was subject to sentencing pursuant to Section 31-18-14. See § 30-2-1(A). Defendant was sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of a five-year period of parole after serving thirty years in prison. Prior to sentencing, Defendant filed a motion seeking the opportunity to present mitigating evidence which could eventually shorten his sentence. While Defendant acknowledged that Section 31-18-14 did not expressly provide an opportunity to present mitigating evidence at the time of sentencing to those convicted of first-degree murder, he argued that this violated his due process rights under Article II, Section 18 of the New Mexico Constitution and his right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment under Article II, Section 13 of the New Mexico Constitution. In his motion, Defendant noted that persons convicted of a lesser offense are provided with an opportunity to present mitigating circumstances at sentencing, which places them in a stronger position for parole than first-degree murderers. The district court denied Defendant’s motion to declare Section 31-18-14 7 unconstitutional and concluded that it was within the Legislature’s authority to decline to provide the opportunity to present evidence of mitigating circumstances to the most serious offenders. The district court entered final judgment and sentenced Defendant to life imprisonment with the possibility of a five-year 11 period of parole after he served thirty years in prison. On appeal, Defendant abandoned his constitutional arguments, and instead challenged the sentencing distinction on equal protection grounds. The New Mexico Supreme Court concluded that defendants convicted of first-degree murder and those convicted of lesser offenses are not similarly situated, and consequently, Section 31-18-14 did not violated Defendant’s constitutional right to equal protection. View "New Mexico v. Franklin" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit amended an opinion affirming the district court's judgment denying a habeas corpus petition where petitioner sought a custody redetermination as he awaited the outcome of administrative proceedings to determine whether he has a reasonable fear of returning to his native country of El Salvador. The panel held that reinstated removal orders were administratively final for detention purposes, and that the detention of aliens subject to reinstated removal orders was governed by 8 U.S.C. 1231(a), rather than section 1226(a). Therefore, petitioner was not entitled to a bond hearing. View "Padilla-Ramirez v. Bible" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit amended an opinion affirming the district court's judgment denying a habeas corpus petition where petitioner sought a custody redetermination as he awaited the outcome of administrative proceedings to determine whether he has a reasonable fear of returning to his native country of El Salvador. The panel held that reinstated removal orders were administratively final for detention purposes, and that the detention of aliens subject to reinstated removal orders was governed by 8 U.S.C. 1231(a), rather than section 1226(a). Therefore, petitioner was not entitled to a bond hearing. View "Padilla-Ramirez v. Bible" on Justia Law

by
The trial court found that Oscar Lopez's lawyer was "fairly obvious[ly]" "severely handicapped" by depression during the pretrial and trial phases of Lopez's case. That finding was supported by the trial court's own observations. Based on that evidence, the trial court concluded that Lopez was denied his constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel and granted Lopez's motion for a new trial. The Court of Appeals reversed, finding amongst other things, defendants had no right to counsel free from mental illness. Lopez petitioned the Washington Supreme Court for review, which agreed with the trial court that Lopez was denied his constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel, and reversed the Court of Appeal which reversed the trial court. View "Washington v. Lopez" on Justia Law

by
The trial court found that Oscar Lopez's lawyer was "fairly obvious[ly]" "severely handicapped" by depression during the pretrial and trial phases of Lopez's case. That finding was supported by the trial court's own observations. Based on that evidence, the trial court concluded that Lopez was denied his constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel and granted Lopez's motion for a new trial. The Court of Appeals reversed, finding amongst other things, defendants had no right to counsel free from mental illness. Lopez petitioned the Washington Supreme Court for review, which agreed with the trial court that Lopez was denied his constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel, and reversed the Court of Appeal which reversed the trial court. View "Washington v. Lopez" on Justia Law

by
Eddie Arnold challenged his conviction for failure to register as a sex offender, in violation of ROW 9A.44.130. He argued he was not required to register because his 1988 conviction of statutory rape in violation of a statute amended in 1979, was not a "sex offense" within the meaning of the current sex offender registration statute. The Washington Supreme Court disagreed: the prior sex offense of which Arnold was convicted met the two critical prerequisites to a countable "sex offense" listed in former RCW 9.94A.030(46)(b) (2012): (1) that prior conviction was based on a statute that was 'in effect . . . prior to July 1, 1976" and (2) that prior conviction was based on a statute that is "comparable" to a current "sex offense" as defined in former RCW 9.94A.030(46)(a) (2012). The Court of Appeals felt bound by prior decisions of the two other divisions of the Court of Appeals, labeling this deference to a prior out-of-division decision a rule of "horizontal stare decisis." The Supreme Court rejected this rule, finding it conflicted with the statutes establishing the powers and duties of the Court of Appeals and the Washington Supreme Court itself: “it conflicts with court rules on those topics, it conflicts with prior decisions, and it would tend to diminish the robust, adversarial development of the law that is the gem of our current approach. We therefore reverse.” View "In re Pers. Restraint of Arnold" on Justia Law