Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the State in this capital murder case. The court held that petitioner failed to present clear and convincing evidence sufficient to overcome the state trial court's determination that he was competent to waive counsel and plead guilty. The court rejected petitioner's claims of ineffective assistance of appointed trial counsel and claims that he did not receive a fair trial and juror bias. Finally, the court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying his request for an evidentiary hearing. View "Austin v. Davis" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 after Jeremy W. Vann was shot and killed by police in a retail parking lot when he was maneuvering his car in an effort to escape. The district court granted summary judgment for the police officers and the city. The Fifth Circuit held that there were genuine disputed issues of material fact regarding Sergeant Logan's actions, and thus the court vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment to Logan. In this case, the central disputed fact was whether Logan ran to the opening and shot Vann to stop him from fleeing or whether Logan ran between the cars to get out of Vann's way and then shot Vann because Vann was going to hit him. The court affirmed the district court's judgment as to the remaining defendants. View "Vann v. City of Southaven" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a federal inmate, filed suit under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), and under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), alleging retaliation after he filed a grievance expressing safety concerns following several power outages at the prison. The district court dismissed plaintiff's claims. The Fifth Circuit vacated in part, holding that plaintiff alleged facts that supported plausible claims of retaliation and conspiracy. The court remanded those claims for further proceedings. The court affirmed as to the remaining claims. View "Brunson v. Nichols" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants on plaintiff's failure to accommodate claim under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12132, and on his claims for unjustified detention, excessive use of force, and municipal liability under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and the Fourth Amendment. In regard to the ADA claim, the court held that the record contained no evidence that plaintiff requested an accommodation for his neck disability; in regard to the claim of unjustified detention, the undisputed facts established reasonable suspicion and plaintiff failed to demonstrate that the length of the traffic stop transformed it into an arrest; in regard to the excessive force claim, the seizure was justified by reasonable suspicion and was conducted in a reasonable manner; and because plaintiff failed to demonstrate the existence of a constitutional violation, the County was entitled to judgment on his Monell claim as a matter of law. View "Windham v. Harris County, Texas" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's claim that the cell phone found in the victim's home, and the subsequently discovered call records linking him to the scene of the murder, were obtained from an unconstitutional search conducted pursuant to a deficient warrant. The court rejected petitioner's defaulted Fourth Amendment claim and held that the evidence fell within the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule. View "Evans v. Davis" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendant's motion to dismiss based on qualified immunity. After police shot and killed her father, plaintiff alleged that defendant picked her up, threw her over his shoulder, and carried her to a police car, where she sat handcuffed against her will. The court held that plaintiff sufficiently pled unconstitutional seizure and excessive force; in regard to the unconstitutional seizure claim, it was not clearly established at the time that defendant needed probable cause to detain plaintiff; and, in regard to the excessive force claim, plaintiff waived her argument as to the clearly established law prong and could not overcome qualified immunity. View "Lincoln v. Turner" on Justia Law

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A pre-trial detainee denied access to the judicial system for a prolonged period has been denied basic procedural due process. In this case, plaintiff was indicted by a grand jury, arrested, and put in jail where she waited for 96 days to be brought before a judge and was effectively denied bail. The Fifth Circuit held that this excessive detention deprived plaintiff of liberty without legal or due process in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "Jauch v. Choctaw County" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit treated plaintiff's petition for rehearing en banc as a petition for panel rehearing and denied the petition for panel rehearing. The court withdrew its prior opinion and substituted the following opinion. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment against plaintiff on his failure to accommodate and hostile work environment claims. The court held that plaintiff's failure to accommodate claim could reasonably be expected to, and in fact did, grow out of his charge of discrimination; there was insufficient evidence to prove defendants' knowledge of plaintiff's disability where defendants did not attribute plaintiff's limitation -- sensitivity to noise -- to a physical or mental impairment; a jury could find that the harassment plaintiff experienced was sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the terms and conditions of his employment; but, because plaintiff did not challenge on appeal the district court's determination that he unreasonably failed to avail himself of the procedures set forth in the anti-harassment policies maintained by defendants, he forfeited his objection to this determination. View "Patton v. Jacobs Engineering Group" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims under common law, Texas statutes, and 42 U.S.C. 1983. Because plaintiff's section 1983 claims should have been brought in a second state court action, the dismissal with prejudice barred those claims from relitigation. Therefore, the court held that res judicata barred all of plaintiff's claims. The court vacated the attorney fee award because the district court did not make a finding of frivolousness and approved an award supported by insufficient evidence. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Portillo v. Cunningham" on Justia Law

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After negotiations failed between plaintiff and Trans-Pecos regarding the construction of a pipeline on plaintiff's land, Trans-Pecos invoked Texas eminent domain power via Tex. Util. Code 181.004. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the denial of plaintiff's application for a preliminary injunction under the Anti-Injunction Act. The district court held that the Act barred the injunction because the injunction would enjoin a state condemnation process that culminates in a judicial proceeding. As a preliminary matter, the court denied a motion to dismiss on mootness grounds. The court then held, on alternative grounds, that plaintiff could not meet the demanding standard for issuance of an injunction. The court explained that the significant differences between the Texas delegation of power to private entities and those delegations the Supreme Court has held unconstitutional mean that plaintiff's due process challenge faced long odds. Because of plaintiff's inability to establish a likelihood of success, much less a substantial one, he was not entitled to a preliminary injunction. View "Boerschig v. Trans-Pecos Pipeline, LLC" on Justia Law