Justia Constitutional Law Opinion Summaries

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This case concerned a driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII) conviction following the termination of a diversion agreement. Defendant Rhonda Colgrove pled guilty to misdemeanor DUII and petitioned to enter diversion. Defendant’s diversion petition stated, in part, that she had “read and underst[ood] all of the information in the attached Explanation of Rights and DUII Diversion Agreement” and “agree[d],” among other things, to “[a]ttend a victim impact panel as ordered by the court.” Defendant failed to pay $335 in fees and to attend a victim impact panel within the diversion period. The trial court thereafter terminated the diversion agreement and entered a judgment of conviction, and defendant appealed. As pertinent here, defendant challenged her conviction on the ground that the trial court had erroneously terminated her diversion agreement either because the agreement had not set a deadline to attend the victim impact panel or because the trial court had discretion to waive the attendance requirement. The Court of Appeals assumed that defendant’s challenge was reviewable under ORS 138.105(5), but concluded that it failed on the merits. The Oregon Supreme Court allowed defendant’s petition for review to address the reviewability issue that the Court of Appeals did not: whether ORS 138.105(5) precluded a defendant who pleads guilty or no contest from obtaining appellate review of legal challenges to the conviction in the judgment entered in the trial court. The Supreme Court concluded that such challenges were not reviewable under ORS 138.105(5). Accordingly, it affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals on different grounds. View "Oregon v. Colgrove" on Justia Law

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This is an appeal from an order denying Defendant’s to strike Plaintiff’s causes of action against him pursuant to the anti-SLAPP statute. The Second Appellate District reversed the trial court’s order and remanded to the trial court with instructions to grant Defendant’s motion to strike Plaintiff’s causes of action against him for civil extortion and violation of the Ralph Act.   The court wrote that there is no dispute that Defendant’s underlying conduct was in furtherance of petitioning activity within the meaning of section 425.16, subdivision (b)(1). But the trial court concluded Defendant’s prelitigation letter responsive to a demand from Plaintiff’s counsel amounted to extortion as a matter of law so as to deprive it of section 425.16 protection under Flatley v. Mauro (2006). The court explained that even though the trial court declined to reach it, the court decided to exercise our discretion to consider the second prong of the anti-SLAPP analysis and conclude that Plaintiff failed to meet his burden to show a probability of prevailing on his causes of action. The sole cause of action that Plaintiff defends on appeal is for civil extortion. The court agreed with Defendant that the litigation privilege defeats this cause of action. View "Flickinger v. Finwall" on Justia Law

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Mother appealed from the juvenile court’s jurisdictional finding and dispositional order as to her minor child, G.Z. First, Mother contends the evidence was insufficient to support the court’s finding that her minor son’s subdural hematomas were the result of her neglectful acts. Second, Mother argues her due process rights were violated when the juvenile court relied on Welfare and Institutions Code section 355.1’s rebuttable presumption in finding neglect by Mother when it “never notified its intent to do so until all parties had argued and submitted the case.”   The Second Appellate District vacated the court’s factual findings, and directed the juvenile court upon remand to dismiss the petition. The court reversed the juvenile court’s order given the lack of substantial evidence. The court explained that here, as set forth in the preceding section, Mother presented evidence that G.Z.’s subdural hematomas were not the result of abuse or negligence by her, rebutting the presumption of section 355.1, subdivision (a). Mother’s family members who were interviewed all told the CSW they have no concerns of neglect or physical abuse by Mother. Because Mother provided rebuttal evidence, the burden shifted back to DCFS to prove the petition’s allegations. Here, substantial evidence does not support the juvenile court’s jurisdictional findings. View "In re G.Z." on Justia Law

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Investigating drug trafficking based on the report of a confidential informant, the police entered the homes of both Alexander and his girlfriend, without search warrants. Officers entered Alexander’s home and secured the premises, then waited to conduct a search until a warrant was issued. At Alexander’s girlfriend’s home, they secured the premises and were applying for a warrant, which was all but certain to issue, when they received what they understood as consent to a search. Alexander was charged with possession with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B); possession with intent to distribute cocaine; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(1)(A)(i); and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1), 924(a)(2).The Third Circuit affirmed the denial of Alexander’s motion to suppress, citing the inevitable discovery exception to the exclusionary rule. There was probable cause to believe Alexander had cocaine and drug-dealing paraphernalia in both houses. Officers had reason to believe that Alexander had been tipped off so that evidence of drug dealing would be imminently destroyed. Exigent circumstances justified the officers entering without a warrant; the search of Alexander’s residence was valid because a warrant was properly issued. View "United States v. Alexander" on Justia Law

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The Anoka County Jail referred every detainee born outside the United States, including Plaintiff, to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The district court determined that this policy violates the Equal Protection Clause, and a jury awarded her $30,000 on a false-imprisonment theory.   The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that the district court’s conclusion was correct: Anoka County’s policy is a classic example of national-origin discrimination. On its face, it treats people differently depending on where they were born. Those born abroad must wait anywhere from 20 minutes to 6 hours longer while deputies consult ICE. For those born in the United States, by contrast, there is no call and release is immediate. The court explained that it is also significant that Anoka County had national-origin-neutral alternatives at its disposal. The failure to consider these alternatives provides further evidence that it did not adopt a narrowly tailored policy. View "Myriam Parada v. Anoka County" on Justia Law

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In 2014, Plaintiff, then a women’s soccer player at the University of Connecticut (“UConn”) and recipient of a one-year athletic scholarship, raised her middle finger to a television camera during her team’s post-game celebration after winning a tournament championship. Although she initially was suspended from further tournament games for that gesture, Plaintiff was ultimately also punished by UConn with a mid-year termination of her athletic scholarship. She brought this lawsuit against UConn (through its Board of Trustees) and several university officials alleging, inter alia, violations of her First Amendment and procedural due process rights under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, as well as a violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 (“Title IX”), in connection with the termination of her scholarship. On appeal, Plaintiff challenges the decision of the district court granting Defendants’ motion for summary judgment on those claims.   The Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment as to Plaintiff's procedural due process and First Amendment claims and vacated the district court’s judgment to the extent it granted summary judgment to UConn on the Title IX claim. The court explained Plaintiff has put forth sufficient evidence, including a detailed comparison of her punishment to those issued by UConn for male student-athletes found to have engaged in misconduct, to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether she was subjected to a more serious disciplinary sanction, i.e., termination of her athletic scholarship, because of her gender. View "Radwan v. Manuel" on Justia Law

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In July 2017, Cross was charged with murder. He remained in custody through trial. At a preliminary hearing, the court ordered Cross to respond to the state’s motion for pretrial discovery within 30 days, with written notice of any defenses. The court granted Cross six continuances, attributing each delay to Cross for purposes of the 120-day statutory speedy-trial term. On July 16, 2018, the defense indicated "ready for trial" and demanded a speedy trial. Trial was set for September 24, 2018; the 70-day period after July 16 would be attributable to the state. On August 21, Cross first raised an alibi defense. The state argued that the alibi would have been known to Cross for a year, that the late disclosure would require further investigation, and that the time from July 16 to September 24 should be attributable to Cross The court attributed the 36-day period before August 21 to the state but attributed the subsequent 34-day period to Cross. The court set a new trial date of November 6; the delay after September 24 was attributed to the state. Defense counsel did not object to a statement that the speedy-trial term would run on November 29.On appeal following his conviction, Cross first argued that his statutory speedy-trial rights were violated. The appellate court and Illinois Supreme Court rejected his argument that there is no delay unless a trial date is postponed. Cross received effective assistance of counsel. View "People v. Cross" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff as pulled over by a deputy of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office for erratic driving. During the stop, the deputy noticed an open container of beer and decided to issue a warning citation. The deputy wrote—but never delivered—the ticket. Instead, a few minutes into the stop, he ordered Plaintiff out of the truck so he could walk his drug-sniffing dog around the vehicle. Plaintiff resisted the deputy’s commands verbally and then physically. The deputy arrested him for obstruction and Plaintiff suffered minor injuries. His truck was searched, but no drugs were found. The obstruction charge was later dismissed. A couple years after this encounter, Plaintiff filed claims against the deputy and the Jackson County Sheriff under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 and Florida common law.   The Eleventh Circuit vacated he district court’s summary judgment on the Section 1983 claim against the deputy, but only with respect to the issue of whether the deputy unlawfully prolonged the traffic stop in violation of Plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment rights. The court also vacated the district court’s summary judgment on the false imprisonment claim against both the deputy and the Jackson County Sheriff, but only with respect to the issues of whether the deputy tortiously detained Plaintiff by (1) unlawfully prolonging the traffic stop and (2) arresting Plaintiff without probable cause. The court affirmed the district court’s summary judgment in all other respects. View "Michael Baxter v. Louis Roberts, III, et al." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants on the basis of qualified immunity and dismissing Plaintiff's complaint bringing various constitutional claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983 alleging Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment violations and state law tort claims under the Maine Civil Rights Act (MCRA), Me. Stat. tit. 5, 4682, holding that there was no error.Plaintiff brought this action against the City of Portland and six city police officers alleging that the officers used excessive force and otherwise violated his constitutional rights when they were investigating a domestic violence incident in which he was involved and left him standing outside in his socks in freezing temperatures for several minutes. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants on the grounds of qualified immunity. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Defendant was entitled to qualified immunity under the circumstances of this case; and (2) the district court properly concluded that Plaintiff's tort claims had been waived and granted summary judgment in Defendants' favor. View "Punsky v. City of Portland" on Justia Law

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During a traffic stop, a detective and a police officer worked in tandem to search Colbert’s vehicle and frisk him, uncovering on his person a brick-shaped package later confirmed to contain a controlled substance. Colbert moved to suppress this evidence, arguing that the frisk violated his constitutional rights. The district court denied the motion. Colbert entered a conditional guilty plea to possession with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of a mixture containing a detectable amount of fentanyl, 21 U.S.C. 841(a).The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The officers had reasonable suspicion to frisk him based on two officers observing the smell of marijuana coming from the vehicle, Colbert’s erratic driving, evasive and nervous behavior, a bulge in his pocket, and unwillingness to follow directions. Colbert had read and signed a form, giving the officer permission to search his vehicle. View "United States v. Colbert" on Justia Law