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- Two vacationers from Memphis run out of money in Los Angeles and, like one of them, steals a car for their trip home. But a chance encounter with police at a gas station in Stratford, Texas leaves one of the men dead, shot from behind as he tried to evade police. His estate sued. Fifth circuit: You can’t really have a reasonable fear of your life when someone walks away from you, so there’s enough here to go before a jury.
- After the Texas legislature amended its election code in 2021, the United States and others filed a lawsuit, alleging the changes were racially discriminatory. These plaintiffs would very much like to compel members of the Legislative Assembly to be discovered, but, as the Fifth circuit explains, legislative privilege stands in the way.
- Fifth circuit (February): It’s a clearly established constitutional violation to keep an inmate in prison more than two years after their release date, but this Louisiana official has qualified immunity because there’s a third additional investigation to be done. qualified immunity analysis which says plaintiffs must show that it was “objectively unreasonable” for the officials to violate a clearly established law. This inmate did not attempt such a demonstration, so he lost the question. Fifth circuit (this week, after receiving notice that a cert petition is in the works): Well, maybe this third investigation is actually just part of the second investigation. And, okay, the inmate didn’t forfeit the issue, but he still has not demonstrated that the grievor’s violation of a clearly established law was objectively unreasonable.
- Hamilton County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Deputy arrests a woman and finds her in possession of marijuana. He tells her that if she lets him baptize her, he won’t take her to jail. He also calls a fellow officer, who has come to film him without knowing the counterpart. Sixth circuit (unpublished): Qualified immunity for filming agent. (Claims against the Baptizing Officer continue.)
- Allegation: Rutherford County, Tennessee Sheriff gives the go-ahead for Operation Candy Crush – in which deputies raided vape shops, seized their inventory and arrested their owners – despite know that the CBD products sold by the stores were legal under state and federal laws. law. District Court: Yes, but he was not personally involved in the investigation or the raid. Sixth circuit: “Civil Conspiracy Complaints Section 1983 does not contain a ‘personal involvement’ requirement.” The case goes to trial.
- In 2015, the Superintendent of the Cook County, Illinois Temporary Detention Center for Juveniles allowed the facility to be used for several days for the filming of scenes for the television series. Empire. Inmates file a putative class action lawsuit against, among others, the superintendent, alleging that security and scheduling restrictions had been unusually harsh on filming days. Does the superintendent have sovereign immunity for inmate claims under state law? Seventh circuit: Yes.
- Federal prosecutors in Arizona are charging 19 suspected gang members with running a ring of crack houses and doing RICO. Accused: Whoa, one of the prosecutors is into some dodgy stuff. District Court: That sounds fishy. And because other prosecutors probably know, I’m going to disqualify all 180 prosecutors in this office from this case. Ninth circuit: Since there is no evidence that the whole office is down, all you have to do is disqualify the sole prosecutor.
- Is the Damn (which prohibits an action under section 1983 relating to a conviction where the plaintiff’s judgment would contradict the existing conviction) applies once a defendant is no longer in custody following his criminal conviction? Although the question divides the circuits, the Eleventh Circuit avoids it while allowing a man’s excessive force complaint to proceed against Florida prison officers who pepper sprayed him after he (allegedly) tampered with the sprinkler in his cell . There is also a thoughtful and semantic match (the descriptor of the majority, with which your editor agrees).
- Convicted serial killer Lyndon Pace – who was sentenced to death after being convicted in 1996 of the rape and murder of four women in the Atlanta area in the late 1980s – is appealing a denial of habeas, raising multiple arguments that his rights were violated during the sentencing phase of his trial. THE Eleventh Circuit devotes 107 pages (unpublished) to dismissing her appeal, but the real action is Judge Rosenbaum’s three-page agreement in which she “emphasizes[s] [her] disgusted by the prosecution’s outrageous conduct in closing arguments” and calls on states to curb prosecution misconduct “in real time.”
- After a Louisiana prosecutor tells a judge that the underage victim of a sex crime doesn’t want the perpetrator to go to jail, the judge sentences the culprit to probation. Ouch! In fact, she wanted him to go to jail, and the judge says he would have sent him to jail if it hadn’t been for the prosecutor’s false statements. Can the victim sue the prosecutor? Supreme Court of Louisiana: The legislature may have passed a law denying immunity to officials accused of willful or scandalous misconduct, but that does not override the doctrine of absolute immunity from prosecution. (H/t: Matthew Segal.)
- And in amicus brief news, IJ is calling on the Tenth Circuit to join the correct and virtuous side of a developing circuit divided over whether federal officials can be held liable for violating the Fourth Amendment for their excessive use of force. The case involves deputy U.S. marshals who snuck up on a suspect while he was fixing his friend’s generator, kicked him in the head and took turns stomping on him while he was unconscious. (We’re on the side that thinks the Constitution offers a remedy for this sort of thing.)
Friends, code enforcement officials in Humboldt County, Calif., have a bad habit of fining homeowners hundreds of thousands of dollars for things they didn’t do or didn’t do. a previous owner made. Then, when the owners dispute the fines, the county refuses to schedule hearings. Many IJ clients have been waiting for years for a hearing. Unfortunately, this week a federal magistrate dismissed the case, ruling that the extravagant fines were just tough bargaining tactics intended to “coerce” people into signing settlement agreements and that the plaintiffs, who had the threatened fines of $10,000 a day while their heads for years were unharmed. We will appeal. Click here to learn more.