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Edit Delete 1st Circuit


U.S. v. Vizcarrondo-Casanova, Aug-18-2014

J. Kayatta finds that the lower court properly convicted appellants and others, some Puerto Rico police officers, of conspiring to kidnap, rob, and kill a rival drug dealer. In closing statements, the prosecutor did not vouch for witnesses to a point that it was flaunting the government's skills or its pure motives. Affirmed.

Edit Delete 1st Circuit


U.S. v. Davila-Felix, Aug-18-2014

J. Torruella finds that the lower court properly allowed the government to admit additional evidence of appellant being a career offender at appellant's resentencing. Since the court denied appellant's sentencing on the three-strikes rule, evidence of his being a career offender became newly relevant. Affirmed.

Edit Delete 2nd Circuit


U.S. v. Erie County, Aug-18-2014

J. Calabresi finds that documents created in connection with a civil rights action against Erie County, which alleged unconstitutional practices in two of its correctional facilities, should be available for public access. The documents at issue were prepared by compliance consultants and measured the county's progress in improving conditions in the correctional facilities. The documents were not created in preparation for settlement. "Access to the compliance reports enables the public to understand, monitor, and respond to the progress made towards altering what the Department of Justice, as enforcer of the nation's laws, alleged were unconstitutional conditions in Erie County correctional facilities." Reversed.

Edit Delete 2nd Circuit


Alvarez v. Ercole, Aug-18-2014

J. Calabresi finds that the district court improperly excluded all cross-exam related to an investigative report during defendant's murder trial. Defendant sought to cross-exam a detective to show that the police had not pursued known leads, not to show that the content of the Vasquez report was true. The lower court denied defendant an opportunity to develop his only defense. Reversed.

Edit Delete 3rd Circuit


Lodge No. 5 of the Fraternal Order of Police v. Philadelphia, Aug-18-2014

J. Hardiman finds that the lower court improperly ruled for the city in a constitutional challenge to a 1951 law restricting city employees from participating in certain political activities. The law also specifically prohibits police officers, but not other municipal employees, from making contributions to their union's political action committee. Plaintiffs claim that the restriction has placed the police at a competitive disadvantage, especially in labor negotiations, because they are unable to raise money from members to further the union's political agenda. Based on the city's own experience with machine politics, the law violates police officers First Amendment rights, as the government's interest in reducing the power of interest groups does not justify depriving a large number of people of their freedom of speech. Reversed.

Edit Delete 3rd Circuit


U.S. v. Freeman, Aug-18-2014

[Consolidated.] J. Fisher finds that the lower court properly sentenced defendant Henry Freeman for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, but improperly sentenced defendant Gelean Mark for the same crime. Both defendants were convicted of importing cocaine through the Virgin Islands to the mainland U.S. The trial court properly relied on a government witnesses' testimony to determine the specific quantity of cocaine imported by Freeman, and applied a sentence within the guidelines range. However, the court made cursory factual findings regarding the amount of cocaine attributable to Mark, which did not meet the guidelines' reliability standard. Therefore, Mark's case must be remanded for more detailed factfinding. Affirmed in part.

Edit Delete 3rd Circuit


U.S. v. Claxton, Aug-18-2014

J. Fisher finds that the lower court properly convicted defendant of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine from 1999 to 2005. Defendant was convicted of conspiracy to import cocaine from the British Virgin Islands to the Virgin Islands and then to the mainland United States. Defendant was not denied an impartial jury when the trial judge refused to recuse a juror who had previously worked with a government witness. In addition, drug evidence collected by the government in 2003 was properly admitted because its probative value far outweighed its inconsistencies. The government's 19 month delay in bringing defendant to trial was justified by the complexity of the case and the difficult task of finding defendant in order to arrest him. Affirmed.

Edit Delete 3rd Circuit


Syblis v. U.S. Attorney General, Aug-18-2014

J. Fisher finds that the immigration judge properly found petitioner ineligible for cancellation of removal. Petitioner overstayed his visa and was convicted of possession of paraphernalia and marijuana. Because both petitioner's convictions appear to relate to controlled substances, he is statutorily ineligible for a waiver of inadmissibility. Affirmed.

Edit Delete 5th Circuit


Munn v. Ocean Springs, Aug-18-2014

J. Jolly finds that the lower court properly dismissed plaintiff's challenge to defendant's noise ordinance. Although the ordinance uses some arguably ambiguous terms such as "annoys," it is not unconstitutionally vague. The ordinance also says that an annoyance must be something that would annoy a reasonable person. Although this might not lead to uniform enforcement, it is a standard that is frequently applied constitutionally. The enforcement of the ordinance is not at issue, although it is "worrisome" that an officer testified that he had enforced it based on anonymous complaints, even though he did not believe the noise was particularly loud. Affirmed.

Edit Delete 6th Circuit


Payne v. Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Aug-18-2014

J. Stranch finds that the lower court improperly dismissed claims that a pharmaceuticals company failed to warn plaintiff's doctor that two of its drugs could cause serious damages to a patient's jaw bones. Plaintiff took both drugs and had to have part of her jaw removed. Under Tennessee law, the failure to warn issue is for a jury to determine. Plaintiff's testimony, along with that of her doctor, could establish that she would not have taken the drug if her doctor had warned her of its possible side effects, and thus defendant is liable for her injuries. Reversed.

Edit Delete 6th Circuit


Hayden v. Martin Marietta Materials, Aug-18-2014

J. Gibbons finds that the lower court properly ruled for employer regarding the ERISA plan administrator's denial of benefits that stemmed from plaintiff's physical disability claim. Plaintiff's breast cancer was in remission, and her loss of use of her left vocal cord did not render her unable to perform as office manager. Her other conditions were also manageable with medical care. However, the plan administrator improperly rejected plaintiff's mental disability claim since the administrator failed to consider medical evidence from three doctors. Instead, it relied on an inadequate doctor's report and applied a significantly heightened standard for a disability mental illness than the plan requires. Affirmed in part.

Edit Delete 6th Circuit


N.W. v. Boone County Board of Education, Aug-18-2014

J. Moore finds that the lower court improperly ordered the school district to reimburse the parents for the money they paid to place their child in private school while challenging the education of their autistic son, who also suffers from apraxia. The court ruled that the school's placement of the child in an autism-specific classroom sufficed to give him a "free appropriate public education." Therefore, the parents were not entitled to reimbursement, having lost their case against the school district. Reversed.

Edit Delete 7th Circuit


U.S. v. Domnenko, Aug-18-2014

J. Williams finds that the lower court improperly sentenced defendants for fraud regarding their buying and selling a home. The transaction was not arm's length since one defendant's companies was selling and the other defendant, his wife, was buying. This allowed them to obtain more loan money than they otherwise could have, such that they sold the home for a far greater amount and benefited from kickbacks. However, they may not have known that all the subsequent damages would occur. If these damages were not reasonably foreseeable, they should not be imputed to them. They had no way of knowing that the final buyer was fictional, so the loss itself may not have been foreseeable. Affirmed in part.

Edit Delete 7th Circuit


U.S. v. Adame-Hernandez, Aug-18-2014

J. Tinder finds that the lower court improperly rejected defendant's guilty plea and proposed sentence for drug distribution. The court failed to explain whether the plea would waive the right to appeal a ruling that occurred before the latest plea was accepted. It would be unfair and circular to deny defendant the right to contest pervasive errors in the handling of his plea simply because he entered a plea. On remand, the court should grant him the benefits of his bargain. Reversed.

Edit Delete 7th Circuit


Rush University Medical Center v. Burwell, Aug-18-2014

J. Wood finds that the lower court improperly found for plaintiff in its claim for Medicare benefits for the period of 1983 to 2001, during which its residents conducted research unrelated to diagnosing and treating patients. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act excludes pure research from cost calculations for 2001 and beyond. But at the time this suit began, the years before 2001 were not included. Defendant has the discretion to decide whether pure research can be reimbursed. Defendant could have counted the research as part of the indirect education time that Medicare should reimburse, since teaching hospitals provides great public benefits that outweigh their higher per-patient care costs. However, defendant was not required to do so. Reversed.

Edit Delete 7th Circuit


Hansen v. Fincantieri Marine Group, Aug-18-2014

J. Tinder finds that the lower court improperly dismissed plaintiff's Family and Medical Leave Act and retaliation claims. Plaintiff should not have been required to present expert testimony to show that his depression rendered him unable to work. Plaintiff provided a letter from a doctor that was credible enough to at least raise the possibility that he is incapacitated. Reversed.

Edit Delete 7th Circuit


Graber v. Clarke, Aug-18-2014

J. Bauer finds that the lower court properly dismissed plaintiff's free speech and association claims. He was part of a union inquiry into police overtime hours. Although speech intended to protect the public could be immune from discipline, the claims in question had to deal with personal disputes. When the motive and context indicate that a person's speech raises a topic of general interest merely for personal reasons, there is no First Amendment issues where public employees' internal communications are involved. Affirmed.

Edit Delete 7th Circuit


U.S. v. Vargas, Aug-18-2014

J. Bauer finds that the lower court properly convicted defendants of marijuana possession and conspiracy. Defendants knew that they were transporting a large sum of money on behalf of a known drug trafficker. At the very least this showed willful blindness to the high probability that they were involved in crime. The sentence adequately reflects this. Affirmed.

Edit Delete 7th Circuit


U.S. v. Gomez, Aug-18-2014

J. Sykes finds that the lower court properly convicted defendant of cocaine distribution. A court only needs to avoid evidence of other acts when the accused is charged with a general intent crime and does not dispute intent, which was not the case here. The court did not prejudice defendant by explaining the concept of propensity to the jury and the reason for the rule against inferences made based upon it. A lay person can easily understand the idea that she is to try a case, not a person based on his history or character. Had the evidence of other acts been excluded, defendant would have been convicted anyway. Affirmed.

Edit Delete 7th Circuit


U.S. v. Jones, Aug-18-2014

J. Tinder finds that the lower court properly convicted defendants of drug distribution and conspiracy, but improperly sentenced some of them. Various defendants objected to the extent of cross-examination that they were allowed to conduct on the others, but none of their Sixth Amendment rights were prejudiced since any more cross-examination would have led to self-incrimination. The evidence was generally sufficient given the extensive wiretap operation against defendants. However, the court incorrectly applied the Fair Sentencing Act. Certain provisions may apply retroactively to some of the four defendants and 21 indictees. Affirmed in part.

Edit Delete 7th Circuit


McDowell v. Lansing, Aug-18-2014

J. Tinder finds that the lower court properly dismissed plaintiff's civil rights suit. Defendant officer's failure to intervene in a rapid bar fight was not so egregious as to deprive him of immunity. Bad police work does not automatically expose an officer to civil rights liability. Affirmed.

Edit Delete 7th Circuit


U.S. v. Harris, Aug-18-2014

J. Williams finds that the lower court properly convicted defendant of identity theft and fraud. Empaneling an anonymous jury is only appropriate when jurors might need protection from the defendant. However, the record shows that the parties knew the jurors' names. Declining to state the names in open court simply helped protect their privacy. A simple internet search could identify most of them as well. Affirmed.

Edit Delete 9th Circuit


Ghanim v. Colvin, Aug-18-2014

J. Paez finds that the social security commissioner improperly denied petitioner disability and social security benefits. Petitioner, an Iraqi refugee, suffers from severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder after enduring his own torture in Iraq and learning of his brother's death in the second Iraqi war. An administrative law judge improperly gave greater weight to a vocational expert's testimony that petitioner could perform simple jobs, such as a kitchen helper, than the testimony of medical experts. Reversed.

Edit Delete 9th Circuit


Thomas v. Riverside County, Aug-18-2014

Per curiam, the circuit finds that the lower court improperly dismissed plaintiffs' claims that she was retaliated against for her union involvement. A reasonable jury might find that the multiple adverse employment actions taken against plaintiff could deter protected speech, especially when viewed in a context of a labor campaign. Although the employer offered a number of justifications for its actions, the adverse transfers came shortly after plaintiff's protected activity, and a jury could find the justifications pretextual. There is evidence that four of the six adverse incidents could have been retaliatory. Reversed in part.

Edit Delete 9th Circuit


Arrendondo v. Neven, Aug-18-2014

J. Berzon finds that the lower court properly denied defendant habeas corpus relief. It was reasonable for the court to assume that defendant knowingly and willingly waived his right to counsel when he refused to proceed with his appointed defense attorney. The court also carefully advised defendant of the risks and the prison time he faced. Defendant's claim that he was given inadequate time to produce his witnesses fails because he did not bring the due process claim before a state court. Affirmed.

Edit Delete 9th Circuit


Brown v. Holder, Aug-18-2014

J. Clifton finds that petitioner's challenge to the removal order must be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. However, petitioner may have a claim to U.S. citizenship if he can show that the Immigration and Naturalization Service's mishandling of his naturalization applications was a violation of due process. The case is remanded to the district court for findings of fact on this issue. Petitoner claims that he pledged an oath of allegiance in an interview with an immigration officer, but this is not enough to make him a citizen.

Edit Delete 9th Circuit


Nguyen v. Barnes & Noble, Aug-18-2014

J. Noonan finds that the lower court properly denied defendant's motion to compel arbitration in a class action concerning alleged deceptive business practices. Plaintiff ordered a tablet computer from the bookstore online in a liquidation sale, but was informed the next day that his order was cancelled due to high demand. Plaintiff is not bound by defendant's terms of use because there is no evidence that website users were made aware they were subject to the agreement. Although the terms of use are made available via a hyperlink on each page, defendant provided no notice to users, nor requested that they take affirmative action to agree to its terms. Affirmed.

Edit Delete California Courts Of Appeal


Fonteno v. Wells Fargo Bank, Aug-18-2014

[Consolidated.] J. Brick finds that a trial court incorrectly dismissed the wrongful foreclosure and quiet title actions of plaintiffs' complaint. Plaintiffs adequately alleged that defendant Wells Fargo had no authority to conduct a trustee sale of their home because it did not comply with National Housing Act requirements. Given that, plaintiffs had no obligation to tender the delinquency before filing their lawsuit, as is normally the case. Reversed in part.

Edit Delete California Courts Of Appeal


People v. McGraw-Hill Co., Aug-18-2014

J. Richman finds that defendants cannot appeal a trial court's refusal to strike an action accusing them of violating the California False Claims Act. Defendants moved to strike a public prosecution action, to which the anti-SLAPP statute cannot be applied or it would undo attempts to enforce laws. So the trial court's decision cannot be appealed, as anti-SLAPP does not apply to the action against defendants.

Edit Delete California Supreme Court


People v. Merriman, Aug-18-2014

C.J. Cantil-Sakauye finds that a trial court correctly sentenced defendant to death for murdering a woman after he sexually assaulted her, among other crimes. While defendant argued the trial court should not have joined his murder trial with the other unrelated crimes he had committed, and that doing so denied him a right to a fair trial, the 25 charges against defendant met the requirements for joining and the trial court has the discretion to do so. And while unsavory, the details of the non-capital crimes would have done little to prejudice the jury in light of the details of the murder defendant committed. Affirmed.

Edit Delete California Supreme Court


People v. Shazier, Aug-18-2014

J. Baxter finds that an appeals court improperly reversed a second jury finding that defendant must be committed for secure confinement as a sexually violent predator. The appeals court reversed due to "cumulative prejudice from multiple instances of prosecutorial misconduct," and while one clear incident can be identified, the weight of the evidence in favor of defendant's commitment means it is impossible that the misconduct denied defendant a fair hearing. Reversed.

Edit Delete Colorado Supreme Court


In re People v. Owens, Aug-18-2014

J. Coats finds that a prosecutor's constitutional duty to disclose information favorable to defendants extends through a death penalty appeal, even if there is not a reasonable probability that nondisclosure would change the results. Defendants' petitions for relief from a series of discovery rulings in their death penalty case should be remanded for the lower court to apply this due process standard.

Edit Delete Delaware Supreme Court


In the Matter of Goldstein v. , Aug-18-2014

J. Holland finds that Kevin W. Goldstein shall be transferred to disability inactive status pursuant to his unopposed petition.

Edit Delete Idaho Supreme Court


Agrisource v. Johnson, Aug-18-2014

J. Burdick finds that the district court properly found for Agrisource on its contract claim against defendant. Defendant did not disclose his employer, Johnson Grain, as an alleged principal, and Agrisource had no notice of defendant's agency. Since Agrisource's employees stated that they did not know defendant worked for Johnson Grain, defendant needed to show that he disclosed he was Johnson Grain's agent. Defendant's third motion to reconsider was impermissible because the motion did not ask the court to reconsider any order made after its final judgment, and defendant filed his motion more than 14 days after the district court certified the judgment as final. Affirmed in part.

Edit Delete Illinois Appellate Court


Platform I Shore v. The Village of Lincolnwood, Aug-18-2014

J. Hoffman finds that further review is needed regarding appellants' zoning application for the development and operation of a firearms shooting range on their property. Under the zoning ordinance in effect at the time plaintiffs filed their application, a shooting range was permissible under the "health club or private recreation" permitted-use provision. Reversed.

Edit Delete Illinois Appellate Court


Lewis v. Heartland Food Corp., Aug-18-2014

J. Liu holds that plaintiff failed to allege a valid negligence claim against Burger King where four unnamed individuals stole plaintiff's iPhone in one of defendant's fast food restaurants. Defendant had no duty to protect plaintiff from the theft of his phone. A landowner has no duty to protect others from criminal activities by a third person unless a special relationship exists. When the person is a business invitee, no duty exists where there is no physical harm. Affirmed.

Edit Delete Illinois Appellate Court


Sedlacek v. Belmonte Properties, Aug-18-2014

J. McLaren holds that defendant is not liable for injuries caused to plaintiff by a dog kept by defendant's tenants. The injury occurred off the leased property. Defendant told the tenants to remove the dog, but they did not do so right away. The injury was caused by the dog, not by a broken gate. Affirmed.

Edit Delete Illinois Appellate Court


Themas v. Green's Tap, Aug-18-2014

J. Schostok finds that the lower court properly disregarded appellant's jury demand and proceeded to a bench trial on her negligence action after appellant received the assignment of the original defendant's claim against third-party defendant Mt. Carroll Insurance. "The assignee becomes the owner of the claim and may pursue it in her own name like any other claim she might have." Therefore, plaintiff's jury demand covered the subsequently assigned claim. Reversed.

Edit Delete Indiana Court Of Appeals


McIntire v. Franklin Township Community School Corp., Aug-18-2014

J. Mathias finds that the trial court properly granted defendant, a school corporation, summary judgment. The court improperly held that plaintiff was required to give notice regarding her challenge to fees she incurred for sending her children to school, which included a $1.50 locker fee, a $10 technology fee, and a textbook rental fee. While plaintiff's claim was not contract-based, the claim was also not based on a "loss" as defined by the Indiana Tort Claims Act Act. However, plaintiff cannot seek monetary damages for a violation of the state constitution. Affirmed.

Edit Delete Indiana Court Of Appeals


Falatovics v. Falatovics, Aug-18-2014

J. Crone finds that the trial court improperly excluded real estate from a divorce proceeding. Defendant's interest in the property has a present value to be divided as part of marital property, and the couple in fact enjoyed part of the land for years. Thus, that property needs to be subject to division amongst other marital property. The case is remanded for further proceedings. Reversed.

Edit Delete Indiana Court Of Appeals


Mallory v. Indiana, Aug-18-2014

J. Bradford finds that the trial court improperly denied defendant's attempt to expunge his felony criminal record, which he requested a decade after his conviction. Two victims testified that it was their wish that the court not allow the request. But defendant claims that the statute allowing victims to testify in expungement proceedings is ambiguous, and because statute says that the court "shall" expunge records if all requirements have been met, the court's decision is overturned. The case is remanded for further proceedings. Reversed.

Edit Delete Indiana Court Of Appeals


Floor-Essence v. Marion County Auditor, Aug-18-2014

J. Brown finds that the trial court properly overruled plaintiff's objections and issued tax sale deeds from a tax sale. Defendant provided the proper notices of delinquent taxes to plaintiff and complied with all due process associated with the tax sale. Affirmed.

Edit Delete Indiana Court Of Appeals


Ward v. Indiana, Aug-18-2014

J. Bradford finds that the trial court properly ruled in a domestic violence case. Defendant's confrontation rights were not violated because the victim's statements were not testimonial. Also, witness testimony and the welts left behind on the victim showed that defendant used a belt to beat his girlfriend on her body, legs and buttocks. The belt could be classified as a deadly weapon. Affirmed.

Edit Delete Indiana Court Of Appeals


Lucas v. Indiana, Aug-18-2014

J. Riley finds that the trial court should have suppressed a sobriety test and marijuana that was found in defendant's car in a driving under the influence case. The officer pulled defendant over knowing that her license was expired from a plate check. He then had her get out of her car and move to his vehicle in order to continue the routine stop, and only at that time did he smell alcohol on her breath. Thus, the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to investigate defendant until after he transferred her to his squad car. Reversed.

Edit Delete Indiana Court Of Appeals


Kretschmer v. Bank of America, Aug-18-2014

J. Brown finds that the trial court improperly found for plaintiff in a foreclosure dispute. Plaintiff's counsel told defendant that he should ignore the notice of inquiry concerning foreclosure and move forward with a short sale. Then he received notice of a default judgment against him. Because there is evidence that he was misled by plaintiff, the court's decision is overturned and the default judgment shall be set aside on remand. Reversed.

Edit Delete Louisiana Court Of Appeal


Covington v. Howard, Aug-18-2014

J. Moore finds that a woman involved in a highway incident cannot prove that the necessary special circumstances were present to bring a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress. The incident was not defendants' fault, and there was no likelihood that she would suffer severe mental distress. Thus, her claim was properly dismissed. Reversed.

Edit Delete Maryland Court Of Appeals


NIHC v. Comptroller of the Treasury, Aug-18-2014

J. McDonald finds that the lower court properly found that appellant's income was taxable by the state after finding that it was not a separate subsidiary from Nordstrom. Appellant argues that it was erroneous to find that its separate tax return does not reduce its parent company, Nordstrom's tax liability. However, the gains appellant made from the activities within the state are to be reported on parent company Nordstrom's income tax return. Affirmed.

Edit Delete Massachusetts Court Of Appeals


Zimmerling v. Affinity Financial, Aug-18-2014

J. Sullivan holds that intervenor BHC's perfected security interests in escrowed funds were not extinguished when the funds were transferred to a court-ordered escrow account. A transfer takes place when both legal and equitable title to escrowed funds pass to the beneficiary, and BHC was a potential beneficiary. Affirmed.

Edit Delete Massachusetts Court Of Appeals


Lowell v. Talcott, Aug-18-2014

J. Graham finds that a child born in 1963 while her mother was married to someone other than the child's father is entitled to benefits from the maternal grandparents' estate. The word "issue" in a will at that time referred to legitimate children. When the child was born, the parents did not question the child's legitimacy. Therefore, she has a right to distributions from the trusts. Reversed.

Edit Delete Massachusetts Court Of Appeals


Barrow v. Dartmouth House Nursing Home, Aug-18-2014

J. Kafker finds that an arbitration agreement signed by plaintiff on behalf of his mother, who was in a nursing home, was unenforceable in a case where the mother was beaten and strangled to death by another resident. Plaintiff did not have a durable power of attorney and was not acting as his mother's guardian. A health care proxy is insufficient to authorize a health care agent to sign an arbitration agreement. The principles of equitable estoppel do not preclude him from filing suit. Reversed.

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