Articles Posted in Civil Rights

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Plaintiffs filed suit under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1400–1482, alleging that the School Board's refusal to include the desired therapy in their children's Individual Education Plan (IEP) reflected its predetermined policy of never including any Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA)-based method or strategy in a child's IEP. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment and held that plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the policy because it was not applied to them. The court explained that, although plaintiffs could claim to suffer injury because the School Board did not adopt the specific ABA services they were requesting, such a claim was not a cognizable injury in fact under the procedural prong of Bd. of Educ. of Hendrick Hudson Cent. Sch. Dist. v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176, 206–07 (1982), because the children's IEPs included an ABA-based service. View "L.M.P. v. School Board of Broward County" on Justia Law

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After Dontrell Stephens was shot four times by Deputy Sheriff Adams Lin and was permanently paralyzed, an action was brought against Deputy Lin and Sheriff Bradshaw. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Sheriff Bradshaw on the Monell claim brought against him, but remanded for a new trial upon finding that an erroneous jury instruction deprived Deputy Lin of the opportunity to have his claimed defense of qualified immunity considered by the district court. In this case, the excessive force inquiry was not sufficiently divorced from the qualified immunity inquiry in that the instruction improperly conflated the two inquiries and presented the jury with both together. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for a new trial. View "Stephens v. Bradshaw" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's denial of plaintiff's Motion for Extension of Stay of Proceedings and Motion to Reopen Case and Substitute Plaintiff. The court held that the district court went straight to the "excusable neglect" analysis without considering whether its December 29 stay effectively extended the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 25 period. Because it applied an incorrect legal standard, the district court abused its discretion. The court instructed that the district court, on remand, should consider whether its order allowing the case to be reopened if "a proper motion is made within 90 days hereof" had the effect of extending the Rule 25 deadline to March 29. If so, plaintiff's motions for an extension of the stay were both timely. If not, the district court must then turn to the question of whether plaintiff's delay was the result of "excusable neglect." View "Lizarazo v. Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against the county, seeking relief from a 2010 zoning ordinance that prohibited short term rentals of single family dwellings. The Eleventh Circuit held that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine barred review of all of plaintiff's claims challenging the application of Regulation 15.35 to her property. Rooker-Feldman barred federal review because all of her claims in this case were inextricably intertwined with those from her first civil case. The court explained that plaintiff's proper channel for seeking relief was to appeal to state appellate courts, which she did, and lost. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "May v. Morgan County, Georgia" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against Deputy Casal and Pardinas under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging violations of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, as well as claims under Georgia's Constitution. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of summary judgment on the federal claims for excessive force against Pardinas and bodily privacy against both defendants; affirmed the denial of summary judgment on the state law claim for excessive force against Pardinas; reversed the denial of summary judgment on the federal and state law claims for unlawful entry against Casal where Casal's entry based on the arrest warrant was permitted under Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 603, 100 S. Ct. 1371, 1388 (1980), and for unlawful protective sweep against Casal because his actions did not violate the Fourth Amendment; and remanded for further proceedings. View "Brand v. Casal" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants in an action alleging that plaintiff was unlawfully discharged from the police department based on disability and/or racial or gender discrimination. The court held that plaintiff's evidence was insufficient to meet her prima facie burden that she was actually disabled, but was sufficient on whether she was regarded as disabled. The court also held that the district court erred in holding that plaintiff failed to produce sufficient evidence that she was a qualified individual. The court reasoned that, in this case, there was significant evidence that cuts against Union City's contention that exposure to OC spray and Taser shocks were essential functions of the job of police detective. The court also held that plaintiff met her prima facie burden of demonstrating that the City discriminated against her because of her perceived disability. Plaintiff had produced sufficient evidence that she was not a direct threat, the differing treatment of plaintiff's white colleagues, in combination with the rest of the evidence, was part of a mosaic of circumstantial evidence sufficient to create a triable issue of material fact on whether the police department's actions were discriminatory on the basis of race and/or gender. Finally, the court rejected plaintiff's claim of municipal liability. View "Lewis v. Union City, Georgia" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims alleging that her constitutional rights were violated when she was denied access to hearings at the Atlanta Immigration Court. The court affirmed the district court's determination that the immigration court judge was entitled to absolute immunity. The court held that the judge was acting within his judicial capacity when he closed immigration hearings, in which plaintiff was not a party to, nor counsel for, any of the parties. The court held that absolute immunity protected the judge both from plaintiff's Bivens claim and her claim for injunctive relief. Finally, plaintiff has failed to satisfy the difficult burden of showing that the district court abused its unique and substantial discretion in deciding whether to exercise jurisdiction over plaintiff's claim for declaratory judgment. View "Stevens v. U.S. Attorney General" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of a habeas petition as time-barred and remanded for further proceedings. Under Florida law, petitioner's corrected Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.850 motion related back to September 27, 2010. In keeping with Florida's rule, the court concluded that the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) limitation period was tolled from that date until the conclusion of the Rule 3.850 proceedings on March 1, 2013. The court held that because petitioner's 28 U.S.C. 2254 petition was filed less than one year later, his section 2254 petition was timely. View "Green v. Secretary, Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit vacated the district court's denial of an 18 U.S.C. 3583(e)(1) motion for early termination of supervised release. The court held that because a defendant may appeal a court's decision to deny him early termination of supervised release, and because appellate review must be meaningful, a district court’s order, in light of the record, must demonstrate that the pertinent factors were taken into account. In this case, nothing in the record or in the district court's order showed that it considered the required 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors. Therefore, the court remanded the case for further consideration and explanation. View "United States v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a 28 U.S.C. 2254 petition for habeas relief. The court held that it was error for the trial court to give an instruction that had the effect of removing the defense of self-defense from the case, but the error was not fundamental. The court interpreted the Second District Court of Appeal decision rejecting petitioner's ineffective assistance of appellate counsel claim as having been based on the theory that while the forcible felony exception instruction was error, it was not fundamental error and, as a result, the direct appeal court would not have decided that claim on the merits if appellate counsel had raised the claim. In the alternative, the court did not believe that the instruction was fundamental error under Florida law. View "Pinkney v. Secretary, DOC" on Justia Law