Articles Posted in Civil Rights

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The Eleventh Circuit held that its order denying a certificate of appealability (COA) to petitioner in this case should not be reconsidered. The court held that petitioner was not entitled to a COA for two distinct reasons: first, his claim arose from the rule announced in Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado, 580 U.S. ___, 137 S. Ct. 855 (2017), and that rule did not apply retroactively; and second, he has failed to show cause to overcome his procedural default. View "Tharpe v. Warden" on Justia Law

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On remand from the Supreme Court, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the denial of a petition for a writ of habeas corpus based on petitioner's claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. The Supreme Court held that this court must "look through" an unexplained decision by a state supreme court to the last reasoned decision and presume that the state supreme court adopted the reasoning in the decision by the lower state court. The court held that the superior court concluded that counsel provided petitioner effective assistance where, even if additional potential mitigating evidence had been admitted in petitioner's sentencing, there was no reasonable probability that the outcome of the sentencing trial could be different. Finally, the court denied petitioner's motion to remand or, alternatively, to expand the certificate of appealability and to permit supplemental briefing. View "Wilson v. Warden" on Justia Law

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School administrators filed suit alleging that the school board's investigation and discipline of their efforts to convert their school into a charter school violated their freedom of speech and association in violation of the First Amendment. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the school board under D'Angelo v. School Board of Polk County, 497 F.3d 1203 (11th Cir. 2007). The panel held that the Supreme Court's most recent opinion in Lane v. Franks, 134 S. Ct. 2369 (2014), did not undermine, let alone abrogate D'Angelo's precedential effect. In this case, the administrators spoke not as private citizens but as the principal and assistant principal of a public school, pursuant to their official duties, when they undertook to convert their public school into a charter school. Therefore, their speech was not protected by the First Amendment. View "Fernandez v. The School Board of Miami-Dade County" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the City of Brookhaven, holding that its ordinance regulating adult businesses was not unconstitutional. The city passed the ordinance for the stated purpose of preventing the negative secondary effects of such businesses. As a preliminary matter, the court held that res judicata did not preclude Stardust from litigating its claims in this appeal. On the merits, the court held that the ordinance did not impermissibly restrict Stardust's constitutionally protected speech; the ordinance was not unconstitutionally vague in violation of due process; the City's enforcement of the ordinance did not violate Stardust's equal protection rights; and the ordinance did not impermissibly infringe on individuals' substantive due process right to intimate sexual activity. View "Stardust, 3007 LLC v. City of Brookhaven" on Justia Law

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Medallion Holders filed suit challenging the constitutionality of the County's 2016 ordinance authorizing Transportation Network Entities (TNEs). After the district court dismissed the complaint, the Florida legislature passed a new body of laws that preempted the TNE Ordinance, and thus the Medallion Holders' claims for declaratory and injunctive relief were moot. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of Medallion Holders' claims for monetary damages arising under the Takings and Equal Protection Clauses, which were not moot. The court explained that the medallions conferred by the County created a license to offer for-hire taxicab services in Miami-Dade County; the County did not afford the Medallion Holders the right to exclude competition in the marketplace; and the regulatory scheme was rationally related to improving the quality and safety of for-hire transportation service and was wholly consonant with the Equal Protection Clause. View "Checker Cab Operators, Inc. v. Miami-Dade County" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, who is deaf, filed suit against PGH and its parent organization, Lifemark Hospitals, alleging that they failed to provide an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter for plaintiff to effectively communicate during an involuntary commitment evaluation. At issue on appeal was whether plaintiff was afforded an equal opportunity, through an appropriate auxiliary aid, to effectively communicate medically relevant information during his involuntary commitment evaluation. The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants, holding that genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether plaintiff was able to effectively communicate medically relevant information and whether the hospital personnel were deliberately indifferent. View "Crane v. Lifemark Hospitals, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit vacated its previous order and replaced it with the following: The court held that petitioner's application seeking an order authorizing the district court to consider a successive petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. 2244(b)(3)(A), failed for two reasons: petitioner raised an ineffective assistance of counsel - biased judge claim in his original section 2254 petition and, thus to the extent that the gravamen of the claims was the same, his current claim was precluded by section 2244(b)(1); and even if petitioner's current claim was not precluded by section 2244(b)(1), he failed to make a prima facie showing that he would be entitled to relief. Therefore, the court dismissed the application to the extent that it was barred by In re Mills and 28 U.S.C. 2244(b)(1), and denied the application to the extent that it was not. View "In re: Octavious Williams" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against her former employer, the Salvation Army (TSA), alleging that the organization had discriminated against her based on her disability when it denied her a reasonable accommodation in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), retaliated against her for statutorily protected activities in violation of the ADA and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and interfered with her rights under the FMLA. The district court granted summary judgment to TSA on all claims. The Eleventh Circuit held that plaintiff failed to establish that TSA discriminated against her by refusing to accommodate her under the ADA. However, plaintiff was entitled to trial on her ADA and FMLA retaliation claims where she exhausted her administrative remedies and she carried her burden of demonstrating that TSA did not hire her because of her illness, not because of her interview or job performance. Therefore, the employer's explanations to the contrary were pretextual. In regard to the FMLA interference claim, plaintiff established as a matter of law that TSA would have terminated her regardless of her request for or use of FMLA leave. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Batson v. The Salvation Army" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. 1983 complaint, holding that he has exhausted his available administrative remedies under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). Plaintiff filed suit alleging use of excessive force and deliberate indifference to his medical needs after he was beaten by prison guards. The court held that the district court properly applied the two-step analysis in Turner v. Burnside, 541 F.3d 1077 (11th Cir. 2008), and the district court did not clearly err in determining that plaintiff never filed a grievance on January 18. The court held, however, that defendants waived their procedural objections to Grievance 80940, and plaintiff fully exhausted his administrative remedies when he pursued Grievance 80940 through each administrative level of review and received merits-based responses at each level. View "Whatley v. Ware SP Warden" on Justia Law

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In February 2016, the Mayor of Birmingham signed Birmingham Ordinance No. 16-28, which guaranteed plaintiffs and all other wage earners in the city $10.10 per hour. The following day, the Alabama Governor signed the Minimum Wage and Right-to-Work Act into law, which nullified Ordinance No. 16-28, preempted all local labor and employment regulation, and mandated a uniform minimum wage throughout Alabama ($7.25 per hour). The Eleventh Circuit held that plaintiffs have stated a plausible claim that the Minimum Wage Act had the purpose and effect of depriving Birmingham's black citizens equal economic opportunities on the basis of race, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court affirmed the dismissal of the city from the suit, but reversed the district court's holding that plaintiffs lacked Article III standing to assert their claims against the attorney general and the State. On the merits, the court reversed the dismissal of the intentional discrimination claim, holding that a sensitive but thorough examination of plaintiffs' detailed allegations showed that plaintiffs have plausibly stated a claim of disparate impact and discriminatory intent. The court affirmed the dismissal of plaintiffs' remaining claims. View "Lewis v. Governor of Alabama" on Justia Law