Articles Posted in Civil Rights

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The Eleventh Circuit granted a petition requesting panel rehearing, vacated its earlier opinion, and issued this opinion in its place. The court affirmed the district court's denial of a petition for habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254. The court affirmed and held that petitioner failed to show that had his trial counsel used all of the impeachment material during the guilt phase of his trial, every fairminded jurist would conclude that there was a "substantial, not just conceivable," likelihood that the result of his trial would have been different. Therefore, the state trial court's prejudice determination was not unreasonable. The court also held that, even considering any purported cumulative effect from the admission of the food stamps and cocaine citation and trial counsel's failure to present the impeachment evidence, a fairminded jurist could still conclude that it was insufficient to undermine his confidence in petitioner's trial. View "Meders v. Warden, Georgia Diagnostic Prison" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, on behalf of himself and seven others, filed suit alleging that a Walker County Sheriff's deputy arrested them without a warrant for undisclosed crimes, that they were detained in the county jail, and that they were denied a judicial determination on whether probable cause supported their arrests in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Circuit vacated the district court's judgment, holding that it could not identify from the allegations of the complaint, answer, or motion to dismiss, which of the magistrates purportedly denied plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment rights. Therefore, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Colburn v. Odom" on Justia Law

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A county school board may require all applicants for substitute teacher positions to submit to and pass a drug test as a condition of employment. The Eleventh Circuit held that the school board may, without any suspicion of wrongdoing, collect and search -- by testing -- the urine of all prospective substitute teachers. Because the school board has a sufficiently compelling interest in screening its prospective teachers to justify this invasion of the privacy rights of job applicants, the court held that the school board did not violate the constitutional mandate barring unreasonable searches and seizures. The court recognized that ensuring the safety of millions of schoolchildren in the mandatory supervision and care of the state, and ensuring and impressing a drug-free environment in our classrooms, were compelling concerns. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's denial of a preliminary injunction because plaintiff failed to establish a likelihood of success on the merits. View "Friedenberg v. School Board of Palm Beach County" on Justia Law

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The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, in conducting child-protective investigations under a grant agreement with the Florida Department of Children and Families, does not act as an arm of the state entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity. Plaintiff filed suit against the Sheriff's Office and others, alleging claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act, and 42 U.S.C. 1983 for infringement of her rights under the Fourteenth Amendment after her disabled child was taken from her custody based on claims of neglect. The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court correctly denied the Sheriff's Office summary judgment on its sovereign immunity defense. Although it unquestionably had jurisdiction under the collateral order doctrine to review the question of Eleventh Amendment immunity, the court declined to exercise pendent appellate jurisdiction over the parties' remaining issues. View "Freyre v. Chronister" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against CNN for publishing a series of allegedly defamatory news reports about him and the medical center he administered. The district court denied CNN's motion to strike the complaint under the Georgia anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) statute. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed in part, holding that the motion-to-strike procedure of the Georgia anti-SLAPP statute, O.C.G.A. 9-11-11.1, does not apply in federal court. The court dismissed in part, holding that it lacked pendent appellate jurisdiction to review the denial of the motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. View "Carbone v. Cable News Network, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit dismissed in part and denied in part petitioner's thirteenth application for leave to file a second or successive motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his federal sentence. The court held that 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(3)(B) is not unconstitutionally vague because it requires a conduct-based approach instead of a categorical approach. The court noted that it has specifically explained, and at length, that this feature of section 924(c)(3)(B) allows it to withstand the reasoning that led the Supreme Court to hold in Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015), and Sessions v. Dimaya, 138 S. Ct. 1204 (2018), that similarly worded residual clauses in other federal statutes are unconstitutionally vague. View "In re: Tracy Garrett" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of a federal habeas corpus petition because it was time-barred. The court held that the district court did not err by concluding that the statute of limitations began to run when the deadline expired for petitioner to file a certiorari petition in the Georgia Supreme Court, rather than ninety days after the date the Georgia Supreme Court dismissed petitioner's certiorari petition as time-barred. In this case, petitioner's conviction became final for purposes of the Antiterrorism and Death Penalty Act's statute of limitations provision on September 5, 2006. View "Phillips v. Warden" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, residents of Montgomery who were sentenced by the municipal court for traffic violations, filed suit against city officials for allegedly operating a scheme to raise revenue by jailing indigent offenders for their failures to pay fines and court costs. Plaintiffs alleged that the current and former presiding municipal-court judges, the mayor, and the current and former chiefs of police oversaw this scheme. The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's denial of the judges, mayor, and chiefs' claims for immunities and motions to dismiss. The court held that absolute judicial immunity barred plaintiffs' claims against the judges. In this case, not a single act that plaintiffs alleged that the judges performed fell outside the ordinary judicial functions. The court also held that plaintiffs' complaint failed to state a claim that overcame the qualified and state agent immunity of the mayor and chiefs. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "McCullough v. Finley" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of a 28 U.S.C. 2254 petition for habeas corpus as untimely. The court held that the district court did not err in concluding that petitioner's Rule 3.850 motion was not "properly filed" in the state court and thus did not toll the one-year statute of limitations in the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA). The court explained that Pace v. DiGuglielmo, 544 U.S. 408 (2005), clearly held that when a state court finds a post-conviction motion untimely, that is the end of the matter, and the motion cannot be considered a tolling motion. In this case, Pace was applicable and the state court found the post-conviction motion untimely. View "Jones v. Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants in an action filed by plaintiff pro se, alleging claims for wage and sex discrimination based on the Equal Protection Clause and the Equal Pay Act (EPA), and retaliation based on her gender in violation of the EPA, as incorporated into the Fair Labor Standards Act. The court held that plaintiff failed to point to any evidence in the record that tended to demonstrate that the interim county manager's stated reasons for denying her higher salary request were false and a pretext for racial or gender discrimination; plaintiff failed to point to any affirmative evidence establishing that his proffered reasons were false or a pretext for unlawful sex discrimination; and plaintiff failed to establish a pretext for retaliation. In this case, the direct supervisor's reason for terminating plaintiff was because she was no longer a "good fit" and lacked the leadership skills necessary to implement successfully many of the proposed changes in the Clerk's office of the Fulton County Juvenile Court. View "Hornsby-Culpepper v. Ware" on Justia Law