Articles Posted in Constitutional 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

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Plaintiffs filed suit against state officials in state court, seeking injunctive and declaratory relief entitling them to an enhanced status in the retirement system for Alabama state employees. The state officials removed the action to federal court. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of immunity from suit to defendants, holding that the officials have either waived or forfeited any immunity from suit and that the court lacked jurisdiction to consider their immunity from liability on interlocutory appeal. View "Green v. Graham" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against employees of the county jail, alleging violation of her constitutional rights when she was detained in jail on suspicion that she was illegally present in the United States. The Eleventh Circuit held that, although the district court accurately determined that the Fourth Amendment governed the analysis in this case, it did not conduct an individualized analysis of each defendant's actions and omissions and whether they were causally related to the alleged violation of plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's denial of summary judgment and remanded for the district court to conduct an individualized analysis in the first instance. View "Alcocer v. Mills" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that the termination of her housing voucher violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and regulations promulgated by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Eleventh Circuit vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment for the Authority, holding that indictments and evidence of an arrest did not constitute sufficient evidence to support the decision of a public housing authority to terminate housing subsidies provided under Section 8 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1937. View "Yarbrough v. Decatur Housing Authority" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the partial denial of defendant's motion to dismiss the amended complaint by the estate of Marquette F. Cummings Jr. After Cummings was stabbed by a fellow inmate and subsequently died at the hospital the next day, his estate filed a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that defendant, a prison warden, violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution by illegally interfering with Cummings's end-of-life medical care with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. The district court held that defendant was not entitled to qualified immunity. The court held that defendant's alleged actions, including the entry of a do not resuscitate order and the decision to remove plaintiff from artificial life support, did not fall within the scope of his discretionary authority. The court held that Alabama law established that defendant's discretionary authority did not extend to such actions and thus he was not entitled to qualified immunity. Finally, the court lacked jurisdiction to consider whether the amended complaint stated a claim and the court's jurisdiction was exhausted under the collateral order doctrine. View "The Estate of Marquette F. Cummings Jr. v. Davenport" 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 writ of habeas corpus as untimely. The court held that, for purposes of AEDPA and federal habeas review, the relevant judgment in this case was the 2010 criminal judgment authorizing petitioner's confinement for a period of 25 years in the Florida Department of Corrections. In this case, petitioner's judgment was final under Florida law and the entirety of the state appellate review process was complete when the First District Court of Appeal issued its decision. Therefore, petitioner's judgment was final for purposes of triggering AEDPA’s limitations period on November 6, 2012 and the section 2254 petitioner was untimely because it was filed almost two years later in October 2015. View "Chamblee v. Florida" on Justia Law