Articles Posted in Constitutional 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

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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