Findlaw Case Law Summaries: Constitutional Law. December-7-11, 2009.

December-7-11, 2009.

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U.S. Supreme Court, December 08, 2009 Alvarez v. Smith, No. 08–351 In a 42 U.S.C. section 1983 case involving whether Illinois law provides a sufficiently speedy opportunity for an individual, whose car or cash police have seized without a warrant, to contest the lawfulness of the seizure, a circuit court’s ruling reversing dismissal of the action is vacated and the case is remanded where the action was moot because all of the actual property disputes between the parties had been resolved.

U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, December 08, 2009 Cooey v. Strickland, No. 09-4474 District court’s denial of defendant’s request for a stay of execution by lethal injection under Ohio’s new protocol where the state eliminated the use of a three-drug protocol and implemented a one-drug protocol is affirmed as the defendant is unable to demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits on his Eighth Amendment claim by demonstrating that, facially or as applied to him, Ohio’s new protocol demonstrates risk of severe pain that is substantial when compared to the known and available alternatives.

U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, December 09, 2009 Holder v. Palmer, No. 07-1440 District court’s denial of defendant’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus following his conviction for sexual penetration with an uninformed partner by a person infected with AIDS is affirmed as defendant failed to demonstrate either that his trial counsel’s failure to challenge five jurors permeated the entire trial with obvious unfairness, or that the trial court committed plain error by allowing the five jurors to serve on the jury.

U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, December 10, 2009 Spears v. Ruth, No. 09-5408 In a suit brought by the family of an individual who died eleven months after being in police custody for public intoxication, denial of a summary judgment motion by an officer and the City of Cleveland is reversed and remanded where: 1) plaintiffs have not established the obvious existence of a sufficiently serious medical need; 2) there is no evidence that the officer was aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm existed, and that he drew that inference and chose to disregard the risk; 3) as such, because no constitutional violation occurred, the officer is entitled to qualified immunity; and 4) the city is entitled to summary judgment because the record as a whole does not support an inference that a reasonable trier of fact could find a causal connection between either officer’s actions or the police chief’s no-transport policy and the decedent’s injuries.

U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, December 07, 2009 Srail v. Village of Lisle, No. 08-3206 In plaintiffs’ class action suit against an Illinois town and a subdivision therein alleging violation of the Equal Protection Clause and state negligence laws by discriminating against them by expanding its water services to other subdivisions within the town but not to theirs, summary judgment in favor of the town on the equal protection claim and denial of plaintiffs’ motion for supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claim is affirmed where: 1) plaintiffs failed to establish that they have a cognizable claim under Enquist; and 2) even if plaintiffs’ claim was cognizable, they have failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to whether they are similarly situated to like individuals and whether the town had a rational basis for its disparate treatment of plaintiffs.

U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, December 07, 2009 Mann v. Calumet City, No. 09-1681 In plaintiffs’ suit against a city challenging the constitutionality of an ordinance that forbids the sale of a house without an inspection to determine whether it is in compliance with the city’s building code, dismissal of the suit for failure to state a claim is affirmed as: 1) the ordinance is constitutional and therefore, there has been no violation of plaintiffs’ rights; and 2) as such, they are not entitled to reimbursement for the costs the ordinance imposed on them. .

U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, December 07, 2009 Milam v. Dominick’s Finder Foods, Inc. , No. 09-1686 In six black produce clerks’ racial discrimination suit against their employer alleging that the company classified two white women as produce clerks without proper notice that would have enabled plaintiffs to claim hours from the women because of their seniority, dismissal of the suit is affirmed as defendant presented evidence that it was an innocent mistake and plaintiffs presented no rebuttal nor evidence of damages.

U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, December 08, 2009 Patterson v. Indiana Newspapers, Inc., No. 08-2050 In plaintiffs’ suit against their former employer alleging employment discrimination on the basis of their religious belief that homosexual conduct is sinful and other claims, summary judgment in favor of the employer is affirmed where: 1) plaintiff cannot show that she met the newspaper’s legitimate performance expectations or that a similarly situated employee who did not share her religious beliefs was treated more favorably; 2) the other plaintiff’s discrimination case based on religion, race, and age, and his retaliations claim, also failed because he could not show that he was meeting the employer’s legitimate performance expectations; and 3) district court properly dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims for negligent infliction of emotional distress as, under the “modified impact” version of the tort, there is no evidence whatsoever to support such a claim.

U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, December 08, 2009 McAfee v. Thurmer, No. 09-1230 Denial of defendant’s petition for habeas relief from a conviction and life sentence for the first degree murder of a police officer 13 years ago is affirmed as defendant’s trial counsel’s performance was not constitutionally ineffective, and even if deficient performance could be found, defendant cannot show that there is a reasonable probability that the result of the trial would have been different but for counsel’s shortcomings.

U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, December 09, 2009 Ewing v. City of Stockton, No. 08-15732 In a 42 U.S.C. section 1983 action alleging violations of plaintiffs’ constitutional rights arising out of the search of their home and the arrest of plaintiffs in connection with a murder they did not commit, summary judgment for defendants is affirmed where: 1) neither of an officer’s problematic representations in support of the warrant at issue was critical to the probable cause determination; 2) the issuing judge could reasonably find the information provided by a witness to be reliable under the circumstances; and 3) the language of the warrant was not overbroad.

U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, December 11, 2009 American Road & Transp. Builders Ass’n. v. EPA, No. 08-1381 In a petition for review of certain EPA Clean Air Act regulations, the petition is dismissed where National Mining Ass’n. v. U.S. Dept. of Interior, 70 F.3d 1345 (D.C. Cir. 1995), required the court to treat petitioner’s petition to the EPA as a challenge to the regulations it sought revised, and judicial review of such a challenge was time-barred under Clean Air Act section 307(b)(1).

Supreme Court of California, December 10, 2009 People v. Butler, No. S068230 Defendant’s conviction and death sentence for the first degree murder of a fellow jail inmate, while awaiting trial for the murder of two college students, is reversed where defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to represent himself at trial was denied as the trial court erroneously decided that defendant could not adequately represent himself because of jail restrictions resulting from his disciplinary infractions, and Faretta and its progeny require reversal of the judgment in its entirety.

California Appellate Districts, December 08, 2009 Howe v. Bank of America N.A., No. G040669 In plaintiffs’ putative class action suit against defendant and other entities claiming discrimination under the Unruh Civil Rights Act by requiring that U.S. citizens provide a Social Security number to open a particular type of credit card account, while allowing foreign nationals to open such accounts with only alternative forms of identification, trial court’s order sustaining defendant’s demurrer to the complaint is affirmed where: 1) as a matter of law, Bank of America did not act arbitrarily as 31 C.F.R. section 103.121, which was enacted pursuant to the legislation commonly known as The USA Patriotic Act, expressly requires defendant to obtain Social Security numbers from U.S. citizens; and 2) because defendant’s credit card program merely applied federally imposed minimum identification standards to all applicants for its accounts, the practice bears a reasonable relationship to Bank of America’s commercial objectives and was consequently valid on its face.

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