Findlaw Case Summaries: Constitutional Law 22

August 24 – 28, 2009.

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U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, August 24, 2009 Calderon-Garnier v. Sanchez-Ramos, No. 08-1284
In an employment discrimination case brought by a former prosecutor of Puerto Rico, summary judgment and dismissal rulings for defendants are affirmed where plaintiff raised no genuine issue as to any material fact that would cause the court to doubt whether the plaintiff had a meaningful opportunity to participate in a pre-termination hearing.

U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, August 24, 2009 Crawford v. Clarke, No. 08-2100 In an action brought by Muslim inmates in the custody of the Massachusetts Department of Corrections (DOC) alleging the Commissioner violated their right to freely exercise their religion, grant of an injunction in favor of inmates is affirmed where the district court did not abuse its decision in denying Commissioner’s motion for reconsideration as the Commissioner sought to introduce evidence that could have been introduced at trial but chose not to.

U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, August 26, 2009 Negron-Almeda v. Santiago, No. 08-2360 In a case brought by dismissed employees of a government agency in Puerto Rico claiming political discrimination, district court’s order of reinstatement against defendant-intervenor is affirmed where: 1) it was proper for the district court to revisit the earlier order where, under the law of the case doctrine, courts may reopen a matter previously decided on a showing of exceptional circumstances such as the serious injustice to the plaintiffs in this case; 2) the reinstatement order was proper as defendants could be substituted for the original party under Rule 25(c) and they are not protected by sovereign immunity.

U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, August 27, 2009 Limone v. US, No. 08-1327 District court’s award of $100 million to the plaintiffs in their action against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA)for murder related convictions due to FBI’s suppression of contrary evidence, is affirmed, although high, where the amount is not so grossly disproportionate to the harm sustained as to either shock the Court’s collective conscience or raise the specter of a miscarriage of justice, and the court used a permissible methodology in computing damages and they are not so excessive as to warrant intervention. District court’s finding that the government is liable for malicious prosecution is rejected; district court’s finding that the government is liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress is upheld; district court’s decision to reject the government’s invocation of the discretionary function defense is upheld.

U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, August 27, 2009 Marrero v. Aragunde , No. 08-1517 District court’s dismissal of plaintiff’s suit against various Puerto Rico Department of Education officials alleging retaliation based on her political beliefs is affirmed where plaintiff waived the invalidity of the forum selection clause as she did not raise it before the district court.

U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, August 27, 2009 Santana-Castro v. Toledo-Davilla, No. 081964p.pdf District court’s dismissal of plaintiffs’ suit against the Puerto Rico Police Department officers and their supervisors for violations of their constitutional rights as well as claims under Puerto Rico’s constitutional and civil law, is affirmed as time-barred where under the identicality requirement, the causes of action asserted in the complaint must be based on the same substantive claims as asserted in the extrajudicial letter….

U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, August 24, 2009 McTernan v. City of York, No. 07-2670 In a case brought by protesters against the City of York alleging that a ramp in front of the Planned Parenthood Facility was a public forum, district court’s decision denying plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction is affirmed where: 1) plaintiffs had no chance of success on the merits as the handicap ramp was a nonpublic forum; 2) there was no irreparable harm because plaintiffs were allowed to protest on the public sidewalk next to the ramp and had access to every person entering the clinic through the ramp; 3) allowing the protesters on the ramp could have led to violence between protesters and the patrons of Planned Parenthood Facility, posing likelihood of harm to the defendants; and 4) public interest favors ensuring unrestricted handicapped access to facilities. District court’s grant of defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s complaint is affirmed as the issues on the preliminary injunction and the motion to dismiss were exactly the same and plaintiffs had ! full opportunity to present their arguments at the hearing on the preliminary injunction. …

U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, August 26, 2009 US v. Hargrove, No. 06-2883 District court’s denial of defendant’s motion to dismiss mail fraud charges on the ground that the honest-services provision of 18 U.S.C. section 1346 is unconstitutionally vague is affirmed as the circuit court has soundly rejected the claim that the mail fraud statute, as applied to the intangible-rights theory, is void for vagueness.

U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, August 28, 2009 Cruz v. Safford, No. 08-3083 District court’s judgment, involving an inmate’s pro se civil rights action against a prison guard claiming violation of his Eighth Amendment right to be free from excessive force, is affirmed where: 1) district court did not err in instructing the jury that it had to find that the Eighth Amendment protected plaintiff from excessive force; 2) district court did not abuse its discretion when it kept tardy assault and battery claims out of the pretrial order and refused to consider them in plaintiff’s section 1983 excessive force action; and 3) district court did not err in denying plaintiff the opportunity to cross-examine defendant’s supervisor regarding prior arrest as the witness’s seven arrests and one battery conviction were not credibility matters, but highly prejudicial.

U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, August 24, 2009 Sherbrroke v. City of Pelican Rapids, No. 08-2645 In a civil action brought against the City of Pelican Rapids, the city’s police chief and two police officers, district court’s final judgment in favor of the defendants on all claims is affirmed where: 1) the district court properly dismissed defendant’s claims for false arrest and malicious prosecution as his arrest was supported by probable cause; 2) the conspiracy claim was correctly dismissed as defendant’s sole contention is that the police officers conspired to commit the torts of false arrest and malicious prosecution. …

U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, August 24, 2009 US v. Gray, No. 08-3497 District court’s Sentencing of a defendant convicted of drug possession with intent to distribute and it’s denial of defendant’s motion to declare unconstitutional the statute establishing a mandatory minimum is affirmed where: 1) court did not commit plain error as it understood its authority to vary from the guidelines and the career offender guidelines; 2) the court did not impose a substantively unreasonable sentence; and 3) defendant lacked standing the challenge the constitutionality of 21U.S.C. Sec. 841(b)(1)(B)(iii). …

U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, August 25, 2009 Bandey-Bey v. Crist, No. 08-2084 In a case involving plaintiff-inmate’s 42 U.S.C. section 1983 action against various prison officials, summary judgment for defendants is affirmed where: 1) plaintiff’s claim that the defendants denied him access to the courts by failing to grant him the library time he requested was properly rejected as he did not demonstrate an actual injury; 2) plaintiff failed to show that the disciplinary measures taken against him by the defendants was in retaliation for pursuing his claims; 3) plaintiff failed to make a sufficient showing of a substantive due process claim. …

U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, August 25, 2009 Friends of Lakeview School v. Beebe, No. 08-2161
In a case involving school districts’ consolidations under Arkansas’ Act 60, district court’s grant of defendants’ motion to dismiss is affirmed where Act 60 is a facially neutral law that does not infringe on a fundamental right and survives rational basis review because the State of Arkansas has a legitimate governmental interest in consolidating school districts to achieve economies of scale and other efficiencies and the classification drawn between school districts based on their average daily membership is rationally related to advancing that interest. …

U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, August 24, 2009 Humanitarian Law Project v. U.S. Treasury Dept., No. 07-55893 In a challenge to the procedure used by the Secretary of State to designate terrorist organizations, dismissal of the complaint is affirmed where plaintiff nonprofit organization lacked standing to challenge the President’s designation authority because plaintiff had never been designated, or threatened with designation, on account of it.

U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, August 24, 2009 Wagoner Cty. Rural Water Dist. No. 2 v. Grand River Dam Auth., No. 08-5120 In an action seeking a declaration that plaintiffs possessed certain water rights, dismissal of the action for lack of jurisdiction is affirmed where defendants did not waive immunity from suit and were thus entitled to sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment. …

California Appellate Districts, August 26, 2009 Bearman v. Cal. Med. Bd., No. B210868 In a 42 U.S.C. section 1983 action claiming that defendant state medical board personnel wrongfully investigated plaintiff-physician’s recommendation of medical marijuana to a patient, dismissal of the action is affirmed where plaintiff’s claims were barred by qualified immunity because he alleged no facts that a reasonable public official would have believed that issuance of the administrative subpoena under the facts presented violated a clearly established statutory or constitutional right. .

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