Findlaw Case Summaries: Constitutional Law 8

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February 16 – February 20, 2009

U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, February 17, 2009 Sledge v. Kooi, No. 07-1547 In a suit brought pro se by plaintiff alleging defendant violated his Eighth Amendment rights while incarcerated, grant of defendant’s motion for summary judgment is affirmed. When facing pro se litigants who are repeat filers, absent a strong showing that the pro se litigant has acquired adequate experience more generally, a district court should limit the withdrawal of pro se litigant’s special status to specific contexts in which the litigant’s experiences indicates that he may fairly be deemed knowledgeable and experienced. .

U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, February 17, 2009 New York State Restaurant Ass’n v. New York City Bd. of Health , No. 08-1892 In an action challenging the constitutionality of a law requiring restaurants to post caloric information on menus, the District Court’s denial of plaintiff’s motions for preliminary injunction, declaratory relief, and summary judgment, and grant of defendant’s motion for summary judgment, are affirmed where New York Health Code 81.50: 1) is not expressly preempted by the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990; and 2) does not infringe on plaintiff’s member restaurants’ First Amendment rights. ..

U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, February 20, 2009 Ponta-Garcia v. Att’y Gen. of the US, No. 07-2551 Petition for review of reinstatement of removal order is granted and the reinstatement determination is vacated and remanded where plaintiff contested the bases for the reinstatement order and offered support for his claims. ICE must then consider the evidence and attempt to verify the claim. The regulation governing the reinstatement of orders of removal is upheld as a valid construction of 8 U.S.C. section 1231(a)(5) and is not found to violate due process.

U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, February 17, 2009 Sossamon v. The Lone Star State of Texas, No. 07-50632 In a prisoner suit alleging excessive interference with a prisoner’s exercise of religion, summary judgment for defendants is: 1) reversed in part and remanded where the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act demands less intrusion than the state exercised; and 2) affirmed in part for claims under the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Eighth Amendment, and the Fourteenth Amendment, as well as for all claims for damages under the First Amendment and RLUIPA. Certain claims for injunctive and declaratory relief based on the prison’s cell-restriction policy are dismissed as moot.

U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, February 17, 2009 Dominguez v. Correctional Med. Servs., No. 08-1212 In a 42 U.S.C. section 1983 action, order denying Defendant’s summary judgment motion is affirmed, where: 1) a reasonable jury could find that Defendant acted with deliberate indifference to Plaintiff’s medical needs in violation of Eighth Amendment; and 2) Mich. Comp. Laws section 691.1407(2) did not preclude Plaintiff’s gross negligence claim.

U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, February 20, 2009 Connection Dist. Co. v. Holder, No. 06-3822 In an adult magazine’s First Amendment challenge to the Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act’s reporting requirement, summary judgment for Defendant is affirmed where the requirement was content-neutral and served the interest of preventing child pornography.

U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, February 18, 2009 US v. Jackson, No. 07-3849 Conviction for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime is affirmed where there was no constitutional issue after District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008) in the criminalization of the possession of firearms in connection with drug crimes, and there was an adequate factual basis for defendant’s guilty plea.

U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, February 19, 2009 Golden Years Homestead, Inc. v. Buckland, No. 07-1100 In a suit by a nursing home operator against Indiana State Department of Health inspectors alleging violations of its Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, malicious prosecution and abuse of process, summary judgment for defendants is affirmed where: 1) although defendants focused on certain affirmative defenses and the sufficiency of proof on the federal claims, the defendants sought summary judgment on all claims, thus the district court’s order was not an improper sua sponte summary judgment on the state law claims; and 2) summary judgment was also appropriate on the merits since the state law claims required proof of malice or ulterior motive
U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, February 20, 2009 Video Software Dealers Ass’n. v. Schwarzenegger, No. 07-16620 In a First Amendment challenge to a state statute restricting the sale of violent video games to minors, summary judgment for Plaintiffs is affirmed where the law was not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling interest in preventing harm to minors.

U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, February 19, 2009 Leib v. Hillsborough Cty. Pub. Transp. Comm’n., No. 08-14271 In a 42 U.S.C. section 1983 action arising out a public transportation rule that prevented Plaintiff from using a Toyota Prius as a limousine, dismissal of Plaintiff’s complaint is affirmed where the rule did not violate the Equal Protection Clause, as there was a rational basis for the rule. .

U.S. Fed. Circuit Court of Appeals, February 19, 2009 SKF USA., Inc. v. US Customs and Border Prot. , No. 08-1005 In an appeal of a Court of International Trade decision, judgment declaring portions of the Byrd Amendment unconstitutional is reversed where: 1) the Byrd Amendment does not violate the First Amendment as it is within the constitutional power of Congress to enact, furthers the government’s substantial interest in enforcing trade laws, and is not overly broad; and 2) it does not violate equal protection because it is rationally related to the government’s legitimate purpose of rewarding parties who promote the government’s policy against dumping.

New York Court of Appeals, February 17, 2009 In the Matter of Aspen Creek Estates, Ltd. v. Town of Brookhaven, No. 19mem09 The judgment of the Appellate Division is affirmed where the public benefits of the taking of land for farmland preservation in the case were not incidental or pretextual in comparison with benefits to particular, favored private entities.

Supreme Court of Florida, February 19, 2009 Duest v. State of Florida, No. SC07162 In conviction for first-degree murder and sentence of death, denial of post-conviction relief is affirmed over claims of error that: 1) criminal-appellant was denied a reliable adversarial testing at the guilt and resentencing phases of his trial in violation of the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution and the trial court erred in summarily denying various issues attendant to this claim; and 2) criminal-appellant was denied a reliable adversarial testing at his resentencing in violation of the Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments and the trial court erred in summarily denying this claim without an evidentiary hearing. .

California Appellate Districts, February 19, 2009 People v. R.V., No. A121376 In appeal of a juvenile court sentence, the merits of the case are addressed although defendant’s appeal is moot because the issue is likely to recur. Probation condition requiring defendant to wear a global positioning system (GPS) device is affirmed where: 1) the juvenile court acted within its broad discretion over probation conditions; 2) wearing a monitoring device is not an invasion of defendant’s right to privacy as it is not overly intrusive, arbitrary or harassing; and 3) imposing of the monitoring condition does not deny him the equal protection of the law.

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