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Federal New Releases

New Releases
from Federal Courts

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Criminal law -- Murder -- Death penalty -- Habeas corpus -- Jury instructions -- Silence of defendant -- Circuit Court erred in granting death row inmate's motion for writ of habeas corpus on his claim that trial court's refusal to issue a no-adverse-inference instruction at the penalty phase violated his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination because state supreme court's rejection of Fifth Amendment claim was not contrary to or objectively unreasonable application of Supreme Court decisions, and state-court ruling on issue of whether a no-adverse-inference instruction was required was not beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement
VIEW OPINION

Criminal law -- Possession of child pornography -- Sentencing -- Restitution -- Victim of child abuse whose abuse appears in pornographic materials that were trafficked on the Internet seeks restitution for child pornography possession -- Applying causation requirements of 18 U.S.C. §2259, enacted as component of Violence Against Women Act, victims should be compensated and defendants should be held to account for impact of their conduct on those victims, but defendants should only be made liable for consequences and gravity of their own conduct, not conduct of others -- Where it can be shown both that defendant possessed victim's images and that victim has outstanding losses caused by the continuing traffic in those images, but where it is impossible to trace a particular amount of those losses to individual defendant by recourse to a more traditional causal inquiry, a court applying §2259 should order restitution in an amount that comports with defendant's relative role in causal process that underlies the victim's general losses -- A showing of but-for causation is not the proper standard of factual causation in this case, for it is not possible to prove that the victim's losses would be less but for one possessor's individual role in large, loosely connected network through which victim's images circulate
VIEW OPINION

Criminal law -- Use of firearm during commission of federal crime of violence -- Sentencing -- Resentencing following vacation of separate witness-tampering conviction -- Once defendant's conviction and life sentence for witness-tampering count were set aside, district court had authority to resentence defendant on firearm count, for which court had imposed ten-year mandatory sentence to run consecutively to witness-tampering sentence -- Vindictiveness -- Increase in sentence following successful appeal -- Circuit court adopts aggregate package approach for determining whether sentence imposed under guidelines has become more severe for purposes of invoking presumption of vindictiveness -- Because the total aggregate sentence of life plus ten years originally imposed by district court on two counts did not increase upon resentencing, but was actually reduced to a term of life imprisonment, no presumption of vindictiveness arose -- Further, even if new sentence were viewed as an increase under pre-guidelines aggregate remainder approach, non-vindictive reasons for increase in sentence affirmatively appear in record -- Guidelines range recommended life sentence, and section 3553 factors supported it
VIEW OPINION

Arbitration -- Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards -- Vacatur of award -- Limitation of actions -- Action by former stateroom attendants alleging cruise ship employer unlawfully withheld some of their wages -- Convention contains residual clause which provides that Chapter 1 of Federal Arbitration Act applies to actions brought under Convention, so long as it does not conflict with Convention or its implementing legislation -- Because Convention does not expressly provide statute of limitations for vacatur actions, three-month limitations period of FAA applies -- District court properly dismissed, on statute of limitations grounds, a suit in which former stateroom attendants sought to vacate, as contrary to public policy, an arbitrator's order dismissing plaintiffs' demand for arbitration because plaintiffs had not complied with collective bargaining agreement's grievance procedure, which was a precondition to submitting a dispute for arbitration
VIEW OPINION

Civil procedure -- Addition of party defendant -- Plaintiff is entitled to add party as co-defendant where request to add party is purely ministerial, does not affect substance of plaintiff's claim, and the added party is a sister company of the existing defendant with identity of ownership -- Plaintiff is entitled to dismissal of defendant's counterclaim for declaratory relief which is the mirror image of defendant's defenses to plaintiff's breach of contract claim -- Plaintiff is entitled to dismissal of defendant's fraudulent and negligent misrepresentation claims which improperly attempt to recast breach of contract dispute as tort claims -- Defendant's statutory negligence claim against plaintiff's broker is premature, as it does not accrue until underlying lawsuit is resolved -- Defendants' motions to dismiss complaint denied, as motions are premised, at least in part, on positions contrary to court's prior ruling
VIEW OPINION

Consumer law -- Fair Debt Collection Practices Act -- Action alleging law firm that filed action to foreclose mortgage and collect payment on note violated Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by attaching notice to complaint that contained falsehoods -- Filing of complaint which seeks collection of note and foreclosure of mortgage is debt collection activity -- Law firm which regularly engages in consumer debt collection litigation is a debt collector -- Notice attached to complaint which misidentified creditor, states that to dispute amount due there must be a response in writing, and contains timelines different from complaint and summons is deceptive in violation of FDCPA -- Defendant's motion to dismiss denied
VIEW OPINION

Equal protection -- Voters of a state may determine whether a policy of race-based preferences by state and other governmental entities should be continued -- Court of appeals erred when it held unconstitutional a voter-approved and enacted amendment to Michigan state constitution prohibiting state and other governmental entities from granting certain preferences, including race-based preferences, in a wide range of actions and decisions, including school admissions
VIEW OPINION

Criminal law -- Search and seizure -- Vehicle stop -- Reasonable suspicion -- Traffic stop of pickup truck matching the description of a vehicle that a 911 caller had recently reported as having run her off the road complied with Fourth Amendment, because, under totality of circumstances, the officer had reasonable suspicion that truck's driver was intoxicated
VIEW OPINION

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