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Federal New Releases

New Releases
from Federal Courts

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Civil rights -- Public employees -- Speech -- Retaliation -- Political affiliation -- Gender discrimination -- Deputy sheriff appeals grant of summary judgment to city-county government and its sheriff on claims under 42 U.S.C. §1983 alleging that, upon taking office after winning his election, sheriff transferred her to less prestigious position in sheriff's office with less responsibility and authority because she supported his opponent in the election -- District court properly granted summary judgment to consolidated government on First Amendment claim alleging transfer violated plaintiff's rights against employer retaliation based on political affiliation on ground that claim was foreclosed as matter of law by Eleventh Circuit precedent, despite fact that consolidated government's civil service system prohibits employment decisions based on political patronage -- Under Eleventh Circuit precedent, a deputy sheriff fails as a matter of law to plead a First Amendment Claim for an adverse employment decision based on patronage wherever the duties and powers of deputy sheriff and sheriff are the same -- Political loyalty is appropriate requirement for job of deputy sheriff in Georgia -- District court properly granted summary judgment to defendants on plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment gender discrimination claim where no genuine dispute existed over whether sheriff's proffered reason for plaintiff's transfer were a pretext for discrimination -- Plaintiff failed to create a genuine issue for trial with regard to pretext by failing to cast sufficient doubt on reasoning behind sheriff's reorganization plan for part of sheriff's officer over which plaintiff formerly had control, such that a reasonable juror could find that sheriff's explanation was not believable

Civil rights -- Prisoners -- Prison conditions -- Exhaustion of administrative remedies -- District court reversibly erred in dismissing prisoner's 42 U.S.C. §1983 prison-conditions suit for failure to exhaust administrative remedies established by prison -- In holding that prisoner's informal grievance did not exhaust administrative remedies, district court erred by not following two-step process created by Eleventh Circuit precedent for deciding exhaustion challenges -- District court neither took the first step of accepting plaintiff's facts as true and asking whether, given those facts, plaintiff's grievance exhausted his administrative remedies nor proceeded to second step of identifying particular factual disputes and then making specific findings to resolve those disputes and decide whether the grievance exhausted administrative remedies -- In holding that plaintiff's grievance did not exhaust administrative remedies, district court erred by enforcing a procedural bar that prison itself may have waived -- District courts may not enforce a prison's procedural rule to find a lack of exhaustion after prison itself declined to enforce the rule -- A prisoner has exhausted his administrative remedies when prison officials decide a procedurally flawed grievance on the merits

Criminal law -- Bribery -- Theft of programs receiving federal funds -- A nexus between federal funds and their ultimate use is required to satisfy 18 U.S.C. § 666, regardless of whether an agency receives federal funds directly or indirectly -- Courts must evaluate a federal program's “structure, operation, and purpose” to determine if the federal receipts qualify as benefits -- Government failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that city's redevelopment agency received more than $10,000 in federal funds in connection with federal programs defined by a sufficiently comprehensive structure, operation, and purpose to merit characterization of the funds as benefits under jurisdictional element of Section 666(b), which requires that government or agency in question have received benefits in excess of $10,000 under a federal program -- Evidence, when viewed in light most favorable to government, failed to establish a connection to any identifiable federal program so that its “structure, operation, and purpose” could be viewed to permit a determination that funds qualified as a federal benefit under jurisdictional element of Section 666(b) -- Evidence in record that city received federal funds and transferred, in one form or another, federal stimulus funds to city's redevelopment agency and that county used federal stimulus funds to construct six bus shelters, which were placed in continued care of agency was insufficient to sustain a conviction under Section 666 -- Indirect receipt of funds qualifies as a benefit only if government can show a relationship between “structure, operation, and purpose” of federal scheme authorizing distribution of funds and their ultimate use at relevant local level, and government failed to produce evidence on this element -- There was insufficient record evidence from which reasonable jury could find that city's redevelopment agency received a benefit of federal character -- Question of law or fact -- To extent that question of whether an item can be classified as a “benefit” under Section 666 is a question of law and not of fact for jury's determination, alleged error was invited by government, and precludes court's review for plain error or reversal -- Even assuming, arguendo, that court were to address the issue, based on Eleventh Circuit precedent, the decision to classify assistance as a federal benefit was properly submitted to jury -- Judgment of acquittal -- Timeliness of response -- District court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant's motion to strike government's untimely response to his renewed motion for judgment of acquittal -- In considering government's untimely response, government did not violate local rule, as the rule does not require the court to strike any untimely memorandum

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