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Federal New Releases

New Releases
from Federal Courts

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Criminal law -- Habeas corpus -- Successive petitions -- Habeas petitioner is not entitled to leave to file second or successive motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his federal sentence, because he has failed to make a prima facie showing that his claims involve a new rule of constitutional law made retroactive to cases on collateral review by Supreme Court -- Petitioner's claim that his sentence is unconstitutional under Johnson v. United States because it was enhanced as a result of prior burglary conviction under the now-void residual clause of Armed Career Criminal Act fails to establish the required prima facie showing because, even though Johnson is a new rule of constitutional law made retroactive, the applicability of petitioner's ACCA enhancement does not turn on validity of residual clause -- For petitioner's second claim that his predicate burglary offense is no longer valid because it is nongeneric and the elements are broad, ambiguous and indivisible, claim that Descamps is a new rule of constitutional law that Supreme Court has made retroactive to cases on collateral review is unavailing -- Because court in Descamps merely provided guidance to courts in interpreting an existing criminal statute, Descamps did not announce a new rule of constitutional law
VIEW OPINION

Criminal law -- Habeas corpus -- Limitation of actions -- Tolling -- Federal habeas petition was timely filed under one-year statute of limitations established by Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act -- For purposes of AEDPA's tolling provision, 28 U.S.C. section 2244(d)(2), when the Georgia Supreme Court denies a state habeas petitioner's application for a certificate of probable cause, the petitioner's proceedings remain pending, and tolled, until the court issues the remittitur for the denial -- When a state habeas petitioner seeks a certificate of probable cause from Georgia supreme court and the court denies the request, the petitioner's case becomes complete when court issues the remittitur for the denial
VIEW OPINION

Criminal law -- Sentencing -- Federal guidelines -- Reduction of sentence -- District court did not abuse discretion by denying motion to reduce sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c), based on Amendment 782 to Sentencing Guidelines, after determining that defendant was eligible for a sentence reduction based on the amendment, but that the reduction was not warranted based on factors in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) -- District court did not abuse discretion by failing to address explicitly the effect of the Fair Sentencing Act or defendant's positive efforts to improve his character because record shows that it otherwise considered the Section 3553(a) factors -- Reassignment of case to a different district judge is not warranted where there is no need for a remand and reassignment is unnecessary to preserve appearance of justice and would require undue duplication of effort
VIEW OPINION

Taxation -- Federal -- Self-employment tax -- Tax court properly determined that post-retirement payments received by taxpayer under corporate programs were deferred compensation subject to self-employment tax -- Amendments to the programs which expressly characterized payments from the programs as “deferred compensation” were controlling for tax purposes under Danielson rule -- Discussion of Danielson rule -- Taxpayer's argument that post-retirement payments from these corporate programs constituted consideration for taxpayer ending her businesses as independent contractor promoting and selling corporation's products and her agreement not to compete with corporation post-retirement is belied by agreements between the taxpayer and the corporation and by the record in instant case
VIEW OPINION

Bankruptcy -- Claims -- Federal Debt Collection Practices Act -- Court of appeals' holding in Crawford v. LVNV Funding, LLC, that a debt collector violates the FDCPA when it files a proof of claim in a bankruptcy case on a debt that it knows to be time-barred did not, as district court interpreted the ruling, place the FDCPA and Bankruptcy Code in irreconcilable conflict -- Although Code allows all creditors to file proofs of claim in bankruptcy cases, it does not at the same time protect those creditors from all liability -- Debt collectors are a particular subset of creditors, and when a debt collector files a proof of claim for debt that the debt collector knows to be time-barred, that creditor must still face the consequences imposed by FDCPA for misleading or unfair claim
VIEW OPINION

Bankruptcy -- Violation of automatic stay and discharge injunction -- Chapter 7 debtor filed adversary proceeding against local public housing authority seeking recovery for willful violations of automatic stay and discharge injunction -- Creditor/housing authority violated the automatic stay by continuing proceedings to terminate debtor's participation in Section 8 housing program when it knew the automatic stay was in effect and without obtaining relief from the stay -- Creditor/housing authority willfully violated discharge injunction by taking no action to stop termination proceedings against debtor and continuing to hold debtor responsible for debt after being notified that debt had been discharged -- Housing authority's belated attempt to recharacterize its collection efforts as an exercise of restitution or police power fails, as evidence clearly shows that at time bankruptcy case was filed the only issue between housing authority and debtor was a monetary issue for past due amounts -- No merit to argument that debt was restitution resulting from fraud or abuse committed by debtor -- Damages -- Debtor was entitled to actual damages resulting from her liability to pay her landlord's attorney's fees and court costs -- Debtor, as prevailing party, was entitled award of attorney's fees and costs pursuant to 11 U.S.C. section 362(k), notwithstanding that she was represented by a pro bono legal services provider -- Debtor was not entitled to damages for emotional distress because she failed to prove she suffered significant emotional distress that was causally connected to housing authority's willful violation of stay
VIEW OPINION

Bankruptcy -- Confirmation -- Chapter 13 plan -- Periodic payments on secured claim -- Secured creditor objected to debtor's fourth amended plan which proposed to pay creditor in two tiers of payments because it did not provide for equal monthly payments until month ten, at which time the plan had not been confirmed -- Section 1325(a)(5)(B)(iii)(I) requires that equal monthly payments begin not from first payment to chapter 13 trustee, but rather, no earlier than first payment due after chapter 13 plan is confirmed -- Secured creditor's argument that statute compels equal monthly payments from first payment made by debtor in a chapter 13 case, even before the plan is confirmed, was rejected by court -- A plan that proposes equal payments to secured creditor at least beginning with first payment after confirmation satisfies the equal monthly payment requirements of Section 1325(a)(5)(B)(iii) -- Since debtor's fourth amended plan has not yet been confirmed, and all post confirmation payments under plan will be equal, whichever line of cases correctly interprets the equal monthly payment requirement of Section 1325, plan satisfies requirements of Bankruptcy Code
VIEW OPINION

Civil rights -- Employment discrimination -- Exhaustion of administrative remedies -- Timeliness of complaint -- Before a federal civil servant can sue his employer for violating Title VII, he must, among other things, “initiate contact with an Equal Employment Opportunity counselor at his agency “within 45 days of the date of the matter alleged to be discriminatory” -- When an employee resigns in the face of intolerable discrimination, a “constructive” discharge, the matter alleged to be discriminatory includes the resignation -- Because part of the “matter alleged to be discriminatory” in a constructive-discharge claim is an employee's resignation, the 45-day limitations period begins running only after the employee resigns -- Where regulatory text of Title VII and the regulation is not unambiguously clear, standard rule for limitations periods, which provides that a limitations period ordinarily begins to run when the plaintiff has a complete and present cause of action, applies -- Resignation is part of the “complete and present cause of action” in a constructive-discharge claim, which comprises two basic elements: discriminatory conduct such that a reasonable employee would have felt compelled to resign and actual resignation -- An employee does not have a complete and present cause of action for constructive discharge until he resigns -- A constructive-discharge claim accrues, and the limitations period begins to run, when the employee gives notice of his resignation, not on effective date thereof
VIEW OPINION

Criminal law -- Jurors -- Challenge -- Peremptory -- Racial discrimination -- Jurisdiction -- Supreme Court has jurisdiction to review judgment of state supreme court denying state death row inmate a certificate of probable cause on his claim that state's use of peremptory challenges to strike all four black prospective jurors was racially motivated, in violation of Batson v. Kentucky -- There is no indication that state court judgment rested on a state law ground that is both independent of the merits of Batson claim and an adequate basis for that decision, so as to preclude jurisdiction -- State court's decision that death row inmate failed to show purposeful discrimination in state's strikes of two black prospective jurors was clearly erroneous -- Evidence that prosecution's reasons for striking the black prospective jurors apply equally to otherwise similar nonblack prospective jurors who were allowed to serve, along with prosecution's shifting explanations, misrepresentations of record, and persistent focus on race, leads to conclusion that the strike of those prospective jurors was “motivated in substantial part by discriminatory intent” -- Focus on race in prosecution's file plainly demonstrates a concerted effort to keep black prospective jurors off the jury
VIEW OPINION

Criminal law -- Murder -- Death penalty -- Habeas corpus -- Counsel -- Ineffectiveness -- Investigation or presentation of mitigation evidence during penalty phase of capital trial -- Petitioner alleged sufficient facts to require evidentiary hearing into claims that counsel had almost no meaningful contact with defendant or his family prior to trial; failed to investigate conditions of childhood, including chronic physical, emotional, and sexual abuse; and failed to investigate and challenge state's characterization of petitioner's prior burglary conviction as a violent felony involving attempted rape -- State court's rejection of claim was unreasonable based on state court record -- Accordingly, district court is no longer bound by section 2254(d) or limited to consideration of the facts developed in the state court record when evaluating merits of claim -- Section 2254(e)(2), which bars district court from holding evidentiary hearing only if applicant has failed to develop factual basis of claim in state court proceedings, is not bar to evidentiary hearing in this case because failure to develop factual basis of claims in state court was not attributable to any omission, fault or negligence on part of petitioner -- District court erred in denying petitioner's motion for discovery seeking access to variety of records to substantiate his penalty phase ineffective assistance of counsel claim on ground that claims lacked merit
VIEW OPINION

Criminal law -- Supervised release revocation -- Sentencing -- Appeals -- Standard of review -- Claims that district court committed procedural error when it failed to consider section 3553(a) sentencing factors and failed to give specific reason for non-guidelines sentence were not preserved for appeal by general objection to length of sentence -- Claim that district court failed to consider section 3553(a) factors is subject to plain error review, while claim related to section 3553(c)(2) is reviewable de novo -- 18 U.S.C. section 3553(c)(2), which requires district court to state specific reason for imposition of sentence which is outside guidelines range, applies to revocation proceedings -- Failure to comply with section 3553(c)(2) is per se reversible error -- Various rulings over course of sentencing proceeding were not sufficient to permit appellate review of specific reasons for above-guidelines sentence -- Remand for resentencing -- Because resentencing is required, resolution of section 3553(a) claim is not necessary
VIEW OPINION

Elections -- Congressional redistricting -- Challenge -- Standing -- Members of Congress, who intervened in lawsuit filed by voters challenging a congressional redistricting plan on ground that legislature's redrawing of voters' district was an unconstitutional racial gerrymander, lack standing to pursue appeal of judgment from a three-judge panel striking down the congressional redistricting plan -- Intervenors have not identified any record evidence to support their allegation that the redistricting plan has harmed their prospects of reelection, and thus have not shown that they have suffered an injury that is likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision
VIEW OPINION

Privacy -- Driver's Privacy Protection Act -- Limitation of actions -- Cause of action for DPPA claims accrues when alleged DPPA violation occurs, not at time of discovery -- District court did not err by dismissing action as time-barred
VIEW OPINION

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