Category Archives: General Litigation & Trial Practice

Criminal Defendants Sentenced Under Mandatory Minimums Not Entitled To Relief Under 18 U.S.C. sec. 3582(c)(2)

In Koons v. United States, after several criminal defendants pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy charges, the district court discovered that the mandatory minimum sentence provided under 21 U.S.C. sec. 841(b)(1) was higher than the sentencing range provided under the Sentencing Guidelines. The district court decided that the mandatory minimums trumped the Guidelines, and sentenced the defendants under that range,... Read More >

Court Permits Bankruptcy Discharge Despite Oral Misrepresentation Over Ability To Pay Legal Bill

When R. Scott Appling fell behind in paying his legal bills, he orally told his attorneys that he would repay them with a tax refund he was expecting to get. When he got the (lower than expected) refund, he used it to pay other expenses instead, lying to his attorneys so they would continue with the representation. After the attorneys... Read More >

Court Resolves Confusion In Certain Plea Agreements, Holds They Are Subject To Sentencing Guidelines

In 2011, the Court had to decide whether a criminal defendant who entered into a plea deal under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C) could petition to reduce his or her sentence under 18 U.S.C. sec. 3582(c)(2) (which permits a reduction upon a change in the Sentencing Guidelines) if the Sentencing Guidelines were later amended to lower the sentencing range... Read More >

Court Sides With Baker Who Refused To Bake Custom Cake For Gay Wedding

When Jack Phillips refused, on religious grounds, to make a custom wedding cake for a gay couple, the couple filed a charge with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission alleging the refusal violated Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act. Phillips maintained he had a First Amendment right to refuse to bake the cake, but the Commission found him in violation of the Act and... Read More >

Private Investigations Not Compensated Under Mandatory Victims Restitution Act

The Mandatory Victims Restitution Act of 1996 requires defendants convicted of certain federal offenses to reimburse victims for “lost income and necessary child care, transportation, and other expenses incurred during participation in the investigation or prosecution of the offense or attendance at proceedings related to the offense.” 18 U.S.C. sec. 3663A(b)(4). When Sergio Lagos defrauded a lender for tens of... Read More >

Police Cannot Search Vehicle Within Curtilage Of A Home Without A Search Warrant

The Fourth Amendment has long required that any police officer entering the curtilage of a home to have a search warrant. However, the Fourth Amendment also has an “automobile exception,” permitting warrantless searches of vehicles due to their ready mobility. In Collins v. Virginia, a police officer entered the curtilage of a home (its driveway) without a warrant to... Read More >

Private Arbitration Agreements Preclude Employee Class Actions

In Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, employees sued their employer in a class action for violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Those employees each had signed an agreement to arbitrate employment disputes under the Federal Arbitration Act, and the employer invoked those agreements to preclude the class actions. The employees argued that the National Labor Relations Act triggered... Read More >

Prior Precedents Did Not Preclude Tribal Sovereign Immunity In A Property Dispute

After the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe purchased a 40-acre parcel of land in Washington State, a survey of that parcel revealed that approximately an acre of it lay on the other side of a boundary fence, which the Tribe’s new neighbors, the Lundgrens, believed they had owned for decades. The Lundgrens file a quiet title action, and the Tribe asserted... Read More >

Complaints Of Use Of Full Restraints Moot After Criminal Cases Ended

A group of criminal defendants challenged the policy of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, which permitted officers to put in-custody defendants in full restraints for nonjury proceedings in court. The district court denied the claims, but while the appeal before the Ninth Circuit was pending all of the cases involving those defendants resolved. The... Read More >

Drivers Have A Reasonable Expectation Of Privacy In A Car Rented By Another

In Byrd v. United States, Terrence Byrd was pulled over while driving a car rented by Latasha Reed, although the rental agreement did not list Byrd as an authorized driver. The police searched Byrd’s car and discovered 49 bricks of heroin in the trunk. Byrd moved to suppress the evidence as fruits of an unlawful search, but the district... Read More >

Court Rejects Facial-Insufficiency Challenge To Overbroad Wiretap Orders

A federal judge is only authorized to issue a wiretap order for wiretaps conducted within his or her jurisdiction. In Dahda v. United States, a Kansas federal judge issued wiretap orders authorizing wiretaps in Kansas, but also contained language permitting wiretaps in Missouri. Federal investigators conducted the wiretaps in Missouri, and the evidence they gathered led to Los and... Read More >

Court Strikes Down Federal Law Banning Sports Betting

In a 7-2 opinion by Justice Alito, the Court reversed the Third Circuit and held that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was unconstitutional for violating the “anticommandeering rule” inherent in the Tenth Amendment, as it impermissibly sought to regulate state regulation of sports betting. The Act in question forbid states from authorizing betting schemes based on competitive sporting... Read More >

Sixth Amendment Permits Defendant To Insist On Not Conceding Guilt For First-Degree Murder

Robert McCoy was charged with first-degree murder for killing his estranged wife’s mother, stepfather, and son. The evidence was damning, but McCoy insisted that he was innocent. His attorney at trial, Larry English, decided that the best strategy in the face of the evidence was to admit to the jury that McCoy committed the murders, but argue that his mental... Read More >

Court Strikes Portion Of Immigration and Naturalization Act as Void for Vagueness

In one of Justice Scalia’s last majority opinions before his death, the Court held that part of a federal law defining “violent crime” was unconstitutionally void for vagueness in Johnson v. United States, 576 U.S. --- (2015). The Immigration and Nationality Act similarly provided that a person could be deported for committing an “aggravated felony,” which included a “crime of... Read More >

Court Awards Qualified Immunity To Officer Who Shot Woman Claiming Excessive Force

In Kisela v. Hughes, officers reporting to a call of a woman acting erratically with a large knife discovered Ms. Hughes emerging from her house with a knife in her hand, heading toward another woman, Ms. Chadwick, who it turned out was Hughes’ roommate. Hughes stopped six feet from Chadwick, and the officers drew their firearms and told Hughes... Read More >

Service Advisors Are Exempt From Fair Labor Standards Act Overtime-Pay Requirement

The Fair Labor Standards Act exempted “any salesman, partsman, or mechanic primarily engaged in selling or servicing automobiles” from overtime-pay requirements under the Act. In Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navarro, a group of service advisors sued for overtime pay under the Act when the Department of Labor decided in 2011 that they were excluded from the exemption. The Court... Read More >

Court Rejects Fifth Circuit’s “Substantial Need” Test For Funding Under 18 U.S.C. sec. 3599(f)

Under 18 U.S.C. sec. 3599(f), a defendant charged with a crime punishable by death can petition the trial court for funds that would be “reasonably necessary” for investigative, expert, or other services needed for the defense. In Ayestas v. Davis, a man sentenced to death made such a petition to support his federal habeas claim for ineffective assistance of... Read More >

Court Restricts Collections Efforts Under Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act

In Rubin v. Islamic Republic of Iran, certain parties obtained a judgment against Iran under the state sponsors of terrorism exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. They then sought to enforce that judgment against Iranian historical artifacts housed at the University of Chicago. The district court declined to permit the attachment, and the Seventh Circuit affirmed. The Court,... Read More >

Guilty Plea Does Not Bar A Constitutional Challenge To Conviction

Class v. United States When Rodney Class was indicted for possessing firearms in his locked vehicle parked at the U.S. Capitol, he moved to dismiss on the basis that the law violated his Second Amendment and Due Process rights under the Constitution. The district court declined Class’ motion, and he entered into a written plea agreement, which did not expressly... Read More >

Court Reads Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Law Narrowly, Excludes Internal Whistleblower

Digital Realty Trust, Inc. v. Somers In 2014, Paul Somers, a vice president for a real estate investment trust, reported to senior management several suspected securities-law violations by the trust. He was subsequently terminated. He brought suit claiming protection as a whistleblower as defined under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, which defines whistleblowers as... Read More >

United States Permitted To Intervene In Water Dispute Between States

In an original action concerning water rights agreed to between several states under the Rio Grande Compact, Texas argued that New Mexico was permitting its users to siphon off more water than the Compact permitted. The United States sought to intervene, making the same claims as Texas, in part because New Mexico’s actions depleted a reservoir through which the Government... Read More >

Insider Status In Bankruptcy Reviewed For Clear Error, Not De Novo

In U.S. Bank, N.A. v. Village at Lakeridge, LLC, the Village petitioned for Chapter 11 bankruptcy with two primary creditors, U.S. Bank and an insider owner. It needed consent to enter into a “cramdown” reorganization plan, but U.S. Bank refused to consent, and the insider was statutorily unable to provide consent. To fix the problem, the insider owner transferred... Read More >

Challenges to EPA “Waters of the United States” Rule Must Be Filed In Federal District Court

The Clean Water Act limits the discharge of pollutants into “navigable waters,” which is defined by Congress as “the waters of the United States.” The EPA issued a Rule to define that term. While most agency rules are properly challenged in the federal district courts, the Act required challenges to rules issuing “any effluent limitation” or “issuing or denying any... Read More >

Court Holds That Tolling Statute “Stopped The Clock” On State Law Claims, Instead Of Providing A “Grace Period”

In Artis v. District of Columbia, Artis filed a suit against D.C. in federal court with a federal discrimination claim and some state claims. Two and a half years later, the district court dismissed the federal claim, and with it dismissed the state claims for lack of jurisdiction. Under 28 USC sec. 1367(d), the “period of limitations” for re-filing the... Read More >

Court Finds Probable Cause To Arrest Partygoers For Unlawful Entry

When police officers busted a raucous party being held in a vacant house, some of the partygoers said that “Peaches” owned the house and allowed the party. On the phone, though, Peaches admitted she had no such authority, and the true owner told police he had never given anyone permission to be there. The officers arrested the partygoers for violating... Read More >

Supreme Court Clarifies Which Deadlines Are Jurisdictional

In Hamer v. Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, the Court, in a unanimous opinion by Justice Ginsburg, set forth a clear and easy way to tell whether a deadline is jurisdictional, and cannot be waived or extended, or is merely a “claim-processing rule” that can be extended: deadlines provided by statute are jurisdictional, while deadlines provided by court rules are... Read More >

Congratulations to our Best Lawyers in America © 2018!

Jackson & Campbell would like to congratulate our Best Lawyers in America © for 2018 Arthur D. Burger, Ethics and Professional Responsibility Law David H. Cox Litigation - Real Estate; Real Estate Law William E. Davis, Litigation - Trusts & Estates; Trusts & Estates Roy L. Kaufmann, Real Estate Law James P. Schaller, Commercial Litigation; Ethics and Professional Responsibility Law... Read More >