Powell v. Palisades Acquisition XVI, LLC

Plaintiff filed suit against Palisades, alleging violations of two provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692e and 1692f, and related statutes. Plaintiff, a credit card debtor, claimed that after Palisades purportedly purchased a judgment that had been entered against her in state court, it filed an Assignment of Judgment in the action that falsely represented its ownership of the judgment and misrepresented the amount she owed. The court concluded that the filing of an assignment of judgment in a debt collection act qualifies as debt collection activity that triggers the protections of the FDCPA; that the Assignment of Judgment that Palisades filed against plaintiff did not falsey claim Palisades' ownership of the judgment; and that the misrepresentations in the Assignment of Judgment as to the amount of the judgment and the amount of plaintiff's payments on the judgment were material. Accordingly, the court vacated the judgment entered on plaintiff's FDCPA claim under section 1692e and remanded the claim. The court vacated the court's conditional ruling that the errors made in the Assignment of Judgment did not provide a basis for the "bona fide error defense" found in section 1692k(c). Finally, the court affirmed the judgment entered on plaintiff's section 1692f claim and her state-law claims.View "Powell v. Palisades Acquisition XVI, LLC" on Justia Law

Jackson v. Lightsey

Plaintiff, an inmate, filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against prison doctors and medical staff, alleging deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The court concluded that plaintiff did not appeal from the district court order dismissing the staff as a party to this case, depriving the court of jurisdiction to review this order. However, the court has jurisdiction over the dismissal of plaintiff's claims against the doctors. The court held that while the claim against Dr. Lightsey was properly dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6), plaintiff has alleged facts supporting a plausible claim of deliberate indifference against Dr. Guleria where plaintiff alleged that Dr. Guleria failed to enter the orders necessary to provide him with the promised care. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claim against Dr. Guleria and remanded for further proceedings.View "Jackson v. Lightsey" on Justia Law

United States v. Mason

Petitioner, convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five or more kilograms of powder cocaine, appealed the district court's denial of his 28 U.S.C. 2255 petition for collateral relief. The court rejected petitioner's claim that he received ineffective assistance because counsel declined to raise an Equal Protection claim of racially selective law enforcement where petitioner's counsel, by choosing to pursue a Fourth Amendment claim, acted effectively under Strickland v. Washington. The court also rejected petitioner's contention that the district court should have held an evidentiary hearing to evaluate whether counsel were ineffective for failing to raise an Equal Protection claim. Further, counsel was not ineffective by failing to properly challenge the use of petitioner's post-arrest silence in the prosecutor's closing remarks. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.View "United States v. Mason" on Justia Law

United States v. Sanya

Sanya recruited restaurant employees to steal customers’ credit card information, using a device that he provided. With the stolen information, Sanya made counterfeit credit cards, which co-conspirators used to purchase gift cards that were used to buy consumer goods. Co-conspirators returned the goods for cash. In 2012, Sanya pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit access-device fraud, was released pending sentencing, and resumed his fraud scheme. He was charged with state crimes, then transferred to federal custody; state charges were dismissed. In 2013, Sanya was indicted for access-device fraud and aggravated identity theft. Sanya’s sentencing for the 2012 plea was postponed, but the parties failed to reach agreement. The district judge expressed his strong preference that Sanya enter a plea to the second set of charges and agree to have all charges consolidated for sentencing. Days later, Sanya pleaded guilty. The charges were consolidated and the same district judge sentenced Sanya to a total of 212 months’ imprisonment. Sanya argued that the district court improperly participated in plea discussions, rendering his second plea invalid. The Fourth Circuit vacated and remanded for assignment to a different judge.View "United States v. Sanya" on Justia Law

Hudson v. Pittsylvania Cnty, Va.

The Board of Supervisors of Pittsylvania County, Virginia met twice per month. At the beginning of each meeting, a member of the Board opened the proceedings with an invocation, usually explicitly Christian in nature, and asked the audience to stand for the prayers. Hudson is a non-Christian resident of Pittsylvania County who has attended nearly every Board meeting and alleges that the Christian prayers made her and other non-Christian citizens of Pittsylvania County feel unwelcome. Hudson filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action alleging violation of the Establishment Clause. The district court entered summary judgment for Hudson and permanently enjoined Pittsylvania “from repeatedly opening its meetings with prayers associated with any one religion,” and struck the case from the active docket while retaining jurisdiction. Hudson sought attorney’s fees and costs in the amount of $59,679.92.1. A magistrate judge recommended an award of $53,229.92 and the district court adopted the recommendation. Pittsylvania filed a notice of appeal and a motion to stay the proceedings pending the Supreme Court’s decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway (2014), 175 days after the court entered its order. The Fourth Circuit dismissed the merits appeal as untimely and affirmed the award of fees.View "Hudson v. Pittsylvania Cnty, Va." on Justia Law

Gon v. Holt

A magistrate judge in the District of Columbia determined that petitioner, a Mexican citizen, was extraditable under the Extradition Treaty between the United States of America and the United Mexican States, U.S. - Mex., May 4, 1978, 31 U.S.T. 5059. Petitioner owned and operated pharmaceutical businesses in and around Mexico City that illegaly imported psychotropic substances into Mexico. On appeal, petitioner claimed that the magistrate judge lacked jurisdiction to conduct the extradition proceeding and that the Treaty bars his extradition. The court found no merit in petitioner's claim that the fact that he was moved from Maryland to the District of Columbia against his will precludes the D.C. Magistrate from exercising jurisdiction over him where, under the Ker-Frisbie doctrine, a defendant's involuntary presence in a court is not a bar to personal jurisdiction. Further, when construing other jurisdiction and venue statutes concerning foreign nationals that, like 18 U.S.C. 3184, require a defendant to be "found in" a place, the court has held that this "found in" requirement is satisfied even when the defendant is brought there against his will. The court rejected petitioner's argument that the Treaty's Non Bis In Idem provision in Article 6 bars his extradition where the court declined to follow Sindona v. Grant's "same conduct" framework, and adopted the Blockburger v. United States' "same elements" test as the proper mode of analysis. The court rejected petitioner's remaining claims regarding the Treaty's dual criminality provision in Article 2 and rule of specialty provision in Article 17. The court affirmed the denial of petitioner's petition for a writ of habeas corpus.View "Gon v. Holt" on Justia Law

Belk, Jr. v. CIR

Petitioners donated a conservation easement to a land trust and claimed a $10,524,000 charitable deduction for the asserted value. The Tax Court held that the easement did not qualify as a charitable contribution and petitioners were not entitled to the deduction. The Tax Code and Treasury Regulations together make clear that 26 U.S.C. 170(h)(2)(C) means that a charitable deduction may be claimed for the donation of a conservation easement only when that easement restricts the use of the donated property in perpetuity. In this case, because the easement fails to meet this requirement, it is ineligible to form the basis of a charitable deduction under section 170(h)(2)(C). The court rejected petitioners' contention that the court should reject this straightforward application of statutory text and affirmed the judgment.View "Belk, Jr. v. CIR" on Justia Law

Wolff v. United States

The trustee of Firstpay's bankruptcy estate sought a judgment against the United States for an amount of payroll tax payments the firm made on behalf of its employer-clients to the IRS. At issue on appeal was whether the trustee may reclaim as property of Firstpay the approximately $28 million transferred by the firm to the IRS during the 90 days preceding the filing of the bankruptcy petition. The court agreed with the bankruptcy court and the district court that, as a matter of law, Firstpay lacked an equitable interest in the funds paid over to the IRS. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.View "Wolff v. United States" on Justia Law

AGI Assoc. v. City of Hickory, NC

AGI filed suit against the City, raising claims arising out of an agreement between the City and Profile Aviation. The district court denied the City's motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, holding that, under North Carolina law, governmental immunity from equitable claims is waived when a county or municipality acts in a proprietary, rather than governmental, capacity. Because (1) North Carolina precedent suggests that the Supreme Court of North Carolina would rule that immunity from equitable claims may be waived pursuant to the proprietary function theory and (2) the rationale behind the theory, as articulated by both the United States Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of North Carolina, is consistent with the waiver of immunity for equitable claims, the court held that the district court did not err in its application of North Carolina state law. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.View "AGI Assoc. v. City of Hickory, NC" on Justia Law

United States v. Collins

Defendant appealed his conviction of knowingly failing to register as a sex offender under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), 42 U.S.C. 16913(a). Defendant argued that the government failed to prove an essential element of a SORNA violation - that he knew he had an obligation to register - based on comments made by a state court judge in a separate proceeding, which defendant argued suggested that his obligation to register had expired. The court agreed with the district court's determination that the state judge appeared to be giving advice rather than a binding legal opinion, and there is substantial evidence in the record to support the district court's conclusion that defendant knowingly avoided an obligation to register. Further, the court concluded that defendant's 30-month sentence was reasonable. Accordingly, the court affirmed the conviction and sentence. The court vacated the supervised release portion of the sentence, however, because the U.S. Sentencing Commission recently issued a clarifying amendment that a failure to register under SORNA is not a sex offense for the purposes of the Guidelines. The court vacated the supervised release portion of defendant's sentence, remanding for further proceedings.View "United States v. Collins" on Justia Law