Articles Posted in Civil Rights

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Movant filed a motion under 28 U.S.C. 2244(b)(3)(A), seeking authorization to file a second or successive application for a writ of habeas corpus to challenge his 2001 sentence of four life terms plus 45 years imposed by a Virginia state court for nonhomicide crimes he committed as a juvenile. The Fourth Circuit denied the motion because the claim movant sought to present to the district was raised in his first federal application for a writ of habeas corpus, and therefore movant failed to make a prima facie showing that his successive habeas application would allege a claim that was not presented in a prior application, as the statute required. View "In re: Jarius Phillips" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment against plaintiff in a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action primarily alleging that plaintiff's First Amendment Free Exercise Clause rights, as well as his rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. 2000cc et seq., were violated because of his former prison's failure to accommodate his religious dietary needs. The court held that plaintiff's prospects for meaningful redress were sufficient to give him standing to seek prospective relief regarding the content of the Common Fare menu; defendants have not demonstrated that plaintiff had lost all legally cognizable interest in the outcome of his request for prospective relief from the suspension; and, on the merits, plaintiff has shown a genuine factual dispute as to whether his rights were substantially burdened by the prison's serving him foods that Nation of Islam dietary rules prohibited him from eating. The court explained that defendants failed to offer any institutional interest that they claimed justified the burdening of a prisoner's rights. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Carter v. Fleming" on Justia Law

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A Baltimore City ordinance that requires pregnancy clinics that do not offer or refer for abortions to disclose that fact through signs posted in their waiting rooms, as applied to the Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns, violates the First Amendment's Free Speech Clause. The Fourth Circuit held that, although the City's interests in addressing allegedly deceptive advertising and to prevent health risks that can accompany delays in seeking to end a pregnancy were plainly important, the City could pursue its goals through less restrictive means and there was only a loose fit between the compelling disclosure at issue and the purported ills identified by the government. Therefore, the ordinance failed to satisfy heightened First Amendment scrutiny. View "Greater Baltimore Center v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment for MIA in an action alleging salary discrimination under the Equal Pay Act (EPA), 29 U.S.C. 206(d). The court held that the EEOC established a prima facie violation of the EPA, and that genuine issues of material fact exist regarding whether the pay disparity was due to factors other than gender. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "EEOC v. Maryland Insurance Admin." on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit vacated the district court's judgment in favor of Aberdeen in a complaint alleging violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 12 U.S.C. 12182. Plaintiff, who uses a wheelchair, alleged that Aberdeen's Marketplace shopping center had unlawful barriers that hindered access to the Marketplace and discriminated against plaintiff. The court held that plaintiff has sufficiently alleged standing to sue and was entitled to pursue his ADA claim. In this case, plaintiff's complaint sufficiently alleged standing to sue under the injury-in-fact element in Lujan v. Defs. of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992), because there was nothing conjectural or hypothetical about the injuries plaintiff suffered during his visits to the Marketplace and the complaint sufficiently alleged a likelihood that plaintiff would again suffer such injuries. View "Nanni v. Aberdeen Marketplace, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, an inmate of the VDOC, filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging violations of his constitutional rights primarily stemming from a "rough ride" transporting him in a van. The district court granted summary judgment for defendants. In regard to the Eighth Amendment claim, the Fourth Circuit held that plaintiff has shown facts making out a violation of a clearly established right based on failure to ensure safe transport and adherence to VDOC procedures. Therefore, the court reversed the grant of summary judgment and remanded as to Officers Cooper (the driver of the van) and Diming. However, because plaintiff failed to show sufficient facts for supervisory liability, the court affirmed the grant of summary judgment for Lt. Thompson, Jennings, and Dolan. In regard to the First Amendment retaliation claim, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Baskerville, Jennings, Ware, Lewis, Dolan, Lt. Thompson, Seay, Blackwell, and White because plaintiff has failed to show any facts that could support an inference that the above officials were aware of his past litigation and grievances or that they acted with retaliatory intent. The court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment as to Cooper and Diming because the record supported an inference that they were acting in response to plaintiff being a frequent filer of grievances and litigation. The court reversed the district court's decision to dismiss the state law claims and affirmed in all other respects. View "Thompson, Jr. v. Commonwealth of Virginia" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of habeas relief for petitioner where he challenged his state court conviction for computer solicitation of acts of sodomy from a minor under the age of 15, in violation of Va. Code Ann. 18.2-374.3(C)(3) (2007). The court held that Virginia's anti-sodomy statute, as authoritatively construed by the Supreme Court of Virginia, did not criminalize conduct that Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003), declared to be protected by the liberty interests guaranteed by the Due Process Clause, and it was thus not facially unconstitutional. The state court's decision to adopt this narrowing construction, under its jurisprudence, was not contrary to or an unreasonable application of applicable Supreme Court precedent. Therefore, the court rejected petitioner's claim that Lawrence required the invalidation of his conviction under section 18.2-374.3(C)(3) merely because it referenced the anti-sodomy statute. View "Toghill v. Clarke" on Justia Law

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After Anderson complained that a fellow inmate, Rilee, had threatened him, Anderson was moved to another cell block in Virginia’s Gloucester County Jail. Jail personnel did not put Rilee on the jail’s “enemies” list. Two days later, Rilee attacked Anderson in the hall, causing him serious injury. Anderson filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against two deputies, alleging that they acted with deliberate indifference to his health and safety, in violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishments.” The district court instructed the jury that “[d]eliberate indifference is established only if the defendants . . . had actual knowledge of a substantial risk that Anderson would be injured . . . and if the defendants recklessly disregarded that risk by intentionally refusing or failing to take reasonable measures to deal with the risk.” Anderson objected to the inclusion of the word “intentionally.” The Fourth Circuit affirmed a verdict for the defendants, holding that the district court’s instruction adequately and fairly stated the controlling law. Deliberate indifference is the intentional taking of a risk that the defendant knows might cause harm while lacking any intent to cause such harm. View "Anderson v. Kingsley" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed the dismissal of his in forma pauperis, 42 U.S.C. 1983 action for failure to state a claim and failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Plaintiff, an adherent of the Rastafarian faith, challenged the discontinuation of the Rastafarian worship services in prison. The Fourth Circuit held that failure to exhaust plaintiff's administrative remedies was not a proper basis for dismissal and plaintiff's pro se complaint sufficiently alleged that defendants' refusal to allow the group Rastafarian service substantially burdened his religious practices. However, the district court erred in dismissing plaintiff's complaint, except to the extent that the district court dismissed as to Chaplain Menhinick for failure to state a claim. In this case, plaintiff failed to allege involvement by Menhinick necessary to impose liability. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "Wilcox v. Brown" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against the administrator of detective David E. Abbott's estate under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that the search of his person violated his Fourth Amendment right of privacy or, alternatively, his right of substantive due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiff also brought a claim under 18 U.S.C. 2255(a), alleging that, as a result of the search, he was the victim of manufactured child pornography. The Fourth Circuit reversed the district court's judgment with respect to the section 1983 claim alleging a Fourth Amendment violation, holding that a reasonable police officer would have known that attempting to obtain a photograph of a minor child's erect penis, by ordering the child to masturbate in the presence of others, would unlawfully invade the child's right of privacy under the Fourth Amendment. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the remaining claims. View "Sims v. Labowitz" on Justia Law