October 2011 Court Decisions: Decided
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October 2011 Archives

Buy a Foreclosure Home, Risk Having it Taken Away, MA Court Rules

Massachusetts foreclosure buyers best beware after a just-released decision by the state's highest court.

Francis Bevilacqua purchased a foreclosure home from U.S. Bank in 2006, only to find out that he doesn't hold clear title to the property. Turns out that the bank didn't yet own the mortgage when it foreclosed on the building.

The bank therefore never legally transferred title to Bevilacqua, who must now contend with the original owner.

Judge Blocks Florida Law Requiring Welfare Drug Test

A federal judge in Florida has issued a temporary injunction blocking the enforcement of the state's welfare drug test law. The law mandates drug testing for those seeking state welfare. Persons who test positive are denied benefits.

Plaintiff, a Navy veteran and university student, applied for aid so that he can care for his daughter. He refused to take the test, and was subsequently denied benefits. He then sued on Fourth Amendment grounds.

Anal Cavity Search Doesn't Violate 4th Amendment, 1st Cir. Rules

Anal cavity searches carried out via x-ray are constitutional, according to the 1st Circuit. Even if the images depict a suspect's stomach and other organs.

Police in Worcester, Mass. arrested Shane Spencer for driving without a license. A reliable informant then claimed that he had seen Spencer insert a package of crack cocaine into his anal cavity. But Spencer refused to cooperate with a visual inspection of his anus, so police obtained a warrant.

The local hospital conducted a physical search of Spencer's anal cavity, and then ordered a KUB x-ray. A KUB x-ray is the only method of viewing the entire anal cavity, but it also captures images of the stomach and kidneys.

You Can't Use a Prison Shank for Self Defense, 9th Circuit Rules

Lenny Urena is probably not the only prisoner who believes being called a "bitch" justifies assaulting the name-caller. But the Ninth Circuit disagrees. The appeals court has struck down Urena's request for a self-defense jury instruction in his prison shanking case.

Urena was incarcerated at a federal prison when another prisoner, Gary Dennis, approached Urena and called him a "bitch."

Soon after, Urena took Dennis by surprise and started attacking him. An altercation ensued. At the end, most of Dennis' injuries were rather superficial. He did require stitches for some shank injuries. Prison officials later found the offending shank on Urena.

Alabama Immigration Law Partially Blocked by 11th Circuit

A just-released order might cause some confusion amongst those challenging the controversial Alabama immigration law.

Acting on the Justice Department's recent appeal, the 11th Circuit partially granted a preliminary injunction enjoining two sections of the law. However, the court also denied a request to stop the enforcement of four other provisions.

To make matters worse, the order provides absolutely no explanation for the court's decision.

Santa Cruz Nazi Salute Case Headed to Trial

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal of the Santa Cruz Nazi salute case.

Activist Robert Norse sued the California beach town in 2002, arguing that the city council violated his First Amendment rights. Police ejected him from a public meeting because he protested the mayor's actions with a mock Nazi salute.

An en banc panel of the 9th Circuit ruled that the case should go to trial. By denying the city's appeal, the Supreme Court has let that ruling stand.

D.C. Gun Law: Semi-Automatic Rifle Ban Upheld by DC Circuit

Gun control advocates won big in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals this week. A panel of judges upheld a D.C. gun law banning semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

The judges also backed some of the city's gun registration requirements, but chose to order further proceedings for others. Questionable provisions include clauses directing gun registrants to undergo fingerprinting and provide ballistics data.

Regardless, the more noteworthy aspect of this case is still the semi-automatic rifle and ammunition bans.

Kansas Abortion Law Remains in Effect: Judge Denies ACLU Request

A federal judge has refused to block Kansas' abortion insurance law, which went into effect this past July.

The law bans private insurers from providing abortion coverage unless it is necessary for the mother's health. Women will have to purchase a separate policy if they wish to maintain abortion coverage.

The ACLU challenged the law's constitutionality, but failed to provide sufficient evidence for a preliminary injunction.