U.S. Fifth Circuit - The FindLaw 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

December 2014 Archives

Top 10 Posts From the 5th Cir. in 2014

Executing a crazy person? Preposterously one-sided arbitration agreements? A forklift is a motor vehicle? Yes, yes, and yes, said the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals over the course of the year.

The Fifth contains many, um, colorful cases. Ten of those were the most popular of the year, and here they are:

Texas Craft Brewers Sue Over New Beer Distribution Law

We're living in a golden age of beer. Gone are the days when the question was "Budweiser or Coors?" There are literally thousands of "craft" breweries all over the country these days, responding to what's been more or less a duopoly of the Big Two beer makers. (Coors bought Miller in 2007; together Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors own 65 percent of the U.S. beer market.) Craft beers are made in smaller batches and don't garner nationwide attention, so some people think they're higher quality products.

Not that the Texas legislature cares, which is why craft beer makers are suing the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission over its distribution regulations.

Texas, 16 Other States Sue Pres. Obama Over Immigration Orders

Last week, President Obama announced that he would be taking the initiative to craft immigration policy in the absence of congressional action. All of his actions come under the umbrella of enforcement. The president has no power to rewrite immigration law, but as the head of the executive branch, he can prioritize enforcement.

Republicans decried the move as outside his constitutional powers and threatened to sue. Last week, the Texas Attorney General, joined by 16 other states, sued the United States in the southern district of Texas. So what's their gripe about?

Stay in Miss. Gay Marriage Case; Arg. Consolidated With La., Tex.

A little more than a week after U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves struck down Mississippi's gay marriage ban, the Fifth Circuit propped it back up, albeit possibly temporarily.

Late last week, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay pending appeal to the state of Mississippi, allowing the state to continue to enforce its ban on gay marriage. However, the ban may not last long -- the court also consolidated the appeal with two others out of Louisiana and Texas, setting the oral argument showdown for all three states in early January.

5th Cir. Stays Execution of Mentally Ill Scott Panetti

Will Texas get its chance to execute a schizophrenic man who defended himself while wearing a purple cowboy suit and tried to call JFK and the Pope as witnesses? Not yet.

Scott Panetti, set for execution today, was granted a last-minute stay by the Fifth Circuit "to allow [the court] to fully consider the late arriving and complex legal questions at issue." No timetable has yet been set, but the court did say in its order that a briefing and oral argument schedule would follow. (H/T to Josh Lee on Twitter.)

5th Circuit Clerk Lyle Cayce Writes Us About Court's Website

A few months back, I got a good chuckle out of a strange notice posted on the Fifth Circuit's website about the clerk's office declining to provide change to cash-paying customers. After How Appealing's Howard Bashman poked fun at the new policy, the court's clerk Lyle Cayce explained the intelligent rationale for the change to the change policy.

Still, when I wrote a mixed review of the Fifth Circuit's website, I didn't expect a response from Cayce. And I really didn't expect the court to make changes in response to my criticisms.

But they did both.