5th Circuit Civil Rights Law News - U.S. Fifth Circuit
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Is Making a Terror Threat a Crime of Moral Turpitude?

In a case that circles around the question of whether making terrorist threats is a crime of moral turpitude, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals moved against the majority convention and remanded the BIA case to be reviewed under a correct application of law.

This is a good opportunity for immigration lawyers to understand the applicable law for their next IJ hearing.

5th Circ. Vacates Injunction That Halted Google Child Porn Inquiry

The free speech interests of Internet users and countervailing states' interests will clash in court, according to the Fifth Circuit. The court overturned a lower district court injunction that stopped Mississippi's AG from investigating whether Google's search platform aided illicit Internet traffic including drugs and child porn.

Although this is not a case the circuit reviewed on the merits, it is at least the second case we've written about that deals with issues of user-freedoms and the public good.

Developer's 1st Amendment Retaliation Suit Goes Nowhere

A developer in Jackson, Mississippi will get no relief from a lower court's ruling that the mayor should not be held liable for alleged Constitutional violations against him. The case is interesting because the owner of the company alleged corruption at the state's capitol and later tried to secure a contract with the city to develop a bank in the city.

Sometimes it's best not to insult the people you'd like to maintain future business with.

Fifth Circuit to Hear TX Voter ID Case En Banc

The Fifth Circuit en banc is hearing the Texas Voter ID case, making the procedural history of the case of Veasey v Abbott even more confusing.

The case revolves around the legal implications that arise if the Texas Legislature should be allowed to implement voter ID laws which may be shown to be intentionally discriminatory, though not facially so. And in a state with consistently low turnout rate, the fate of Veasey could have a palpable effect on the minority voters who appear to be disproportionately affected by the law's strict requirements.

Mentally Disabled Inmate Escapes Death Penalty Under 5th Cir. Ruling

An intellectually disabled man successfully proved that he was intellectually disabled and thus ineligible for execution by the State of Louisiana. It's been a long voyage through the courts, but unless Louisiana would like to take this up to SCOTUS for a second time, it looks like Mr. Brumfield has escaped state administered death.

P2P Networks Don't Have a Reasonable Expectation of Privacy

The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed several criminal counts in a child pornography that centered around reasonable expectation of privacy to a peer-to-peer network.

Although the defendant attempted to defend himself pro se, his "several garbled motions" on sovereign citizen theory were not enough to convince the court that he enjoyed a reasonable expectation of privacy. This case marked the first time the Fifth Circuit confronted the issue of whether or not P2P networks are subject to the usual "reasonable expectation" test.

In case you missed it in the theaters, Machete Kills was the 2013 camp-action film about a Mexican vigilante who is hired by the U.S. president to kill an illegal arms dealer. It starred Danny Trejo, joined by a B movie star-studded cast that included Charlie Sheen, Lady Gaga, and Mel Gibson.

Machete Kills didn't win any Oscars, but it did inspire a First Amendment lawsuit after the Texas Film Commission denied it funding under the state's film incentive program. Machete Productions sued, arguing that the denial was unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination, an argument the Fifth Circuit rejected on Monday.

Coffee Barista's Don't Interact With Customers Enough for Tip Pooling

The Fifth Circuit reversed and remanded a decision by a Texas federal district court in a case that involved barista tips, Montano v. Montrose Restaurant Assoc.

The legal issue at bar was whether or not "coffeemen" (aka baristas) are lawfully entitled to a percentage customer tips under a restaurant's tip pooling arrangement. It turns out that it has little to with what you call them; it has more to do with the nature of their work.

Race Abuse by Students Not Within Title VI's Scope, 5th Cir. Rules

What's a school's liability for discrimination suffered by its students at the hands of other students? This was the broad legal question posed by the Fennell family in Kyana Fennell v. Marion Independent School District.

The Fifth Circuit dismiss the complaint against a Marion Independent School District (MISD) and several of its employees. The circuit court found that school officials were not "deliberately indifferent" to racist student behaviors.

When Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes tried to get married two years ago, they were told, "We don't do that in Texas." The couple sued, along with Nicole Dimetman and Cleo DeLeon, arguing that their relationship deserved equal legal rights and respect. They won in district court and, following the Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges, in the Fifth Circuit.

Now, they do do that in Texas. And Phariss and Holmes will get the chance to do it as well, as the couple will finally get their marriage license this Friday in San Antonio, Texas.