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Civil Rights, Criminal, Employment and Immigration Cases

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By FindLaw Staff on March 25, 2010 3:40 PM

In US v. Brown, No. 07-2287, the court of appeals vacated defendant's crack cocaine distribution sentence, holding that a prior conviction for delivery of a "simulated controlled substance" under Iowa law did not qualify as a "felony drug offense" under a recidivism provision of the federal Controlled Substances Act.

EEOC v. Kelly Servs., Inc., No. 08-3880, concerned an action by the EEOC alleging that defendant employment agency discriminated against a Muslim by failing to refer her to an employer because of her refusal to remove her khimar for work.  The court of appeals affirmed summary judgment for defendant, holding that the EEOC failed to show that the employer had an available position to which defendant could actually refer the candidate when she applied for available temporary work.

In US v. Ochoa-Gonzalez, No. 09-1231, the court of appeals reversed defendant's aggravated identity theft conviction, on the grounds that 1) neither defendant, nor her counsel, nor the court understood that her knowledge that the stolen ADIT number belonged to another person was an essential element of aggravated identity theft under 18 U.S.C. section 1028A(a)(1), and thus defendant's guilty plea was invalid; and 2) defendant's spontaneous statements to an officer were voluntary and not in response to interrogation, and thus should not be suppressed.

Thimran v. Holder, No. 09-1749, involved a petition for review of the BIA's order denying petitioner's request for a continuance and voluntary departure and ordering him removed.  The court of appeals denied the petition, holding that the Immigration Judge's (IJ) decision not to grant a continuance did not amount to an abuse of discretion, considering that the IJ denied petitioner's request for a continuance after multiple I-130 petitions were denied, the case had been continued for over two years, and petitioner presented no obviously meritorious grounds for appeal.

Felder v. King, No. 09-1814, concerned a 42 U.S.C. section 1983 action alleging an unlawful police shooting.  The Eighth Circuit dismissed defendants' appeal from a denial of qualified immunity, holding that the court faced the type of fact-based qualified immunity decision that was not appropriate for interlocutory appeal.

Williams v. Jackson, No. 09-1843, involved an Eighth Amendment claim against a prison maintenance supervisor and three correction officers alleging that they willfully and maliciously exposed plaintiff to ultraviolet radiation resulting in physical injury.  The court of appeals affirmed in part the denial of summary judgment based on qualified immunity, holding that 1) defendants relied on their own version of the facts to assert that they took no malicious or retaliatory action towards plaintiff; 2) officers' argument overstated the degree of specificity required in existing law for a constitutional right to be clearly established.  However, the court reversed in part, on the ground that, as to a maintenance-supervisor defendant, plaintiff failed to allege a constitutional violation, and alleged nothing more than simple negligence.

In US v. Ault, No. 09-1921, the court of appeals affirmed defendant's drug conspiracy sentence, holding that 1) defendant's prior drug paraphernalia conviction appeared severable and distinct from the conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, and thus the district court properly assigned criminal history points based on that conviction; and 2) although the district failed to impose the proper sentence reduction for acceptance of responsibility, the sentence imposed here was significantly below the bottom of the miscalculated advisory Guidelines range.

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