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Appeals Decided in Criminal Cases and Civil Rights Action by Protesters

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By FindLaw Staff on March 02, 2010 9:43 PM

The Eleventh Circuit decided one civil rights matter and two criminal cases.

Keating v. Miami, No. 09-10939, was an action alleging violations of plaintiffs' First and Fourth Amendment rights during a demonstration held in November 2003 outside the Free Trade Area of the Americas meeting in Miami.  The court of appeals affirmed the denial of summary judgment based on qualified immunity on plaintiffs' First Amendment claims against certain defendants, holding that plaintiffs satisfied the heightened pleading requirement for a 42 U.S.C. section 1983 claim under a supervisory liability theory by alleging a causal connection established by facts that supported an inference that defendants directed subordinate officers to act unlawfully.

However, the court reversed the denial of summary judgment based on qualified immunity on the grounds that the protesters failed to allege that defendant violated their First Amendment rights in his supervisory capacity by failing to stop the subordinate officers from using less than lethal weapons to disperse a crowd of peaceful demonstrators because defendant was merely present, and could not contravene the orders directing such unlawful activity given by the police chief.

In US v. Culver, No. 07-14708, the court of appeals affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for production of child pornography, holding that 1) defendant's argument that 18 U.S.C. section 2251(a) was unconstitutional as applied to his conduct was foreclosed by the court's earlier conclusion that Congress had broad authority to regulate both intrastate and interstate child pornography; and 2) the government's incremental need for the drug and stun gun evidence submitted at trial to overcome any potential doubt generated by the victim's inability to remember the events in question, and the overall similarity between the acts depicted on the tape and the events of the date of the offense rendered that evidence highly probative.

Richardson v. Johnson, No. 08-16795, involved a 42 U.S.C. section 1983 action by a prisoner against prison authorities based on an assault against him by another inmate.  The court of appeals affirmed the dismissal of the complaint in part where plaintiff failed to allege how defendants were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs.  However, the court of appeals vacated the dismissal in part on the ground that, as long as the court-appointed agent could locate the prison-guard defendant with reasonable effort, prisoner-litigants who provide enough information to identify the prison-guard defendant had established good cause for Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(m) purposes.

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