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


Judge Strikes Indian Child Welfare Act

Judge Reed Charles O'Connor, a federal judge in Texas, is not afraid of Indians.

Staring down centuries of Native American sovereignty, the judge stuck down the Indian Child Welfare Act. He said the 40-year-old legislation that favors tribal rights in adoption proceedings is unconstitutional.

Native American advocates were stunned by the decision. There will be an appeal.

Golf Company Swings, Misses at 5th Circuit

In golf, a mulligan means a do-over.

It's an informal golf rule that allows a player who muffs a shot to take another one, and it's not counted on the score card. In SureShot Golf Ventures v. Topgolf International, the plaintiff got the legal equivalent of a mulligan.

SureShot sued Topgolf, only to have its antitrust complaint dismissed. The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed, but gave the plaintiff another chance.

Texas Veterinarian Sues to Give Pet Advice Online

Maybe you heard this song before, but there's a veterinarian who would talk to the animals if he could.

At age 75, Dr. Ronald Hines is an old-school practitioner with a modern approach. He gives pet advice online.

At least he did until Texas shut him down. Now he's suing for his right to free speech -- again.

Louisiana Abortion Restrictions Upheld

A federal appeals court restored a Louisiana law that requires abortion doctors have credentials to work at hospitals.

In June Medical Services v. Gee, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a trial court decision that struck down the law as unconstitutional. Act 620 provides that treating doctors at abortion clinics must have credentials at a hospital within 30 miles.

The appeals panel said the law was intended to protect "maternal health" and "unborn life." But one dissenting judge said it was an "undue burden" on women's rights.

The Alvarez v. City of Brownsville case is one that criminal law and civil rights attorneys and advocates will want to review.

In short, the matter concerns whether a Brady violation occurs if a defendant accepts a plea bargain. Both a panel, and a majority of the full, en banc Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Brady doesn't apply to plea bargains.

In the great state of Louisiana, the state's attorney general and commissioner of alcohol and tobacco have been fighting a fight that exotic dancers just don't think are right.

In 2016, the state both defined and raised the minimum age requirement for exotic dancers in establishments that serve alcohol. While the industry had always presumed the minimum age was 18, this was not actually stated in the law. In 2016, the new law passed and set the minimum age at 21, which as a result, caused many dancers between the ages of 18 and 21 to be out of a job, or forced to take other positions which pay significantly less.

Judge Strikes Texas Fetal Abortion Law

A high-profile feud over abortion laws continues in Texas, where a judge stopped -- again -- a law that would require abortion providers to bury or cremate fetuses.

The fetal burial law, set to take effect in February, applies to abortions, miscarriages, and ectopic pregnancies. The decision was a defeat for lawmakers and the state Attorney General's Office, which defended the statute in Whole Women's Health v. Smith.

Judge David A. Ezra said the law violated due process rights and interfered with a woman's decision to have an abortion. He also re-ignited his own inter-court battle over the controversial law.

Court: Treble Damages for Defense Costs in Insurance Breach Case

It takes a lot to change a court's mind, especially when the court has three judges.

In Lyda Swinterton Builders v. Oklahoma Surety Company, however, it wasn't that hard. That's because the Texas Supreme Court changed it for them.

It doesn't happen all the time, but one decision can change everything. In this case, it's about an insurer's duty to defend and treble damages for failing to do so.

When it comes to guns, few states are as gung-ho as Texas. After all, Yosemite Sam was almost named "Texas Tiny" for a reason.

In keeping with the gung-ho mentality, the recent decision in Glass v. Paxton explains that a 2015 Texas law allows handgun owners with concealed carry permits to carry their concealed handguns on college campuses and even inside college classrooms.

The case focused on a challenge to that law due to the fact that teachers that wanted to ban guns in their own classrooms would face discipline from their institutions, and were prohibited from doing so.

Court Strikes Louisiana's 'Don't-Threaten-to-Sue' Law

You couldn't threaten to sue a police officer in Louisiana, and that was a problem.

In Seals v. McBee, the problem was the state's law against intimidating threats. The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals said it was unconstitutional because it banned too many types of threats.

The appeals panel said the statute could criminalize boycotts, lawsuits, and other legally protected speech. You can't yell "fire" in a crowded theater, either, but that's another story.