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

Appeals Court Upholds Flying Flag With Confederate Emblem

A Mississippi city will continue to fly a flag that includes the confederate battle emblem, following a decision by a federal appeals court.

The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed dismissal of a lawsuit against Ocean Springs that said the flag sent the message black people are not welcome. The appeals court said the plaintiffs were not "aggrieved persons" under the law.

In Mississippi Rising Coalition v. City of Ocean Springs, the plaintiffs lost their claim that the flag is "racially demeaning and hostile." As long as the Confederate flag flies, however, it seems the Civil War isn't over.

5th Circuit Upholds $33M Penalty Against Texas for Decreasing Special Ed Funding

Sometimes a court opinion can be summed up in a few words like: "a perverse incentive."

That's how the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals described things in Texas Education Agency v. United States Department of Education. Texas had cut $33.3 million in education funds for students with disabilities.

Texas said the students didn't need the funds so it held back federal grant money. The appeals courts said the scheme was "a perverse incentive" to escape obligations to students with special needs.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals just affirmed the Southern District Court of Texas's ruling that Walmart cannot be held liable for the death of Karalee Williams.

Karalee died in her car in a Texas Walmart's parking lot. She died due to excessive huffing of canned air, a.k.a. dusting (you know, those aerosol air dusters meant for tech), which is a serious problem across the country. Notably, during a 27 hour period, Karalee made several visits to the same Walmart and purchased approximately 60 cans of the stuff and a towel. Despite unbelievable undisputed facts, the courts agreed that Walmart did not owe Karalee any duties.

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.