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

August 2011 Archives

Court Upholds Gary Carl Simmons Death Verdict

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week in Simmons v. Epps that a trial court’s sentencing phase exclusion of a defendant’s self-made videotape expressing remorse was not objectively unreasonable.

In 1996, Gary Carl Simmons killed his drug dealer, Jeffrey Wolfe, and raped Wolfe’s girlfriend, Charlene Leaser. After locking Leaser in a box, Simmons used butcher knives from his job at grocery store meat department to cut Wolfe’s body into small pieces and toss it in the bayou.

No Additions to Habeas Petition in Post-Conviction Relief

Should we be worried about the number of ineffective counsel claims that are making their way through the circuits this year?

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion in yet another ineffective counsel case this week, finding that a petitioner had received the benefit of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel, even though his lawyer barely satisfied that standard.

Fifth Circuit Federal Clerkship Application Period Approaching

Beyoncé tells us that it's girls who run the world.

The repetitiveness of Miss B's declaration over the course of four minutes at the gym this morning prompted us to consider who really runs a number of different institutions, like Congress, dog shows, child beauty pageants, and the DMV.

At least we know who runs the federal courts: clerks. Sure, judges make the decisions, but clerks do the legwork on most opinions. A federal clerkship is an opportunity to leave an indelible mark on justice... just without your name anywhere to be found.

Interpleader Alone Does Not Trigger Insurer's Liability

Interpleader and oil spills and indemnity, oh my! The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday that filing an interpleader action does not trigger an excess insurer's responsibility in a claim.

The details in this case read more like an algebraic equation than a fact pattern, ("the M/V TINTOMARA struck the DM-932"), so we'll spare you the nitty-gritty specifics in favor of our digestible version: there was an accident on the Mississippi River that resulted in an oil spill. And oil spills are bad.

Incorrect Death Penalty Jury Instruction Not Harmless

Quintez Wren Hodges is not the kind of person Mississippians refer to as “a nice fella.”

In 1999, Hodges broke into his ex-girlfriend’s house, fatally shot her brother, kidnapped his ex-girlfriend and her baby, and raped the ex-girlfriend in the back seat of her vehicle. His only redeeming moment in the ordeal was when he turned himself into the police.

It should come as no surprise that a jury found Hodges guilty of capital murder during the commission of a burglary, and — Mississippi being a capital punishment state - sentenced him to die by lethal injection.