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

November 2011 Archives

Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling Appeals 5th Circuit Opinion to SCOTUS

After serving 5 years of a 24-year sentence, former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling wants another day before the Supreme Court.

Skilling was convicted in 2006 of conspiracy, securities fraud, making false representations to auditors, and insider trading associated with the Enron collapse. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed his convictions in 2009, but the Supreme Court invalidated one of the grounds of Skilling’s conspiracy charge - honest-services fraud - and kicked the case back to the Fifth Circuit in 2010.

Feds Challenge Sovereign Immunity in Hurricane Katrina Lawsuit

Louisiana has survived another hurricane season without a Katrina-grade catastrophe; no doubt, a source of relief for the Bayou State.

While the Northeast contemplated what exactly one does to endure the eye of the storm during August’s Hurricane Irene, the hurricane pros down south were still rebuilding from a disaster that the rest of the country has largely forgotten.

For the federal government, however, Hurricane Katrina remains much more than a plot point on “Treme;” it’s a billion-dollar time bomb.

Final Call Newspaper Ban Impedes Free Exercise of Religion

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court ruling last week that Louisiana prisons cannot ban newspapers published by the Nation of Islam (NOI).

Henry Leonard, a former police officer who is incarcerated at the David Wade Correctional Center (DWCC) for murder, has been a member of the NOI church since 1985. NOI, a recognized religion and a sect of the Islamic faith, publishes a weekly periodical, The Final Call.

Beginning in 2006, DWCC denied Leonard access to The Final Call, asserting that the publication interfered with rehabilitation of inmates and/or the maintenance of internal security.

Louisiana Beats Union Pacific with Eleventh Amendment Immunity

Union Pacific Railroad lost an unconstitutional taking claim against the State of Louisiana last week in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Louisiana prevailed in this railroad crossing case with the reliable state standby, Eleventh Amendment immunity.

In 2008, the Louisiana Legislature passed a law requiring that all railroad companies obtain permission from the Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC) before closing or removing private railroad crossings. The law mandated that railroad companies file a written request to the LPSC, and the owners of record of the private crossing, detailing the manner in which the crossing unreasonably burdens or substantially interferes with rail transportation.

Fifth Circuit Rules for Parent in Racial Desegregation Case

For Louisiana lawyers, and other LSU fans who practice in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the world seemed to stop last week in anticipation of the Biggest. Game. Ever.

The courts, however, continued to crank out opinions while the rest of us contemplated tailgating and judicial confirmations.

The Fifth Circuit ruled last week in Lewis v. Ascension Parish School Board that race was a motivating factor in assigning students to three Ascension Parish Schools: East Ascension High, Dutchtown High, and St. Amant High.

Starting a Law Firm? FindLaw's Law Firm Management Site Can Help

One of our lawyer friends was laid off from a law firm in 2009. His dismissal included an awkward it's-not-you-it's-the-economy conversation. Then his former boss asked, "So where do you think you'll work?"

The friend responded, "I haven't thought about it. Until five minutes ago, I thought I worked here."

He ended up starting a law firm. With his public relations-guru wife tirelessly promoting the practice, he has been one of the small firm success stories to emerge from the global financial meltdown.

Stephen Higginson Confirmed for Fifth Circuit in Unanimous Vote

It was a Halloween surprise for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. President Obama's Fifth Circuit nominee Stephen Higginson managed both a trick and a treat on Monday, as he won a unanimous confirmation vote in the U.S. Senate.

As we mentioned in early October, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Higginson's nomination in July, but there was debate as to whether the full Senate would take up D.C. Circuit nominee Caitlin Halligan's vote before considering Higginson because Halligan was ahead in the vote queue.