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

April 2012 Archives

Texas Executes Beunka Adams After Fifth Circuit Lifts Stay

After a rollercoaster week of appeals, Texas Death Row inmate Beunka Adams was executed by lethal injection on Thursday in Huntsville.

Though U.S. District Judge Michael Schneider granted Adams a stay of execution on Monday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the stay on Wednesday. The Supreme Court rejected Adams' appeal on Thursday, hours before he was executed, reports The Associated Press.

Farmers Branch Wants En Banc Rehearing in Occupancy License Appeal

The City of Farmers Branch wants another day in court.

Perhaps further emboldened by the Supreme Court's reception in the Arizona S.B. 1070 arguments yesterday, the Dallas suburb is asking the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals for an en banc rehearing on its "occupancy license" housing ordinance, reports NBC-DFW. The Fifth Circuit ruled in March that the ordinance was unconstitutional.

Lien on Me? Not Without a Sworn Affidavit

Today’s cautionary tale from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals should remind lawyers of the most important lesson in the law: Words have meaning.

That means that if you’re going to file a lien on property in a bankruptcy proceeding, your affidavit better include the right language.

Easy enough, right?

Federal Rules of Procedure Trump Justice in ERISA Appeal

At some point in life, a mature person is supposed to stop delighting in other people’s drama, and learn to focus on the important things. Social justice. World peace. Environmental stewardship.

We’re not quite there yet. We love judicial bickering, even when it's a disagreement that litigants project upon two completely civil judges. That’s one of the many reasons why we love the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Today, we have a Fifth Circuit case pitting two district court judges’ opinions against one another. The question: Can one trial judge substitute his findings for a recused trial judge’s findings in the same case?

SCOTUS Rejects Latest Jeffrey Skilling Appeal

Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling is one of the most hated men in Houston. He's not getting much love from the Supreme Court either.

Monday, the Supreme Court denied Skilling's petition for review of judge's "harmless" error in Skilling's trial. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals previously rejected Skilling's appeal, finding that the jury was presented with "overwhelming evidence that Skilling conspired to commit securities fraud," The New York Times reports.

We're All Depressed, But We Can't Sue Public Universities For It

There are 13 medical schools situated within the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals' geographical reach. Any of those medical schools can dismiss a student based on his suitability for the practice of medicine.

There are ways for a student to appeal dismissal based on a public university's decision that he is not "suited" for medical practice. Suing the school for "major depression" discrimination is not one of those ways, according to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Insurance Covers Architectural Copyright Infringement Indemnity?

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that two insurance companies must both defend and indemnify a Louisiana construction company in a copyright infringement lawsuit over architectural plans.

Following Louisiana jurisprudence, which requires ambiguities in insurance policies to be interpreted against the insurer, the appellate court applied a "but for" test to determine the extent of the companies' obligations.

Yes, Virginia, There is Judicial Review

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jerry Smith does not like hearing that judicial review is "unprecedented."

Judge Smith was clearly irked when President Obama commented on Monday, "I'm confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress."

So he gave the Justice Department a homework assignment while hearing oral arguments for Physician Hospitals of America vs. Sebelius, a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals challenge to the Affordable Care Act.

The task? Submit a three-page, single-spaced letter on judicial review by noon Thursday.

'Attorney Incubator' Firm is Employer, Must Pay Employment Taxes

Leave it to a lawyer to argue that associates are independent contractors and a law firm is an "attorney incubator" for tax purposes.

No judgment, mind you. We appreciate any creative argument to limit tax liability.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, however, does not share our appreciation for inventive ways of avoiding employment taxes. Recently, the New Orleans-based court ruled in an unpublished opinion that a Baton Rouge law firm's associates were employees -- not independent contractors -- for tax purposes, according to Forbes.