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

October 2012 Archives

Fifth Circuit: Social Security Benefits Aren't Disposable Income

Social Security benefits are not disposable income that must be disclosed in a Chapter 13 petition, according to a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision on Monday.

The New Orleans-based appellate court rejected a trustee's challenge to a Chapter 13 plan this week, finding that a debtor is not statutorily-required to include Social Security income (SSI) in his projected disposable income calculation.

Fifth Circuit: You Must Be 21 to Buy a Gun from a Licensed Dealer

An 18-year-old can appear in Girls Gone Wild, but she can’t purchase a handgun from a federally-licensed firearms dealer. If you have a problem with that, you’ll have to submit an amicus brief to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court.

Thursday, a Fifth Circuit panel unanimously upheld an age restriction for handgun purchases, finding that the age threshold was “consistent with a longstanding tradition of targeting select groups’ ability to access and to use arms for the sake of public safety,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

The Case That Won't Die: Court Certifies Question in Casket Appeal

In June, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in an appeal regarding whether the Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors could stop a group of monks in Covington from making and selling caskets.

Though more than four months have passed since oral arguments, this case won’t be laid to rest quite yet. Tuesday, the appellate court asked the Louisiana Supreme Court to decide if the Board can set the state rules of casket sales.

They Tried to Make Her Go to Rehab, and She Appealed

In 2011, the Supreme Court considered the whether it was constitutional to extend a defendant's sentence to make her go to rehab. The Court unanimously ruled no, no, no.

So how do you differentiate between a judge suggesting that a defendant take advantage of prison rehab during an above-guidelines range sentence, and a judge sentencing a defendant to a longer term to make rehab available? The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals offers some insight.

Bingo: Texas Lottery Commission Wins Free Speech Appeal

The Texas Bingo Enabling Act allows qualifying charities to conduct bingo games in order to raise money for their charitable causes. The Act prohibits charities from using bingo proceeds for certain types of political advocacy, including lobbying and supporting or opposing ballot measures. A group of nonprofit organizations licensed to conduct bingo games sued the Texas Lottery Commission to challenge those restrictions on First Amendment grounds.

And they won. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, and issued a Texas hold 'em permanent injunction preventing enforcement of the challenged statutory provisions.

Will the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Kill Tort Reform?

Tort reform has been a popular political topic for years. Corporate defense lawyers frequently support measures for capping tort damages, and plaintiffs’ attorneys criticize that such policies favor businesses over individuals.

The dominant issue in the tort reform debate is whether — or how — noneconomic damages for intangible injuries, (e.g., pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium or companionship), should be limited. Now, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is wading into the tort reform discussion to address the Magnolia State’s statute limiting damages, the Mississippi Business Journal reports.

Does Your Right to Privacy Extend to Your Cell Phone?

Maybe Scarlett Johansson has the right idea.

In August, the New York Post reported that ScarJo had "ditched virtually all technology" after a hacker stole nude photos of the actress off of her phone last year. According to the Post, Johansson is paranoid that people are constantly spying on her.

Getting rid of gadgets seems like an extreme step for those of us who aren't worried about naked picture leaks, but Johansson's technophobia could also save her from warrantless cellphone tracking.

5 Things to Know About New Fifth Circuit Chief Judge Carl Stewart

Here at FindLaw, we understand the pressures of being a legal professional - most of us are recovering lawyers - so we want to help by tossing you that preferred life preserver of the legal profession, the short list.

Last week, Fifth Circuit Chief Judge Edith Jones announced that she would be stepping down from her chief-dom "a bit early" due to family problems. We're going to miss the feisty Judge Jones as the head of the court, but today we're focusing on the future and welcoming the new chief: Judge Carl E. Stewart.