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

May 2013 Archives

Death Row Inmate Denied Appeal for Ineffective Counsel Claim

Texas death row inmate, Lisa Ann Coleman, was denied the possibility to appeal her capital murder conviction and death penalty sentence for the death of her partner's son. In 2004, Coleman's girlfriend's son was found dead at his home. The 9-year-old boy had numerous injuries throughout his body indicating he was bound repeatedly. He was also extremely emaciated and his cause of death was from malnutrition and pneumonia.

Coleman was convicted in the starvation of the young boy and sentenced to death in 2006.

Texas Concealed Weapons Permit Ban for Under 21 Constitutional

Texas youth are going to continue having to wait until they turn 21 to get their concealed gun permits. The Fifth Circuit has rejected a claim that Texas law preventing 18 to 20-year-olds from obtaining a Texas concealed weapons permit violates their Constitutional rights.

Youth can complain to Congress if they would like. Congress’ determination of young people’s inability to handle handguns safely influenced the court’s decision. Like it or not, the court agrees that young people are irresponsible, emotionally immature, thrill-seeking, and prone to causing crimes.

5th Circuit to Decide Arbitration Agreement Controversy

An important decision will soon be made by the Court of Appeals for the Firth Circuit. This decision will affect employment arbitration agreements. It can potentially prevent employers from pursuing class action waivers from their employees within the arbitration context.

Middle-aged workers took a hit during the economic downturn, with many being laid off from long-held positions. Richard Miller knows all about that. In 2008, the then-53-year-old Texan was terminated from his position with Raytheon after nearly three decades of service. Miller soon filed suit against Raytheon in federal district court, claiming age discrimination under the ADEA and the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act (TCHRA).

At trial, the jury found that Raytheon had discharged Miller because of his age and awarded him $17 million in various damages. The district court judge then cut the award down to around $2 million. Earlier in the month, the Fifth Circuit agreed that Miller had been the victim of age discrimination, but further reduced the jury award.

Last week, a Louisiana appellate court struck down a state law making it illegal for non-citizens to drive without documents proving they’re legally in the United States. Louisiana’s Third Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that the statute improperly governs an area of law exclusively controlled by the federal government.

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down parts of a similar Arizona law last year. While that law made it a misdemeanor for immigrants to drive without documentation, the Louisiana law goes one step further making it a felony offense. The appellate court’s ruling conflicts with a recent First Circuit Court of Appeal decision upholding the “unlawful presence” law.

Pharmacy Pseudoephedrine Logs Are Nontestimonial Business Records

In case you didn't already know this from watching "Breaking Bad," pharmacies track your pseudoephedrine purchases because the drug is commonly used to make meth.

That's why you get carded when you buy cold meds. It isn't enough for pharmacies to limit customers' pseudoephedrine purchases at a single store because meth-producers could just hop from store to store to buy the amounts they need. The driver's license tracking system arguably makes it harder for producers to get their hands on the drug.

This week, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that those pseudoephedrine transaction logs are nontestimonial business records, which means that it's pretty easy for the government to introduce the logs at trial.