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

February 2014 Archives

5th Circuit Nominee Judge Costa Gets Senate Committee Hearing

A Texas judge moved closer to a spot on the Fifth Circuit bench after appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

Judge Gregg Costa fielded questions from both sides of the aisle during his nomination hearing in the Committee, with little pushback from either side, The Dallas Morning News reports.

With little political friction, is Costa set to become the next Fifth Circuit Judge?

Texas Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional: Fed. Judge

A Texas federal court ruled that the state's gay marriage ban was unconstitutional on Wednesday, but the ruling is stayed pending appeal.

U.S. District Court Judge Orlando Garcia found in De Leon v. Perry that Texas' laws prohibiting two Texas same-sex couples from marrying (and having their marriages recognized) was in violation of both the Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses.

While we wait on the Fifth Circuit to respond, what's worth knowing in this decision?

5th Circuit Makes Typo in Denying BP Settlement Rehearing

BP is still fighting with Gulf business owners over the billions businesses feel are owed under the Deepwater Horizon settlement, but the Fifth Circuit may have given BP a wakeup call with a small typo.

On Thursday night, in response to plaintiffs' motion to dismiss BP's request for an en banc rehearing of the settlement issues, the Court mistakenly issued this order -- granting the motion.

Another order quickly filed on Friday vacated the mistaken order, but how did the mix-up happen?

Aggregated Small Thefts Punishable as One Felony Only

Federal criminal sentencing can often be bewildering to criminal defense attorneys, making pleading strategies more uncertain than usual.

For thefts involving government property, the Fifth Circuit simplified things a bit on Tuesday. In U.S. v. Lagrone, the court rejected the government's application of 18 U.S.C. Section 641, favoring an interpretation that is more lenient to defendants charged with multiple small thefts.

Why did the court decide to remand Lagrone's case for sentencing with only one felony count?

Texas Supreme Court Joins Twitter

In a move that may be emulated by other states' High Courts, the Texas Supreme Court launched its very own Twitter account to tweet its orders.

Debuting in February, the Lone Star State's highest court is available @SupremeCourt_TX, manned by the Texas Supreme Court Clerk's office, Texas Lawyer reported.

What hijinks can we expect from this new Twitter account?

Texas Same-Sex Marriage Hearing Begins

Two Texas same-sex couples may potentially make history by challenging the state's ban on gay marriage in federal court on Wednesday.

U.S. District Court Judge Orlando L. Garcia of Texas' Western District will hear oral arguments from both state officials and the lawyers representing the plaintiffs over granting a preliminary injunction to block Texas' enforcement of its gay marriage ban.

What can we expect from this federal challenge to Texas' same-sex marriage ban?

5th Circuit Rolls Out New Hyperlinks in Decisions

In an attempt to make life easier for its clerks and judges, the Fifth Circuit has started to insert hyperlinks for citations in its decisions.

Three opinions published since Friday, including an immigration case we covered in our last post, have been updated with shiny blue links for each citation.

But do these links actually work?

Can't Look Past Conviction for Crimes of Moral Turpitude: 5th Cir.

When an alien is considered for deportation proceedings, it becomes painfully important to identify whether his or her record contains any crimes of moral turpitude.

This means that any criminal conviction which classifies an alien as removable is a battleground in any deportation proceeding, since moral turpitude is truly a legal term of art. But the Fifth Circuit doesn't believe this requires much wondering, since Congress has spoken clearly on the issue.

So in Silva-Trevino v. Holder, why does the court stick to only the record of conviction?

Texas Looks Set to Execute Suzanne Basso

Texas is set to execute the 14th woman in the U.S. since the Supreme Court upheld state use of the death penalty in 1976.

After almost four decades of uninterrupted capital punishment in the Lone Star State, Suzanne Basso is scheduled to be put to death on Wednesday evening for horrible crimes she committed in 1998. The Associated Press reported that Basso's request for a stay of execution was denied by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, leaving the U.S. Supreme Court as Basso's final option for clemency.

What does this historic execution mean for a state which has literally put thousands to death?

Parents of Buddhist Student Sue La. School Dist. for Religious Bullying

Parents in Louisiana's Sabine Parish are embroiled in a legal battle with the school district after their children were harassed for not being Christian.

The ACLU sued on Scott and Sharon Lane's behalf after three of their children were allegedly bullied for their differing religious beliefs. The complaint filed in late January included examples of one of the younger Lane's science tests, complete with fill in the blank questions like "Isn't it amazing what the [blank] has made." The correct answer was "Lord."

Can this suit make a dent in the policies of a Bible Belt school?