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

September 2015 Archives

Lunch breaks are the best time of the day. Workers get to rest and stuff their faces and employers don't have to pay them for that time -- so long as the break is about 30 minutes or more. Cut into that time, however, and you no longer have a lunch, you just have a rest, even if workers were able to chow down between tasks.

Take, for example, the naval base security guards who had their lunch breaks eroded by travel requirements. Since their employer required them to leave their post to eat, their lunch breaks were too short to be automatically exempt from pay under the Fair Labor Standard Acts, the Fifth Circuit ruled recently.

When Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes tried to get married two years ago, they were told, "We don't do that in Texas." The couple sued, along with Nicole Dimetman and Cleo DeLeon, arguing that their relationship deserved equal legal rights and respect. They won in district court and, following the Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges, in the Fifth Circuit.

Now, they do do that in Texas. And Phariss and Holmes will get the chance to do it as well, as the couple will finally get their marriage license this Friday in San Antonio, Texas.

The Fifth Circuit isn't a bad place to practice if you want to be on the forefront of some of the nation's most pressing legal issues. From 3D-printed guns, to Bird Law, to immigration, abortion and voting rights, the Fifth Circuit makes news.

But how do you make it as an appellate lawyer? Above the Law says to "follow your heart." Sure! But how about those skills? And in appellate practice, those skills are primarily brief writing and oral argument. Thankfully, the Bar Association of the Fifth Federal Circuit is there to help you out, for a modest fee. The organization is putting on a two day CLE crash course in appellate advocacy this fall.

There's some big news for Bird Law practitioners out there. The Fifth Circuit has ruled that the oil and gas company Citgo did not violate the Migratory Bird Treaty Act when it unintentionally killed birds who landed in an uncovered oil separator in Texas.

The Fifth's narrow reading of the MBTA, that it does not cover incidental or unintentional take of birds, puts it in line with the Eighth and Ninth Circuits in a growing circuit split on the reach of the Act.