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

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Sometimes, justice takes a long time. But the old saying, "justice delayed is justice denied" isn't just a rallying cry of civil rights plaintiff lawyers, it's truth according to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

And for the Fifth Circuit, a panel of judges had the unfortunate duty to essentially chastise a district court judge for taking too long to rule on a duo of motions. And if you think you have the right to complain because some judge made you wait a couple months to get a hearing or ruling, think again; the parties in the underlying matter had waited four years for a ruling on two motions.

Fifth Circuit to Texas Lawyer's Creative Brief: 'Two Can Play This Game'

The Fifth Circuit's Court of Appeals decided to play the game of a Texas Attorney who moved for a panel rehearing. A motion itself is nothing new, but the way Texas attorney Chad Flores attempted to make his point certainly bears reflection. He presented the court with a hypothetical conversation between an attorney and his disappointed client in order to demonstrate to the court how silly it would be to affirm the lower court decision.

We've read Flores' petition and credit ought to be given where credit is due. The petition is easy to read and the point of the paper is well taken. Unfortunately, for Flores and his client, the Fifth Circuit denied his petition and did so with a little of Flores' style.

Criminal or Civil? Difference Is Huge in Former Texas AG's Suit

Usually there's no confusing about whether a matter is civil or criminal. But that wasn't the case in a recent Fifth Circuit opinion, released Monday. There, the Fifth Circuit ruled that Dan Morales' appeal to have two key documents disclosed is part of a civil appeal, not a criminal one notwithstanding the circumstances of the facts. That difference made his motion timely under the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.

For litigators who think they've heard that name before, Morales was Texas' Attorney General up until it was discovered that he was involved in a scheme to skim a profit from the "Big Tobacco" settlement that took place in the 90's. The number? $17.3 billion. And those are 90s dollars.

A Texas death row inmate won't be able to file a successive habeas petition, the Fifth Circuit ruled on Monday. Clinton Lee Young, who was convicted of killing two men for their cars in 2001, had sought authorization to submit a second federal habeas petition based on new claims of prosecutorial misconduct and recently discovered evidence.

The Fifth Circuit refused his request, however, finding that Young's new allegations had largely already been litigated and that, further, any new evidence advanced was not convincing enough to require another habeas hearing.

Ch-Ch-Changes: 5th Cir. Vacancies; Exact Change for Cashiers

For a long, long while, we've wondered what was up with the Fifth Circuit's longstanding vacancies. In fact, just last week, I was speculating about the cause of the vacancies (a Democratic president versus two Republican senators) on FindLaw's Strategist blog. Looks like I'm not the only one wondering what's up: A blog post on the Thomson Reuters Legal Solutions blog goes into detail on the vacancies, as well as possible upcoming vacancies that could drastically change the court.

And speaking of change, the Clerk's Office at the Fifth Circuit has announced that starting this Wednesday, there will be none -- exact change is required for cash payments. I thought the announcement and new policy were pretty hilarious and inconvenient, but then the court, responding to jokes at its expense, explained the really good reason behind the change regarding change.

BP has taken its last gasp of air as it seeks it's one and only option in the ongoing saga of the oil-spill settlement agreement the company hastily signed. After unsuccessful attempts with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the oil giant is now trying its hand with the U.S. Supreme Court.

Whether the Supreme Court will grant cert. remains to be seen, but in the meantime, let's take a look at the legal backdrop of the case.

5th Cir. Breathes New Life Into Wal-Mart v. Dukes Offshoot Class

Walmart v. Dukes is one of those landmark decisions that will confuse law students for decades to come, but it was more than an interesting legal citation. The Supreme Court's holding decertified a class of 1.5 million current female employees of the retail giant, shortly after the Ninth Circuit had already removed a separate group, former employees, from the class.

It's this last group, led by named plaintiff Stephanie Odle, which will continue its fight in a district court in Dallas, after the Fifth Circuit revived her putative class action, approximately thirteen years after she first brought suit as part of the larger Dukes class.

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?

Before You Arrive at 5th Circuit: 3 To-Do's

So you plan on going into the Fifth Circuit for the first time, and you're psyched. It may be an exciting moment for new attorneys or even veteran litigators, but you need to take care of some business before you arrive.

Show up at the Fifth Circuit prepared by completing these three to-do's.

5th Circuit to Exclude Judge From Execution Stay

Two judges on the Fifth Circuit agreed on Tuesday to exclude Judge Jones from the review of a death penalty stay, after Jones' "racist comments" lead to a formal complaint of judicial misconduct.

Judge Edith Jones, a former Chief Judge of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, was impaneled with two other judges for review of a stay of execution for Elroy Chester. Chester, a convicted murderer, was executed on Wednesday evening, reports The Associated Press.

This may be one of many death penalty cases Jones may be removed from, as her purported views on the death penalty have raised objections from many.