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

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Judge Lynn Hughes' federal district courtroom may have earned itself a reputation as one litigators want to avoid. Simply put, wild-card judges often cause appealable issues, and appeals are expensive, and Judge Hughes is proving to be one such wild-card.

Judge Hughes isn't yelling for attorneys to get off his lawn, though based on the remarks the Fifth Circuit is blasting him over this time, he probably would. Apparently Judge Hughes actually said the following to a woman prosecutor:

"It was lot simpler when you guys wore dark suits, white shirts and navy ties ... We didn't let girls do it in the old days."

Judge Hughes also berated the attorney over her management of the prosecution, and dismissed the underlying criminal matter with prejudice due to delayed discovery production. As the appellate court explained, his actions and statements were both an abuse of discretion, in error, and disgraceful.

Despite a recent ruling from the United States Supreme Court seeming to put Bobby Moore in relative safety (well, off death row), it was not long lived thanks to Texas's Supreme Court.

The state high court took the opinion of the nation's High Court quite literally and adopted the DSM-5 standard for intellectual disability. Then, it applied the new standard to Moore's case and concluded that Moore was not intellectually disabled, and thus could be executed. However, whether that will actually happen is a different, more political, story.

Court Reverses Medicare Fraud Convictions for New Orleans Doctor

Sixty-eight-year-old Dr. Pramela Ganji is serving her last days in federal prison, but she will soon be free again.

The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals court threw out the case against her in United States of America v. Ganji. The appeals court said prosecutors did not prove she was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The government's case was "rather peculiar," the judges said. It was also a lesson in how not to try a case.

Court Upholds Convictions for Stealing Confidential Information

Sean James Hager felt like his employer didn't have his "long-term interests at heart."

So he devised a plan for his future. Using his employer's confidential information, he started a company that sold parts to the employer and netted about $1.16 million for himself.

That was the plan anyway -- until he was convicted of wire fraud and other crimes. In United States of America v. Hager, he also made another mistake.

Soccer Players Interfered With Flight Crew: Convictions Upheld

Soccer players Jonathan Petras and Wisam Shaker were slow to learn the rules for unruly passengers aboard commercial airlines.

You can't curse at flight attendants. You can't make obscene gestures at them. You can't threaten them and call them names like "ugly," "racist," or "pig."

Petras and Shaker finally learned the rules after the pilot landed the plane and police escorted them off to face criminal charges. Put another way, that's the way a ball player bounces.

Court Upholds Conviction of Angry IT Guy for Damaging Computer System

Everybody knows that the IT guy can make or break a computer system.

Everybody also knows he's not supposed to break it on purpose. Michael Thomas, however, apparently didn't get that memo.

Thomas, chief technology officer for a software company, said he had permission to damage the system. In United States of America v. Thomas, the jury and the courts said, "uh, no."

Is Making a Terror Threat a Crime of Moral Turpitude?

In a case that circles around the question of whether making terrorist threats is a crime of moral turpitude, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals moved against the majority convention and remanded the BIA case to be reviewed under a correct application of law.

This is a good opportunity for immigration lawyers to understand the applicable law for their next IJ hearing.

Retired Army Officer Defrauded U.S. Gov't, 5th Circuit Says

It's a disgraceful ending after years in the service, but the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to disturb a lower court's criminal conviction of a retired U.S. Army Colonel who was earlier found by a jury to have knowingly defrauded the US government.

Sixteen counts of wire fraud will be difficult to overcome, no doubt.

5th Circuit Ruling in Lawyer Speech Case Is a Teachable Moment

A recent Fifth Circuit ruling can be regarded as a teachable moment to attorneys who do not strictly adhere to local court rules governing attorney interactions with previous clients. In general, an attorney cannot make out of court statements that could reasonably be foreseen to have a material prejudicial effect on the administration of justice.

Although this sounds like a restraint on speech, lawyers would do well to heed this general rule lest they risk angering the ethics board.

Innocent Man Gets Vindicated on Claim Against Detective

In a very unfortunate case of mistaken identity, an innocent man spent nearly two decades sitting in state custody for a crime that he conclusively did not commit. Darrin Hill was acquitted after DNA proved that he could not have been the perpetrator of decades' old assault and rape.

When he sued the city on various claims, issues arose as the level of qualified immunity individuals involved in the Hill's criminal investigation would enjoy.