U.S. Supreme Court - The FindLaw U.S. Supreme Court Opinion Summaries Blog

November 2010 Archives

Los Angeles Cty. v. Humphries, No. 09-350

"Policy or Custom" Requirement Always Applies in Section 1983 Cases

In Los Angeles Cty. v. Humphries, No. 09-350, an action under 42 U.S.C. section 1983, seeking damages, an injunction, and a declaration that public officials and defendant Los Angeles County had deprived plaintiffs of their constitutional rights by failing to create a mechanism through which they could contest inclusion in a "child abuse index," the court reversed the Ninth Circuit's reversal of summary judgment for defendants where Monell's "policy or custom" requirement applies in section 1983 cases irrespective of whether the relief sought is monetary or prospective.

Abbott v. US, No. 09-479

Drug and Firearm Sentences Affirmed

In Abbott v. US, No. 09-479, defendants' sentences for drug and firearm offenses and for violating 18 U.S.C. section 924(c), which prohibits using, carrying, or possessing a deadly weapon in connection with "any crime of violence or drug trafficking crime," and imposes a mandatory minimum sentence of five-years' imprisonment, are affirmed where 1) a defendant is subject to the highest mandatory minimum specified for his conduct in section 924(c), unless another provision of law directed to conduct proscribed by section 924(c) imposes an even greater mandatory minimum; and 2) defendants' challenges to their section 924(c) sentences, resting their objections on the "except" clause prefacing section 924(c)(1)(A) are rejected as there was strong contextual support for the view that the "except" clause was intended to simply clarify section 924(c), and it applied only when a greater minimum sentence is otherwise provided.


Wilson v. Corcoran, No. 10-91

Grant of Capital Habeas Petition Reversed

In Wilson v. Corcoran, No. 10-91, the Court vacated the court of appeals' grant of defendant's request for habeas relief from his capital murder conviction where federal courts may not issue writs of habeas corpus to state prisoners whose confinement does not violate federal law, and here, the court of appeals granted the writ to defendant without finding such a violation.