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Civil Rights

Aug 31, 2023

Civil Rights – Excessive Force – Police Shooting – Qualified Immunity – Jury Question

Rubin Galindo, who had been diagnosed as paranoid and was described to police by the 911 dispatcher as “delusional,” asked the Spanish-speaking 911 dispatcher to send the police so he could hand over his gun and turn himself in – he faced misdemeanor charges of simple assault and pointing a firearm. In the light most […]

Jun 21, 2023

Civil Rights – Bivens Claim – Prisons & Jails – New Context

The plaintiff-prisoner seeks money damages under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), based on his claims that the defendant-prison officials (1) violated his right to equal protection by racially discriminating against him and (2) deprived him of due process when he was (a) placed in administrative […]

Jun 2, 2023

Civil Rights – Due Process – State-Created Right – Post-Conviction Exculpatory Evidence

North Carolina has created a constitutionally protected right to demonstrate one’s innocence post-conviction with new evidence and DNA testing. After plaintiff was convicted of two murders he did not commit, the DNA of another man was identified from evidence at the murder scene, and a court ordered further examination of the DNA evidence. When further […]

Apr 24, 2023

Civil Rights – Body-Cam Footage – Media Petitioners – Civil ‘Action’ Required

Petitioners are media organizations who seek the release of police body-camera footage of the arrest of a Duke University basketball player. Since petitioners are not individuals depicted in the footage, they were required to file a civil action, rather than a petition on a form published by the Administrative Office of the Courts. Because petitioners […]

Feb 22, 2023

Civil Rights – Store Customer – Suspicion of Shoplifting – Off-Duty Police Officer

The defendant-store’s staff suspected plaintiff, a pregnant African-American woman, of shoplifting, and the staff asked an off-duty police officer, who was also shopping in the store, to speak with plaintiff. Plaintiff voluntarily showed her stomach to the officer, demonstrating that she was not shoplifting; after their three-minute conversation, plaintiff made her purchases and left the [&helli[...]

Feb 17, 2023

Civil Rights – Public Records – CLEARs – Petition vs. Action

Law enforcement agencies are not permitted to allow the viewing of custodial law enforcement agency recordings (CLEARs) absent compliance with court orders resulting from proceedings under G.S. § 132-1.4A. Subsection (f) thereof allows certain persons to ask to view CLEARs via the filing of a petition on a form from the Administrative Office of the […]

Jan 25, 2023

Civil Rights – RA & ACA – Deaf Patient Proxy – Malfunctioning VRIs – Deliberate Indifference

Where the defendant-hospital allegedly failed to provide the deaf plaintiff with any way to communicate during his three-day stay – despite his early and repeated requests – plaintiff’s complaint states claims under the Rehabilitation Act and the Affordable Care Act. We reverse the district court’s grant of defendants’ motion to dismiss. Allegations Plaintiff, a deaf […]

Mar 24, 2022

Civil Rights – Student’s First Amendment suit reinstated

Where a high school student alleged that he was suspended after expressing non-threatening factual views about a school shooting in Florida, the district court erred in dismissing his First Amendment claim. Schools cannot silence such student speech simply because it communicates controversial or upsetting ideas. Background Jonathan Starbuck brought this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action […]

Mar 10, 2022

Civil Rights – Setting aside of jury verdict was error

Where the district court lacked insight into why the jury deadlocked on an excessive force claim brought by a detainee against a prison official, but awarded the detainee damages for his retaliation claim, it erred by assuming the two decisions were in conflict and ordering a new trial. Background Jason R. Jordan, a detainee in […]

Feb 11, 2022

Civil Rights – Jury to decide if fatal shooting was warranted

Where there were disputed facts over whether the decedent’s conduct provided justification for a state trooper to fire fatal shots, including that the officer claimed the man turned toward him while raising his hands, but the decedent was shot in the back, the officer wasn’t entitled to qualified immunity on summary judgment. Background Spencer Lee […]

Feb 1, 2022

Civil Rights – Detainee’s deliberate indifference claim fails

Where an inmate claimed that prison officials violated the Eighth Amendment by failing to decontaminate him in a timely manner after his exposure to pepper spray, but there was only a short delay in decontamination with no aggravating factors such as a serious medical reaction, the objective prong of a deliberate indifference claim was not […]

Dec 7, 2021

Civil Rights – Delaying detainee’s medication isn’t deliberate indifference

Where a detainee alleged that prison officials acted with deliberate indifference by delaying his receipt of medications, but none of his communications suggested that urgent intervention was required to avoid a risk of harm and there was no evidence the officials knew their efforts were inappropriate, the defendants were granted summary judgment. Background Eric Wayne […]

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