US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Opinions
United States v. Sandoval Martinez
Opinion Date: August 27, 2021
Areas of Law: Criminal Law
The Fifth Circuit vacated defendant's sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to a drug conspiracy charge. In this case, authorities discovered cocaine and other drugs in the back of defendant's tobacco shop, as well as $12,424 in cash, which the authorities treated as proceeds from cocaine transactions rather than legitimate tobacco sales or to any of the other various drugs found in the shop. This resulted in a higher recommended sentencing range than defendant would have otherwise received. Therefore, the court concluded that it was clear error to treat all of the cash as cocaine proceeds and the error was not harmless. The court explained that, although the district court sentenced defendant well below the Guidelines range calculated by Probation, it did not indicate that it would have imposed the same sentence even if it erred in treating all the seized cash as drug proceeds. The court remanded for resentencing.
Dickson v. United States
Opinion Date: August 23, 2021
Judge: Stephen Andrew Higginson
Areas of Law: Personal Injury
Plaintiff appealed the district court's dismissal of his negligence and intentional tort claims alleging that Bureau of Prison (BOP) officials caused him a variety of harm while he was incarcerated at USP Beaumont. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's negligence claims based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The court concluded that the district court fairly construed plaintiff's complaint as asserting that BOP officials acted negligently in transferring him to USP Beaumont and in housing him in the general population despite his concerns for his safety, and correctly held that those challenged actions are encompassed by the discretionary function exception. The court reversed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's intentional tort claims for lack of jurisdiction and remanded for the district court to determine, with respect to whether the law enforcement proviso applies, whether the BOP officials were acting within the scope of their employment when committing the alleged torts.
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HCB Financial Corp. v. McPherson
Opinion Date: August 4, 2021
Judge: Edith Brown Clement
Areas of Law: Civil Procedure, White Collar Crime
In a previous lawsuit, HCB won a $2 million judgment against Lee McPherson for a defaulted loan. After unsuccessful attempts to collect, HCB filed suit against McPherson, seeking treble damages under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). One month after HCB filed suit, McPherson registered the $2 million judgment plus interest with the first court. The district court dismissed the suit with prejudice, concluding that McPherson satisfied the underlying judgment and thus HCB suffered no injury. The Fifth Circuit joined its sister circuit and held that a plaintiff may not recover treble damages sustained in a RICO action after the underlying debt is satisfied. In this case, because HCB recovered its lost debt shortly after filing suit, the court concluded that the debt is no longer lost. The court explained that HCB points to a speculative investment return even though it received post-judgment interest, and thus it has no legal claim to lost investment opportunity. Therefore, HCB cannot plead an essential statutory element of a RICO offense. Because no amendment can cure that pleading defect, the district court did not abuse its discretion by dismissing the federal claims with prejudice or declining supplemental jurisdiction over the state-law claims.
Louisiana 2021 Regular Session HOUSE BILL NO. 652
To amend and reenact R.S. 40:966(C)(2)(a), (d), (e)(i) and (f)(i), relative to marijuana; to 3 provide relative to penalties for possession of marijuana; to amend criminal penalties 4 for a first or subsequent conviction of possession of marijuana; to provide relative 5 to penalties for the possession of certain amounts:
New Marijuana Decriminalization Law Goes Into Effect Today
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