May 17th, 2023
US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Opinions
Taylor v. LeBlanc
Opinion Date: May 15, 2023
Judge: James C. Ho
Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law
Plaintiff was detained beyond the expiration of his sentence because Department officials gave him credit for time served in pre-trial detention but only for one (rather than both) of his two consecutive sentences. That was the right thing to do under the law, then in effect. But Plaintiff was entitled to the more generous provision in effect at the time his sentence was entered. As a result, he served over a year longer than he should have. After his release, Plaintiff brought suit against various Louisiana officials under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, among other claims. This appeal concerns only one of those claims: Plaintiff’s claim against the head of the Department, Secretary James LeBlanc (“Defendant”). Defendant appealed the denial of qualified immunity, arguing that his conduct wasn’t objectively unreasonable in light of clearly established law.
The Fifth Circuit reversed. The court explained that while the right to timely release is clearly established, Plaintiff does not show how Defendant’s conduct was objectively unreasonable in light of clearly established law. Plaintiff contends that Defendant was objectively unreasonable because he failed to assign the task of calculating release dates to an attorney. But nothing in the Constitution requires that such actions be undertaken by a member of the bar.
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