Articles Posted in Civil Rights

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The Second Circuit reversed the district court's denial of the City's motion for summary judgment in an action challenging the City's rules banning advertisements in for-hire vehicles (FHVs) absent authorization from the Taxi and Limousine Commission. The district court concluded that the City's rules banning advertisements in for‐hire passenger vehicles, such as Ubers and Lyfts, violate the First Amendment, primarily because the City permits certain advertising in taxicabs. The court held that the City's prohibition on advertising in FHVs did not violate the First Amendment under the Central Hudson test. In this case, the City's asserted interest in improving the overall passenger experience is substantial, the prohibition "directly advances" that interest, and the prohibition was no more extensive than necessary to serve that interest. The court held that the City's determination that banning ads altogether is the most effective approach was reasonable. View "Vugo, Inc. v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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President Trump engaged in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination by utilizing Twitter's blocking function to limit certain users' access to his social media account, which is otherwise open to the public at large, because he disagrees with their speech. The First Amendment does not permit a public official who utilizes a social media account for all manner of official purposes to exclude persons from an otherwise‐open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees. In this case, the government concedes that individual plaintiffs were blocked from President Trump's Twitter account after they criticized the President or his policies, and that they were blocked as a result of their criticism. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs and entry of a declaratory judgment that the blocking of the individual plaintiffs from the account because of their expressed political views violates the First Amendment. View "Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University v. Trump" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit reversed the district court's grant of habeas relief to petitioner under 28 U.S.C. 2254 from a state murder conviction. The court held that there are no categorical limits on the types of evidence that can be offered to demonstrate actual innocence and therefore the district court did not err in considering impeachment evidence; the district court did not clearly err in finding some of the new evidence petitioner offered to support his actual innocence claim credible; and even deferring to that credibility finding, however, on de novo review, petitioner failed to make a compelling showing of actual innocence necessary for merits review of his procedurally barred Sixth Amendment claim. In this case, the credible new evidence showed only that a recanting trial witness did not view the shootout at issue in the charged crimes, not that petitioner did not or could not have committed those crimes. Furthermore, under the totality of the evidence, the court could not conclude that it was more likely than not that no reasonable juror would find petitioner guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. View "Hyman v. Brown" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, Asian-owned companies and an Asian construction worker, filed suit against the City and others, alleging that defendants discriminatorily enforced municipal building codes against plaintiffs on the basis of race and personal animus. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' Equal Protection claims under the theories articulated in Village of Willowbrook v. Olech, 528 U.S. 562 (2000), the Due Process clause, and the Monell doctrine. However, the court vacated as to the selective enforcement claims of race-based and malice-based discrimination articulated under LeClair v. Saunders, 627 F.2d 606 (2d 5 Cir. 1980), because plaintiffs plausibly alleged differential treatment by the same defendant for conduct at the same work site. Likewise, the court vacated the district court's judgment as to the 42 U.S.C. 1981 claim for race-based interference with plaintiffs' right to make and enforce contracts, because plaintiffs alleged a plausible Equal Protection claim under LeClair. Therefore, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Hu v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, formerly civil immigration detainees treated for serious mental illnesses, filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action against the county and others, alleging that the failure to engage in discharge planning or to provide them with discharge plans upon release violated their substantive due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. The Second Circuit vacated the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss. The court held that plaintiffs have adequately stated a Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process claim, because they plausibly alleged that they had serious medical needs requiring discharge planning and that defendants' failure to provide discharge planning to plaintiffs constituted deliberate indifference. Accordingly, the court remanded for further fact finding and further proceedings. View "Charles v. Orange County" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit denied a petition for rehearing of its prior decision concluding that petitioner's prior convictions for robbery under Con. Gen. Stat. 53a‐133 qualified as predicates under the Force Clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act of 1984 (ACCA), and reinstating his original ACCA sentence. The court held that petitioner misread Villanueva v. United States, 893 F.3d 123 (2d Cir. 2018). While petitioner was correct that in Villanueva the court remanded for resentencing, rather than direct the district court to reimpose the original sentence that had impermissibly relied on the ACCA's now‐defunct residual clause, the court neither ruled nor suggested that the latter course would have been impermissible, much less ruled that future courts in similar circumstances should follow the same course. Therefore, the decision to remand for resentencing was discretionary. The court also held that petitioner misconstrued Pepper v. United States, 562 U.S. 476 (2011), nor was petitioner correct that a sentencing court's reliance on the ACCA's residual clause, later determined to be unconstitutional, would be a structural error not susceptible to harmless error analysis. Petitioner's remaining arguments were unpersuasive. View "Shabazz v. United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, an alien subject to a final order of removal, together with several immigration‐policy advocacy organizations, appealed the district court's interlocutory order denying their motion for a preliminary injunction and dismissing some of their claims. Plaintiff sought to enjoin his imminent deportation on the basis of evidence that Government officials targeted him for deportation because of his public speech that was critical of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. immigration policy. The Second Circuit vacated the district court's order and held that plaintiff stated a cognizable constitutional claim where the court's prior precedent did not foreclose the claim and where plaintiff's claim involved outrageous conduct. In this case, plaintiff's speech implicated the highest position in the hierarchy of First Amendment protection; the Government's alleged retaliation was egregious; plaintiff has a substantial interest in avoiding selective deportation; and the Government's interest in having unchallenged discretion to deport plaintiff was less substantial. The court also held that, although Congress intended to strip all courts of jurisdiction over plaintiff's claim, the Suspension Clause of the Constitution requires the availability of a habeas corpus proceeding in light of 8 U.S.C. 1252(g). Therefore the district court had jurisdiction over plaintiff's claim and the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Ragbir v. Homan" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants in an action alleging violations of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, as well as state and city law. Plaintiff claimed that he experienced several adverse employment actions while he was employed at the DOI, because of his hearing disability. The district court held, among other things, that no reasonable jury could conclude that plaintiff had experienced any adverse employment action "solely by reason of" his disability. The court affirmed on different grounds and held that a plaintiff alleging an employment discrimination claim under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act must show that the plaintiff's disability was a but‐for cause of the employer's action, not the sole cause. The court agreed with the district court that plaintiff failed to provide sufficient support for his claim that he was retaliated against for making complaints, he was demoted in retaliation for appealing a negative performance review, and that the DOI subjected him to a slew of retaliatory actions. View "Natofsky v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's complaint with prejudice as a sanction for misrepresenting his litigation history. The court held that district courts may conduct limited inquiries into whether a litigant's fear of imminent danger under 28 U.S.C. 1915(g) is plausible. In this case, the district court did not err by concluding that plaintiff's claim of imminent danger was "without foundation" where plaintiff's explanation for why he was in imminent danger was both circular and completely conclusory. Furthermore, plaintiff unquestionably received adequate notice, and had an opportunity to be heard, before the district court dismissed his action. View "Shepherd v. Commissioner Annucci" on Justia Law

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Defendants appealed the district court's order denying summary judgment based on qualified immunity in an action brought by plaintiff, alleging that defendants, police officers, violated the United States Constitution and Connecticut state law in investigating and arresting plaintiff for assaulting a guest at a college New Year's Eve party. The Second Circuit reversed and held that defendants were entitled to qualified immunity as a matter of law. The court held that police did not need probable cause to arrest plaintiff because he was not under arrest when he was interviewed by the policy on January 2, 2013; there was probable cause to arrest plaintiff based on a non-defective eyewitness identification without regard to plaintiff's allegedly coerced statements; plaintiff's statements were not necessary to establish probable cause and thus he could not claim that their use was in violation of the Fifth Amendment; and the police procedures used at plaintiff's interview were not so egregious or shocking as to violate Fourteenth Amendment due process or to support a state claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. View "Mara v. Rilling" on Justia Law