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Adrian Requena was an inmate housed by the Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC). His initial 42 U.S.C. 1983 complaint named eleven prison employees as defendants and alleged various violations of his First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Two months later, he amended that complaint, without leave to do so, again asserting various violations of his constitutional rights and adding nine defendants. The district judge screened that complaint, and after setting forth the claims, he decided they were “not linked by a common question of law or fact, involved different defendants, and arose from different transactions.” The court concluded Requena “may not present all of the claims in a single action” and directed him to decide which claims he wished to pursue and file a second amended complaint accordingly. The second amended complaint named 38 defendants and alleged myriad violations of his First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Attached to the complaint was over 450 pages of exhibits. The complaint fell far short of containing “a short and plain statement” of the claims showing entitlement to relief, nor did it provide any citations to the exhibits to aid any court in navigating them. The court again screened the complaint and concluded “many of [the] claims lack support or substance, and much of the material submitted as exhibits appears to be irrelevant and disorganized.” At the end, the judge identified two claims meriting discussion: (1) denial of hygiene supplies; and (2) denial of access to the courts. Both failed to state a claim for relief. The trial court then dismissed the entire complaint with prejudice, but did not first explicitly address whether amendment of the complaint would be futile, even though Requena’s complaint requested leave to amend if necessary to cure any deficiencies. Judgment was entered the same day. Requena filed a motion to alter or amend judgment, which the judge denied. After review, the Tenth Circuit reversed dismissal with prejudice one of Requena's Eighth Amendment claims agains prison officials regarding their alleged failure to protect him from a beating; the Court affirmed dismissal of the second amended complaint in all other respects. View "Requena v. Roberts" on Justia Law

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During a traffic stop, an officer found a large quantity of drugs in a vehicle driven by James Vance. A grand jury indicted Vance for possession of at least 500 grams of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. Vance filed a motion to suppress the methamphetamine as the fruit of an illegal traffic stop; the district court denied Vance’s motion. Vance entered into a conditional guilty plea, preserving the right to appeal the district court’s denial of the suppression motion. On appeal, Vance argued: (1) his conduct did not amount to a violation of N.M. Stat. Ann. 66-7-317(A) because his lane change did not pose a safety risk to, or have an actual affect on, nearby traffic; and (2) even assuming a lane change that does not pose a hazard to another vehicle can amount to a violation of section 66-7-317(A), officers lacked reasonable suspicion to believe he failed to confirm the safety of his lane change before making it. Finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed Vance's conviction. View "United States v. Vance" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from a special condition of supervised release, which banned Dominic Pacheco-Donelson from associating with any gang members. He challenged the ban only with respect to its inclusion of two of his foster brothers. Pacheco-Donelson argued inclusion of the two foster brothers rendered the ban procedurally and substantively unreasonable. The Tenth Circuit disagreed, finding Pacheco-Donelson failed to object at district court based on procedural reasonableness, and he had not shown plain error. In addition, the Court found special condition was substantively reasonable, for it was reasonably related to the statutory sentencing factors and did not deprive Pacheco-Donelson of greater liberty than was reasonably necessary. View "United States v. Pacheco-Donelson" on Justia Law

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Defendant Bruce Latorre appealed his marijuana trafficking convictions. Latorre flew a private aircraft from California to New York and was flying back to California when police detained him in Wyoming. Several state and federal law enforcement agencies cooperated to investigate and then stop Latorre’s aircraft at an airport in Wyoming, where they received Latorre’s consent to search his aircraft and found $519,935 in cash. A grand jury indicted Latorre on two counts: (1) interstate travel in aid of racketeering; and (2) conspiracy to distribute marijuana. Latorre moved to suppress the evidence from the search of his aircraft, and the district court denied the motion. Latorre then entered a conditional guilty plea, reserving the right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress. He then appealed that denial to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. Finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "United States v. Latorre" on Justia Law

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Alejandro Lujan Jimenez petitioned for review a final order of removal and an order by the Bureau of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) declining to sua sponte reopen removal proceedings. Lujan is a native and citizen of Mexico. He first entered the United States as a child sometime in the 1990s. His most recent entry into the United States occurred in May 2004. In January 2007, Lujan pled guilty in Colorado state court to Criminal Trespass of a Motor Vehicle with the Intent to Commit a Crime Therein, and sentenced to 35 days in jail. The Department of Homeland Security filed a notice charging Lujan as removable. He received three continuances of removal proceedings until April 2009 when he conceded removability. Lujan then applied for adjustment of status and cancellation of removal. He obtained four additional continuances of his removal proceedings. Lujan appeared in immigration court on June 5, 2013, and the IJ granted counsel’s motion to withdraw. Lujan stated that he was attempting to obtain new counsel, but proceeded pro se at the hearing. The IJ denied relief, concluding that Lujan was ineligible for adjustment of status based on his immigration history and that he was ineligible for cancellation of removal because he had been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude—his criminal trespass offense in Colorado. Lujan appealed to the BIA, arguing that the IJ’s denial of a continuance violated his right to due process and that his Colorado conviction was not a crime involving moral turpitude. The BIA affirmed the IJ’s ruling. Lujan then filed an untimely petition for review, which was dismissed. The Tenth Circuit determined it lacked jurisdiction over petition number 17-9527: review of the BIA’s decision declining to sua sponte reopen his removal proceedings. The Court has previously held that “we do not have jurisdiction to consider [a] petitioner’s claim that the BIA should have sua sponte reopened the proceedings . . . because there are no standards by which to judge the agency’s exercise of discretion.” View "Lujan-Jimenez v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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Auto-Owners Insurance Company provided automobile insurance to Frank and Nancy Csaszar and their daughter, Jennifer. But when that policy’s term came to a close, Auto-Owners informed Mr. and Mrs. Csaszar that, because of their daughter’s driving record, it would only renew their policy if it excluded her from coverage. The Csaszars agreed. The policy accordingly included an “excluded-driver” provision that stated the policy “shall provide no coverages” for “claims arising out of [Jennifer Csaszar’s] operation or use of any automobile. While this new policy was operative, an uninsured motorist rear-ended Jennifer while she was driving a vehicle not scheduled under her parents’ Auto-Owners policy. Jennifer filed a claim with Auto-Owners, requesting it pay her $500,000 in uninsured and underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. Auto-Owners denied the claim because it believed the excluded-driver provision barred Jennifer from such coverage. It then sought a declaratory judgment that Jennifer was not entitled to any coverage, including UM/UIM coverage, under her parents’ policy. In response, Jennifer filed a counterclaim seeking a declaration she was, in fact, entitled to this coverage. The district court granted Auto-Owners’ motion for summary judgment. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court. View "Auto-Owners Insurance Company v. Csaszar" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose out of a bankruptcy adversary proceeding, and centered on the ownership of a federal tax refund. The tax refund was issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to United Western Bancorp, Inc. (UWBI), a thrift holding company that had, under the terms of a written “Tax Allocation Agreement,” filed consolidated returns on behalf of itself and several subsidiary corporations. The tax refund was the result, however, of net operating losses incurred by United Western Bank (the Bank), one of UWBI’s subsidiaries. Simon Rodriguez, in his capacity as the Chapter 7 Trustee for the bankruptcy estate of UWBI, initiated this adversary proceeding against the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), as receiver for the Bank, alleging that the tax refund was owned by UWBI and was thus part of the bankruptcy estate. The bankruptcy court agreed and entered summary judgment in favor of the Trustee. The FDIC appealed to the district court, which reversed the decision of the bankruptcy court. The Trustee appealed the district court’s decision. The Tenth Circuit agreed with the district court that the tax refund belonged to the FDIC, as receiver for the Bank. Consequently, the Court affirmed the district court and remanded to the bankruptcy court for further proceedings. View "Rodriguez v. FDIC" on Justia Law

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Perry Odom suffered serious injuries when a semi-trailer collapsed on him at work. His employer, Penske Logistics, did not own the trailer, but his employer’s sole stockholder, Penske Truck Leasing, did. Odom and his wife sought to recover from Penske Truck Leasing through a personal injury action in federal court. The district court dismissed their complaint, reasoning Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation scheme as applied here shielded an employer’s stockholders from employee claims arising out of a workplace injury. The Odoms appealed, challenging the district court’s interpretation of the Oklahoma statute. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals certified the interpretive question to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, and received an answer making it clear the district court applied an incorrect legal standard in dismissing this case. The Tenth Circuit therefore reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Odom v. Penske Truck Leasing Co." on Justia Law

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Petitioner-Appellant Azael Bedolla-Zarate, a native and citizen of Mexico, petitioned the Tenth Circuit for review of a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Final Administrative Removal Order (FARO) based upon his having been convicted of an aggravated felony. Bedolla-Zarate was convicted of third-degree sexual abuse of a minor in Wyoming state court in September 2016. He contended that his conviction did not qualify as an aggravated felony. The Tenth Circuit found a person convicted under the Wyoming sexual abuse of a minor statute necessarily has committed sexual abuse of a minor under the INA, therefore DHS properly issued a FARO against Bedolla-Zarate for committing an aggravated felony under the INA. The Court denied review. View "Bedolla-Zarate v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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In 2004, Chance Wade Driscoll (“Driscoll”) pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. At Driscoll’s sentencing in January 2005, the sentencing court accepted the Presentence Investigation Report’s (“PSR”) determination that Driscoll was an armed career criminal based upon one previous drug conviction and two previous burglary convictions. The sentencing court did not state whether the two burglary convictions counted as violent felonies under the ACCA’s enumerated offenses clause or the residual clause. Over ten years later, Driscoll filed this 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion, arguing it was possible the sentencing court relied on the now-unconstitutional residual clause of the ACCA to enhance his sentence. The district court denied his section 2255 motion as untimely. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and remanded, finding that the predicate Nebraska crime that served as his sentence enhancer did not categorically fit under the generic offense of burglary. As a result, Driscoll's 1988 Nebraska burglary conviction was not a violent felony as defined by the enumerated offenses clause of the ACCA. This meant Driscoll did not qualify as an armed career criminal under the ACCA, not eligible for 18 U.S.C. 924(e)'s fifteen-year minimum sentence, and instead was subject to section 924(a)(2)'s ten-year maximum. The Tenth Circuit found the sentencing court's error was not harmless. View "United States v. Driscoll" on Justia Law