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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court convicting Defendant of first-degree murder and sentencing him to life imprisonment. On appeal, Defendant argued that the circuit court (1) violated his Sixth Amendment right of cross-examination by refusing to admit evidence that Defendant passed a polygraph examination for the purpose of impeaching another witness’s testimony; and (2) improperly admitted character evidence used against him. The Supreme Court held (1) South Dakota’s per se rule against admitting polygraph-test results does not violate the Sixth Amendment, and the circuit court did not abuse its discretion by excluding Defendant’s polygraph evidence; and (2) the circuit court did not err by admitting evidence of Defendant’s sexual liaisons with three other women in the days leading up to the victim’s death. View "State v. Bertram" on Justia Law

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Carle’s medical residency program, which has an employment component, was governed by annual contracts. Residents were required to complete rotations before advancing and to pass the Step 3 U.S. Medical Licensing Examination before entering the third year. A third Step 3 failure results in termination. Carle residents cannot graduate unless they complete licensing requirements. Illinois medical students with five failures in the Step tests are not eligible for licensure without significant remediation. Rodrigo failed his first attempts at Step 1 and Step 2. He was required to repeat four rotations. His supervisors thought a neuropsychological examination might identify issues affecting his performance. Rodrigo never underwent recommended testing. Carle extended Rodrigo’s first and second years to allow him to repeat rotations and the Step 3 test, which he failed a second time. Rodrigo then informed Carle that he had a sleep disorder. Although Rodrigo did not request an accommodation, the director suggested that he take time off. Rodrigo did so, but failed a third time. Rodrigo asked to be promoted so that he could attempt to pass Step 3 in California. After termination of his residency, Rodrigo sued under the Americans With Disabilities Act. 42 U.S.C. 1210. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of Carle, finding that Rodrigo was not a “qualified individual.” Passing Step 3 is an “essential function.” Rodrigo presented no evidence of a causal connection between his protected activity (seeking an accommodation) and his termination. View "Rodrigo v. Carle Foundation Hospital" on Justia Law

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Petitioners challenged the legal sufficiency of the Attorney General’s certified ballot title for Initiative Petition 21 (2018). IP 21, if enacted, would alter the Oregon tax with respect to certain tobacco products in four ways: (1) increase the tax on cigarettes by 100 mills per cigarette, or $2.00 per pack; (2) eliminate the 50-cent cap on cigar taxes; (3) require that all moneys received from the new cigarette tax be first deposited with the state treasurer and, after the payment of any refunds for overpayments, be credited to the Public Health Account, “to be used for the funding of local public health authorities in all areas of the state for public health programs;” and (4) the tax and the use of cigarette-tax revenues would apply retroactively to the distribution of cigarettes and tobacco products on or after January 1, 2018. In this case, the Oregon Supreme Court concluded that, in two respects, the Attorney General’s certified ballot title did not substantially comply with the law. Therefore, it was referred back to the Attorney General for modification. View "Wilson/Fitz v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

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Wellman, a Butler Area high school, freshman suffered head injuries while playing flag football in a physical education class, during football practice, and during a game. Despite a concussion diagnosis and requests from Wellman’s mother and doctor, the school refused to provide any accommodation. A CT scan revealed post-concussive syndrome. The school was unresponsive. Wellman received homebound instruction through his sophomore year. The school denied Wellman an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). For junior year, he enrolled in private school, from which he graduated. Wellman filed a due process complaint with the Pennsylvania Department of Education. In a settlement, Wellman released the District from all claims which could have been pursued under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1400; the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); or any other statute. Wellman then filed suit under the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. 794, the ADA, 42 U.S.C. 12132, and 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging equal protection violations. The Third Circuit remanded for dismissal with prejudice, citing the Supreme Court’s 2017 "Fry" opinion, which requires that courts consider the “gravamen” of the complaint to determine whether a plaintiff seeks relief for denial of the IDEA’s core guarantee of a free and appropriate education (FAPE); if so, then the plaintiff must exhaust his IDEA administrative remedies. Wellman released all claims based on the denial of a FAPE and has no claims to exhaust. View "Wellman v. Butler Area School District" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against defendants, challenging on First Amendment grounds, a school uniform policy that required their two minor children to wear shirts or sweatshirts with a logo consisting of the name of the school, a stylized picture of a gopher (the school mascot), and the motto "Tomorrow’s Leaders." Given the failure of the Ninth Circuit's en banc call, the panel held that the uniform policy—both the motto requirement and the exemption—violated the First Amendment. The panel reasoned that there can hardly be interests more compelling than fostering children's educational achievement and providing a safe and supportive educational environment. However, requiring students to display the motto "Tomorrow's Leaders" on their uniforms was not narrowly tailored to serve those interests. The panel held that the Individual Defendants were entitled to qualified immunity because the applicable law was not sufficiently clear to put them on notice that the uniform policy would violate the First Amendment. However, because the Institutional Defendants were not individuals, they were not protected by qualified immunity. Accordingly, the panel affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Frudden v. Pilling" on Justia Law

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The Hawai’i Civil Rights Commission (HCRC) did not have jurisdiction under Haw. Rev. Stat. 368-1.5 over this claim that a student was subject to disability discrimination and improper denial of reasonable accommodations and modifications to take an online grade-level placement exam required of homeschooled students applying for entrance to Hawai’i Technology Academy, a public charter school. Here, the HCRC determined that it had jurisdiction over the student’s parent’s claim under section 368-1.5 regarding the denial of reasonable accommodations. The circuit court reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the legislature intended section 368-1.5 to provide the HCRC with jurisdiction over disability discrimination claims only when section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 does not apply; and (2) section 504 did apply to the HCRC complaint in this case. View "Hawai’i Technology Academy v. L.E." on Justia Law

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Indiana law previously provided that, when school districts needed to reduce their teaching staffs, tenured teachers that were qualified for an available position had a right to be retained over non-tenured teachers. A 2012 amendment eliminated that right and orders school districts to base layoff choices on performance reviews without regard for tenure status. Madison Consolidated Schools relied on the new law to lay off Elliott, a teacher who earned tenure 14 years before the new law took effect, while it retained non-tenured teachers in positions for which Elliott was qualified. Elliott, who had been elected as president of his union, sued, claiming that the amendment violated the Contract Clause when applied to him. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in Elliott’s favor. The statute, not the annual contracts, granted Elliott his contractual tenure rights, which became enforceable the year Elliott earned tenure. A decrease in job security necessarily impairs his rights under that contract. The change substantially disrupted teachers’ important and reasonable reliance interests. Improving teacher quality and public-education outcomes are important public interests of the highest order but even important goals and good intentions do not justify this substantial impairment of the tenure contract for already-tenured teachers. View "Elliott v. Board of School Trustees of Madison Consolidated Schools" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants in an action alleging that plaintiff's suspension, investigation, and recommendation of dismissal from his job as a high school teacher were in retaliation for his political speech. The court held that the school board was not subject to municipal liability and defendant was unable to present a prima facie case against the remaining defendants. In this case, the school and its administrators were investigating and taking disciplinary action for the legitimately inappropriate behavior to which plaintiff has admitted. View "Penley v. McDowell County Board of Education" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of qualified immunity in an action under 42 U.S.C. 1983 alleging that UMKC's decision not to renew plaintiff's contract was in retaliation of his free speech rights as a public employee. The court held that plaintiff's speech regarding the school's preferential treatment of student athletes was unprotected speech done pursuant to his duties as a lecturer. Plaintiff failed to show, using the particularized inquiry required, that his right to make this speech in these circumstances was clearly established. In this case, defendants could reasonably conclude that plaintiff spoke solely as an aggrieved lecturer in asking the Chancellor to investigate grading policies for student athletes. View "Lyons v. Vaught" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that Defendant may withdraw his plea of guilty to “knowingly violat[ing]” a provision of the predatory offender registration statute, Minn. Stat. 243.166(5)(a), because Defendant alleged that he did not recall his responsibility under the law at the time of the offense. The court of appeals affirmed Defendant’s conviction, noting that “ignorance of the law is no excuse.” The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) ignorance of the law is a defense when the charged offense prohibits a knowing violation of a statutory provision; and (2) Defendant’s factual basis failed to satisfy the accuracy requirement for a valid plea because he made statements, never withdrawn or corrected, that negated the mens rea element of the charged offense. View "State v. Mikulak" on Justia Law