Noteworthy Federal Court Rulings: A Recap of Recent Cases

Enjoy the latest edition of Short Circuit, a weekly feature written by a bunch of people at the Institute for Justice. New on the Short Circuit podcast: Two former Judge O’Scannlain clerks join the show to talk about a suspended progressive prosecutor and a preempted ban on gas stove piping. The Bangor, Me. hospital employs five psychologists—two men (paid $90 and $95 per hour) and three women (paid around $50 per hour). The disparity was not based on any differences in seniority, shifts worked, or merit increase system; the hospital contends it’s based on market factors, whereas one of the women says it’s plain old sex discrimination. The Hospital states that Maine law requires the woman to prove that they intended to discriminate, which needs to be addressed by Maine’s high court. The First Circuit ruled that there’s no such requirement. Liability plus treble damages are affirmed. An attorney who trusts ChatGPT for case law ends up citing a legal phantom. Second Circuit sends her to the Grievance Panel with a lesson—AI may pass the Turing test, but it hasn’t passed the bar. Male college student goes to Paris and has an encounter with a female classmate who was intoxicated. She claims sexual assault. He’s brought up on charges at a university discipline hearing and suspended. He later claims that she defamed him in an anonymous tweet. Dismissed: No evidence of gender bias. Buffalo. N.Y. cops driving at night without their headlights nearly hit two women. An onlooker yells: “turn your lights on, asshole.” Instead, the officers stop, argue with the onlooker, and give him a ticket for making excessive noise. Onlooker sues, including under the First and Fourth Amendments. To a jury this must go. Fourth Circuit reminds that district courts can’t refrain from deciding federal claims until complicated state-law issues are resolved in state court without identifying a state-law issue that would require abstention. Fifth Circuit: The SWAT commander at least tried to identify the right house. Qualified immunity. Eighth Circuit: The only allegations against the warden personally are that she allowed a policy of using restraint benches, and that is not unconstitutional on its own. Qualified immunity. “When Reed blocked Felts on Twitter, he executed a final municipal policy in his area of the City’s business” is a clause that the Eighth Circuit wrote but it’s not a clause that should make anybody involved feel good about their life choices. The Ninth Circuit ruled that the girlfriend can sue the fellow officer, and officers are now on notice not to divulge such reports to an abuser. Ninth Circuit: Under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, the governor and the health director have immunity from suits about their COVID-19 countermeasures. The Tenth Circuit: Dismissed. The Fifth Circuit will reconsider its decision refusing to dissolve a 1992 consent decree that reapportioned Louisiana’s supreme court districts to create a majority Black district. The Eighth Circuit will not reconsider its decision that Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act does not confer a private right of action. The Ninth Circuit will not reconsider its decision that a district court abused its discretion when it excluded plaintiff’s expert testimony on coerced confessions. The Tenth Circuit has decided following panel argument that it will sit en banc to decide whether a pretrial detainee’s Sixth Amendment rights were violated when the United States Attorney’s Office obtained a recording of a phone conversation with his attorney. Dottie Rivera sued Pottstown, Penn. over its rental-inspection ordinance, The Pennsylvania Constitution requires notice and a hearing before the execution of a search warrant. Click here to learn more.