Cordova v City of Albuquerque

Cordova sued City and several police officers under 42 USC 1983 alleging malicious prosecution, interference with familial association, due process violations and excessive force when the officers shot him and kept family away during a hospital stay. The district court granted summary judgment on the prosecution, family association and due process claims and a jury found for City and the officers on the excessive force claim. The panel, with one judge concurring in judgment, affirmed. The majority held that summary judgment on the malicious prosecution claim was correct granted as the state criminal case was dismissed on speedy trial grounds, speedy trial and other dismissals on technical grounds do not indicate innocence and thus Cordova has no claim. The majority noted that the New York approach argued by Cordova inverts the common law rule and is inconsistent with circuit precedent. The majority held summary judgment in the familial association claim was properly granted as there was no evidence of any intent to interfere with any protected relationship as the restrictions served the legitimate interest of keeping Cordova’s statements to investigators free form the influence of others and thus was not directed at familial relationships. The majority affirmed summary judgment on the sue process claims holding Cordova received judicial probable cause determination within one day of arrest which satisfies the due process clause and New Mexico’s preliminary hearing statute vests discretion in the trial courts and thus does not create a liberty interest and there was no clearly established liberty interest to remain in a hospital after discharge instead of being transferred to jail. The majority held that none of Cordova’s claim trial errors required reversal as evidence of Cordova’s behavior prior to the shooting was relevant tot eh excessive force claim, evidence that Cordova did not comply with instructions to put his gun down was relevant to the ultimate issue of reasonableness, it was not improper to ask the jury to put themselves in the shoes of the officers at the time of the shooting and the jury instructions were correct statements that a command to drop a weapon satisfies the adequate warning standard. The concurrence argued that there is no constitutional malicious prosecution tort under either the 4th or 14th Amendment and Cordova failed to identify any other home for such a tort. It also argued that state tor law is adequate here as New Mexico law allows suit even if the case was dismissed on technical grounds and abstention is appropriate in light of the adequate state remedy.

United States v Llantada

Llantada challenged several conditions of supervised release. The panel, with one judge concurring in result in part, affirmed. The majority held that many of the challenges were recently rejected in another case and thus were unavailing here. Turning to those which the earlier case did not resolve, the majority held that a requirement to inform a probation officer within 72 hours of arrested or questioned by a law enforcement officer was not vague as “law enforcement” and “questioned’ have commonly understood meanings and the condition will enforced in a common sense manner. It held the requirement to get permission before leaving the district of supervision is recommended by statute and thus does not need for individualized findings and easing a probation officers ability to interact with the offender and deterring crime support this limitation of the offender’s right to travel. It held under a common sense understanding, the requirement to report as directed is not vague as only the amount of reporting need will be required. It held impossible task can be excused and thus requiring substance abuse treatment is valid. It held a condition to stay away from places where controlled substances are illegally present or trafficked is not vague under common sense interpretation. It also held that a prohibition on associating with felons is not vague as common sense interpretation requires knowing the person is convicted felon and restrictions on Llantada associating with his brother are supported by the fear that they might again become involved in criminal activity together. The panel held that there was no clear in error in rejecting Llantada’s mitigation argument as the district court found he negotiated prices which is more culpable not less than an average participant. The concurrence argued the particularized findings arguments were unpreserved and any argument based on an unfeasible reading of the conditions was not ripe as Llantada can challenge unreasonable application if it occurs.

Sierra Club v Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company

Club appealed the dismissal of its Clean Air Act case against Company on statute of limitations grounds. The panel, 2-1, affirmed. The majority held that under 28 USC 2462, the statute of limitations runs when a claim first accrues, the alleged violation here of modifying a boiler was one continuing act and the claim accrued when the modification started and the complaint was field more than the allowed five years after the claim accrued. Thus dismissal was correct. The majority noted that the cases relied upon by Club dealt with a different limitations statute with a different triggering event scheme, dealt with criminal law or were poorly reasoned. It held the district court correctly dismissed the claims for equitable relief because the claim was based on the same facts and theory and thus was barred under the concurrent remedy doctrine. It noted this was consistent with the decisions of two other circuit courts on the issue. The dissent argued that statute should be tolled as the construction or modification is a continuing violation until complete and the purposes of the Act are best served by tolling the statue while construction or modification is ongoing. It pointed out that under the majority’s reasoning, all claims for damages under the Act are now capped at one day’s violation which is insufficient disincentive to break the law.