United States v Von Behren

Van Behren appealed the district court’s overruling his objection to a supervised release requirement he answer questions during a polygraph sexual history with any evidence of past crimes being forwarded to law enforcement. The panel reversed. It held three of the proposed questions in the sexual history exam would provide leads to and become part of a chain of evidence needed to prosecute Van Behren of sex crimes and could be used against him as propensity evidence in future proceedings. Thus, there was some authentic danger of self-incrimination making the answers incriminating for Fifth Amendment purposes. The panel held that under United States Supreme Court precedent, threats of revoking probation are compulsion for Fifth Amendment purposes and here the government threatened to send Van Behren to prison if he did not answer the sexual history questions. 

M.S. through J.S. v Utah Schools for the deaf and Blind

J.S append the district court’s order in this Individuals with Disabilities Education Act case arguing it impermissibly delegated placement of M.S. to school officials and granting only some of the attorney fees sought. The panel remanded. It held that the district court erroneously delegated placement of M.S. to her individual education pan team as the issue was exhausted at the due process hearing level, the district court found M.S’s right to an appropriate free education had been violated and thus the district court was required to decide the placement issue under 20 USC 1415 as the team was not allowed to exercise authority of a hearing officer and team members are employees of the school that violated M.S.’s rights and thus the school would have undue influence on the placement decision. The panel noted it was adopting this reasoning from cases out of the D.C. and 6th Circuits. The panel declined to rule on the attorney fee issue as the analysis may change if M.S. is placed in the facility J.S. seeks, but, noted that the district court used an improper mechanical approach in its analysis and reminded the district court that J.S. obtained substantial relief and all the claims here appear to be related which requires a qualitative analysis of the overall significance of the relief obtained.

Sprint Nextel Corporation v The Middle Man, Inc.

Middle Man appealed summary judgment for Sprint declaring resale of phones violated the contract between the parties and awarding nominal damages. The panel reversed. It held there was jurisdiction to hear the appeal both because the district court awarded nominal damages and interfered with middle man’s business model. It held the contract was ambiguous because the term “device on your account” could apply to phones no longer active on Sprint’s network, but, could also exclude those phones and the term that “customer devices are not for resale” could be a prohibition on resale or could merely be a statement of sprint’s intent. Thus, Middle Man is entitled to a trial for a jury to resolve the ambiguity, but, is not entitled to judgment at this stage. The panel affirmed the district court’s decision to not consider an alternative defense of impaired title as middle man did not raiser it until after judgment was entered.