United States v. Burns (Prado, J.)
Burns waived his right to appeal in his plea agreement. Nevertheless he appealed raising a Fanfan claim. Burns argues that he couldn’t waive his Fanfan right because it didn’t exist at the time he entered into the plea agreement, or at least he didn’t know about them. Judge Prado relies on Brady v. United States, 90 S.Ct. 1463 (1970), and rejects the argument in a thorough opinion.
Havill v. Westward Communications (Stewart, J.)
This is a companion case to Hockman v. Westward Communications, 407 F.3d 317 (5th Cir. 2004).
The plaintiff alleges a claim of sexual harassment under Title VII. The district court granted summary judgment for the defendant for a variety of reasons. As an initial matter, the district court erred in requiring the plaintiff to prove that the harassment was severe and pervasive. Under SCOTUS precedent, the plaintiff need merely prove the harassment was severe or pervasive. This was due in part to inconsistent language used in 5th circuit opinions. The Court holds that evidence that the defendant grabbed the plaintiffs butt or breasts about once a week was sufficient to survive summary judgment.
The plaintiff loses however because the employer took prompt remedial action to remedy the situation when informed pursuant to the employee handbook procedures.
In re Wilson (per curiam)
This is the case the New York Times had a fit over here. The Fifth Circuit denies Wilson’s motion to file a successive habeas petition to raise an Atkins claim because his attorney filed the motion beyond AEDPA’s statute of limitations. It happened like this. Wilson simultaneously filed his Atkins claim in state and federal court on AEDPA’s absolute last day. The 5th Circuit dismissed without prejudice because Wilson had not exhausted his state court remedies. He returned to state court, during which time the AEDPA time limit was tolled, and lost. He then had one day to refile his federal claim before the AEDPA time limit ran. He tried to file this thing in the district court, but he didn’t have prior Fifth Circuit authorization, as AEDPA requires. He then filed the motion in the Fifth Circuit a month later. The Fifth Circuit holds that it’s barred.
The problem with this case doesn’t seem to be with the Fifth Circuit. It seems to be with the strictness of AEDPA and Wilson’s lousy lawyers. The Fifth Circuit should have called them out by name on this one.