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Judge Stephanie Dawn Thacker

Feb 8, 2022

Government failed to consider pipeline’s impact on environment

Where the United States Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, or BLM, failed to account for data suggesting increased sedimentation along the route of a proposed gas pipeline, and approved the use of the conventional bore method to cross streams within the Jefferson National Forest without analyzing its environmental effects, its decisions were […]

Jan 24, 2022

No habeas relief despite juror’s false statements

Where a juror in the trial of a man ultimately sentenced to death for killing a police officer falsely answered three voir dire questions, including whether a relative was employed by law enforcement, because the district court found his false answers were unintentional and did not reveal actual bias, habeas relief was denied. Background Thomas […]

Nov 1, 2021

USAG opinion on authority of immigration judges abrogated

Where former U.S. Attorney General Sessions opined that immigration judges and the Board of Immigration Appeals, or BIA, lack authority to administratively close cases, but his opinion was at odds with the plain meaning of the regulations and the government has since disavowed it, Sessions’ opinion is abrogated. Background In August 2016, Javier Chavez Gonzalez […]

Nov 1, 2021

Sentence reduction requirement not jurisdictional

Although 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A) requires a defendant to exhaust his administrative remedies before seeking a sentence reduction in federal court, because the requirement was a nonjurisdictional claim-processing rule, it could be waived or forfeited. Background Saeed Abdul Muhammad moved the district court for a sentence reduction pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A), asserting that […[...]

Jul 20, 2021

BIA must consider petitioner’s age at time of alleged persecution

Where the resident of El Salvador was only 15 when members of the MS-13 gang beat him and made death threats, the immigration court erred by not taking his age into account when analyzing his past persecution and fear of future persecution for purposes of asylum. Background When he was 15 years old, Hernan Portillo-Flores, […]

Jul 12, 2021

No Takings Clause claim for county’s killing of bees

Where a South Carolina county warned residents before it sprayed for mosquitoes in an effort to prevent the spread of the Zika virus, including issuing a press release to many media outlets and providing the experienced pilot with the locations of beehives so he could turn off the sprayer when flying over them, the unintentional […]

May 25, 2021

No evidence of prolonged exposure to asbestos

Where the record did not show the decedent had frequent, regular and proximate contact with a company’s asbestos insulation, the company prevailed on the wrongful death claims. Background After Charles F. Connor died at the age of 90 of mesothelioma, his son brought a wrongful death action. All of appellant’s claims boil down to one […]

Apr 30, 2021

Hyperlinks don’t constitute republication

Where a woman who had been associated with former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn brought defamation claims against several media organizations claiming a conspiracy to defame and injure her, neither linking to the original article via a hyperlink nor tweeting a link constitutes republication. Background Svetlana Lokhova sued Stefan Halper and various news organizations, […]

Mar 19, 2021

Exclusion of LGBTQ essay did not violate free speech

Where an elementary school principal omitted a fourth grader’s essay on LGBTQ equality from a student booklet because the material was not age-appropriate, she did not violate the First Amendment as her decision was reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns and was not viewpoint discrimination. Background During the 2018-19 school year, the fourth grade class […]

Feb 12, 2021

First Step sentence reductions must be explained

Where defendants were granted reductions in their terms of supervised release under the First Step Act, the district court erred in not providing explanations for its decisions. Background Timothy McDonald, Anthony Ballard and Riccardo Mercellus Davey appeal district court orders partially granting their motions for sentence reductions pursuant to Section 404 of the First Step […]

Sep 21, 2020

HHS abortion rule enjoined

A rule promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services, prohibiting physicians and other providers in Title X programs from referring patients for an abortion and imposing other requirements on entities receiving Title X funds, was enjoined. HHS inadequately explained its decision to disagree with comments by every major medical organization regarding the rule’s […]

Sep 11, 2020

‘Brady’ violations might have resulted in different outcome

Where evidence disclosed since a conviction for rape and burglary 44 years ago suggests the police suppressed material evidence in violation of the defendant’s rights under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), the district court was directed to consider whether a reasonable factfinder would have found defendant guilty but for the constitutional errors. Background […]

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