Monday, May 17, 2010

I'm a Bit Behind---May 3 to 11

Sorry. I got a little behind in my posts, but here are our AFPDs' recent summaries.


Direct appeal of grant of motion to suppress


Appeal from an order granting defendant’s motion to suppress evidence, which had been seized from two medical offices. Following searches, grand jury indicted the defendant, a pediatric otolaryngologist, on 110 counts of health care fraud. Superceding indictment charged him with devising and executing a scheme to defraud and obtain money from health-care benefit programs.

The defendant contended in the district court and argued on appeal that: 1) the affidavit for the search warrant did not establish probable cause; 2) the warrant did not meet the particularization requirement of the Fourth Amendment; 3) the government’s claim of inevitable discovery had no merit; and 4) suppression was appropriate. The district judge had agreed with the defendant and granted the defendant’s motion to suppress, ordering exclusion of all evidence seized in the challenged searches.

Court of Appeals affirmed in part and vacated in part.

Vacated the district court’s suppression of defendant’s patient files with instructions for the district court to determine which list (if any) came before the issuing magistrate judge, and to suppress only patient files seized beyond the scope of that list.

Appellate Court concluded that suppression of the non-patient file evidence was proper. District court had done so. The Appellate Court noted that it has held that a failure to limit broad descriptive terms by relevant dates, if/when such dates are available to authorities, will render a warrant overbroad. Here, rather than specify exactly which documents authorities sought, the government chose to use descriptions of items to be seized that did not refer to specific patients, specific transactions, or a specific time frame.

Court affirmed the suppression of the non-patient file evidence.

Also concluded that the government had not met its burden of showing that, despite the partial invalidity of the warrants, retrieval of the unconstitutionally seized set of patient files and records was inevitable.

Finally, the district court found that the warrants lacked probable cause to believe that the patients’ medical records would be found in the defendant’s medical offices. Court reversed this finding.



Direct appeal of prisoner civil-rights case


Reversed dismissal of prisoner rights case, finding possible 8th Amendment violation.



Appeal of prisoner rights case


Petitioner Avery Clemmons appealed the district court’s denial of his motion for permission to file a motion pursuant to Rule 36. The district court had previously prohibited further filings by Clemmons without prior approval of the court. Appellate court affirmed.



Direct appeal of prisoner civil-rights case


Prisoner civil-rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Moore was a prisoner at the Riverside Correctional Facility in Ionia, Michigan. He alleged that, on July 2, 2007, a nurse and two correction officers informed a fellow prisoner that Moore was HIV positive. Moore also alleged that an inspector asked another prisoner if that prisoner knew that Moore had a sexually transmitted disease. On July 6, Moore was transferred to Ionia Maximum Security Correctional Facility because Riverside was closing.

Court joined other circuits, finding that, as a matter of law, inmates have a Fourteenth Amendment privacy interest in guarding against disclosure of sensitive medical information from other inmates subject to legitimate penological interests. District court erred in finding that Moore’s privacy claims failed as a matter of law. Open question whether Moore’s allegations have factual support.

Court affirmed district court’s judgment to the extent that the judgment dismissed Moore’s privacy claims regarding disclosure of medical information to correctional staff. Court, however, vacated district court’s dismissal of Moore’s state law claims and remanded with instructions to consider whether to allow amendment under the standards of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15. Also reversed for further proceedings on Moore’s claims regarding disclosure of medical information to other inmates.

There is a dissenting opinion from Judge Kethledge.

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