Decisions Involving Attorney's Fees, Civil Rights and Criminal Matters
The Fifth Circuit decided matters concerning an award of attorney's fees as a sanction, a suit against off-duty police officers under 42 U.S.C. section 1983, and various criminal issues.
In US v. Xu, No. 09-20074, the court of appeals vacated defendant's conviction for trafficking in counterfeit drugs, on the ground that a rational juror could not have found beyond a reasonable doubt that the Zyprexa mark, allegedly misappropriated by defendant, was registered on the USPTO's principal register.
In US v. Key, No. 08-51299, the Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence for intoxication manslaughter, holding that 1) a sentencing court may incorporate into its statement of reasoning the arguments of the parties before it; 2) disparity in sentencing, standing alone, was insufficient to render a sentence substantively unreasonable; and 3) the Texas offense of Intoxication Manslaughter was properly assimilated into federal law under the Assimilative Crimes Act.
Howard v. St. Germain, No. 09-30642, involved an appeal from the district court's order assessing attorney's fees against defendants based on their improper removal of the case. The Fifth Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its considerable discretion in taxing costs and attorney's fees to defendants because an objectively reasonable basis for removal did not exist.
Bustos v. Martini Club Inc., No. 09-50079, was a 42 U.S.C. section 1983 action based on a late-night confrontation with several off-duty police officers. The court of appeals affirmed the dismissal of the complaint, holding that 1) the election of remedies provisions in Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 101.106 applied to state law intentional tort claims against a governmental unit and its employees; 2) plaintiff did not allege facts to suggest that the officers who assaulted him misused or abused their official power; and 3) the bystander officers had no constitutional duty to prevent the alleged assault.