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Dismissal in Excessive Force Case Based on Attorney Negligence Reversed, and Civil Rights and Criminal Matters

By FindLaw Staff on June 25, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Lal v. State of Cal., No. 08-15645, involved an action against the California Highway Patrol and certain officers for the shooting death of plaintiff's husband.  The Ninth Circuit reversed the dismissal of the action with prejudice under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b) for failure to prosecute when her attorney failed to meet deadlines and attend hearings, holding that an attorney's gross negligence constituted an extraordinary circumstance warranting relief from a judgment dismissing the case for failure to prosecute under Rule 41(b).

Kimbrough v. State of Cal., No. 08-17231, concerned an action claiming that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's (CDCR) grooming regulations concerning hair length interfered with plaintiff's First Amendment right to free exercise of religion.  The court of appeals reversed the district court's award of attorney's fees to plaintiff, holding that, because the district court did not actually adjudicate plaintiff's claims, the Ninth Circuit's decision in Siripongs foreclosed an award of attorneys' fees in this case.

In US v. Buzo-Zepeda, No. 09-50190, the court of appeals affirmed defendant's sentence for reentry into the U.S. following deportation, holding that a "Johnson waiver" in California state court had no effect on the determination of whether a defendant qualifies for a point increase under United States Sentencing Guidelines Manual section 4A1.1, Criminal History Category.

US v. King, No. 09-50665, concerned defendant's appeal from the district court's judgment revoking his term of supervised release and imposing additional supervised release conditions on the basis of five violations of his supervised release conditions.  The court of appeals affirmed, on the grounds that 1) 18 U.S.C. section 3605's language did not limit a transferee court's power to violations that occur after transfer; 2) together, the ordinary meaning of "associate," the court's cases, and defendant's probation officer's instructions adequately notified defendant that telephone and e-mail communications with felons were prohibited; and 3) the evidence was sufficient to support the district court's finding that defendant's misrepresentation was intentional.

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