Recent Developments in the Law-Supreme Court Decisions

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Review Denied

Decisions without published opinions in the lower court:

DOCKET NO.: 04-578

NAME: Serrato v. Kaplan

DATE: Jan. 10, 2005

CITATION: cert. denied, 125 S.Ct. 896 (2005)

DOCKET NO.: 04-561

NAME: S.L. v. Prince William County School Board

DATE: Jan. 24, 2005

CITATION: 73 U.S.L.W. 3432 (2005)

Decisions with published opinions in the lower court:

DOCKET NO.: 04-313

NAME: Portland Public Schools v. Settlegoode

DATE: Nov. 8, 2004

CITATION: 125 S.Ct. 478 (2004)

Teacher hired on a probationary basis to teach physical education to disabled students sued the school district after her contract was not renewed. The teacher claimed that her contract was not renewed in retaliation for her having written letters to her supervisor's supervisor and to the superintendent of Portland Public Schools criticizing the treatment of disabled students at the schools in which she taught. Prior to these letters the teacher had received generally positive evaluations. After the letters her evaluations were below average and her contract was not renewed. The teacher sued the school district claiming that the non-renewal of her contract was in retaliation for her speaking out and thus violated her free speech rights under the First Amendment. The jury found in favor of the teacher but the district court granted the defendant's motion for a directed verdict. Held: Court of appeals found that the issue of whether or not the teacher's dismissal was in retaliation for her exercise of her First Amendment rights was a matter for the jury to determine and could not be overturned by the judge. The Court ruled that unless the trial judge found that the jury's findings were seriously erroneous he cannot overturn the jury's verdict and grant the defendant's motion for judgment as a matter of law. In this case the Court found that there was sufficient evidence presented at trial to substantiate the jury's verdict in favor of the plaintiff. Portland Public Schools v. Settlegoode, 371 F.3d 503 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 125 S.Ct. 478 (2004).

DOCKET NO.: 04-418

NAME: Gary S. v. Manchester School District

DATE: Nov. 15, 2004

CITATION: 125 S.Ct. 505 (2004)

Parents of a sectarian elementary school disabled student sued the school district because their son did not receive the same level of federal and state supported benefits as disabled students at public schools. The parent's claimed that this disparate treatment violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, and the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. …


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