The second-half of 2019 brought a number of significant decisions impacting plaintiffs who had their civil rights violated. In July of 2019, the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit issued a decision surrounding juvenile resentencing. The ruling clarified that, when resentencing men and women who received juvenile life without parole sentences, the offender’s youthful (i.e., immature) characteristics must be taken into account, as well as an increased likelihood of rehabilitation.
In August of 2019, the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims granted class action status—a concept historically not allowed by the court—to veterans alleging that the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs delayed their appeals to denied benefits claims for an average of three years, thus violating the veterans’ rights. In November of 2019, the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims also granted class action status in another suit where it ordered the VA to pay out up to $6.5 billion to thousands of veterans who were denied reimbursements for emergency medical care given at non-VA hospitals.
In October 2019, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled on the specifics of the constitutional bar on excessive fines, holding that they should be relative to the underlying offense as well as to the offender’s economic situation.