When a criminal defendant wants to challenge a state court conviction, the highest state court is rarely the last stop. Prisoners who have exhausted their options in state court can often get a second chance at challenging their trial court's errors through a petition for habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Federal habeas petitions can only challenge a state court's conviction for constitutional violations. However, even violations of state rules of criminal procedure can take on a constitutional dimension through the Sixth Amendment's guarantee to effective assistance of counsel, if the defendant's attorney failed to raise those issues or argue them properly.
In a recent groundbreaking opinion written by Judge Mark Walker, Winstead v. Lafayette Board of County Commissioners, the Northern District held that Title VII prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of an employee's sexual orientation or their perceived sexual orientation. The opinion arose out of a lawsuit filed by two female EMTs employed by Lafayette County. Their complaint alleged that members of the Lafayette County Commission had engaged in harassment and failed to protect them from harassment of a co-worker based on his perception of their sexual orientation. The county argued that the plaintiff's claims should be dismissed because Title VII does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.