The Fifth Circuit previously overturned summary judgment in Johnson v. Maestri-Murrell Property Management, LLC, (5th Cir. 2012). I wrote about that decision here. The remarkable thing about that summary judgment was the lower court ignored direct evidence of discrimination. The district court’s decision seemed to be result-oriented. See the Fifth Circuit decision here.
The Fifth Circuit remanded the case back to the district court in upstate Louisiana. Well, remarkably, that same Louisiana U.S. district court granted summary judgment, again. See the second Fifth Circuit decision overturning summary judgment here. In the second appeal in Johnson v. Maestri-Murrell Property Management, LLC, the Fifth Circuit faulted the lower court for not following its remand order. That is judge-speak for the district court judge messed up big time.
One error cited by the appellate court was the lower court again did not acknowledge the direct evidence of discrimination. Direct evidence is that evidence which shows discriminatory bias without need of any inference. When management said they would not hire a black manager, that is direct evidence of discrimination. It is one thing for a district court to reach that result. It is entirely different when a lower court disregards the appellate court’s finding that the evidence was direct. That omission by the lower court suggests the lower court is following some agenda other than routine respect of precedent.
Like the plaintiff in Johnson, I have to question the impartiality of the district judge in this matter. He seems to have pre-determined views of the merits of Ms. Johnson’s lawsuit. I find it unfortunate that this Fifth Circuit decision will not be published.