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Judicial Reform Sixth Circuit

United States Court of Appeals: 6th Circuit

At Risk
Total Judgeships: 

16 (1 vacancy)

Political Makeup: 

5 Dem – 10 GOP

Location(s): 
Cincinnati, Ohio
Jurisdictions: 
Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee
Caseload: 

4,605

About The Court:

The Sixth Circuit Court was established on December 10, 1869 and has the highest frequency of cases reversed by the Supreme Court, with a record of 24 out of 25 cases in the 2008-2013 term. William Howard Taft, the only person ever to serve as both President and Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, served on the Sixth Circuit.

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decided

Ruling the Cows to Come Home

Thu, 08/14/2014

In re:Purdy: Sunshine and Purdy are in a dairy partnership together in which Sunshine leased 435 cows to Purdy. When Purdy went bankrupt, Citizen’s First Bank moved to take ownership of the cattle, claiming that the cattle (similar to Purdy’s equipment, farm products, and other livestock) is a money security interest and thus can be claimed by the bank to cover the bankruptcy. Sunshine argues that a “lease” cannot be considered a “security agreement” because it does not give full ownership to the holder of the property. The bankruptcy court ruled in favor of Citizen’s First Bank.

Decision

The 6th Circuit Court reversed the decision of the lower court, ruling in favor of Sunshine on the basis that, according to the terms of the lease entered into between Purdy and Sunshine, Sunshine holds property rights over the dairy cows. This ruling upholds the property rights of Sunshine and protects the constitutional rights of individuals who lease out their property.

Read the full decision here
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Sixth Circuit Checks Police Power

Mon, 07/21/2014

Hayward v. Cleveland Clinic Foundation: Aaron Hayward was followed home by police officers based on a previous incident, but it was not communicated to Hayward that he was under arrest. The officers eventually forced their way through the front door by shattering the window. One officer fired a taser and hit Hayward twice. The officers dragged him to the driveway, beat him, called him a “black nigger,” and arrested him. The District Court dismissed the claims of Hayward and his parents, who were also in the home at the time of the arrest.

Decision

The Sixth Circuit reversed the dismissal of the claims for illegal home entry and intentional infliction of emotional distress, but affirmed dismissal of other claims including the parents’ assault claim.

Read the full decision here
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Police Forcefully Break and Enter Home of Innocents

Mon, 07/21/2014

Hayward v. Cleveland Clinic Found: Aaron Hayward was followed home by a police car without its lights on and told by the officer to “come here.” Aaron did not and instead entered his home. Through a course of events, 5 additional officers showed up, broke through the front door of the Hayward home, tazed Aaron, and beat him in the driveway along with racially threatening his parents. The Haywards brought up multiple appeals against the district court’s dismissal.

Decision

The 6th Circuit Court reversed the dismissal of the Hayward’s appeals, stating that they hold a base for illegal home entry and intentional emotional distress. The court affirmed, however, the other appeals, including those made by Aaron.

Read the full decision here
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House Demolished Without Notifying Owner

Wed, 07/02/2014

Hescott v. City of Saginaw: Hewscott is a U.S. Army pilot is that deployed routinely and is regularly away from his property, an old house that he and his son were planning on remodeling. Police found children playing in the part dilapidated house and reported the property to the Dangerous Building Inspector who deemed it a threat to public safety. The house was demolished without notifying Hewscott, who returned home to find his house gone. No part of the house was evaluated for salvageable items or valuables. Hescott sued the city for damages of property loss and violation of his 4th Amendment rights

Decision

The 6th Circuit Court upheld the decision of the lower courts, ruling in favor of Hewscott. However, the Court reversed a section of the lower courts’ ruling, deciding to award Hewscott his court costs and opened the door for him to receive attorney’s fees as well.

Read the full decision here
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6th Amend. Limited to "Critical Stages"

Tue, 06/24/2014

Kennedy v United States: After being convicted for drug trafficking, Kennedy, throughout the court process, switched attorneys multiple times. Upon being convicted, Kennedy filed suit that his 6th Amendment right to counsel was violated.

Decision

The 6th Circuit Court interpreted the Constitution to understand the 6th Amendment only means an individual has the right to counsel during the critical stages of the criminal process, rather than the whole process. As a result, the Court ruled that Kennedy did not have the right under the 6th Amendment to have counsel in the pre-indictment plea negotiations.

Read the full decision here
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Sixth Circuit Reverses District Court Decision Infringing Upon Free Speech

Mon, 06/16/2014

Jones v. Dirty World Entertainment: The Dirty World website enables users to upload content, which Nik Richie selects and publishes along with his own comments. Sarah Jones, a teacher and member of the Cincinnati Bengals cheerleading squad, requested that posts about her sleeping with football players be removed, but Richie declined. Jones brought claims of defamation, libel, false light, and intentional inflection of emotional distress. The District Court ruled in Jones’ favor for over $300,000 in damages, rejecting arguments that the claims were barred by the Communications Decency Act.

Decision

The Sixth Circuit reversed, concluding that Richie and Dirty World were neither the creators nor the developers of the content. Therefore, they cannot be held liable as if they were the publishers or speakers of those statements.

Read the full decision here
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Regulated Coverage of Contraceptives Affirmed

Wed, 06/11/2014

MI Catholic Conference v. Sebelius: A group of Catholic non-profits have filed suit against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as a result of its provision requiring them to provide contraceptives in their insurance plans. Because the contraceptives themselves are distributed by a third party and not directly by the non-profits, the District Court and Circuit Court denied the non-profits’ appeal, stating that the provision does not violate the non-profits’ rights.

Decision

The Sixth Circuit Court affirmed the decision of the lower courts stating that the non-profits did not provide a strong enough argument to merit success on their claims. The Court also states that the injury to which the non-profits claim to have suffered is not deemed by the court to be avoidable should the regulation be renounced.

Read the full decision here
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Complications of Workers’ Compensation

Mon, 05/19/2014

Brown v. Ajax Paving Industries, Inc.: Jay Brown sought workers’ compensation from Ajax Paving for an injury he claimed to sustain while working. Brown and Ajax settled while the case was pending, but Brown argued that false medical testimony was introduced. He sued Ajax and its insurers, claims administrators, and the doctor under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The District Court dismissed the case.

Decision

Under RICO, Brown must show that the illegal activities “injured [him] in his business or property.” The Sixth Circuit affirmed the decision, finding that the “loss or diminution of benefits the plaintiff expects to receive under a workers’ compensation scheme does not constitute an injury to business or property.”

Read the full decision here
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Violation of Commercial Speech Rights

Tue, 04/08/2014

Liberty Coins, LLC v. Goodman: Liberty Coins challenged the Precious Metals Dealers Act, alleging violation of the commercial speech rights of businesses dealing in precious metals, and for imposing overly burdensome retention, reporting, and record-keeping requirements. The District Court found that the Act violated the 1st Amendment because only those engaged in commercial speech are subject to its licensing requirement.

Decision

Applying the rational basis test, the Sixth Circuit Court noted the public interest in the statute and reversed the decision.

Read the full decision here
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Teen Strip Searches Deemed Legal

Wed, 02/05/2014

T.S. v. Doe: Police responded to a report of underage drinking and found an eighth grade graduation celebration, where seven teens tested positive for alcohol. The teens were arrested and detained in a juvenile detention center prior to a scheduled court appearance. The minors underwent routine fingerprinting, mug shots, and metal-detection screening. They were also required to disrobe during a hygiene inspection. They were released the next day and the charges were dropped. In a suit, the district court ruled in favor of the minors to be free from unreasonable strip searches.

Decision

The Sixth Circuit Court reversed the decision, stating that no established principle of constitutional law forbids such a search from a juvenile detention center.

Read the full decision here

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