U.S. Sixth Circuit - FindLaw

U.S. Sixth Circuit - The FindLaw 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Ohio Man Convicted of Possessing Ricin, Lying to FBI

An Ohio man was convicted of possessing weaponized ricin with intent to use it as a weapon in a rather dramatic suicide plot -- a conviction upheld by the Sixth Circuit yesterday.

Readers will recall that ricin was the favorite murder toxin of choice by the now loved and infamous Walter White of Breaking Bad fame. The amount that Levenderis had refined was enough to kill 250 Tucos or Gus Frings.

Kim Davis Wins and Loses All Within a Week

Whether or not you agree with Kim Davis, you've got to give credit where credit's due: she's got perseverance.

Kim Davis, the court clerk who found fame by refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, has lost another bid with the Sixth Circuit to delay issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Loud, unpopular, even hateful speech is still speech and it still deserves First Amendment protections. That's the gist of a recent Sixth Circuit case dealing with the classic "heckler's veto" or the ability of an angry crowd to shut down an unpopular speaker.

In this particular case, the hecklers were attendees of the Arab International Festival who were harangued by a pigs-head-on-a-stick wielding "group of self-described Christian evangelists preaching hate and denigration," according to the Sixth Circuit. When the crowd responded with violence, the evangelists were removed, a decision that the court held violated their First Amendment rights.

Kwame Kilpatrick, the former mayor of Detroit convicted of fraud and racketeering, is taking his case to the Supremes. Not Motown hero Diana Ross, but the Supreme Court. Kilpatrick is currently asking the High Court to hear his case after the Sixth Circuit upheld his conviction in August and rejected his petition for en banc review.

Kilpatrick's tenure as mayor was long plagued by scandal, including accusations that he held wild parties in the major's mansion and even covered up the murder of an exotic dancer. It was much more quotidian corruption that landed him with a 28 year jail sentence, however, after the government accused him of extorting money from government contractors.

Worm Farm Workers Don't Get Overtime Pay, Court Rules

If you're a worm farmer, there's some good news for you. Under a decision by the Sixth Circuit, you don't have to pay overtime to your workers if they're growing worms.

Bruno Durant, the president of Silver Bait, emigrated from his native France to the United States to grow worms. After raising worms on Georgia, he purchased land in Tennessee and later established Silver Bait on the land he bought. He hired workers, many of whom worked than the FLSA full-time standard of 40 hours per week.

The EPA will not be allowed to enforce its Clean Water Rule after the Sixth Circuit issued an order to stay the rule on Friday. The new rule sought to clarify which waters are protected under the Clean Water Act, something which has proven surprisingly difficult in the past. Eighteen states sued to stop the rule, leading to the Sixth Circuit's order, which applies nationwide.

The Clean Water Rule seeks to extend pollution protections, and EPA jurisdiction, to bodies of water such as streams and wetlands. It faces opposition from politicians and business interests who viewed the new rule as regulatory overreach.

A religious child-care provider, whose biggest client was the state of Kentucky, will be able to continue a longstanding lawsuit a bit longer, thanks to a Sixth Circuit ruling on Monday. Sunrise Children's Services provides group housing, foster care placement and other services to Kentucky children in state custody. Those services come with a heavy dose of religious coercion, according to critics.

Those critics sued 15 years ago, alleging that the state was violating the Establishment Clause by contracting with Sunrise. After 13 years of fruitless litigation, the state and its critics finally entered into a settlement -- but only over Sunrises' objections. Now, Sunrise is entitled to make those objections heard in court, the Sixth Circuit ruled.

For a while, the Law Office of John H. Eggertsen had a good thing going. In 1998, Eggertsen, a Michigan attorney, bought up "J & R's Little Harvest" for $500. He changed the name, reorganized the corporation, and created a stock ownership plan. Due to Eggertsen's clever tax maneuvering, Eggertsen and the Law Offices avoided paying taxes on income for years.

And it was all perfectly legal -- until it wasn't. In 2001, Congress released its mistake, closed the loophole Eggertsen was taking advantage of and gave companies four years to come into compliance. Eggertsen didn't and that failing ended up costing him dearly in a recent Sixth Circuit case.

Call it a case of "I fought the lawn and the lawn won." A homeowner in Howell, Michigan, has been fined after he refused to mow the grass on the curb strip in front of his house -- and the Sixth Circuit is on board with that.

David Shoemaker had refused to maintain the area between the sidewalk and street in front of his house after the city cut down a tree over his objections. Unwilling to put up with the site of unkempt, eight-inch-plus grass, Howell hired a lawn company to manicure the strip. Then they sent Shoemaker the bill.

Alternative Title: Expectation of Privacy Doesn't Apply to Pocket-Dials

An expectation of privacy doesn't apply to your accidental pocket-dials, the Sixth Circuit ruled on Tuesday. Someone who pocket-dials, butt-dials, purse-dials, or otherwise unintentionally calls another party doesn't have a reasonable expectation of privacy, the court ruled, and whoever is on the receiving end of the call is free to eavesdrop -- even to record your conversations.

The case came after an executive accidentally pocket-dialed a colleague's secretary. That secretary listened in, for over an hour and a half as plans for firing her boss were discussed. When she revealed them, the executive sued, claiming that her eavesdropping was an unlawful interception of private communications. Not so, the Sixth Circuit ruled.