U.S. Sixth Circuit - FindLaw

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


Meal breaks are generally supposed to be a time when employees aren't working. After all, if they're working during their break, then it's not really a break, is it?

That's what some current and former security guards at Detroit's MotorCity Casino thought. Their bargaining agreement with the casino allowed them to take 30-minute paid breaks and use the employee cafeteria, but they weren't allowed to leave the casino property and had to respond to calls over their radios.

Monitoring the radios, they claimed, was compensable work time, not a break. The Sixth Circuit, however, disagreed.

Let's play a word association game. I say "Sixth Circuit." You say ...

First circuit to rule against gay marriage since Windsor. A circuit that battles the Ninth Circuit for the title of "most reversed" A circuit that is somewhere in the Midwest.

Let's see how this year fit into our mental schematic, shall we? Here are the 10 most popular Sixth Circuit blog posts for 2014:

The Sixth Circuit today batted away a labor suit brought by the Michigan Corrections Organization, a union of prison correction officers, against the Michigan Department of Corrections.

The federal appeals court had no trouble affirming the district court's dismissal for absence of a cognizable federal claim. It took the time, however, to address, and dismiss, some of the plaintiffs' more novel theories of relief.

In 2000, David Ayers was convicted of the murder of Dorothy Brown, a 76-year-old woman living in Cleveland. There's just one problem: Ayers didn't do it. In 2011, he was freed after the Sixth Circuit said that his case was marred by defects of a constitutional character.

In 2012, Ayers filed suit against the detectives who investigated his case, as well as the City of Cleveland. In an opinion issued last week, the Sixth Circuit upheld an award of $13 million in damages to Ayers.

Earlier this week, the Sixth Circuit heard oral arguments in two en banc cases that we've been covering: the "irritable bowel" telecommuting case and a habeas case where a man claims that he was denied his right to self-representation.

The former case asks whether summary judgment in favor of Ford Motor Co. was proper when an employee requested to telecommute as a reasonable accommodation of her disability -- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The latter case, Hill v. Curtin, is about a man who asked to represent himself on the first day of trial, before a jury was empaneled. His request was denied as untimely by the trial court and by the state appellate courts, but the district court granted habeas relief.

He's behind bars, but Kwame Kilpatrick is not done. Not by a long shot, even if his case is exactly that.

The disgraced former Mayor of Detroit, convicted of a bevvy of corruption charges related to extortion, racketeering, bribery, and tax evasion, is serving a 28-year sentence. He may get a second shot at defending himself, however, if the Sixth Circuit agrees that the trial judge made significant mistakes in handling Kilpatrick's trial. Oral arguments are set for 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 13, 2015.

What's the issue? A conflict of interest with his defense counsel, plus your standard assortment of claims of inappropriate testimony.

After the company Instant Tax Service was discovered engaging in a litany of deceptive and unlawful practices, the IRS had them shut down. ITS appealed, claiming it was a franchisor and not directly involved in the preparation of returns like its franchisees, and therefore couldn't be shut down.

In this unpublished, but nevertheless interesting, opinion from the Sixth Circuit, the court said that shutting ITS down was definitely within the district court's power.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits, among other things, employment discrimination based on religion. That's great, but what about volunteers? Sister Michael Marie and Sister Mary Cabrini, two Catholic nuns, were Red Cross volunteers in Chillicothe, Ohio.

They were never employees, but they believe the positive reviews they received over the years should have entitled them to "promotions" that would have altered their roles and responsibilities. They never received those promotions -- because, they alleged, the Executive Director of the local chapter of the Red Cross was biased against them because they were "traditional" Catholics.

In 2009, Tynisa Williams was arrested, strip-searched, and deloused (allegedly in front of two other inmates) before being put into jail in Cleveland and released later that day. Her crime? Driving with a suspended license. There was no individualized suspicion that she was carrying anything dangerous, nor that she had lice.

"Doesn't this all sound familiar?" you're saying, scratching your chin. Yes, in fact: The Supreme Court dealt with a similar situation in Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of County of Burlington. In that case, Burlington County had a policy of strip-searching every person processed into county jail, regardless of the severity of their crime. The Supreme Court upheld this practice. So why did the Sixth Circuit allow Tynisa Williams' complaint to proceed?

The facts of State v. Hoffman are pretty simple: Brandon Hoffman was identified by neighbors as the last person who'd interacted with Scott Holzhauer, who was found dead in his home. Hoffman had three active misdemeanor arrest warrants, so police executed the warrants. Arriving at Hoffman's house, they found a gun and two cell phones (one of which belonged to Holzhauer). They then got a search warrant, then arrested Hoffman.

The kicker here is that the three misdemeanor arrest warrants probably shouldn't have been issued in the first place. A deputy clerk admitted that there was no probable cause determination made; the warrants merely recited the statutory language, with no facts supporting the probable cause admission.