U.S. Sixth Circuit - FindLaw

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


Is five years too short of a sentence for a man found with 19 videos and 93 images depicting child pornography? Not according to Judge James S. Gwin of the Northern District of Ohio. Gwin imposed the minimum sentence against Ryan Collins, but only after polling the jurors who had convicted him.

And those jurors, had they been in charge of sentencing, would have imposed a much lighter punishment. Some jurors thought no incarceration was appropriate, while all but one recommended a sentence of less than two and a half years.

6th Cir. Affirms Whopping $10.4M Asbestos Cleanup Bill Against Scrapper

A salvage scrapper will have to pay the full amount of some $10 million in cleaning costs to the EPA according to a recent ruling by the Sixth Circuit which affirmed the decision of a federal district court.

That lower federal appeals courts was not persuaded by defendant Mark Sawyer's theories, saying that in this case of first impression, the EPA must be compensated for its clean-up expenditures after Sawyer's company completely contaminated a 300-acre plot of land in violation of federal environmental law.

For his role in a tire recycling scheme gone bad, Paul Musgrave was convicted of four counts of white collar crime. His punishment? Essentially no punishment at all. Despite a sentencing guideline range of 57 to 71 months' imprisonment, the district court ordered Musgrave to serve a day in jail, with a day's credit for processing. Musgrave's total punishment was hardly even a slap on the wrist, requiring just three years of probation -- there was no jail time, no fine.

The Sixth Circuit rejected that one-day sentence two years ago. When the district court resentenced Musgrave, it again gave him just a one-day sentence, but this time, the Sixth Circuit allowed the sentence to stand. What caused the change of heart?

6th Cir. Affirms 'Invalid' Arrest Warrants Against Strippers

Here's an interesting case out of the Sixth Circuit fit for a bar exam question analysis. The Sixth Circuit affirmed a dismissal of case against an Ohio county whose officers had allegedly used "invalid warrants" to arrest "exotic dancers" over various time periods for crimes ranging from prostitution to drug distribution to witness intimidation. Each failed in their appeal for what looks be a stupid error on their part.

This case presents a teachable moment in pleading practice. Always include your critical elements, folks. Let's take a look at what went wrong.

6th Cir. Gives Hope to Juveniles Sentenced to Life Without Parole

A new ruling out of the Sixth Circuit should give hope to juvenile criminal inmates looking to get their sentencing reviewed. The Court of Appeals applied the law of recently decided SCOTUS cases Miller and Montgomery to great effect, thereby all but ensuring a loosening of many juvenile life sentences.

Both cases as well as the case sub judice deal with the constitutionality of imposing a life sentence without the possibility of parole to a juvenile defendant.

Ricky Edwards worked for CSX Transportation for 31 years before his career was ended by a freak accident -- caused in part by a "nasty" toilet. When Edwards showed up to work with an upset stomach one day, his nausea was only exacerbated by the foul conditions in his train's bathroom: urine, feces, and "blue chemical" splattered all over the toilet.

When his nausea escalated, Edwards chose to ralph over the rails, rather than in the foul toilet. In the process, he fell from the train, breaking his back and ending his career with CSX. And that wasn't the end of the gut-retching news for Edwards, whose suit against CSX was tossed by the Sixth Circuit last Friday.

6th Cir. Affirms Lower Bankruptcy Ruling, Punts Constitutionality

A case of some interest to appellate attorneys came out of the Sixth Circuit recently that invoked the Constitutional Avoidance Doctrine -- avoiding questions of constitutionality when the validity of a law can be determined on other grounds.

Though the case is filed under bankruptcy law, it is instructive in several key areas of law practice including statutory construction, affirmation on erroneous reasoning, and the above mentioned "avoidance" doctrine.

Appeals Court Applies Statutory Immunity in Wheelchair-Skiing Case

An interesting case was affirmed for the defendant ski-resort at the Sixth Circuit recently, offering refresher insights into the proper means and technique of statutory interpretation.

The case involved a lady in a wheelchair on a ski-lift tramway. Despite the prosaic facts, the plaintiff offered some curious legal theories in her injury claim.

The reclusive world of Ohio's Amish community became a little less reclusive in 2011, after 16 members of a breakaway Amish sect ambushed their neighbors at night, cutting off their beards. The beard cutting was designed to humiliate its victims, excommunicated members of the small Amish community in Bergholz, Ohio.

The ten men and six women behind the attacks were convicted almost four years ago, though the Sixth Circuit reversed their federal hate crimes convictions in 2014, resulting in significantly reduced sentences. On Tuesday, the beard cutters were back before the Sixth Circuit, arguing for even lesser sentences, but this time, reductions seemed much less likely.

Cell Site Records Are Like Stamps and Envelopes, Says 6th Cir.

The Sixth Circuit employed a rather fascinating analogy comparing historical cell-site records of caller data to mailing addresses, thus raising questions about reasonable expectations of privacy. The result? The Stored Communications Act within the Sixth Circuit does not equal a mega-search.

Lawyers should compare this ruling with the Houston Family case ruling, also decided by the Sixth Circuit. A quick review of the court's language shows a remarkable consistency in theme.