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

October 2013 Archives

Another Religious Challenge to Contraception Mandate; Same Result

Well, Sixth Circuit panels may ignore other panels' crack resentencing precedent, but there was no such mistake here. Eden Foods challenge to the Obamacare contraception mandate was tossed in a short opinion by the Sixth Circuit, which cited its own controlling precedent from last month.

The only thing of note in the opinion was a footnote where the court cited an interview of Eden Foods' CEO Michael Potter by Salon.com, and characterized his religious beliefs as "a laissez-faire, anti-government screed."

6th Cir. Sexual Harassment: Local Law School Dean, School Sued

Let's take a quick break from all of the super-serious crack case law for a moment, shall we?

Meet Case Western Reserve University School of Law Professor Raymond Ku, the former Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and former co-Director of the Center for Law, Technology, & the Arts. He filed a lawsuit against the university and its dean, Lawrence E. Mitchell, earlier today.

You might remember Dean Mitchell from his (paraphrasing) "law school is worth it because jobs don't matter and besides, just wait for the baby boomers to die" op-ed.

It Turns Out You Can Forfeit Assets You Don't Have

Erica Lynn Hampton committed wire and access device fraud. What that entailed exactly, isn't particularly important. What is important is her plea deal.

Hampton pled guilty to two counts in exchange for dropping the remaining dozen or so, and agreed to forfeit assets in the amount of $69,540.01. She was also sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, followed by two years of supervised release.

Simple enough, right? One small problem: she is (and was at the time of sentencing) broke.

Oral Args. in Blewett Crack Resentencing En Banc Rehearing

We've noted that the Sixth Circuit desperately needs to fix its Fair Sentencing Act crack resentencing jurisprudence, and it appears that they will do so soon. Oral argument in the en banc rehearing of Blewett v. United States were heard last week (recordings here), and for the sake of the attorneys and defendants involved in these cases, they really need to fix this.

As a quick refresher on the FSA confusion, the court decided Hammond, where it held that the FSA was not retroactive. It then ignored Hammond in Blewett and decided the case on Equal Protection grounds, stating that because the law had a disparate impact on black offenders, it was inherently racist, as was any judge who enforced it today. The opinion was pulled within weeks in favor of a rehearing. Multiple decisions since have vacillated between Hammond as controlling precedent and sheer confusion (a 1-1-1 split with no controlling holding).

Does Faulty Affirmative Action Opinion Give SCOTUS an Easy Out?

"The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."

Those words, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, are pretty much all you need to know about Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action.

Michigan passed an initiative in 2006 which amended the state constitution to prohibit discrimination or racial preferences in public education, government contracting and public employment. Affirmative action proponents immediately sued to block the portion of the law dealing with higher education.

Ineffective Assistance in a Plea: Lafler Redux?

As SCOTUS Week continues, we turn to what could be the most factually interesting case of the 2013 term, and one that is being argued before the court as we speak.

Vonlee Titlow arguably helped to murder her uncle. Titlow poured vodka in his mouth while he was passed out drunk, while her aunt held his nose shut, but relented and stopped her aunt from continuing. After she walked away, the aunt smothered the uncle with a pillow. Later on, the aunt paid Titlow at least $100,000 for the assistance (plus a car, and possibly more cash) and to remain silent. Titlow, of course, mentioned this to her "paramour," who turned on her.

Both Titlow and the aunt were charged. Titlow's first attorney negotiated a plea deal: testimony against the aunt in exchange for a lenient 7 to 15 year sentence.

Maintaining a Stash House is 'Conduct Related to Narcotic Drugs'

Kind of a "duh" proposition there, isn't it?

Timothy Grayson was convicted of maintaining a drug house under Michigan state law in 2004. The crime punishes someone for maintaining a structure that he knows is used for keeping and selling drugs, and despite being classified a "misdemeanor," it is punishable by up to two years in prison.

In 2010, he landed into trouble again, this time for conspiracy to distribute powder and crack cocaine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. And thanks to that 2004 indiscretion, his mandatory minimum sentence was doubled.