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Allowing debt collectors to use state prosecutors' letterhead is a controversial practice. It nets counties money (debt collectors essentially rent out the letterhead), but the ABA and other legal organizations say it's deceptive because a county prosecutor isn't actually charging the debtor with a crime.

To that end, the Sixth Circuit addressed two kinks in the issue: Whether the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) applies to law firms tasked with collecting state debts, and whether their use of the Ohio Attorney General's letterhead violated the FDCPA.

When is an opinion that turns out to be wrong an untrue statement of fact? Only when it is not sincerely held, the Supreme Court ruled last week in a securities fraud case. The Court's decision in Omnicare v. Laborers District Council Construct Industry Pension Fund, overturned a recent Sixth Circuit holding and reconciled a split between the Sixth and other circuits.

Omnicare had been sued for securities fraud stemming from a statement that it believed it was complying with the law. The Sixth Circuit had ruled that plaintiffs did not have to allege that the belief was not sincerely held; that it was false was good enough. That didn't work for the Supreme Court, which chided the circuit for failing to sufficiently distinguish between fact and opinion.

6th Cir. Year in Review: Top 10 Blog Posts of 2014

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:

Gay Marriage at the 6th Cir.: Countdown to Aug. 6 Oral Arguments

On August 6, 2014, the Sixth Circuit will hear oral arguments in five consolidated cases addressing same-sex marriage bans in every state in the circuit -- Kentucky, Tennessee, Michigan and Ohio.

Though the Tenth Circuit (in cases involving Utah and Oklahoma) and Fourth Circuit (in a case involving Virginia) have already issued opinions striking down state gay marriage bans, this is the first set of cases out of the Sixth Circuit. And since all of the cases have been consolidated into one set of mega-arguments, the issue could be settled virtually overnight.

We also have the skinny on the panel, which includes two Republican appointees and one Democratic appointee, as well as information for those who wish to attend the oral arguments in person.

Want to spend more time practicing, and less time advertising? Leave the marketing to the experts.

There's a lot happening in the Sixth Circuit. With the status of Michigan's same sex marriage status up in the air, a new lawsuit has been filed by the ACLU. What will the fate of the couples married in the small window of time when same sex marriage was legal in the state?

We also remember a former Sixth Circuit judge who broke boundaries and look at what influences federal judges.

Was Boyce Martin a Victim of 6th Cir. Judicial Infighting?

By now, many have heard of Judge Boyce F. Martin's ignominious departure from the Sixth Circuit bench. The former chief was forced into retirement after a travel expenses reimbursement scandal, one that ended with him agreeing to retire quietly and pay back all of his travel expenses, even those that were undisputed. Nonetheless, Chief Judge Alice Batchelder referred the case to the Justice Department, which decided against bringing charges.

It's been a dark end to a long and notable legal career. In his time on the bench, Martin wrote more than 1,500 opinions, including the first opinion upholding Obamacare, and more notably, the Sixth Circuit's take on Grutter v. Bollinger, an opinion that fractured the court and publicized the infighting in a series of concurrences and appendices.

The Sixth Circuit's New Chief and Ageist Rules of Succession

Word on the street is, this August, Judge R. Guy Cole, Jr. will succeed current-Chief Judge Alice Batchelder.

Why? The Sixth Circuit Appellate Blog doesn't provide a reason, but we suspect that it has something to do with the ageist rules of succession for chief judges of circuit courts, set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 45.

Nifty. Sixth's Site Has CJA, Appellate Advocacy Training Videos

Appellate advocacy. Many of us do mock trial in school, and if we're lucky enough, are trained by experienced advocates in practice. Some, however aren't so lucky, get bad advice, or need a refresher course after years stuck in state trial courts.

The Sixth Circuit has a series of videos, produced by the Federal Defenders Office, aimed at training Criminal Justice Act appointed counsel on the finer points of effective written and oral advocacy, training on electronic case filing, tips for dealing with clients, and advice on avoiding billing mistakes. (Hat Tip to Squire Sanders.)

Was Ret. Judge Martin, The Liberal Lion, Lying? Case Sent to DOJ

At the time of his abrupt retirement last August, former Sixth Circuit Chief Judge Boyce Martin stated, "I want to go out at the top of my game rather than having to be carried up and down from the bench."

Allow us to amend that, with recent allegations in mind: "I want to go out at the top of my game rather than having to be carried up and down from the bench [in handcuffs]."

That's better. Now, what scandal forced the "liberal lion" off the bench, and possibly into the defendant's chair?

6th Circuit Makes Right Call in Cancelling Judicial Conference

Perhaps conscious to the appearance of insensitivity to the current budget crisis, specifically, the federal court system's budget crisis caused by sequestration, the Sixth Circuit has agreed to do what many other circuits have declined to do: cancel the party.

By law, the heads of each circuit are authorized to have a judicial conference either every year, or every other year. In the Sixth Circuit, there is a biennial judges-only conference, as well as a biennial open conference for judges and lawyers in the intervening years. Possibly influenced by the criticism levied at other circuit courts, which have thrown lavish conferences at local resorts, the Sixth Circuit announced that the 2014 conference is cancelled, says the Sixth Circuit Appellate Blog by Squire Sanders.