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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.

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.

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.

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.)

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?

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.

Judge Boyce Martin Retiring From 6th Circuit This Week

To say Judge Boyce Martin of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals loathes the death penalty process is a gross understatement. The court's vociferous liberal lion may be retiring, but he did anything but mince his words in Nicholas v. Heidle, his final capital case.

Martin, 77, who often sported a bow tie in his more than three decades on the bench, concurred with the majority denying a death-row inmate's habeas claim. But Martin said he would "continue to condemn the use of the death penalty as an arbitrary, biased, and broken criminal justice tool."

Affirmed: TennCare Federal Consent Decree Vacated

For 15 years, Tennessee’s Medicaid program has operated under a federal consent decree. In recent years, however, the Volunteer State moved to vacate the decree on grounds that the State is now compliant with both the decree and the Medicaid statute.

Despite pressure from class action plaintiffs to leave the decree in tact, both a district court and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals believe that Tennessee is ready to reclaim the reins of its Medicaid program.

Sixth Circuit Hits the Bottle ... Again

In 1976, Michigan enacted the Michigan Container Act — known as the “Bottle Bill” — to encourage beverage container recycling. It is one of ten states that requires consumers to pay a can, plastic bottle, or glass bottle deposit when purchasing specified beverage containers.

This week, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals solidified its status as the booze bottle niche court by ruling that a fraud prevention amendment to the Bottle Bill violates the Commerce Clause.

Sixth Circuit Won't Consider Prior 'Bad' Ruling on Prior Bad Acts

Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Raymond Kethledge thinks its time for the court to “clean up its law” regarding Federal Rule of Evidence (FRE) 404(b).

This week, Judge Kethledge wrote a dissental to the Sixth Circuit’s en banc rehearing denial in United States v. Clay, arguing that there are “significant and recurring issues” on which the Sixth Circuit has intra-circuit conflicts regarding the admission of prior bad acts evidence.

But if you were hoping for clarity before your next trial, you’re out of luck.