6th Circuit Court Rules News - U.S. Sixth Circuit
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A federal judge who undermined and insulted defense counsel in front of the jury and provided off-the-cuff, erroneous jury instructions has won the attorney's client a new trial. The Sixth Circuit ruled last week that a judge for the Eastern District of Michigan demonstrated such "outright bias and belittling of counsel" that the defendant was denied an impartial trial.

When counsel for Reginald Daniels, accused of being a felon in possession of a firearm, attempted to show that Daniels had not been in possession of a gun and that police had searched his home without a warrant, he was continuously and repeatedly interrupted by the judge, who accused him of distracting jurors, lying, and needing to "shut up." According to the Sixth Circuit, the judge's behavior was so unfair that Daniels' conviction had to be overturned.

In a case where the Tennessee Department of Children's Services sought to remove two children from their father, the father sought to remove the case to federal court. The removal of the children, and termination of parental rights, may well go ahead, but removal to federal court cannot, the Sixth Circuit ruled on Monday.

When the Department filed a petition to terminate Shaun Winesburgh's parental rights over his two children due to neglect and severe abuse, he claimed they were discriminating against him based on his mental disability and sought to remove the case to federal court. According to the Sixth, however, his federal counterclaims and invocation of civil rights removal provisions were insufficient to take his case out of state court.

Just like the verse-chorus-verse structure of classic pop music, federal litigation follows a predictable formula, one that courts don't like litigants rearranging. This point was highlighted in a recent kerfuffle between two karaoke companies, Slep-Tone and Karaoke Kandy Store.

Not only were these two out of pitch with each other -- Slep-Tone accused Karaoke Kandy Store of trademark violations -- they could not get into beat with the courts, as the Sixth Circuit was forced to stay Slep-Tone's appeal for coming in before its cue.

EEOC Gets Benchslapped by Sixth in Short, Hilarious Dismissal

It is a rare benchslap that lasts seven pages. It's not uncommon to see a paragraph or two that mocks a party's unreasonable position. And we've seen Judge Kethledge mock parties' unreasonable stances before, but a full seven pages? Well done, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission -- you've surpassed the "golden sombrero" to reach a whole new level of ineptitude.

What caused the seven page rant/affirmed dismissal? Only a hypocritical lawsuit supported by a comical attempt at producing scientific methodology in support a frivolous case of alleged disparate impact discrimination.

3 Tips For New Attorneys in The 6th Circuit

New attorneys practicing in the Sixth Circuit will have to learn the local court rules and make sure that their case will go as smoothly as possible (procedurally, anyway).

Whether it's getting acclimated to the court's e-filing system, or knowing the security measures for entering the building, here are three tips to get you started.

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.

Federal Defender's Name, Reputation, Sanctions Cleared

After reading the Sixth Circuit's lengthy reversal of sanctions orders by District Court Judge John Adams, you seriously have to wonder: what's got his knickers in a twist?

As the court noted, "this case began with a government attorney's unauthorized filing of a motion for sanctions." The overzealous district attorney, after an email argument over a mutual mistake about redacted information in the discovery files, asked for sanctions due to alleged abuses of the discovery process. He later reversed course, and asked for the matter to be dropped, as his supervisors never approved the request for sanctions. In fact, all throughout the multiple sanctions hearings and the appeal, the government has opposed sanctions.

But despite the government's stance, Judge Adams ordered sanctions and a public reprimand against Federal Defender Debra Migdal. A year and a half later, the Sixth Circuit hopes that its order will "remove[] any taint of public censure on her reputation."

Another Crack Case, This Time Decided Semi-Correctly

We're a bit exhausted by all of the crack cases, and truthfully, if we had our druthers, we'd never report on another run-of-the-mill Fair Sentencing Act case again.

Except, thanks to the Sixth Circuit, there is no run-of-the-mill. To recap their exploits, they decided one case (Hammond) that said that the Fair Sentencing Act's reduction of mandatory minimums in crack cocaine cases did not apply to those who had been sentenced before the law's passage. Simple enough.

They then ignored it in Blewitt, which was, itself, vacated a few weeks later and set for en banc rehearing later this year. We rehashed both of these cases, plus the U.S. Supreme Court's opinion in Dorsey two weeks ago, when the Sixth Circuit released two conflicting opinions on the same day: Johnson, which side-stepped Hammond, and Joiner, which abided by its binding precedent.

Admin Law Basics: Exhaust Military Appeals Before Filing in Court

Commander Furniss Harkness is a Protestant Chaplain in the Unites States Navy Reserves. During his illustrious service in the Chaplain Corps, he has had a bit of a history of speaking his mind, including a prior lawsuit, filed, along with sixteen other non-liturgical Protestants in 2000, that claimed systemic denominational prejudice.

This time, Commander Harkness is miffed about a denied promotion. As one would expect, the Navy has a number of very specific procedures that must be followed when considering officers for promotions, including the formation of a selection board consisting, in part, of at least a single officer of the same classification as the candidate (i.e., another chaplain).

Harkness didn’t immediately leap to litigation. Instead, he petitioned the Secretary to convene a “special selection board” to reconsider the promotion. That request was denied. He also asked for an investigation of the original selection board itself, but that investigation yielded no evidence of wrongdoing.

We all make typos. Most of the time, it's no big deal. While a typo in an email between friends is harmless, a typo on a resume or a cover letter can be devastating. It's all about the context.

So what happens when a typo causes you to miss an important filing deadline? Can a technical error in an electronic filing jeopardize your client's right to appeal? The answer is "no," according to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. In a question of first impression, the appellate court determined this week that clients shouldn't be punished for an electronic filing error on the part of their attorneys.