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Wayne State University is not a 'person' for purposes of the False Claims Act, which imposes liability on individuals and businesses who defraud the federal government. Further, the school is entitled to sovereign immunity, and protected from FCA whistleblower lawsuits, as an "arm of the state" under the Eleventh Amendment.
Those are the holdings of a recent Sixth Circuit opinion which adopted the "arm of the state" test for FCA claims -- and tossed a Wayne State assistant professor's whistleblower suit in the process.
Kwame Kilpatrick, the former mayor of Detroit convicted of fraud and racketeering, is taking his case to the Supremes. Not Motown hero Diana Ross, but the Supreme Court. Kilpatrick is currently asking the High Court to hear his case after the Sixth Circuit upheld his conviction in August and rejected his petition for en banc review.
Kilpatrick's tenure as mayor was long plagued by scandal, including accusations that he held wild parties in the major's mansion and even covered up the murder of an exotic dancer. It was much more quotidian corruption that landed him with a 28 year jail sentence, however, after the government accused him of extorting money from government contractors.
The EPA will not be allowed to enforce its Clean Water Rule after the Sixth Circuit issued an order to stay the rule on Friday. The new rule sought to clarify which waters are protected under the Clean Water Act, something which has proven surprisingly difficult in the past. Eighteen states sued to stop the rule, leading to the Sixth Circuit's order, which applies nationwide.
The Clean Water Rule seeks to extend pollution protections, and EPA jurisdiction, to bodies of water such as streams and wetlands. It faces opposition from politicians and business interests who viewed the new rule as regulatory overreach.
So far, the Supreme Court has granted only three petitions from the Sixth Circuit, on issues as varied as prisoner litigation and securities law. Many more petitions are waiting in the wings, including same-sex marriage, the Amish beard-cutter, and limiting hours for early voting.
For now, though, Sixth Circuit watchers will have to tide themselves over with these three cases:
For a while, it looked like Ohio Gov. John Kasich wasn't going to be re-elected. Kasich was the same type of staunch Republican as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. But where Walker succeeded, Kasich failed. Voters harshly rebuked a Kasich-endorsed state senate bill that would have limited public employees' collective bargaining rights.
In 2012, toeing the party line with other Republican governors, Kasich said the state wouldn't be implementing a state health insurance exchange. But months later, he changed his mind, declaring Ohio would have a state exchange after all.
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.
This Valentine's Day, show some love for your community: pay it forward. Gunner law students in the Sixth Circuit can get into the spirit of generosity by participating in a pro bono competition.
Law students are often so wrapped up in their classes and job prospects that they often don't realize how much pleasure and fulfillment they can find from doing pro bono work. Take it from Dana Tapper, a then-law student recognized by Ellen DeGeneres for her commitment to public service.
Here are the nuts and bolts of the ABA's Sixth Circuit Law Student Division's Pro Bono Competition:
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?
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."