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


Judge Sued for Denying Name Changes to Transgender Children

It's almost a maxim that half of the people in a courtroom -- other than the judge and staff -- go home unhappy.

Judge Joseph W. Kirby knows that; appeals are a given for trial judges. However, he didn't expect the legal backfire that hit him after he denied name changes to parents of transgender children.

In Whitaker v. Kirby, the plaintiffs have sued the Ohio judge for allegedly discriminating against transgender children. It may be a short-lived suit because of judicial immunity, but the issue is not going away.

6th Circuit Hears Two Clean Water Cases

Navigating a bend in environmental law, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals heard two water pollution cases on the same day.

In Kentucky Waterways Alliance v. Kentucky Utilities Co., environmental groups claim a utility company polluted Herrington Lake. In Tennessee Clean Water Network v. Tennessee Valley Authority, the plaintiffs say the defendant contaminated the Cumberland River.

Arguments in both matters turned on the question of "point source" pollution. It was a rare occasion when lawyers walked into court on separate cases but found themselves on the same page.

Kentucky Asks 6th Cir. to Restore Fetal-Heartbeat Abortion Law

Alexa Kolby-Molinas entered the room to discuss abortion.

In Kentucky, women were required to have an ultrasound and then listen to a physician explain the fetal images before an abortion. It was a tense meeting for Kolby-Molinas, and the conversation boiled over into an argument.

But she was not there for an abortion, and it was not a doctor's office. The attorney was arguing before the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals against the state's fetal abortion law.

While employers need to be rather careful when employees make requests for accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the recent decision from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in McDonald v. UAW-GM is rather instructive for employers.

In this case, the employer did engage with the employee to work on finding a reasonable accommodation that would work for both employer and employee. However, the accommodations proposed by the employer, despite seeming to fit with the employee's doctor's recommendation, were rejected by the employee. Unfortunately for the employee, as the appellate court noted, the ADA does not require that employers provide a specifically requested accommodation, but rather to work with the employee to find an accommodation that works for both.

A Michigan federal court judge recently rejected claims filed on behalf of Detroit public school students that the state was denying the children their right to an education. The plaintiffs have vowed to appeal to the Sixth Circuit.

While expressing remorse over the deplorable conditions that the Detroit public school students suffer, Judge Stephen Murphy III also explained that the plaintiffs were seeking to enforce a right that does not exist. Additionally, the court found that the claim of race discrimination failed to show that other schools were treated more favorably by the state.

Some federal judges are the very model of a modern major general; then there's federal district court judge John Adams. He's definitely a model of something, just not anything modern.

Judge Adams was appointed by the second President Bush, and seems to have earned himself a reputation as a judge who just can't seem to pull himself away from his cases, even when he really should. A prime example comes courtesy of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in the U.S. V. Cota-Luna matter, where two defendants that pleaded guilty to trafficking cocaine got more than they bargained for from a judge who had made up his mind before seeing the evidence.

Law Prevents Anyone Older Than 70 From Becoming a Judge

You have to wonder about the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision on old judges.

The appeals court affirmed a Michigan law that prevents anyone over 70 from being elected or appointed a judge. A 68-year-old judge sued to invalidate the law because it will make him ineligble for re-election in a couple of years.

But, if anyone's counting, nearly half the judges on the appeals court are over 70. Like Wink Wilkinson said in the Little Shop of Horrors, there's something "so very weird" here.

Recently, John B. Nalbandian was confirmed by the Senate to take the bench on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He will be filling the seat vacated by Judge John M. Rogers.

Nalbandian may not have prior experience as a federal court justice, but prior to his confirmation, he boasted a successful appellate practice in Cincinnati, Ohio. Additionally, he previously served as a law clerk to Judge Jerry Edwin Smith of the Fifth Circuit.

Judicial Take on Bias in the Court

The wheels of justice may turn slowly, but changing bias in the courtroom may take quite a few more turns of the big wheel.

Studies say that attitudes about bias in the legal system have not really changed in more than half a century. Across most of America, minorities don't think they can get a fair result in court.

Bias seems to be, for lack of a better word, "implicit" in the judicial system. The experts say it is not a criticism; it's just human nature.

Sixth Circuit Mulls Police Shooting of Dogs

Dogs are routinely euthanized after some civil process, typically when a dog has been found to be a danger to people.

But in a Michigan case, police executed three dogs during a search for drugs. They said the animals bared their teeth and charged them.

The owners sued for civil rights violations, but a trial judge thew out their case. In arguments to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the judges searched for the truth.