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

August 2011 Archives

Sixth Circuit Finds Co-Tenants Have Equal Possessory Interests

He-said-she-said cases can be tedious. Here, we have a Sixth Circuit first impression case where he (the defendant) said no to a search, while she (the co-occupant), said yes.

So was it an unreasonable search? Do residential co-tenants have equal possessory interests?

Four officers in Smyrna, Tennasse, conducted a "knock and talk" to investigate an anonymous tip indicating that the occupants at the house where Lanerrick Johnson was staying had marijuana and a firearm.

No Qualified Immunity for School in Due Process Violations

Can a football game suspension be a civil rights violation?

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday that a Nashville student can proceed with his civil rights claims against school administrators who punished him with a 10-day suspension that caused him to miss two weeks of his high school football season.

Christian Heyne, a former Hillsboro High School football player, sued Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) in 2009 to challenge a 10-day suspension. Heyne, who first appealed the punishment through the standard school board channels, claimed that the suspension was a civil rights violation, excessive, and cost him two football games as well as college scholarships.

Uneasy Rider: Cop Denied Qualified Immunity in Motorcycle Death

If at first you don't intercept a speeding motorcyclist, run him over with a police cruiser?

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that a police officer who "intentionally" rammed a speeding motorcyclist was not entitled to qualified immunity in civil litigation resulting from the incident because he had clearly violated the motorcyclist's constitutional rights.

Thomas Germany was killed in 2008 while riding a motorcycle across an empty field after a low-speed police chase, when Deputy Sheriff Danny Davis rammed the motorcycle that he was riding. Germany was thrown from the motorcycle and dragged underneath the cruiser, crushing him to death.

NATCA Lacks Standing in 17-Year Air Traffic Control Tower Battle

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) is a persistent bunch. We don't know much about air traffic controlling, but this seems like an admirable quality in people who control our planes, and thus our lives.

NATCA has been fighting a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) decision to privatize "Level I" air traffic control towers since 1993, when the FAA privatized the Level I towers to comply with Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-76. The Circular prohibited the federal government from performing an activity that could be performed for less cost by the private sector.

Rule 32 Challenge Must Yield Different Outcome

Before you spend time and money trying to suppress evidence used in sentencing, you should probably make sure that suppressing that evidence would result in a different sentence for your client.

Gregory Prude's lawyer failed to demonstrate such foresight, and cost Prude his challenge under Rule 32 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.

Prude pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to commit money laundering. At his plea hearing, Prude admitted that, from late 2006 through 2007, he supplied co-conspirator Donald Dailey and others with marijuana.

Attorney's Nap During Trial Doesn't Mean Counsel Was Ineffective

Practicing law is exhausting. Motions, responses, and discovery really have a way of interfering with your REM cycle. Since most lawyers will not know eight hours of sleep in the intervening years between the start of law school and retirement, the power nap is the successful attorney's modus operandi.

Unfortunately for Joseph Muniz, his lawyer took one such power nap while the government cross-examined Muniz in his assault with intent to commit murder trial.

Judicial Confirmation Delays Plague Federal Courts

Can justice be served if there aren't enough judges to hear cases?

As of July 28, 2011, there are 90 vacancies in the U.S. Courts, but only 53 pending nominations. Of those vacancies, 37 are classified as judicial emergencies. The problem is not a lack of qualified jurists; it's bureaucratic obstinance.