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

November 2011 Archives

Sixth Cir. Denies Cops Qualified Immunity in Excessive Force Case

We occasionally like to take a gander at the FindLaw Answers board to see which legal issues are trending. Criminal law is always popular; especially when parents are upset about their kids’ encounters with police.

We suspect that if parents are posting questions for our Answers community about excessive force, they’re probably calling local attorneys with these questions as well. With that in mind, today we’re looking at a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals qualified immunity case involving three siblings who claim that Dearborn police used excessive force in apprehending and questioning them about an armed robbery.

Sixth Circuit Says Club Membership is Judicial Misconduct

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Judicial Conduct and Disability Committee ruled last week that Judge George C. Paine, II, Chief Judge of the Middle District of Tennessee Bankruptcy Court, committed judicial misconduct by violating Canon 2C of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, which prohibits "holding membership in an organization that practices invidious discrimination on the bases of race and sex."

Judge Paine is a Resident Member of the Belle Meade Country Club, a 110-year-old private social club located in Nashville, Tennessee. While the club does not explicitly ban female or African American Resident Members, it has never had female or African American Resident Members.

Sixth Circuit: Facilitating a Crime Can Be a Violent Felony

The Armed Career Criminal Act’s mandatory minimum guidelines applies to any person who has been convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm, and who has three previous convictions for “violent felonies” or serious drug offenses. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that a Tennessee conviction for facilitation of aggravated robbery qualifies as a “violent felony” under the Act.

In August 2009, Anthony Gloss pleaded guilty to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The Pre-Sentence Report recommended that Gloss be sentenced under the Armed Career Criminal Act (Act) on account of two Tennessee convictions for violent felonies and one Tennessee conviction for a serious drug offense.

Company Can Sue for Fax, Just the (Unsolicited Advertising) Fax

Telemarketers are annoying, so we're on the "Do Not Call" registry, and we don't answer our phone unless we recognize the caller's number. But how do you combat unsolicited advertising faxes?

If you're Compressor Engineering Corporation, you sue the sender in federal court ... and that's okay with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Sixth Circuit Unreasonable Search Claim Goes to the Dogs

This week didn’t start well. The whole office is sick, the rainy season is upon us, and we missed our commuter train twice.

Then we found this Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals case, which combines two of our favorite topics: Warrantless searches and puppies. Suddenly, the sun is shining and things are looking up.

First, let’s talk about the puppies. A litter of 11 American bulldog puppies, to be precise.

Reversed: SCOTUS Reinstates Archie Dixon Conviction

The Supreme Court has reinstated a conviction against an Ohio man accused of burying his roommate alive. In a per curiam opinion, the Court overturned the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which previously ruled that police coerced the murder suspect's confession.

Archie Dixon and Tim Hoffner murdered Chris Hammer in order to steal his car. The men beat Hammer, tied him up, and buried him alive; pushing the still-struggling victim down into his grave while they shoveled dirt on top of him. Dixon then used Hammer's birth certificate and social security card to obtain a state identification card in Hammer's name. Using that identification card to establish ownership of Hammer's car, Dixon sold the vehicle for $2,800.

Ineffective Counsel? No Need to Explain Sentencing Variations

In a timely tie-in to this week's Supreme Court hearings in Lafler v. Cooper and Missouri v. Frye, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion last week in a plea bargain/ineffective counsel appeal.

Richard Newland claimed that his trial lawyer, Gary Tyack, provided ineffective assistance because he failed to explain "blow by blow" the difference between Newland's Guidelines range sentence if he pleaded guilty and his range after conviction on all counts after trial. The former was 66-76 months, the latter 101-111 months.

Newland rejected the plea deal, was convicted at trial, and was sentenced to 108 months in prison.

Sixth Cir. Reinstates Shopper's Negligence Claim Against Target

We have long believed that the Target clearance aisle was a dangerous place, but that belief was based on monetary concerns, not safety hazards. Regardless, we love Target.

An unpublished Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals opinion issued last week, however, reminds us that danger lurks even in happy places. With that in mind, the Sixth Circuit reinstated a Target clearance shopper’s negligence claim against the retail giant, finding that the district court had erred in granting Target’s motion for summary judgment.