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

January 2012 Archives

Court Affirms Palin Hacker Obstruction of Justice Conviction

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals showed no mercy for Sarah Palin hacker David Kernell on Monday.

A three-judge panel affirmed Kernell’s obstruction of justice conviction this morning, finding that there was sufficient evidence to support the charge, reports the Associated Press.

Kernell was a student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville during the 2008 election, when he read a New York Times report that the Republican candidate for vice-president frequently used her personal email address, gov.palin@yahoo.com, for official business. That’s when trouble began.

Julea Ward, ADF Win Free Speech Rights Appeal in Counseling Case

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that an expelled Eastern Michigan University (EMU) graduate student's civil rights lawsuit can proceed in a Michigan federal court, reports the Detroit Free Press.

Julea Ward, who enrolled in the EMU program in 2006 to become a high school counselor, declined to counsel a homosexual client during her school practicum because her "Christian beliefs would not allow her to affirm the client's homosexual behavior," according to the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), which is representing Ward.

Federal Preemption is a Sure Bet in Horse Racing Dispute

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978, which gives "horsemen's groups" veto power over horse-racing simulcasts, trumps an Ohio state law that vests final simulcast approval authority with a state racing commission.

Why does an Ohio horse racing case matter?

Aside from a feel-good, philosophical no-man-is-an-island perspective, this case matters because the Sixth Circuit also has authority over federal cases arising out of Kentucky, home of Churchill Downs and the Derby. That detail was not lost on the Sixth Circuit panel.

Child Porn and P2P File-Sharing Program: Just Like Facebook?

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a two-level sentencing enhancement to a knowing possession of child porn conviction this week, finding that a district court had properly applied the sentencing enhancement for distribution because the appellant shared the images through a peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing program on his computer.

Tommy K. Bolton pleaded guilty to knowing possession of child pornography, which he downloaded using Ares, a P2P file-sharing program. He was sentenced to six years in prison and eight years of supervised release. While Bolton's sentencing calculation included a two-level enhancement for distribution, the total term was below the guidelines imprisonment range of nine to ten years. Nonetheless, Bolton appealed, challenging the procedural reasonableness of the sentence enhancement on the grounds that he didn't intentionally distribute child pornography.

Attorney Misconduct to Wire Fraud Appeal: Fen-Phen Lawyers Return

This case may be the onion of attorney misconduct cases, in light of the numerous layers of ethical chicanery.

Yesterday, two Kentucky attorneys challenged their wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy convictions before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that the district court made them “look like bad guys” by releasing 22 findings from the Kentucky Supreme Court against them, even though the high court never held a hearing, reports CBS News. The lawyers, William Gallion and Shirley Cunningham Jr., are arguing that they were deprived their right to a fair trial.

Personal Jurisdiction: Lesson Learned, Don't Do Business in Russia

First-year law students struggle through civil procedure because it's a necessary evil. No one actually cares about general jurisdiction, personal jurisdiction, Pennoyer v. Neff, or International Shoe. Civ Pro, in essence, is the broccoli on the aspiring lawyer's educational plate.

Things change, however, when we graduate from the halls of academia to the real world. Suddenly, jurisdiction is interesting because it can make or break a case -- and the amount a lawyer ultimately bills -- as it did in today's Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals opinion.

The most important lesson from today's case: If you're afraid of the Russian legal system (as perhaps you should be), don't do business in Russia.

Court Clarifies Similarly-Situated Scope in Retaliation Claim

While the Sixth Circuit is certainly buzzing today with the news of the Supreme Court's unanimous reversal in Hosanna-Tabor Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, there's another employment law case out of the circuit this week that could generate just as much attention.

On Monday, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a terminated United Parcel Service (UPS) employee's discrimination and retaliation claims under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), finding that the district court erred in restricting the scope of the employee's discovery to a single, similarly-situated employee and granting summary judgment.

Top 4 Unreasonable Search Cases from 2011

As the calendar changes from one year to the next, many people find themselves searching. Some are searching for resolutions, or means of personal fulfillment. Others are searching for a new calendar. Police officers are usually searching for evidence of misdeeds

And with that wish in mind, let’s take a look back at our top 4 favorite Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals unreasonable search challenges from 2011.

Hurt Feelings Don't Support Constructive Discharge

If you read about sexual harassment claims for the saucy details, this post will be a disappointment. But if you secretly hope that a run-of-the-mill constructive discharge claim will belie the notions of respect and cohesiveness in academia, you're in for a treat with today's Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals selection.

This case, Savage v. Gee, has it all: sexual harassment claims, constructive discharge allegations, First Amendment retaliation, and a controversial reading recommendation.