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

August 2012 Archives

Who Knew? AK-47 is a Handgun in Tennessee

Tennessee law allows individuals with gun permits to carry handguns in state-owned public places, like parks and “natural areas.” State law defines a “handgun” as “any firearm with a barrel length of less than twelve inches” that is “designed, made or adapted” to be fired with one hand.

That means an AK-47 is a handgun in Tennessee.

But sometimes law enforcement officials aren’t so good at spotting 12-inches from 20 paces. Occasionally, guys wielding guns get detained.

Sixth Circuit Affirms Title IX Deliberate Indifference Judgment

John and James Doe -- seventh graders at Waynesboro Middle School -- were bullied in the WMS locker room. A number of eighth graders subjected John and James, (and other basketball team members), to games of "lights out," which involved "turning off all the lights ... and then humping and gyrating on the seventh graders."

The eighth graders also played a game called the "blind-folded sit-up." They challenged James to prove he could do a sit-up blind-folded. When James came to the end of the sit-up, one of the eighth graders had placed his naked buttocks in front of James, which he hit with his blind-folded face.

The "pranks" grew more aggressive when a number of eighth graders on the team grabbed John, forced him to the ground, pulled his pants down and anally penetrated him with a marker.

Another Taser Lawsuit, Another Qualified Immunity Finding

Tasers allow cops to incapacitate resistant suspects for a brief period of time with "relatively few risks." But there are still risks.

A police officer in Columbus, Ohio, used a Taser to subdue Patrick Hagans, "a middle-aged man undone by cocaine and unwilling as a result to allow officers to detain him." Hagans died three days after the incident. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that, because the officer did not violate clearly established law by using the Taser in this setting, qualified immunity protects him from the lawsuit.

On to the condensed facts.

The More Rules Change, the More They ... Change

The 19th century French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr penned the phrase "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose," which is commonly translated as "the more things change, the more they stay the same."

While Karr's words may ring true in many circumstances, they don't apply to amendments to the Federal Rules of Practice and Procedure. Which is what we're talking about today.

Here We Go Again: Warrantless GPS Tracking an Unreasonable Search?

You might recall that the Supreme Court decided a little case called U.S. v. Jones back in January. The issue in the case was whether warrantless GPS tracking constituted an unreasonable search.

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, concluded that physical trespass upon the vehicle in question — police attached a GPS tracker to the undercarriage of the car to track the suspect — triggered the unreasonable search.

The problem that — oh, everyone — pointed out at the time is that GPS tracking is far more likely to occur without placing a tracker on a car these days, and the majority neglected to address whether warrantless GPS tracking in general was an unreasonable search.

Shocker: Thomas Cooley Law School Wins Again

Thomas M Cooley Law School has one helluva a bit of a public relations problem. The school has dealt with the inflated “independent law school rankings” (which placed Cooley second only to Harvard), subpoenas to silence Cooley critics, and the class action fraud suit that recent Cooley alum filed last year.

But Cooley isn’t just battling students and bloggers; it’s also been fighting its former faculty in the federal court.

Attorney Calls Shenanigans on Ethics Commission, Wins Appeal

Kentucky Attorney John Berry was irked when the Kentucky Legislative Commission excluded the public from a hearing about allegations against Senate President David Williams, but allowed Williams to stay. The Commission later dismissed the complaint against Williams.

Berry complained in a letter to the Commission that the whole situation was shady. The Commission whined to the Kentucky Bar Association, which then warned Berry that his conduct violated the Kentucky Rules of Professional Conduct. Last week, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals clarified for the Kentucky Bar that lawyers, much like regular people, have free speech rights and can write letters.

But the case must be more complicated than that, right?