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

Appeals Court Bumps Federal Judge Off Cocaine Case

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.

Details of the Case

The Cota-Luna matter involved two defendants who were busted with nearly 200 pounds of cocaine. Apparently, the pair were threatened by a Mexican drug cartel if they refused, but after being arrested, they cooperated with authorities and accepted a plea deal.

However, when the plea deal made it to Judge Adams, he seemed to ignore all the circumstances surrounding that deal, and all the recommendations for a reduced sentence. But, luckily for the pair, on appeal, the Sixth Circuit called out Judge Adams for issuing the sentences based on legally incorrect information. The appellate court went as far as to allege that Adams had made up his mind before reviewing the evidence. The circuit court vacated the sentences. And to prevent the further appearance of bias in the case, the appellate court remanded the matter and ordered it reassigned to a different judge.

Details on the Judge

As reported on Cleveland.com, Judge Adams has a bit of a controversial history. Perhaps most notably, he refused to recuse himself when a criminal defendant claimed to have done heroin with both the judge's brother and nephew. And while not nearly as damning, Judge Adams also, reportedly, once blocked in an intern's car at the court for accidentally taking his parking space.

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