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

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There is certain to be some pushback to any new law that restricts activity on the World Wide Web. Sometimes, thanks to the web the internet has woven, unlikely allies can unite to fight a common cause. And when Ohio passed its recent internet harassment law, an unlikely duo from across the partisan aisles joined forces to challenge it.

Although the challenge seems to make logical sense, it appears to suffer from some procedural defects. According to the federal district court in Ohio, the challenge had to be dismissed on the 12(b)1 subject matter jurisdiction challenge for lack of standing. The decision, in large part, rests upon the fact that neither challenger has faced actual consequences, nor suffered an actual injury, as a result of the new law.

A recently filed federal wrongful death lawsuit in Tennessee alleges excessive force in relation to law enforcement's controversial killing of Michael Dial in April 2017.

The officers involved in the shooting were cleared of wrong doing by the county, which believed the officers acted reasonably. However, Sheriff Oddie Shoupe's statements, captured on audio from the scene after the shooting, belies the county's belief and could be strong evidence for Dial's survivors.

In the closely watched case of the anonymous blogger John Doe who runs the blog "Amthrax," the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a decision in this case of first impression which Doe and other anonymous bloggers may want to blog about.

The Signature Management v. Doe decision sets out the considerations for a federal court to consider when it comes to unmasking an anonymous blogger whose blogging has been found to violate the law and therefore would not be entitled to First Amendment protection. Though the appellate court did not order the "Amthrax" author revealed, it did remand with instructions for the lower court to reconsider their decision not to unmask.

A group of blind voters, along with the National Federation of the Blind, successfully appealed the dismissal of their lawsuit against Ohio's Secretary of State, Jon Husted, to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The case involves a challenge to Ohio's absentee voting process claiming it is discriminatory against blind voters under the ADA.

The case was dismissed after the state filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings. The state asserted that the requested relief was not reasonable or practical because the plaintiffs sought the implementation of certain online voting tools that had not been certified by the state's election board. The heart of the state's claim was that the plaintiffs were trying to use the ADA to get around state procedural laws. While the district court agreed, the circuit court did not.

Using a rarely exercised bit of appellate procedure, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to take up an interlocutory appeal of the Trump campaign rally incitement case. The lower court had denied Trump's motion to dismiss the incitement claim, but then certified the opinion so that the order could be appealed (as normally orders on a motion to dismiss are not eligible for interlocutory appeals).

But, as the circuit court noted, the procedural circumstances, like the facts, in this case, are rather unique. Clearly the appellate court sees the value in an early resolution of this issue, as a determination that Trump's speech is protected under the First Amendment would squash the incitement claim, and squashing claims against a sitting U.S. president is something the federal courts are somewhat motivated to do in order to maintain political peace.

Court Weighs Religious v. Transgender Rights

Aimee Stephens, who was born a male, worked for a funeral home for six years.

One day, Stephens went to work and told the funeral director that she was changing her gender and wanted to start wearing women's clothing to work. The director fired her, citing religious beliefs.

Now a federal appeals court is pondering whether such religious rights outweigh transgender rights. It's nearly the same issue that is already before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The case of John Doe v. University of Cincinnati is not without some confused emotions. While it may sound like a typical case of a college campus 'he said she said' sexual assault dispute, the courts have found the disciplinary process to be unconstitutional.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the college's disciplinary process violated the due process rights of the student accused of sexual assault because he was denied the right to confront his accuser. However, unlike a criminal trial where a due process violation like this could be grounds for reversal, the appellate court explained that when it comes to school discipline, the law is a little bit different. Nevertheless, the appellate court upheld the granting of the preliminary injunction stopping the school from suspending the accused student.

Civil asset forfeiture is controversial and confusing, to say the least. And despite it falling out of fashion during the Obama administration, AG Sessions supports its use. However, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a decision that helps to clarify the court pleading requirements for those who are fighting to regain possession of seized property.

Civil asset forfeiture is the law enforcement equivalent of stealing candy from a baby. If an individual refuses to let their property be taken by law enforcement, they risk arrest for obstruction or some other related charge. Making matters worse, when people try to fight to reclaim ownership, procedural technicalities, and poorly crafted laws, often make recovery impossible.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has revived a pair of federal lawsuits filed as a result of the water contamination scandal in Flint, Michigan. The cases were filed on behalf of injured residents to receive compensation for their personal injuries.

The cases are against the city and local officials, as well as against the state and state officials. Though the court revived the pair of lawsuits, the claims against the state and governor have been dismissed due to immunity.

Officers who killed two pit bulls during a drug raid in 2013 have qualified immunity, the Sixth Circuit ruled recently. The dogs were shot multiple times as police in Battle Creek, Michigan, executed a search warrant. Afterwards, the dogs' owners sued, alleging that the pooch killing was an unconstitutional seizure of property under the Fourth Amendment.

It's a mixed ruling for fans of man's best friend. Though the Sixth ruled that unreasonably shooting a dog is a Fourth Amendment violation, it found the shootings reasonable here, given testimony that the dogs were barking and had lunged at officers.