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

Recently in Criminal Law Category

Federal Judge Strikes Down Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

A federal judge in Detroit dismissed charges against doctors and others for female genital mutilations, saying a federal ban against the procedure was unconstitutional.

Judge Bernard Friedman said Congress "overstepped its bounds" by enacting a 1996 statute that prohibited the practice. Friedman said it is a matter for the states, and the federal government did not have authority as it claimed under the Commerce Clause.

Defendants still face other charges, but not for mutilating the nine girls in the case. That's because Michigan didn't criminalize their acts until after the fact.

Man Convicted of Terrorism for Michigan Airport Knife Attack

Jean Reno has acted in movies about assassins, killers, and spies -- and sometimes died in those roles.

So it was a surprise to see a real-life mug shot of a terrorist who looked just like him. That's about where the similarities end.

Amor Ftouhi, 53, has been convicted of stabbing a police officer in a terrorist act. Despite a death wish, however, it looks like this terrorist won't die.

Tennessee Must Stop Suspending Driver's Licenses of People Who Can't Pay

Most people come face-to-face with the law through traffic court.

In Tennessee, about 291,000 may see an about-face in their traffic cases. A trial judge has ruled the state can no longer revoke drivers licenses of people who cannot afford to pay their fines.

Judge Aleta Trauger has enjoined officials from enforcing license revocation laws. She also opened the door for hundreds of thousands of drivers to get their licenses back.

Police Can't Shoot Unlicensed Dogs During Search

Pet owners may sue police who shot and killed their dogs during a home search, a federal appeals court said.

In Smith v. City of Detroit, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals said police acted unreasonably when they shot two pit bulls and a Rottweiler. A divided panel reversed a trial judge who said the owners had no right to sue because their dogs were unlicensed.

The issue revolves around whether pet owners have a possessory interest in unlicensed animals under the Fourth Amendment. But Detroit has a bigger dog problem -- there are about 50,000 strays roaming its streets.

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.

They had nothing on Michael Taylor Gardner without his cell phone.

That was his argument anyway, saying police shouldn't have searched his cell phone without his permission. But the judge didn't buy it, and he was convicted of trafficking a minor for sex and producing child pornography.

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, mostly because Gardner gave his cell phone to a 17-year-old girl and she gave it to the cops. United States of America v. Michael Taylor Garnder is another case that shows that a cell phone can be dangerous.

Child Abuse Case: Does Medical Testing Violate 4th Amendment?

Luke Burley was 19 days old when his father took him to the emergency department.

The baby's head was swelling from multiple skull fractures. He must have been injured when he rolled off the sofa and fell on the carpet ten days earlier, the parents said.

After doctors treated the infant and reported possible child abuse, the father and other parents sued in Thomas v. Nationwide Children's Hospital. What is wrong with these people?

Taxes May Be Collected From Forfeited Property, Maybe

The thing with gambling is, you never know what you're going to get -- or lose.

That's what happened with George Marcus Hall and property he got gambling. The federal government charged him with running an illegal gambling and money laundering operation, and took away his property.

But things got complicated when the local government liened on the property for unpaid taxes. The feds didn't want to give it all up in United States of America v. Hall.

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.

Mugshots Deserving of 'Non-Trivial' Privacy Considerations

The Sixth Circuit effectively negated a 1996 ruling it had made which gave substantial media access to criminal defendants' mugshots taken during the booking process. But the decision was a tight one: 9-7.

Free press advocates were not happy with the decision, but they expressed a hope that the Supreme Court would review the issues of the case.