U.S. Tenth Circuit - The FindLaw 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

September 2011 Archives

K-9 Officer Sticks Nose in Suspect's Business, Court OKs Search

We haven't named a FindLaw Pooch of the Week since K-9 Officer Marko nabbed Missouri drug runner Claude X in August, so we're delighted to announce that we finally have a new winner: Tulsa K-9 Officer Max.

In 2009, Max alerted his human counterparts to a brown paper bag containing methamphetamine wrapped in cellophane in Erlin Ayala's car. Ayala was later convicted for possession with intent to distribute a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine. He appealed, challenging the search.

This week, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the search was valid.

Pro Se Prisoner Sentence Challenge Fraught with Frivolous Claims

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has been rather persnickety lately about frivolous lawsuits. We recently told you that the Tenth Circuit suspended an attorney for making "frivolous claims" like, "the IRS doesn't legally exist." Now the Tenth Circuit has imposed filing restrictions on an Indiana prisoner who challenged his drug conviction and sentence based upon principles of contract and/or civil commercial law.

Christopher Harris was sentenced to 300 months' incarceration and 5 years' supervised release after pleading guilty to drug charges. Harris has used commercial-law theories in an effort to gain his release from prison in at least six previous actions.

This case was not his lucky number seven.

Justice Roberts Appoints Judge Tymkovich as Committee Chair

Chief Justice John Roberts named eight judges as new committee chairs for the Judicial Conference this week, and extended the service of three judges as committee chairs.

Justice Roberts named Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Timothy Tymkovich as the new chair of the Judicial Conference Committee on Judicial Resources. Judge Tymcovich, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, has served on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals since 2003.

The other new committee chairs are:

Southern Ute Tribe Wins HHS Self-Determination Contract Appeal

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) this week to enter into a self-determination contract with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe in New Mexico for the operation of a tribe health center.

The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDA) directs the Secretary of HHS, upon request of an Indian tribe, to enter into a contract by which the tribe assumes direct operation of HHS’s federal Indian health care programs for the tribe’s members. Congress provided for these self-determination contracts in an effort to encourage self-government and enhance the progress of Native American people and their communities.

Tenth Circuit Suspends Attorney for Frivolous Claims

If $16,000 in unethical conduct fines won't scare an attorney into behaving properly before the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, perhaps suspension will?

The Tenth Circuit indefinitely suspended Illinois attorney Jerold W. Barringer for making frivolous arguments in a tax lien foreclosure appeal, reports the ABA Journal. Barringer can apply for readmission to the Tenth Circuit bar after one year.

Tenth Circuit: Bible Verse Polygamy Case is Frivolous Lawsuit

Attorneys who enjoy polygamy and civil rights lawsuits will have to settle for just one polygamy case in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals pipeline. Last week, the Tenth Circuit dismissed Mekbib G. Adgeh’s appeal arguing that he has legal right to have more than one wife.

The court found that Agdeh’s claim was a frivolous lawsuit and failed as a matter of law.

Had Adgeh been a paying appellant in the court, his case may have progressed slightly further. Agdeh, however, tried to proceed in forma pauperis, without prepayment of costs or fees. In forma pauperis parties must demonstrate a reasoned, non-frivolous argument as to why the district court’s decision is incorrect, in addition to financial inability to pay.

Tenth Circuit to Hear Arguments in Anti-Sharia Law Case

On Monday, September 12, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in Awad v. Ziriax, a case about the constitutionality of a 2010 law banning Oklahoma courts from citing or using Sharia law.

Oklahoma voters approved a "Save our State" constitutional amendment in November 2010. The law was written to prohibit judges from using international laws as a basis for decisions, reports ABC News.

No Qualified Immunity in Traffic Misdemeanor Warrantless Search

Here's one lesson that should be added to the Oklahoma Drivers Ed. curriculum: When the police try to pull you over two blocks from your house, don't drive home and hide in the bathroom.

We recognize that teenagers are not known for outstanding judgment, so we almost expect such things to happen.

Police officers, however, are presumed to have better judgment than 17-year-olds, which is why the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that police officers who kicked the door of Jose and Christina Mascorro's house to extract their teenage, traffic-law-violating son in a warrantless search were not entitled to qualified immunity.

Comments to Proposed Tenth Circuit Rules Accepted Through Oct. 23

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals is accepting comments in response to five proposed changes to the Tenth Circuit rules until Sunday, October 23, 2011.

Comments on the proposed changes may be emailed to 10th_Circuit_Clerk@ca10.uscourts.gov. Interested parties are also invited to call the office of the Clerk with any questions they may have. That number is 303-844-3157.

The proposed changes are summarized below.