Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

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Beydoun and Bazzi, both U.S. citizens, alleged that as a result of being placed on the federal government’s “Selectee List,” which designates them for enhanced screening at the airport, they have missed flights and been humiliated. The Selectee List is a subset of the government’s Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB). The Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) decides whether to accept the “nomination” of a person by the FBI or the National Counterterrorism Center to the TSDB or the Selectee List and decides whether to remove a name after it receives a redress request. Beydoun and Bazzi both claim to have attempted to use the procedure to challenge their inclusion on the List and to have received only generalized responses that neither confirmed nor denied their inclusion on the List. The district court dismissed their suits, which alleged violations of the Fifth Amendment and unlawful agency action. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Plaintiffs did not allege that any protected interest was violated; they may have been inconvenienced by the extra security hurdles they endured in order to board an airplane but those burdens do not amount to a constitutional violation. Plaintiffs have not been prevented from flying altogether or from traveling by other means. View "Bazzi v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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In 1998, a jury convicted Coley of attempted murder, two counts each of kidnapping and aggravated robbery, and three counts of aggravated murder (with the felony-murder aggravating circumstance attached to each count). He was sentenced to death. After unsuccessfully pursuing state-court relief, he unsuccessfully sought federal habeas relief in 2003. In 2017, Coley filed a new federal habeas petition. The Sixth Circuit denied Coley permission to file a second or successive petition under 28 U.S.C. 2254, based on his argument that the Supreme Court’s 2016 decision, Hurst v. Florida, rendered Ohio’s death-penalty scheme unconstitutional. Even if Hurst announced “a new rule of constitutional law,” the Supreme Court has not “made [Hurst] retroactive to cases on collateral review.” While not all second-in-time petitions are “second or successive,” it “cannot be that every new legal rule, including those not made retroactive on collateral review, also constitutes a new factual predicate,” and Coley has not shown that the facts underlying his claim “would be sufficient to establish by clear and convincing evidence” that no reasonable juror would have found him guilty. View "In re: Coley" on Justia Law

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Upon receiving an anonymous tip, the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) investigated allegations of race-fixing, involving gamblers and harness-racing drivers. Plaintiffs, MGCB-licensed harness drivers, attended an administrative hearing but declined to answer questions, invoking their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The MGCB immediately suspended their licenses, based on a requirement that license applicants “cooperate in every way . . . during the conduct of an investigation, including responding correctly, to the best of his or her knowledge, to all questions pertaining to racing.” MGCB later issued exclusion orders banning the drivers from all state race tracks and denied Plaintiffs’ applications for 2011, 2012, and 2013 licenses. Plaintiffs sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983, claiming violations of their procedural due process and Fifth Amendment rights. The Sixth Circuit held that the defendants were not entitled to qualified immunity. The exclusion orders were issued about 30 months before a post-exclusion hearing; Plaintiffs identified a violation of a clearly established right. Under specific conditions, a public employee “may rightfully refuse to answer unless and until he is protected at least against the use of his compelled answers.” The Supreme Court has held that if a state wishes to punish an employee for invoking that right, “States must offer to the witness whatever immunity is required to supplant the privilege and may not insist that the employee ... waive such immunity.” Both rights were clearly established at the time of the violation. View "Moody v. Michigan Gaming Control Board" on Justia Law

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The Jackson County Michigan Board of Commissioners begins its monthly meetings with a Christian prayer. Bormuth, a non-Christian resident, attended meetings because he was concerned about environmental issues. During the prayer, Bormuth was the only one in attendance who did not rise and bow his head. Bormuth felt isolated and worried that the Commissioners would hold his action against him. He raised the First Amendment issue during a public comment period. The Commissioners reacted with “disgust.” Bormuth filed suit asserting that this prayer practice violated the Establishment Clause. The Commissioners declined Bormuth’s application to serve on an environmental committee. The district court granted the County summary judgment. The Sixth Circuit initially reversed, but on rehearing, en banc, affirmed. “Since the founding of our Republic, Congress, state legislatures, and many municipal bodies have commenced legislative sessions with a prayer.” Jackson County’s invocation practice is consistent with the Supreme Court’s legislative prayer decisions and does not violate the Establishment Clause. View "Bormuth v. County of Jackson" on Justia Law

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Roell suffered from schizoaffective disorder and paranoid delusions. Roell’s symptoms could be controlled by medication but he stopped taking his medication in June 2013 and began exhibiting signs of mental decompensation. On the night of August 12-13, Roell entered a state of excited delirium. His wife was out of town. Roell damaged their condominium, then went to the condominium of his neighbor, Agarwal, and threw a flower pot through her window. Agarwal called 911, stating that her neighbor was “acting crazy.” Agarwal testified that Roell appeared angry, his face red and his eyes bulging, as he muttered unintelligible things, while pacing in front of Agarwal’s broken window, peering into her condominium. Deputies arrived and saw Roell holding a garden hose with a metal nozzle in one hand and a garden basket in the other, wearing a t-shirt, but otherwise naked., Roell was screaming “no” and something about water. While attempting to subdue Roell, the deputies physically struggled with him and unsuccessfully tased him multiple times. Roell stopped breathing during the encounter and was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. His death was documented by the coroner as natural, resulting from his excited delirium. The Sixth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the deputies on Mrs. Roell’s claim under 42 U.S.C. 1983, and in favor of Hamilton County on her claims under section 1983 and the Americans with Disabilities Act. View "Roell v. Hamilton County Board of Commissioners" on Justia Law

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During the execution of a warrant to arrest Penney while he was selling 200 pounds of marijuana, Penney fired shots, injuring two federal agents. In 2005, Penney was convicted of 15 drug and firearm offenses and an attempt to kill a federal agent. The SIxth Circuit affirmed Penney’s sentence of 895 months’ imprisonment. In 2011, Penney’s counsel filed a 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion to vacate his sentence, which was denied as meritless. The court denied Penney’s pro se motion to amend because he was represented by counsel and no order of substitution had been entered. While Penney’s appeal was pending, he moved to amend the judgment, arguing that denial of his motion to amend created a “manifest miscarriage of justice” because “valid claims of actual innocence and unauthorized detention [could] trump time and procedural bars.” The court denied the motion and denied a certificate of appealability. The Supreme Court denied Penney’s certiorari petition. In 2015, Penney’s counsel moved for relief from judgment under FRCP 60(b)(1) and (6), arguing that the court erred when it denied Penney’s motion to amend. The Sixth Circuit affirmed denial of the motion. The miscarriage of justice exception applies to untimely Rule 60(b) motions and motions to amend but Penney failed to make the required showing of actual innocence. View "Penney v. United States" on Justia Law

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In 1999, 12-year-old C.M. left home. Her sister and her sister’s boyfriend searched the neighborhood. Returning home, they found C.M. disoriented. C.M. stated that she had been at the neighboring Mills house and Mills had smoked marijuana with her and fondled her. They confronted Mills in front of his sons and contacted the Lewisburg, Tennessee police. Mills was indicted. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) reported that semen was found in C.M.’s underwear. C.M. then stated that Mills had engaged in sexual intercourse with her. A DNA analysis by Jenkins indicated a 0.3% chance that the DNA belonged to a Caucasian other than Mills but contradicted C.M.’s claims about Valium and marijuana. Mills was convicted of rape of a child, aggravated sexual battery, and casual exchange of a controlled substance. In a habeas proceeding, the Federal Public Defender sent the evidence to a private DNA laboratory, SERI, which was unable to retest the same portions of the underwear. Using the “same analysis techniques” on an adjacent section, SERI concluded that it contained semen from two males, neither was Mills. After serving 11 years in prison, Mills was released. The state overturned Mills’s convictions. Mills suit under 42 U.S.C. 1981, 1983, and 1985, against the Assistant District Attorney General, Jenkins, and a police investigator, in their individual and official capacities; the TBI Director in his official capacity; Marshall County; and the city, was dismissed. The Sixth Circuit reversed dismissal of claims against Jenkins for malicious prosecution, fabrication of evidence, and a Brady claim. Jenkins may be able to provide evidence that SERI's analytic methods differed, that the evidence available was not exculpatory, or that her actions were negligent at worst. View "Mills v. Barnard" on Justia Law

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Organizations that represent migrant farm-workers claimed that the U.S. Border Patrol allows agents at its Sandusky Bay, Ohio station to target persons of Hispanic appearance for questioning. The district court found that the Plaintiffs had not proved their claim. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. The Border Patrol trains its agents to follow the official policy, to avoid racial profiling and the plaintiffs did not prove the existence of a ratification-based policy of racial targeting at Sandusky Bay. The plaintiffs’ analysis of statistical information to show that agents from Sandusky Bay were targeting persons of Hispanic appearance was unreliable. View "Muniz-Muniz v. United States Border Patrol" on Justia Law

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Sylvester was indicted on February 26, 2003. There were multiple superseding indictments. Sylvester went to trial on September 13, 2005 and was convicted of possession with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, possession with intent to distribute five grams or more of cocaine base, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking offense, felon in possession of a firearm, possession of marijuana, possession with intent to distribute oxycodone, diazepam, hydrocodone, and codeine, using interstate travel to acquire and transport five kilograms of cocaine, traveling in interstate commerce to acquire five kilograms of cocaine, and conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Sylvester moved to vacate his sentence (28 U.S.C. 2255), arguing that his trial and appellate counsel rendered ineffective assistance in failing to pursue Speedy Trial Act claims. The district court dismissed, finding that Sylvester failed to show that he was prejudiced. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Because the Speedy Trial Act was violated and those violations would have led to a dismissal of the charges brought under the First and Second Superseding Indictments, Sylvester’s counsel rendered deficient performance, however, there is no evidence of prosecutorial bad faith and Sylvester did not show that the court would have dismissed the charges with prejudice. View "Sylvester v. United States" on Justia Law

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Sumpter spent a month in the Wayne County Jail in Detroit and underwent four strip searches that she alleges violated her Fourth Amendment rights. Three searches occurred in the jail’s Registry, where inmates are routinely strip-searched when first arriving or returning to jail. Corporal Graham conducted the three Registry searches; no male deputies were present. Each time, Graham escorted plaintiff into the Registry with as many as five other women. The room’s window was covered, preventing anyone outside the Registry from observing the searches. Inside, Graham instructed the inmates to undress and to shake their hair, open their mouths, lift their breasts, and squat and cough, while Graham visually inspected for hidden contraband. The fourth search occurred in plaintiff’s cellblock. After searching the cells for contraband, an unidentified female guard gathered the inmates in the common area and conducted a group strip search. According to plaintiff, the strip search took place in view of the guards’ central command post inside the cellblock, called the “Bubble.” During this search, plaintiff purportedly saw male guards inside the Bubble. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the summary judgment rejection of Sumpter’s purported class action suit. Periodically conducting group strip searches when the number of inmates waiting to be processed makes individual searches imprudent does not violate clearly established Fourth Amendment law. View "Sumpter v. Wayne County" on Justia Law