Justia U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

By
In addition to removing the names of the deceased, adjudicated incompetents, and felons from its voter rolls, Ohio removess voters who are no longer eligible to vote because they have moved outside their county of registration, Ohio Rev. Code 3503.21.1 The “NCOA Process” mirrors the National Voter Registration Act, 52 U.S.C. 20507(c), description of ways in which states “may” comply with their obligation to remove voters who are no longer eligible. The Secretary of State’s office compares names and addresses from Ohio’s Statewide Voter Registration Database to the U.S. Postal Service’s National Change of Address database, then provides each county’s Board of Elections (BOE) with a list of voters who appear to have moved. The BOEs send a confirmation notice. Recipients are removed if they do not respond or update their registration and do not subsequently vote during four consecutive years, including two federal elections. Ohio’s “Supplemental Process” begins with each BOE's list of registered voters who have not engaged in “voter activity” for two years, followed by a mailed notice: a voter is removed after six years of inactivity. During the litigation, the Secretary revised the confirmation notice, so that voters can confirm their address by signing and returning a postage-prepaid form, without including extensive personal information previously required. The Sixth Circuit concluded that claims regarding Ohio’s confirmation notice are not moot, and that the court erred by concluding that Ohio need not provide out-of-state movers with information on how they can continue to be eligible to vote. View "A. Philip Randolph Inst. v. Husted" on Justia Law

By
On November 29, 2012, a vehicle sped by Cleveland Police Officers and emitted a loud bang. Thinking that it was a gunshot, the officers radioed their dispatcher, stating that they were shot at by two African-American men in a vehicle. Officers responded and attempted a traffic stop. The subsequent 25-minute pursuit, reached speeds of 100 miles per hour, involved 62 police vehicles, and ended in a school parking lot. With the car contained, Officer Diaz exited his vehicle. Believing that he saw the passenger reach for a gun, Diaz fired his weapon. The vehicle then accelerated toward Diaz; 13 officers fired 139 shots. The vehicle occupants were killed. The media framed the incident as one Hispanic and 12 Caucasian officers killing unarmed African-Americans. Community response was significant. Under department policy, the officers were assigned to restricted duty status, which they call “demeaning.” After the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation released its report to the county prosecutor, but before the prosecutor finished his review, the officers were returned to transitional duties. The state grand jury declined to issue criminal charges. The officers returned to full duty. Nine officers sued, claiming that because of the racial implications and community response, they were assigned to restricted duty for a longer period than their African-American colleagues who have also been involved in deadly force incidents with African-Americans (42 U.S.C. 1981, 42 U.S.C. 2000e-2, 42 U.S.C. 1983). The Sixth Circuit affirmed summary judgment rejecting the claims. “While we should heed history’s lesson about protecting civil liberties in times of crisis, history alone is not evidence of civil rights violations.” The officers did not complain to the department about their assignments; they did not show that the decision to keep them on restricted duty pending the investigation’s outcome was a pretext for discrimination. View "O'Donnell v. City of Cleveland" on Justia Law

By
Shimel pled guilty to second-degree murder and possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony in the shooting death of her husband. After sentencing, the trial court conducted a “Ginther” hearing and concluded that Shimel’s attorney was ineffective for failing to investigate a battered spouse self-defense theory and granted her motion to withdraw her plea. The Michigan Court of Appeals reversed, stating that the trial court impermissibly substituted its judgment for that of counsel on a matter of strategy. On collateral review, the federal district court denied Shimel’s claims that counsel was ineffective for failing to spend sufficient time consulting with her and for advising her to plead guilty rather than taking the case to trial and presenting a battered spouse self-defense theory. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Shimel did not establish prejudice. A reasonable defendant in Shimel’s situation, charged with open murder, would have accepted the plea, in light of the prosecutor’s stance that, even with expert testimony on battered spouse syndrome, he would not have reduced the charge to manslaughter. Shimel failed to establish a reasonable probability that expert testimony would have improved her result. Michigan law only permits a defendant to plead battered spouse syndrome as part of a self-defense claim. Shimel’s husband suffered nine gunshot wounds. Seven entered his body through his back. There was evidence that the shooting was precipitated by financial problems View "Shimel v. Warren" on Justia Law

By
Crangle agreed to plead guilty to rape with a recommended sentence of life imprisonment and parole eligibility after 10 years. Crangle acknowledged, “I have been informed that . . . after my release from prison I [May__ or Will__] be supervised under post-release control, R.C. 2967.28, which could last up to 5 years,” with a checkmark after “Will.” At the sentencing hearing, the judge and Crangle’s attorney incorrectly informed him that he would be subject to “straight parole” and not post-release control. The sentencing entry did not refer to post-release control. The Ohio Court of Appeals rejected an argument that his counsel provided ineffective assistance by encouraging him to plead guilty rather than no contest. Because Crangle did not appeal, his conviction became final in December 2008. In June 2010, the Ohio Supreme Court ordered a trial judge who “failed to include in the sentencing entry any term of postrelease control,” to issue a judgment in compliance with the statute. In November 2010, the court denied Crangle’s motion to withdraw his plea based on that case and ordered a correction to the judgment, which was backdated to Crangle’s initial sentencing. The court of appeals affirmed denial of the motion in November 2011. The Ohio Supreme Court denied leave to appeal on April 4, 2012 and in January 2013. Crangle placed a federal habeas petition in the prison mail on March 28, 2013, which was docketed on April 15, 2013, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel and due process violations. The district court dismissed Crangle’s petition as untimely. The Sixth Circuit reversed, holding that the state-court order imposing post-release control was a new judgment, that reset AEDPA’s one-year statute of limitations. View "Crangle v. Kelly" on Justia Law

By
The Michigan office of Alix, an international company, administers payroll and benefits for U.S. employees and is directly involved in U.S. hiring. In 2013, Alix hired Brewington, a Texas resident, for its Dallas Corporate Services team. The employment agreement provides that it “will be construed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of the State of Michigan” and states, “any dispute arising out of or in connection with any aspect of this Agreement and/or any termination of employment . . ., shall be exclusively subject to binding arbitration under the . . . American Arbitration Association . . . decision of the arbitrator shall be final and binding as to both parties.” In 2014, Brewington was terminated. He filed a demand for arbitration, asserting claims under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. 2000e, on behalf of himself and a purported nationwide class of current, former, and potential Alix employees. The Michigan district court ruled that Brewington was precluded from pursuing arbitration claims on behalf of any purported class. The Sixth Circuit affirmed that court’s refusal to dismiss, finding that Brewington had sufficient contacts with Michigan to establish personal jurisdiction, and upheld summary judgment in favor of Alix. An agreement must expressly include the possibility of classwide arbitration to indicate that the parties agreed to it. This clause is silent on the issue and is limited to claims concerning “this Agreement,” as opposed to other agreements. It refers to “both parties.” View "AlixPartners, LLP v. Brewington" on Justia Law

By
Amezola-Garcia unsuccessfully attempted to enter the U.S. in 1996 by presenting the resident alien card of another. He agreed to return to Mexico in lieu of exclusion proceedings. In 1997, Amezola-Garcia successfully entered without being admitted or paroled. Since that entry, Amezola-Garcia has traveled to Mexico and reentered the U.S. without being admitted or paroled at least four different times. In 2011, DHS commenced removal proceedings (8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(6)(A)(i)). He sought withholding of removal and relief under the Convention Against Torture, stating that he fears he will be harmed if he returns to Mexico, as a member of a “family which has been targeted by persons the government of Mexico cannot or will not control.” He cited the unsolved murder of his brother-in-law, a member of a “government organization of defense for Mexico” in 2009. The IJ concluded that Amezola-Garcia lacked good moral character because he “prevaricated intentionally” with regard to his application; that his testimony was often inconsistent; and that “he has made up his story out of absolutely nothing.” A single-member panel of the BIA affirmed. The Sixth Circuit found his appeal without merit, but remanded for reconsideration of voluntary removal. View "Amezola-Garcia v. Lynch" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
Six years ago, illegal immigrant Canelas-Amador was charged in Tennessee state court with felony aggravated assault. Canelas-Amador signed a “Waiver of Trial by Jury and Acceptance of Plea of Guilty.” The court approved the agreement. Before the court could enter judgment or pronounce a sentence, immigration authorities took Canelas-Amador into custody, deporting him. When Canelas-Amador failed to appear for a presentence interview, the Tennessee court issued a bench warrant. Canelas-Amador reentered the U.S. illegally, pled guilty to illegal reentry in Texas, and was sentenced to one year of imprisonment. In 2015, he was arrested in Tennessee. He pled guilty to illegal reentry. The district court imposed a sentence of 57 months’ imprisonment, finding that the state court order constituted a “conviction for a felony that is . . . a crime of violence,” mandating a 16-point enhancement under U.S.S.G. 2L1.2(b)(1)(A)(ii). The Guideline does not define “conviction.” The court looked to 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(48)(A), which refers to a formal judgment of guilt of the alien entered by a court or, if adjudication of guilt has been withheld, where a judge or jury has found the alien guilty or the alien has entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere or has admitted sufficient facts to warrant a finding of guilt, and the judge has ordered some punishment, penalty, or restraint. The Sixth Circuit reversed. A plea agreement approved in a form order falls short of “a formal judgment of guilt.” View "United States v. Canelas-Amador" on Justia Law

By
Sargent pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. He received an enhanced (327-month) sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) based on convictions for arson; first-degree wanton endangerment; trafficking more than five pounds of marijuana; and first-degree rape. The Sixth Circuit affirmed application of the enhancement in 2012. Sargent filed his first 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion in 2014, claiming that it was error for the court, rather than a jury, to enhance his sentence based on his convictions, citing the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision, Alleyne v. United States. The district court denied the motion; the Sixth Circuit denied a certificate of appealability. In a second motion, Sargent cited Johnson v. United States (2015), in which the Supreme Court invalidated the “residual clause” of the ACCA as unconstitutionally vague. Sargent claimed that the district court ruled that his conviction for wanton endangerment fell within the residual clause and that his conviction for arson has been reversed and cannot qualify as a predicate offense. The Sixth Circuit authorized the district court to consider the petition, concluding that Sargent had made a prima facie showing that his claim relies on “a new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court, that was previously unavailable.” View "In re: Sargent" on Justia Law

By
In 2014, Ohio enacted Senate Bills 205 and 216 (amending sections 3509.06-.07, Ohio Revised Code). The Bills required county boards of elections to reject the ballots of absentee voters and provisional voters whose identification envelopes or affirmation forms contain an address or birthdate that does not perfectly match voting records; reduced (from 10 to seven) the number of post-election days to cure identification-envelope errors or to present valid identification; and limited the ways in which poll workers can assist in-person voters. The district court held that all three provisions imposed an undue burden on the right to vote and disparately impacted minority voters. The Sixth Circuit affirmed as to the undue-burden claim only concerning the SB 205 requirement that in-person and mail-in absentee voters complete the address and birthdate fields on the identification envelope with technical precision. The court reversed findings that the other provisions create an undue burden and that the provisions disparately impact minority voters. The “remaining injunction does not impede the legitimate interests of Ohio election law.” The sections reinstated “were altogether serviceable.” The court stated that it “deeply respect[s] the dissent’s recounting of important parts of the racial history of our country and the struggle for voting rights …. However, that history does not without more determine the outcome.” View "NE Ohio Coal. v. Husted" on Justia Law

By
Tanner, Becker, and unindicted co-conspirators collaborated to obtain a mortgage and two lines of credit on an Ohio house, using fraudulent financial information. The primary lender lost $670,000. The other banks lost $250,000 and $350,000. Tanner also scammed two companies to obtain new vehicles. Tanner and Becker were charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and three counts of bank fraud. Tanner was also charged with mail fraud for his fraudulent car-loan applications. Tanner pled guilty to all counts. The prosecutor stipulated that Tanner was not agreeing that the “leader” enhancement applied and that the parties would argue that issue at sentencing. The PSR asserted that Tanner “was an organizer, leader, manager, or supervisor” of the bank fraud under U.S.S.G. 3B1.1(c). Tanner’s counsel argued that unindicted co-conspirators fed the bank-fraud scheme to Tanner, who “got swept up.” The court applied the role enhancement and a three-level decrease for acceptance of responsibility, yielding a Guidelines range of 63–78 months. Two of his seven criminal history points were attributable to a state-court criminal case that included convictions for felonious assault and domestic violence. After accounting for the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors, the court sentenced Tanner to 60 months’ imprisonment, plus $1.3 million in restitution. The Sixth Circuit vacated. Tanner is entitled to resentencing because he was erroneously assessed two criminal history points for a state-court case instead of one point. View "United States v. Tanner" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated: