by
Bolton petitioned the Board for Correction of Naval Records to expunge the summary-court martial from his military record based on his guilty plea to military charges related to his 2010 arrest for driving while drunk on the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. Bolton completed his active duty service and was honorably discharged; he was eligible to reenlist. The Board held that it lacked the statutory authority to set aside the findings of a summary court-martial. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Bolton’s complaint. The Uniform Code of Military Justice, 10 U.S.C. 815-820, provides that summary court-martial occupies a position between informal nonjudicial disposition and the courtroom-type procedure of the general and special courts-martial “for relatively minor offenses.” Bolton did not state a claim for double jeopardy because neither the summary court-martial nor the base court conviction constituted a “criminal punishment” to which jeopardy attached. The Board lacked authority to grant Bolton’s requested relief. Congress clearly indicated "that the appellate procedures under the UCMJ provide the sole forum ... for a legal review of the legality of courts-martial” and limited the role of the Board, which “primarily involves a determination as to whether the sentences should be reduced as a matter of command prerogative (e.g., as a matter of clemency) rather than a formal appellate review.” View "Bolton v. Department of the Navy Board for Correction of Naval Records" on Justia Law

Posted in: Military Law

by
In 2000, Ann Arbor passed an ordinance requiring certain homeowners to undergo structural renovations to their homes to alleviate stormwater drainage problems affecting the city and surrounding areas. The city paid or reimbursed the homeowners for the renovations. In 2014, homeowners affected by the ordinance sued in Michigan state courts, alleging that the city’s actions amounted to a taking without just compensation under the Michigan Constitution; they filed an “England Reservation” in an attempt to preserve federal takings claims for subsequent adjudication. The homeowners lost in state court and then filed suit in federal court, citing the Fifth Amendment and 42 U.S.C. 1983. The district court dismissed the Fifth Amendment claim as issue precluded and the section 1983 action as claim precluded. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. The court did not address whether Michigan law is coextensive with federal law. If the takings jurisprudence of the two constitutions is coextensive, then issue preclusion bars subsequent litigation of the federal takings claims after litigation of the state takings claims. If the takings jurisprudence of the two constitutions is not coextensive, then claim preclusion bars subsequent litigation of the federal takings claim because it should have been brought with the state claim in the first instance in the Michigan court. View "Lumbard v. Ann Arbor" on Justia Law

by
The FBI accessed Playpen and verified that the website contained child pornography, then executed a search warrant at a North Carolina server hosting company that owned the IP address. The FBI seized a server that contained a copy of Playpen. Because of a server misconfiguration, the government was able to gain administrative control of the website. For two weeks, the FBI operated Playpen from a Virginia government-controlled computer server but was unable to identify the individuals who logged on. The FBI turned to counter-technology called NIT, which downloads on the user’s computer and sends back information. An Eastern District of Virginia magistrate signed a warrant authorizing the government to deploy NIT on “any user or administrator who logs into [Playpen] by entering a username and password.” NIT identified the IP address associated with a Playpen visitor’s username. An administrative subpoena was sent to the Internet Service Provider that operated that address. The response led to Moorehead's Tennessee residence. The government obtained a residential warrant and seized Moorehead’s computer equipment. Moorehead admitted that he used the Internet to view child pornography. He was indicted under 18 U.S.C. 2252(a)(4)(B) and 2252(a)(2). He unsuccessfully moved to suppress the evidence, arguing that the NIT Warrant violated 28 U.S.C. 636(a) because it was executed outside of the magistrate’s territorial jurisdiction. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, applying the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule. View "United States v. Moorehead" on Justia Law

by
As a cost-saving measure, Flint's municipal water supply was switched from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) to the Flint River and was processed by an outdated and previously mothballed water treatment plant, with the approval of Michigan regulators and an engineering firm, and distributed without adding chemicals to counter the river water’s known corrosivity. Within days, residents complained of foul smelling and tasting water. Within weeks, some residents’ hair began to fall out and their skin developed rashes. Within a year, there were positive tests for E. coli, a spike in deaths from Legionnaires’ disease, and reports of dangerously high blood-lead levels in Flint children. The river water was 19 times more corrosive than the Lake Huron water pumped supplied by DWSD; without corrosion-control treatment, lead leached out of the lead-based service lines. The district court dismissed many claims and defendants in a suit by residents. The remaining defendants appealed with respect to the remaining 42 U.S.C. 1983 claim--that defendants violated their right to bodily integrity as guaranteed by the Substantive Due Process Clause. The Sixth Circuit concluded that plaintiffs pled a plausible Due Process violation regarding some defendants, rejecting their qualified immunity claims. The court reversed as to other defendants; plaintiffs alleged mere negligence, not a constitutional violation, against them. The court rejected a claim that the city was entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity based on Michigan's takeover of the city under the “Emergency Manager” law. View "Guertin v. Michigan" on Justia Law

by
Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency's automated program, MiDAS, accessed claimant records from employers, state agencies, and the federal government. When MiDAS detected unreported income or “flagged” other information, it initiated an automated process to determine whether the individual had engaged in fraud. If an employee reported no income for any week during a quarter in which he earned income, MiDAS automatically found fraud. MiDAS did not inform the claimant about the basis for suspicion and did not allow fact-based adjudication but automatically sent claimants multiple-choice questionnaires. No human being took part in the fraud determination. MiDAS sent the questionnaires to claimants’ online accounts, many of which were dormant, and did not take additional steps (emails, mail, or phone) to notify claimants. When MiDAS determined that a claimant committed fraud, the individual’s right to benefits terminated immediately and severe monetary penalties were automatically assessed, even when claimants did not actually receive benefits. Most claimants did not know about the determination until the time for appeal had expired. The Agency did not answer calls and garnished claimants’ wages and intercepted their federal income tax returns without an opportunity to contest the fraud determinations. The Michigan Auditor General reviewed 22,000 MiDAS fraud determinations; 93% did not actually involve fraud. In an action under 42 U.S.C. 1983, the district court denied the Individual Defendants qualified immunity. The Sixth Circuit affirmed in part. Plaintiffs adequately alleged that Defendants violated their right to procedural due process by terminating their eligibility for benefits and seizing their tax refunds without any meaningful pre-deprivation process; the right to a pre-deprivation hearing was clearly established at the time. Plaintiffs failed to state a plausible equal protection claim; they failed to allege Defendants intentionally singled them out for discriminatory treatment. Plaintiffs’ Fourth Amendment rights were not clearly established in this context. View "Cahoo v. SAS Analytics Inc." on Justia Law

by
Burris was convicted of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute heroin, possession with intent to distribute heroin, and two counts of using a communication facility to facilitate a drug trafficking offense. Burris had a 2005 Ohio conviction for complicity in trafficking in drugs and a 2007 Ohio conviction for felonious assault. The district court relied on those felonies to sentence Burris as a career offender under the Guidelines, sections 4B1.1, 4B1.2(a)(1). Burris objected to the classification, arguing that it overstated his actual criminal history, but did not argue that his Ohio felonies were not violent-felony predicates under the Guidelines. The district court granted Burris a variance from the applicable 210-262-month Guidelines range, sentencing him to 90 months’ imprisonment. In 2012, a Sixth Circuit panel had held that both Ohio felonious assault and Ohio aggravated assault qualified as violent-felony predicates under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) elements clause. On en banc review of the Burris case, the Sixth Circuit held that both are too broad to always (categorically) qualify as violent-felony predicates; each criminalizes more conduct than described in the ACCA and Guidelines elements clauses. Both statutes are divisible; each sets out two separate crimes, one qualifies as a violent-felony predicate and the other does not. Burris is not eligible for relief because he was sentenced under the provision that is a violent felony. View "United States v. Burris" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
Mining’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding allowed it to continue operating with the goal of restructuring. Its Lenders asserted liens on assets, including cash collateral, 11 U.S.C. 362(c), but consented to the use of cash collateral for operating funds. A “Cash Collateral Order” granted the Lenders super-priority claims and adequate protection liens; it authorizes the use of cash collateral for the costs and expenses of administering the bankruptcy case. The agreement included a "Carve-Out" to give attorneys and other professionals hired for the reorganization priority for payment from cash collateral in case of insolvency. Restructuring failed. The Lenders moved to terminate the use of cash collateral. the bankruptcy court ordered amounts to be budgeted for professional fees to complete asset sales. The Lenders supported asset sales rather than immediate conversion to Chapter 7, agreeing that the cash collateral budgets would be modified to ensure that professionals working on those sales would be paid. The case was converted to Chapter 7. The professionals filed Final Fee Applications for approximately $2.5 million, citing the Carve-Out. The Lenders argued that the sums comprising the Carve-Out did not extend to Lenders’ prepetition liens and cash collateral, but could come only from post-petition liens now that the case had converted. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the bankruptcy court's rejection of their arguments. The Lenders’ reasoning is not supported by the terms of the cash collateral order, their conduct during the proceeding, or precedent. View "In re: Licking River Mining, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy

by
Defendant issued a life insurance policy to the Decedent. Plaintiff, Decedent’s former wife, is the primary beneficiary; the contingent beneficiaries are Decedent’s “surviving children equally.” Plaintiff and Decedent divorced. Their Dissolution Agreement required that Plaintiff pay the premium of the Defendant’s policy and required “Husband at his expense [to] maintain" insurance on his life with the parties’ children as irrevocable primary beneficiaries. The couple had minor children at the time of Decedent’s death. When Plaintiff requested payment, Defendant requested that Plaintiff obtain waivers from "other potential parties” and court-appointed guardians for the children or that Plaintiff waive her rights so that Defendant could disburse the proceeds to the minor children. The court dismissed Defendant’s subsequent interpleader complaint and ordered Defendant to disburse to Plaintiff. A jury found that Defendant breached its contract, resulting in actual damages of $350,000; Defendant’s refusal to pay was in bad faith, resulting in additional damages of $87,500; and Defendant’s refusal to pay was either intentional, reckless, malicious, or fraudulent. The jury awarded punitive damages of $3,000,000. A Tennessee statute capped punitive damages at two times the compensatory damages awarded or $500,000, whichever is greater. Plaintiff challenged the cap under the Tennessee Constitution. The Tennessee Supreme Court declined to provide an opinion on certified questions. The district court then rejected Plaintiff’s challenge, reducing Defendant’s punitive damages liability to $700,000. The Sixth Circuit vacated in part, finding that the statutory cap on punitive damages, T.C.A. 29-39-104, violates the individual right to a trial by jury. View "Lindenberg v. Jackson National Life Insurance Co." on Justia Law

by
Petitioners, Iraqi nationals, were ordered removed years ago because of criminal offenses they committed in the U.S. Iraq refused to repatriate them, so Petitioners remained under orders of supervision by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In 2017, Iraq began to cooperate and removal of Iraqi nationals resumed. In April 2017 ICE conducted a removal by charter flight to Iraq, scheduling a second charter for June and arresting more than 200 Iraqi nationals. Iraq declined to issue requisite travel documents and would accept only Iraqi nationals who had unexpired passports and were returning on commercial flights. Petitioners filed a putative class action habeas petition on behalf of all Iraqi nationals with final orders of removal, who have been, or will be, arrested and detained as a result of Iraq’s recent decision,” seeking a TRO or stay of removal, pending arguments on allegedly changed country conditions. Under 8 U.S.C. 1252(g), immigration courts hold exclusive jurisdiction over removal proceedings. The district court stayed the final removal orders and concluded that it had jurisdiction to hear Petitioners’ claims as an as-applied constitutional violation of the Suspension Clause. The Sixth Circuit vacated. The district court lacked the jurisdiction. Rejecting Petitioners’ argument the petition-for-review process is constitutionally inadequate as an alternative to habeas review, the court noted that Petitioners had years to file motions to reopen and the administrative scheme provides multiple avenues to stay removal while pursuing relief. The court was not merely interpreting a statute: it “created out of thin air a requirement for bond hearings that does not exist in the statute; and adopted new standards that the government must meet.” View "Hamama v. Adducci" on Justia Law

by
Innovation sold 5-Hour Energy. In 2004, it contracted with CN to manufacture and package 5-Hour. Jones, CN's President and CEO, had previously manufactured an energy shot. When the business relationship ended, CN had extra ingredients and packaging, which Jones used to continue manufacturing 5-Hour, allegedly as mitigation of damages. The companies sued one another, asserting breach of contract, stolen trade secrets or intellectual property, and torts, then entered into the Settlement, which contains an admission that CN and Jones “wrongfully manufactured” 5-Hour products and forbids CN from manufacturing any new “Energy Liquid” that “contain[s] anything in the Choline Family.” CN received $1.85 million. CN was sold to a new corporation, NSL. Under the Purchase Agreement, NSL acquired CN's assets but is not “responsible for any liabilities ... obligations, or encumbrances” of CN except for bank debt. The Agreement includes one reference to the Settlement. NSL, with Jones representing himself as its President, took on CN’s orders and customers, selling energy shots containing substances listed in the Choline Family definition. Innovation sued. Innovation was awarded nominal damages for breach of contract. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the rejection of defendants’ antitrust counterclaim, that NSL is bound by the Settlement, and that reasonable royalty and disgorgement of profits are not appropriate measures of damages. Jones is not personally bound by the Agreement. Upon remand, Innovation may introduce testimony that uses market share to quantify its lost profits. The rule of reason provides the proper standard for evaluating the restrictive covenants; Defendants have the burden of showing an unreasonable restraint on trade. View "Innovation Ventures, LLC v. Nutrition Science Laboratories, LLC" on Justia Law