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ICN, a religious nonprofit, operates a Nashville mosque and a school. In 2008, it began building a new school building, financed by an ijara agreement, to avoid “running afoul of the Islamic prohibition on the payment of interest.” The bank essentially bought the property, leased it back to ICN, and then sold it back to ICN, with the lease payments substituting for interest payments. The agreement lasted until October 2013; the property was “continuously occupied by [ICN] and physically used solely for exempt religious educational purposes.” The transfer of title prompted the tax assessor to return the property to the tax roll. In February 2014, ICN applied for a property tax exemption, seeking retroactive application. The Tennessee State Board of Equalization’s designee regranted ICN's exemption, but not for the time during which the bank had held title. An ALJ and the State Board’s Assessment Appeals Commission upheld the decision. ICN did not seek review in the chancery court, but filed suit in federal court under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act; the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act; the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act; and the Establishment Clause. The court dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, citing the Tax Injunction Act, 28 U.S.C. 1341. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Tennessee’s statutory provision for state-court appeal provides a plain, speedy, and efficient alternative to federal-court review, so the Tax Injunction Act bars ICN’s suit in federal court. View "Islamic Center of Nashville v. State of Tennessee" on Justia Law

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While Richmond was incarcerated in the Wayne County Jail for about six weeks, she received treatment for a burn, resulting from Richmond setting her seatbelt on fire while trying to escape the police cruiser following her arrest. Richmond contends that she received constitutionally inadequate treatment for her burn wound, which necessitated skin grafting surgery shortly after her release, and that she was unconstitutionally deprived of her psychiatric medication for over two weeks while in custody. The district court below granted the defendants summary judgment. The Sixth Circuit reversed in part. A reasonable jury could find that one doctor was or should have been aware of Richmond’s serious need for psychiatric medication, as evidenced by a nurse’s notation, and that she failed to take reasonable steps to ensure that Richmond received her medication. There is evidence that psychiatric social workers knew or had reason to know that Richmond had serious psychiatric needs that required treatment; that there was a risk that she would begin experiencing symptoms of depression and bipolar disorder days before she could expect to receive any medication to treat those ailments; and that they disregarded that risk. There was also evidence that certain nurses and medical assistants disregarded Richmond’s medical needs. View "Richmond v. Huq" on Justia Law

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In 2011, Conzelmann pleaded guilty to distributing cocaine, 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1); (b)(1)(C). The Sixth Circuit affirmed his sentence, as a career offender, to 188 months in prison. The Supreme Court denied his certiorari petition. Conzelmann filed his first 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion, asserting ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to challenge the career offender enhancement, and that government agents “compelled” him to sell drugs. The district court denied the motion. The Sixth Circuit denied a certificate of appealability. Conzelmann moved (FRCP 60(b)) for relief from judgment, arguing that his presentence report contained a factual error. The Sixth Circuit denied permission to file a second or successive 2255 motion. Conzelmann then moved for consideration under the Supreme Court’s 2016 “Mathis” decision, arguing that he should not have been classified as a career offender because his prior conviction for possessing chemicals to manufacture drugs no longer qualifies as a predicate conviction. The Sixth Circuit denied relief. A second or successive collateral attack is permissible only if it rests on newly discovered evidence or “a new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court, that was previously unavailable,” 28 U.S.C. 2255(h). Mathis did not announce a new rule of constitutional law made retroactive; the holding was dictated by precedent and merely interpreted the statutory word “burglary” in the Armed Career Criminal Act. View "In re: Conzelmann" on Justia Law

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Claimants, Wiggins and Allison, were at the Cleveland Airport for a flight to Orange County, California. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), aware of their itineraries and that each had previous felony drug convictions, observed them engaging in conversation before they walked toward the security checkpoint. The government alleged, and Wiggins denied, that Wiggins consented to a search. Agents found $31,000 hidden in the lining of his suitcase. He could not answer why he was traveling with the money. He denied knowing Allison. An agent found $10,000 in Allison’s sock. Allison stated that he had won the money at a casino but could not provide details. A canine alerted to the odor of narcotics on the separate boxes containing the money. The government seized the funds and filed a civil in rem forfeiture complaint under 21 U.S.C. 881(a)(6), which allows the government to seize items it suspects were used in furtherance of criminal activity without charging the property’s owner with a crime. The district court granted the government’s motion to strike claimants’ claims to the currency. The Sixth Circuit reversed, noting that the government apparently moved to dismiss the claim before it engaged in any discovery. The government asserted that the claimant’s pleadings must do more than assert ownership and must provide sufficient detail to draft interrogatories allowing the government to test the claim of ownership. The procedural rules governing civil forfeiture actions do not demand such a heightened standard. View "United States v. $31,000.00 in U.S. Currency" on Justia Law

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Giasson and RCO were working together to secure a contract to make airline seats for a jet manufacturer. According to Giasson, RCO cut it out of the deal. Giasson sued RCO for breach of contract. During discovery, in anticipation of settlement talks, Giasson submitted interrogatories to RCO requesting pricing and sales information for the seats RCO would be selling. RCO responded, indicating that some answers were “speculative and subject to change.” The parties settled the dispute in 2010; the district court entered a consent order of dismissal. RCO agreed to pay Giasson a running royalty for 10 years. In 2014, Giasson became aware that RCO was charging higher gross sales prices for two types of seats than the fixed prices the parties agreed to. Giasson inferred that RCO misrepresented seat pricing information during settlement talks. Giasson brought filed a new lawsuit. Claims of breach of contract, specific performance, and silent fraud were immediately dismissed. After discovery, the court dismissed Giasson’s claim of fraud in the inducement, noting that RCO never represented the future prices of aircraft seats would remain static. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Relief under FRCP 60(d)(1), the “savings clause,” is “available only to prevent a grave miscarriage of justice.” Giasson’s allegations do not satisfy that demanding standard. View "Giasson Aerospace Science Inc. v. RCO Engineering Inc." on Justia Law

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Mullendore served as the Belding, Michigan City Manager, beginning in April 2013. During her tenure, she was involved in political disputes and a newly-elected city council member advocated termination of her at-will employment. On January 6 2015, she gave notice that she would be taking time off due to a surgery, scheduled for January 15, indicating that she would be able to work remotely while recovering. The city purchased a laptop for her use in working from home. Mullendore stated that she would not seek medical leave and declined to complete the city’s Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA, 29 U.S.C. 2615(a)(1)) paperwork. While she was recovering, the city council voted to terminate her employment, citing her role in causing political strife in the community. She sued under the FMLA. The district court granted summary judgment to the defendants, holding that Mullendore had not given sufficient notice that she would be taking FMLA leave and that the defendants also provided a non-discriminatory reason for the termination. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. An employee lawfully may be dismissed, preventing him from exercising his statutory rights to FMLA leave or reinstatement, if the dismissal would have occurred regardless of the employee’s request for or taking of FMLA leave. View "Mullendore v. City of Belding" on Justia Law

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For two years, Defendant and two others, engaged in sexual acts with eight children. Defendant photographed and videotaped those sexual acts. Child 1, then in sixth grade, testified that Defendant forced him to watch pornographic videos, and threatened to kill Child 1’s family if he told anyone. Child 1 and Child 7, then in third grade, described specific sexual acts. Child 6 testified that Defendant provided the children with liquor and cigarettes. After two children told their mother about Defendant’s conduct, police executed a search warrant on Defendant’s home and seized electronics that captured Defendant’s sexual exploits on the children. Defendant was charged with seven counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Child and/or Attempted Sexual Exploitation of a Child, 18 U.S.C. 2251(a) and (e); and two counts of possession of child pornography, 18 U.S.C. 2252A. Defense witnesses testified that Defendant engaged in activities at night that he would not be able to remember, such as preparing food and talking in his sleep. The Sixth Circuit affirmed Defendant's convictions, upholding the district court’s decision to allow the children to testify by closed circuit television; admission of evidence pertaining to Defendant’s: grooming activity, sexual assaults on children, activity with children, and attempted production of child pornography; and the imposition of a 2,880-month sentence. View "United States v. Cox" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendant pointed a gun at an agent for a vehicle repossession company and threatened to shoot him and was indicted as a felon in possession of a firearm, 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1). At his arraignment, Defendant acknowledged his presence in federal court, but challenged the court’s jurisdiction, stated that the government was “trying to charge [him] with” a “commercial crime” and that the government could not be the victim of a commercial crime. Defendant asked the judge if he was “forcing [Defendant] to contract,” and referred to himself as a “flesh and blood living being,” whose detention on “U.S. soil” was unconstitutional. Weeks later, Defendant’s appointed counsel moved to withdraw after Defendant became “combative” during a meeting. Defendant told the court that he was present “on special appearance, [as a] third-party intervenor,” claimed that he was a “beneficiary and executor to the legal estate of the decedent,” and made other irrational statements. The court ordered new counsel. Days before trial, Defendant filed a pro se notice reiterating his jurisdictional challenge as a “Moorish American National.” After his conviction, Defendant challenged the court’s failure to order, sua sponte, a mental competency evaluation (18 U.S.C. 4241(a)). The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Defendant’s arguments "correspond to meritless rhetoric frequently espoused by tax protesters, sovereign citizens, and self-proclaimed Moorish-Americans." Defendant expressed "fringe" views but did not exhibit irrational behavior before or during trial or “act in a way that called his competency into question.” View "United States v. Coleman" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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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