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In 1994, Carruthers and Montgomery assaulted three people, robbed them, then buried them alive. The bodies were found buried in a Memphis cemetery, a week after they disappeared. Carruthers’ family retained Wharton to represent him. Wharton was allowed to withdraw because of a conflict of interest. The court appointed Nance. Carruthers repeatedly complained about Nance; the court appointed other attorneys, who ultimately withdrew. Massey was appointed and was given permission to withdraw because his family was receiving threats from Carruthers. Between January and April 1996, the court denied Carruthers’s five motions to appoint new counsel. Carruthers represented himself during the guilt and sentencing phases. A Tennessee jury convicted Carruthers of three counts of first-degree, premeditated murder and imposed a death sentence for each. State courts affirmed on direct appeal and denied Carruthers post-conviction relief. The federal district court denied his petition for habeas corpus relief, in which Carruthers argued that he was denied counsel at critical stages of the proceedings in violation of Supreme Court precedent (Cronic), that the trial court violated his Sixth Amendment right to counsel in ordering him to proceed pro se, and that he was not competent to stand trial or to represent himself. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Carruthers procedurally defaulted his Cronic and competency claims, and the state court’s decision that Carruthers forfeited his right to counsel was neither contrary to nor an unreasonable application of clearly established Supreme Court precedent. View "Von Carruthers v. Mays" on Justia Law

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NPC’s adversary proceeding against the Chapter 7 Trustee and his surety alleged that the trustee breached his fiduciary duties with respect to one of the Debtor’s assets, a former Benton Harbor manufacturing facility. NPC’s attorney (Demorest) served five non-parties with subpoenas duces tecum under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45. The ensuing discovery dispute, including several motions, hearings, and orders, resulted in an award of attorney fees and costs to the non-parties, $104,770.00 to one group and $61,417.50 to another. After a subsequent finding of civil contempt for failure to pay, payment was made and the bankruptcy court ordered payment of an additional $4,725.00 in attorney fees and costs incurred in connection with the contempt proceedings. The district court and Sixth Circuit affirmed. The bankruptcy court specifically found, after a case-specific inquiry, that the subpoenas issued to the non-parties were unduly burdensome, given the undisputedly broad scope of the requests and the temporal reach of the requests. As an experienced commercial litigator, Demorest would have known that complying with such subpoenas would involve considerable time and resources, implicate significant concerns about customer privacy, and require review for privileged communications and attorney work product. The bankruptcy court did not abuse its discretion in finding that sanctions were warranted. View "New Products Corp. v. Dickinson Wright PLLC" on Justia Law

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In 2010, Dr. Menendez treated 15-year-old Garber for a fever, constipation, and back pain. Garber became a paraplegic. The state court dismissed Garber’s initial lawsuit because he failed to file an affidavit from an expert witness in support of his claim. In his second lawsuit, Garber tried to serve Menendez at his Ohio office, but (unbeknownst to him) Menendez had retired to Florida. Garber voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit. Garber sued Menendez a third time in May 2017 and properly served him. Ohio provides a one-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims, Ohio Rev. Code 2305.113, which began running on August 5, 2013, when Garber turned 18. Garber argued that Ohio tolls the statute of limitations when the defendant “departs from the state.” The Sixth Circuit reversed the dismissal of the suit. The court rejected an argument that the statute’s differential treatment of residents and non-residents violates the dormant Commerce Clause by disincentivizing individuals from leaving Ohio and offering their services (or retirement spending) in other states. The Ohio tolling provision does not discriminate against out-of-state commerce any more than many other policy benefits reserved for residents of a given state, including the existence of an estate tax for Ohioans but not for Floridians. View "Garber v. Menendez" on Justia Law

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Sexton entered a bank and presented a note, stating that he was robbing the bank. The teller retrieved $1,610 from a drawer and gave it to Sexton, who took the money and the note and left the bank. Sexton was arrested later that day and charged with bank robbery by intimidation, 18 U.S.C. 2113(a). Sexton pleaded guilty; the government agreed to recommend a sentence at the low end of the guideline range. The PSR concluded that the guideline range was 63-78 months of imprisonment, but recommended a five-level upward departure to reflect the inadequacy of Sexton’s criminal history category, pursuant to USSG 4A1.3,1 resulting in a guideline range of 100-125 months. The PSR recommended a sentence of 120 months. Sexton emphasized that the robbery was nonviolent and fueled by his need to obtain money to satisfy his drug addiction and argued that the PSR failed to explain why it recommended a five-level upward departure. The district judge, agreeing that Sexton’s extensive criminal history merited an upward departure, imposed a sentence of 96 months of imprisonment, noting that a two-, three-, or four-level upward departure all would permit the 96-month sentence. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, finding that the departure was not substantively unreasonable and that the sentence was adequately explained. View "United States v. Sexton" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Sexton entered a bank and presented a note, stating that he was robbing the bank. The teller retrieved $1,610 from a drawer and gave it to Sexton, who took the money and the note and left the bank. Sexton was arrested later that day and charged with bank robbery by intimidation, 18 U.S.C. 2113(a). Sexton pleaded guilty; the government agreed to recommend a sentence at the low end of the guideline range. The PSR concluded that the guideline range was 63-78 months of imprisonment, but recommended a five-level upward departure to reflect the inadequacy of Sexton’s criminal history category, pursuant to USSG 4A1.3,1 resulting in a guideline range of 100-125 months. The PSR recommended a sentence of 120 months. Sexton emphasized that the robbery was nonviolent and fueled by his need to obtain money to satisfy his drug addiction and argued that the PSR failed to explain why it recommended a five-level upward departure. The district judge, agreeing that Sexton’s extensive criminal history merited an upward departure, imposed a sentence of 96 months of imprisonment, noting that a two-, three-, or four-level upward departure all would permit the 96-month sentence. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, finding that the departure was not substantively unreasonable and that the sentence was adequately explained. View "United States v. Sexton" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Grimsby invited Nancy to take a boat trip on Lake Erie. The boat hit a wave, jarring the passengers and injuring Nancy. In her suit, invoking the court’s diversity and admiralty jurisdiction, Nancy pleaded that “this action is not to be deemed an ‘admiralty and maritime claim’ within the meaning of” Rule 9 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In 2015, the district court held that the incident fell within the court’s admiralty jurisdiction, meaning that federal maritime law controlled the duty of care. In 2016, the court held that a boat hitting a wave did not count as a “collision” under the Coast Guard Navigation Rules. A jury subsequently found that Grimsby was not negligent. The court granted Nancy’s motion for a new trial, finding that the evidence did not support the verdict. Grimsby filed an interlocutory appeal, and Nancy cross-appealed, citing the interlocutory exception to the final judgment rule that applies to admiralty cases. The Sixth Circuit dismissed. The exception does not apply because Nancy chose to pursue claims under ordinary civil procedures. View "Buccina v. Grimsby" on Justia Law

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Kimberly and defendant argued on the phone. Defendant went to the home of Kimberly’s aunt (Taylor), where Kimberly was staying and told her that if she did not come out, he was going to “set it off.” After hanging up the phone and declining to leave the house, Kimberly heard gunshots, glass breaking, and the security alarm. A gun was found between a storm door and an inner door. The glass on the door was broken. At trial, Taylor testified she was awakened by the gunshots, that she heard defendant’s voice outside, and that she received a phone call from her alarm company. On that call, which was admitted into evidence, Taylor and Kimberly identify defendant as the shooter. Kimberly stated defendant was “dangerous” and had a history of domestic violence. The court also admitted two 9-1-1 calls made by Kimberly, one during the incident and one a few hours later, when she was concerned that defendant had returned. Those calls also referenced defendant’s history of domestic violence. The Memphis Police Department arrived and recovered the gun, which belonged to Kimberly. She testified that she reported it stolen a year earlier. Defendant was arrested, convicted as a felon in possession of a handgun, 18 U.S.C. 922(g), and sentenced to 109 months’ imprisonment. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence and upholding the admission of evidence containing references to prior domestic abuse. View "United States v. Brown" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Reid pleaded guilty to conspiring to manufacture methamphetamine. The court calculated Reid’s guidelines range as 151-188 months and sentenced him to 170 months’ imprisonment. Reid’s sentence was later reduced to 145 months, following the government’s Rule 35(b) motion. In 2014, Sentencing Guidelines Amendment 782 retroactively reduced the base offense levels in USSG 2D1.1(c), under which Reid was sentenced. Reid’s amended range is 130-162 months and, because Reid was previously granted a Rule 35(b) downward departure, he was eligible for a comparable reduction to 125 months. Reid moved, under 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(2), to reduce his sentence, citing the guideline amendments and his post-sentencing rehabilitative conduct. The government took no position but noted that Reid had incurred disciplinary sanctions while incarcerated, for possessing “drugs/alcohol” and tobacco. The court denied Reid’s motion, stating that “Defendant’s disciplinary infractions while incarcerated indicate that he has not gained respect for the law… all-the-more troubling given that Defendant was on federal supervised release when he committed the instant offense.” The Sixth Circuit dismissed his appeal, reasoning that section 3582(c)(2), grants appellate jurisdiction only when a sentence was imposed in violation of law; was imposed as a result of an incorrect application of the guidelines; is greater than the guideline range; or was imposed for an offense for which there is no guideline and is plainly unreasonable. View "United States v. Reid" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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As voir dire was about to commence at Bickham’s state court trial, officers cleared the public from the courtroom. Bickham’s counsel objected, citing Presley v. Georgia (2010), which established that a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a public trial is violated when a court excludes the public from jury selection. In response, the judge stated that removing spectators was necessary so that the jury panel of 52 people would not be intermixed with the audience, and that once the panel was in, those who fit separately from the jury could be allowed in. Counsel stated: I understand. After jury selection, counsel raised the matter again. The judge noted that only two seats had remained after the panel was seated and that no request had been made for those seats. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed Bickham’s convictions for second-degree murder, armed robbery, assault with intent to commit armed robbery, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, finding that Bickham procedurally defaulted his Sixth Amendment claim when he did not make a contemporaneous objection to the courtroom's closure. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of his 28 U.S.C. 2254 petition, agreeing that Bickham's claim was procedurally defaulted for failing to make a timely objection to the exclusion of the public. View "Bickham v. Winn" on Justia Law

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Enacted in 2016, Ohio Revised Code 3701.034 requires the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) to ensure that all funds it receives through six non-abortion-related federal health programs are not used to contract with any entity that performs or promotes nontherapeutic abortions, or becomes or continues to be an affiliate of any entity that performs or promotes nontherapeutic abortions. Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the entry of a permanent injunction, first rejecting a challenge to Plaintiffs’ standing to assert due process claims. The district court properly applied the “unconstitutional conditions” doctrine, which is not limited to First Amendment rights. Although the government has no obligation to subsidize constitutionally protected activity, it may not use its control over funds to curtail the exercise of constitutionally protected rights outside the scope of a government-funded program. Section 3701.034 imposes conditions; does not distinguish between the grantee and the project; does not permit the grantee to keep abortion-related speech and activities separate from governmental programs; does not leave the grantee unfettered in its other activities; and does not permit the grantee to continue to perform abortion and provide abortion-related services through programs that are independent from projects that receive the funds. While finding the “undue-burden analysis” employed in some courts “questionable,” the court concluded that section 3701.034 is unnecessary to advance the interests ODH asserts. View "Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio v. Himes" on Justia Law