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In 1986, Black shot his girlfriend Angela’s ex-husband. Black pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years at a Davidson County, Tennessee, workhouse. In 1988, while on a weekend furlough, Black entered Angela’s home, shot Angela as she slept, and then shot Angela’s nine-year-old and six-year-old children, killing all three. Black returned to the workhouse before officers discovered the bodies. Black’s trial and post-conviction proceedings have spanned nearly 30 years. In 2000, Black filed an unsuccessful federal habeas petition, claiming that his mental retardation precluded the imposition of the death penalty. After two remands, the Sixth Circuit affirmed. While the Supreme Court and the Tennessee courts have recently recognized limitations imposed by the Eighth Amendment on the power of states to execute mentally retarded persons, those developments do not give Black a reprieve from his death sentence. The court rejected Black’s claims that the district court erred in perceiving the remand to be a limited remand; erred in denying Black an evidentiary hearing; erred in failing to apply a summary-judgment standard in ruling on Black’s Atkins claim; and erred in its merits determination regarding relief under the Supreme Court’s "Atkins" standard. Black did not meet his burden to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that he has significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning that manifested before Black turned 18. View "Black v. Carpenter" on Justia Law

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Attorney King approached Terry, a supposed drug dealer, at a strip club. King offered to help Terry launder drug money. Terry, actually a confidential informant, told the police, who arranged several meetings that Terry secretly recorded. Terry told King that he had drugs shipped in from Mexico but that he didn’t sell the product at the “street level.” None Terry's statements were true. King proposed to imitate what he had seen on Breaking Bad: One option was to use a “cash heavy” entertainment business. He also suggested funneling money through his IOLTA trust account used by attorneys to hold client money: King would provide fictitious legal services, deduct payments from the account, and return the remaining money to Terry. They agreed to the IOLTA account approach. Terry gave King $20,000. King promised to deposit it in his IOLTA account. King gave Terry a check for $2,000 in February and another for the same amount in March. King was convicted of two counts of money laundering and one count of attempted money laundering and was sentenced to 44 months in prison. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that the introduction of recorded conversations between him and the informant violated his Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses and that the court improperly allowed the prosecution to ask him about his prior arrest for cocaine possession. View "United States v. King" on Justia Law

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Cummings worked for the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority for 27 years. She alleges the Authority paid her less than her male colleagues and refused to promote her when she complained about the disparity. She filed suit. The parties entered a settlement on February 4, 2015. The Authority agreed to pay Cummings $45,000 and to suspend her for a six-month period at a pay rate of $600 per month. For 18 months, Cummings could exhaust her paid leave at her regular salary. If Cummings did not obtain other public sector employment with corresponding state retirement benefits, the Authority would again place her on a six-month suspension at $600 per month through January 31, 2017, or the first date she became eligible to retire with 30 years of service credit. Cummings released the Authority from all claims. On July 15, 2016, Cummings asked the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System to calculate her retirement service credit and learned that she would not accumulate additional retirement credit under the settlement because the payments did not count as “earnable salary,” Cummings sought to vacate the judgment and reinstate her complaint. The Sixth Circuit affirmed rejection of her motion as time-barred under Civil Rule 60(b)(1), which permits motions to vacate in the event of “mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect” filed within one year of the judgment. The one-year bar also applies in cases of “fraud ... misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party.” View "Cummings v. Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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Miller was arrested, charged, and indicted on charges of reckless driving and resisting arrest, based on false statements made by Officer Maddox. The district court granted summary judgment in Maddox’s favor on Miller’s malicious prosecution claim under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The Sixth Circuit reversed. Maddox is not entitled to judgment as a matter of law and is not entitled to either absolute or qualified immunity. Although Maddox may never have directly spoken with the prosecutor regarding the case, Maddox swore out the warrant affidavit that was submitted to the night commissioner and was the only witness to testify at the preliminary hearing; he at least influenced or participated in the prosecution decision. Miller may be able to rebut the general rule that an indictment conclusively establishes probable cause. There is a genuine dispute of material fact with respect to whether Miller suffered a deprivation of liberty by being detained past the time necessary to enroll her in a pretrial services program. View "Miller v. Maddox" on Justia Law

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Martinez was convicted of distribution of controlled substances, mail fraud, wire fraud, health care fraud, and health care fraud resulting in the death of patients. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Martinez filed, pro se, a 628-page motion to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. 2255. The district court granted a motion to strike because the motion based on the 20-page limit in Northern District of Ohio Local Rule 7.1. The court later dismissed Martinez’s case with prejudice. The Sixth Circuit remanded to allow Martinez to re-file a compliant motion. Martinez filed a new motion, 23 pages long and accompanied by two letters and a 628-page affidavit. The court granted the government’s renewed motion to strike but gave Martinez an opportunity to file a compliant motion. Martinez did not timely re-file. The court dismissed the action. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. The district court correctly applied Local Rule 7.1. Section 2255 motions can be considered civil in nature but even if such proceedings are more criminal in nature, Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 57 allows district courts to apply local rules if the litigant has notice. Martinez clearly had notice. Local Rule 7.1 is not inconsistent with any provision of section 2255. View "Martinez v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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John L. Griffin, a long-deceased Kentucky businessman, and his wife, Rosellen, had 12 children. Plaintiffs are four of their daughters. Defendants are two of their sons, the Griffin estate, the Griffin trust, plus an entity they created called Martom Properties. The sisters learned of self-dealing by their brothers and believed that they had been cheated out of stock and real estate that they should have inherited. Plaintiffs filed suit. The district court ordered Defendants to pay roughly $584 million in wrongful profits disgorgement and prejudgment interest to the Plaintiffs. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, first finding that it had subject matter jurisdiction. The probate exception does not apply because Plaintiffs sought an in personam judgment against Defendants, not the probate or annulment of a will and did not “seek to reach a res in the custody of a state court.” Defendants’ conduct in managing the family business and their parents’ estates and trusts violated their fiduciary duties to Plaintiffs under Kentucky law. View "Holt v. Griffin" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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Flint, which previously obtained water from DWSD, decided to join the Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA). The DWSD contract terminated in 2014. Because KWA would take years to construct, Flint chose the Flint River as an interim source. A 2011 Report had determined that river water would need to be treated to meet safety regulations; the cost of treatment was less than continuing with DWSD. Genesee County also decided to switch to KWA but continued to purchase DWSD water during construction. Flint did not upgrade its treatment plants or provide additional safety measures before switching. Residents immediately complained that the water “smelled rotten, looked foul, and tasted terrible.” Tests detected coliform and E. coli bacteria; the water was linked to Legionnaire’s disease. General Motors discontinued its water service, which was corroding its parts. Eventually, the city issued a notice that the drinking water violated standards, but was safe to drink. Subsequent testing indicated high levels of lead and trihalomethane that did not exceed the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) Lead and Copper Rule’s “action level.” The tests indicated that corrosion control treatment was needed to counteract lead levels. The City Council voted to reconnect with DWSD; the vote was overruled by the state-appointed Emergency Manager. The EPA warned of high lead levels; officials distributed filters. Genesee County declared a public health emergency in Flint, advising residents not to drink the water. The Emergency Manager ordered reconnection to DWSD but the supply pipes' protective coating had been damaged by River water. Flint remains in a state of emergency but residents have been billed continuously for water. The Michigan Civil Rights Commission determined that the response to the crisis was “the result of systemic racism.” The Sixth Circuit reversed dismissal, as preempted by SDWA, of cases under 42 U.S.C. 1983. SDWA has no textual preemption of section 1983 claims and SDWA’s remedial scheme does not demonstrate such an intention. The rights and protections found in the constitutional claims diverge from those provided by SDWA. The court affirmed dismissal of claims against state defendants as barred by the Eleventh Amendment. View "Boler v. Earley" on Justia Law

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In 2004, Baker Lofts purchased an abandoned building for renovation. Loans of more than $5 million from Huntington were secured by two mortgages on the building and by personal property, including a tax-increment-financing agreement, rental income, and Baker’s liquor license. Baker defaulted in 2011. Huntington assigned the 2005 mortgage to its subsidiary, Fourteen, which foreclosed by public auction. The Notice stated that “[t]he balance owing on the Mortgage is $5,254,435.04,” but did not mention the senior 2004 mortgage, which Huntington retained. Fourteen, the only bidder, purchased the property for $1,856,250. Huntington released the 2004 mortgage. Fourteen sold the property for $2,355,000. Huntington thought that Baker still owed $3.5 million and invoked its security interests in the remaining collateral. At a public sale, Huntington bought the rights to Baker's tax-increment-financing agreement for $1,107,000; began collecting rents; and asserted its security interest in the liquor license, which Baker had sold before it declared bankruptcy. Assignees of Baker's legal claims sought a declaratory judgment that the sale of the building extinguished all of Baker’s debt. They also raised conversion and tortious interference claims and a claim under Michigan’s secured transactions statute. The Sixth CIrcuit affirmed Huntington's judgment. The district court correctly concluded that Baker’s debt exceeded the value of the foreclosed building and that excess permitted Huntington to take possession of the other property securing its loans. View "DAGS II, LLC v. Huntington National Bank" on Justia Law

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The Herrs bought property on Crooked Lake in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, hoping to use the lake for recreational boating and fishing. Most of Crooked Lake lies in the federally-owned Sylvania Wilderness but some remains under private ownership. Congress gave the Forest Service authority to regulate any use of Crooked Lake and nearby lakes “subject to valid existing rights.” The Forest Service promulgated regulations, prohibiting gas-powered motorboats and limiting electrically powered motorboats to no-wake speeds throughout the wilderness area. After noting “nearly a quarter century of litigation over the recreational uses of Crooked Lake,” the Sixth Circuit concluded that both regulations exceed the Forest Service’s power as applied to private property owners on the lake. Under Michigan law, lakeside property owners may use all of a lake, making the Herrs’ right to use all of the lake in reasonable ways the kind of “valid existing rights” that the Forest Service has no warrant to override. Michigan law permits motorboat use outside the Sylvania Wilderness. The Forest Service long allowed motorboat use on all of the lake after it obtained this regulatory authority and it still does with respect to one property owner. View "Herr v. United States Forest Service" on Justia Law

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In 2004, Privett pleaded guilty to sexual battery. Nine years later, Privett married a foreign citizen and filed Form I-130 to establish her qualification for a visa and eventually a Green Card. USCIS sent Notice of Intent to Deny and requested additional evidence that Privett was not convicted of a “specified offense against a minor” and to “demonstrate, beyond a reasonable doubt, that [he] pose[d] no risk to the safety and wellbeing of” his wife. Under the Adam Walsh Act (AWA), 8 U.S.C. 1154(a)(1)(A)(viii)(I) the request of a citizen convicted of a specified offense against a minor may be denied. Privett provided a transcript of his plea hearing. USCIS rejected his petition. The district court dismissed Privett's claims for lack of jurisdiction to review a decision of the Secretary of Homeland Security “the authority for which is specified under this subchapter to be in the discretion of the . . . Secretary of Homeland Security,” 8 U.S.C. 1252(a)(2)(B). The Sixth Circuit reversed in part. Certain predicate legal issues that determine the bounds of a discretionary decision remain within the jurisdiction of the courts. Privett’s challenge to whether his crime is a specified offense against a minor is such a predicate legal issue. Privett’s challenge to USCIS’s beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard is directed at the Secretary’s discretion and beyond judicial review. View "Privett v. Secretary, Department of Homeland Security" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law