Sixth Circuit Appellate Blog

On Wednesday, the Sixth Circuit vacated the convictions of two defendants charged with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.  Although there was sufficient evidence to support their convictions, the Court held—on plain error review—that certain “remarks made by the prosecutor rose to the level of flagrant misconduct and deprived [defendants] of a fair trial.” Writing for the panel, Judge John K. Bush identified nine improper and prejudicial remarks made by the prosecutor.  Three of those…
We are pleased to announce that Squire Patton Boggs’ appellate practice group has two new co-chairs:  Benjamin Beaton and Lauren Kuley.  Lauren and Ben have deep experience with winning big appeals and critical motions in courts around the country.  They follow Pierre Bergeron who, our readers know, is now a judge on the Ohio First District Court of Appeals.  You can read our official press release after the jump.  Thanks for reading the…
Showing no signs of a Kentucky Derby hangover (or any follow-on litigation, at least not yet), last week the court wrapped up arguments during the second half of its May sitting. Your quick recap: A rational basis for suspended licenses – In a blow to con-law professors and indigent drivers, a divided panel held in Fowler v. Benson that Michigan may suspend drivers licenses for unpaid fines. The trial court had granted a…
“How long will my appeal take?”  A question clients always ask and lawyers often resist (and which always depend heavily on the individual facts of the case).  But the data also shows that the average has continued to decline in the Sixth Circuit.  In 2011, the average Sixth Circuit appeal took 15.5 months from the notice of appeal to the final decision.  Under the leadership of Sixth Circuit Clerk Deborah Hunt and Chief Judges Batchelder…
Earlier this week, the Sixth Circuit released an interesting opinion addressing the use of representative evidence in “collective actions” brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act. As discussed below, the Court held that uniform testimony from dozens of individual employees can establish liability without the need for statistical evidence. At the same time, the decision yields some important questions regarding the use of statistical sampling in future cases. In Pierce v. Wyndham Vacation Resorts, Inc.,…
In Thacker v. Tennessee Valley Authority, the Supreme Court held that sovereign immunity does not necessarily shield TVA’s “discretionary functions” from liability.  Justice Kagan’s unanimous opinion reversed the Eleventh Circuit, which had sided with longstanding Sixth Circuit precedent treating many TVA functions as immune from suit. Congress created the Tennessee Valley Authority, a government-owned corporation, to promote economic development during the Great Depression. TVA exercises both “traditionally governmental functions” (like making arrests and condemning…
Sixth Circuit Judge Damon J. Keith died this weekend at the age of 96.  He served on the Sixth Circuit for over 40 years.  A civil rights icon, he issued notable opinions addressing racial desegregation in public education, warrantless Nixon-era wiretaps, and blanket secrecy for deportation hearings of terrorism suspects after 9/11.  In remembrance, the Sixth Circuit has posted this biographical video, including Judge Keith’s own words about his experiences with segregation and the…
Earlier this week, the Sixth Circuit issued a decision addressing a constitutional challenge to the practice of “chalking” the tires of parked cars for parking enforcement purposes. As we noted, that decision garnered a lot of attention from the national media. Yesterday, the Court issued an amended opinion clarifying the scope of its ruling. The amended opinion contains the following new paragraph in its conclusion: Taking the allegations in Taylor’s complaint as true, we…
It’s not often that a dispute over parking tickets ends up in federal court. But that’s exactly what happened this week in Taylor v. City of Saginaw – a case that has already drawn the attention of the national media. Taylor involved a challenge to “a common parking enforcement practice known as ‘chalking,’ whereby City parking enforcement officers use chalk to mark the tires of parked vehicles to track how long they have been parked.”…
Recently we discussed academic criticism claiming that circuit courts may respond to increased caseload pressure by spending less time per case or lengthening the appeals process.  We found evidence suggesting that this is not occurring at the Sixth Circuit.  One interesting side note that our analysis showed is that the percentage of written decisions has increased significantly over the past decade.  We have calculated that the percentage of total appeals that end in a written…