Sixth Circuit

The Federal Docket

United States v. Michael Henry (6th Cir. December 2020)

The Sixth Circuit held that defendants convicted under 924(c) and involved in resentencing proceedings on remand must be sentenced subject to the First Step Act’s amendments to 924(c).

Sixth and Seventh Circuits Hold Courts Have Broad Discretion to Determine Inmate Eligibility for Compassionate Release

The Sixth Circuit and Seventh Circuit have joined the Second Circuit in holding that district courts considering motions for sentence reductions under 18 USC 3582(c)(1)(A) can exercise their discretion in determining whether an inmate has presented “extraordinary and compelling reasons” warranting a sentence modification.

United States v. Mark Hazelwood, Heather Jones, Scott Wombold (6th Cir. October 2020)

The Sixth Circuit reversed defendants’ convictions of mail fraud and wire fraud conspiracy and remanded for new trial, holding that admission of a video showing one of the defendants using racist and misogynist language at an informal business gathering was not admissible to rebut the defendant’s good business judgment. Moreover, the Court concluded that the video’s admission was not harmless error since the defendants’ conduct and speech was irrelevant, improper character evidence, and violated Rule 403. The Court held the “utterly repulsive language” expressing personal views was not relevant to business judgement; admission of the bad acts had no purpose related to the crimes other than propensity; and so “shocked the conscience” of the jury to pose extraordinary risk for them to reach verdicts based on emotions rather than evidence.

United States v. Tyslen Baker (6th Cir. September 2020)

The Sixth Circuit held that the good faith exception under Leon applies to arrest warrants as well as search warrants, affirming the district court’s denial of defendant’s motion to suppress evidence seized when agents executed an arrest warrant at his residence and place of business.

United States v. Manndrell Evann Lee (6th Cir. September 2020)

The Sixth Circuit under abuse of discretion vacated the defendant’s sentence and remanded for resentencing, holding that upward variance applied by the district court based on the defendant’s criminal history was unreasonable because it applied too much weight to a prior conviction and parole violations from the same offense. The Court also held that it was the defendant’s first firearm offense, a 15-year gap existed from prior dangerous conduct, and compared to similar cases, the doubling of his sentence had no meaningful relationship to his likelihood of reoffending.

United States v. Bryan Bailey, Calvin Bailey, Sandra Bailey (6th Cir. September 2020)

The Sixth Circuit vacated a defendant’s sentence for healthcare fraud based on the district court’s abuse of discretion in attributing losses to the defendant stemming from his wife”s use of forged prescriptions and referral payments since there was no evidence that he agreed to undertake those acts. The Court held that while jointly undertaken criminal activity can be used to determine conspiracy criminal liability, the acts of a co-conspirator cannot be used in the scope of conduct analysis to calculate a defendant’s offense level under the sentencing guidelines if the defendant did not agree to undertake the specific activity, though those acts could be held against the defendant in calculating restitution.

United States v. Joseph Ward III (6th Cir. July 2020)

The Sixth Circuit upheld a search warrant under the good faith exception in Leon where there was no probable cause and the affidavit only relied on undated text messages between the defendant and a drug purchaser, loose marijuana and untested substances found in the defendant’s trash, and the defendant’s prior criminal history.

United States v. Michael Bourquin (6th Cir. July 2020)

The Sixth Circuit vacated a defendant’s sentence based on insufficient evidence to support the district court’s application of the four-level enhancement under U.S.S.G. 2A6.1(b)(4), which applies when the offense a substantial expenditure of funds to…otherwise respond to the offense. The government had not presented any specific accounting of its expenses in responding to the offense, nor had it distinguished its expenses as “substantial” as opposed to “typical.”

United States v. Calvin McReynolds (6th Cir. July 2020)

The Sixth Circuit vacated the defendant’s sentence for drug conspiracy and remanded it to the sentencing court after the court held the defendant accountable for a higher drug quantity than the jury did at trial, which the defendant argued violated his Sixth Amendment claim. The court held that the sentencing court did not adequately explain its reasoning, so it could not review the constitutionality of the defendant’s claim.

Ervine Davenport v. Duncan MacLaren, Warden (6th Cir. June 2020)

The Court vacated the defendant’s state law conviction for first degree murder. The defendant’s shackling during trial violated clearly established federal law and was not harmless since the evidence of first-degree premeditation was not overwhelming.

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