Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

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Kentucky’s Health and Family Services commenced a Dependency, Neglect, and Abuse proceeding. The mother stipulated to neglecting her children. Kentucky placed both boys in foster care. R.O., the mother’s aunt, sought custody of the children. The state conducted a standard home evaluation and criminal background check on R.O. and eventually both children were placed in her home by court order. The family court closed the action and granted joint custody to the mother and R.O., though the boys remained living with R.O., who sought foster care maintenance payments. The family court declined to rule on the issue, “indicating that permanency had been achieved.” R.O. then sued the state, arguing that the federal Child Welfare Act, 42 U.S.C. 672(a), required the state to provide maintenance payments, and that the failure to make payments violated the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses. The state removed the case to federal court. The district court dismissed, reasoning that the Child Welfare Act provides no privately enforceable rights, that the family lacked a property interest in the payments, and that Kentucky’s scheme rationally distinguished between relative and non-relative foster care providers. The Sixth Circuit reversed, finding that the Act creates a private right of action. View "D.O. v. Glisson" on Justia Law

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Michigan charged and tried the named plaintiffs as adults for acts they committed while under the age of 18. Each received a conviction for first-degree murder and a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. In 2010, plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of the Michigan statutory scheme that barred them from parole eligibility. Since then, the Supreme Court held in Miller v. Alabama (2012), “that mandatory life without parole for those under the age of 18 at the time of their crimes violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on ‘cruel and unusual punishments,’” Michigan amended its juvenile offender laws in light of Miller, but made some changes contingent upon either the Michigan Supreme Court or the U.S. Supreme Court announcing that Miller applied retroactively, and the U.S. Supreme Court held in Montgomery v. Louisiana (2016), that Miller’s prohibition on mandatory life without parole for juvenile offenders is retroactive. The district court held, in 2013, that Miller should apply retroactively and issued an injunction requiring compliance with Miller. The Sixth Circuit vacated and remanded for consideration of remedies in the context of the new legal landscape and to determine whether class certification is required to extend relief to non-plaintiffs. View "Hill v. Snyder" on Justia Law

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A family member reported to Michigan Children’s Protective Services (CPS) that Barber was neglecting J.B. Miller, a CPS social worker, interviewed J.B. at his public elementary school without a court order or Barber’s consent. Miller interviewed Barber, who defended his marijuana and prescription-drug use as medically authorized. Days later, Miller again interviewed J.B. at school without a court order or parental consent and spoke with J.B.’s paternal grandmother. Miller obtained a court order, placing J.B. in protective custody pending a hearing, Mich. Comp. Laws 722.638, and picked J.B. up from school. After a hearing, the judge found probable cause to support the petition, but returned J.B. to Barber’s custody conditioned on: Barber’s abstaining from marijuana, submitting to drug screening, and ensuring that J.B. has constant adult supervision. Barber sued Miller under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for violating his substantive due process rights by interviewing J.B. without a court order or parental consent; falsehoods in the petition; and removing J.B. from school, and challenged the statute as facially unconstitutional. The Sixth Circuit affirmed dismissal on grounds of absolute and qualified immunity and found that Barber lacked standing for his constitutional challenge to the statute. View "Barber v. Miller" on Justia Law