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Decisions in Criminal, Civil Rights, and Tax Law Matters

By FindLaw Staff on May 17, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Worldwide Equip., Inc. v. US, No. 08-5950, concerned a plaintiff's suit for a refund of $119,302 in heavy-truck excise taxes it paid the IRS for the first quarter of 2004, related to the sale of certain models of coal-hauler dump trucks.  In vacating and remanding the district court's grant of defendant-government's motion for summary judgment on plaintiff's claim and on its counterclaim of $1,149,140 in excise taxes claimed to be due for the period from 1999 to early 2003, the court held that the government was not entitled to summary judgment on the basis of its argument that the truck model's primary function was dual use, as evidence submitted by plaintiff supports that, by design, the model's primary function is to haul coal off-highway.     

In Johnson v. Bell, No. 05-6925, Seventh Circuit faced a challenge to a denial of defendant's motions for equitable relief, following his conviction of murdering his wife and sentence to death.  The court affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's Rule 60(b) motion as defendant has not come forward with clear and convincing evidence that the prosecution presented intentionally false material to the the district court.  With respect to defendant's second Rule 60(b) motion, the court dismissed the motion as he failed to first obtain leave from the court to file a successive application.    

Fox v. Traverse City Area Pub. Sch. Bd. of Educ., No. 09-1688, concerned a former special-education teacher's First Amendment retaliation suit under 42 U.S.C. section 1983.  District court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendants is affirmed as the district court correctly determined that, under Garcetti, when the plaintiff complained to her supervisor about the number of students assigned to her supervision, she spoke as a public employee rather than a private citizen, and as such, her statements were not entitled to protection under the First Amendment.  

US v. Aguire, No. 08-5477, concerned a challenge to a conviction of defendant for possession with intent to distribute cocaine, and for possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense.  First, the court held that if a defendant has disclosed truthful information to demonstrate financial inability and obtain counsel under the Sixth Amendment, that information may not thereafter be admitted against him at trial on the issue of guilt, and here, the information disclosed by defendant in his financial affidavit was disclosed in order to obtain counsel, and the admission of the affidavit was error.  However, in ultimately affirming the conviction in this case, the court held that the error was not plain and reversal was not required.     

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