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DANIEL WILLIAM RUDD,
Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
CITY OF NORTON SHORES, MICHIGAN, et al.,
Defendants-Appellees.
   No. 19-1226
Appeal from the United States District Court
for the Western District of Michigan at Grand Rapids.
No. 1:18-cv-00124—Gordon J. Quist, District Judge.
Decided and Filed: October 6, 2020
Before: SUHRHEINRICH, DONALD, and MURPHY, Circuit Judges.


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OPINION
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MURPHY, Circuit Judge. This case illustrates well the standard of review that applies at a lawsuit’s pleading stage. The City of Norton Shores, a town of around 24,000, sits on the shores of Lake Michigan. Daniel Rudd has lived in or near the city for most of his life. During a child-custody dispute, Rudd alleges that his ex-wife abducted their sons with assistance from her attorney. Rudd called the police but alleges that they refused to help him find his sons because his ex-wife’s attorney is married to the city manager. Rudd later filed an official complaint with the police department criticizing the city manager and officers involved in this incident. This complaint allegedly ignited a conspiracy to retaliate against him because of his criticisms—one that included an effort to get him jailed for his speech. The evidence may confirm the allegations in his pro se complaint. Or it may resoundingly disprove them. But because we must accept his allegations as true, we partially reverse the dismissal of Rudd’s First Amendment claim. Rudd effectively alleges that the defendants sought to punish him for a modern-day “seditious libel.”



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KEVIN J. MCCORMICK,
Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
SANDRA BUTLER, Warden,
Respondent-Appellee.
   No. 17-6331
Appeal from the United States District Court
for the Eastern District of Kentucky at London.
No. 6:16-cv-00235—David L. Bunning, District Judge.
Argued: December 4, 2019
Decided and Filed: October 6, 2020
Before: GRIFFIN, STRANCH, and DONALD, Circuit Judges.


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OPINION
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JANE B. STRANCH, Circuit Judge. The district court sentenced Petitioner Kevin McCormick under a provision of the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1), that does not apply to him. Under the misapplied enhancement, McCormick is serving a sentence that exceeds the maximum sentence prescribed by Congress for his offense. The district court incorrectly concluded that McCormick could not bring a habeas petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 to challenge his illegal sentence. We REVERSE the district court’s denial of habeas relief, VACATE McCormick’s sentence, and REMAND so that the district court may impose a sentence that does not exceed the statutory maximum.



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DANYELLE E. BENNETT,
Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF NASHVILLE & DAVIDSON COUNTY, TENNESSEE,
Defendant-Appellant.
   No. 19-5818
Appeal from the United States District Court
for the Middle District of Tennessee at Nashville.
No. 3:17-cv-00630—Eli J. Richardson, District Judge.
Argued: May 6, 2020
Decided and Filed: October 6, 2020
Before: DAUGHTREY, GIBBONS, and MURPHY, Circuit Judges.


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OPINION
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MARTHA CRAIG DAUGHTREY, Circuit Judge. At issue in this case is whether a public employee’s use of a racial slur when discussing politics on Facebook is sufficiently protected by the First Amendment to outweigh a government agency’s interest in having an efficient workplace and effectively serving the public. Plaintiff Danyelle Bennett was terminated from her position at the Emergency Communications Center (ECC) of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville (Metro) for a Facebook comment she made on November 9, 2016. On the night of the Presidential election, Bennett posted from her public-facing Facebook profile concerning Trump’s victory. In response to someone else’s comment, Bennett replied using some of the commenter’s words: “Thank god we have more America loving rednecks. Red spread across all America. Even niggaz and latinos voted for trump too!” As a result of Bennett—a white woman—using what Metro deemed racially-charged language, several employees and a member of the public complained to ECC leadership and the Mayor’s office. ECC officials determined that Bennett violated three Civil Service Rules and, after paid administrative leave and a due process hearing, they terminated her from her position. Bennett sued Metro for retaliation under the First Amendment and, following a jury trial that determined certain issues of fact, the district court found in favor of Bennett.

Metro appeals, arguing that the district court gave greater protection to Bennett’s speech than the law warrants and improperly minimized the disruption Bennett’s speech caused in the agency. A review of the record reveals the district court erred in its analysis, and we therefore reverse the district court’s decision and remand for further proceedings.