Yesterday, the Sixth Circuit held its traditional en banc setting in December. Two cases were on the docket, a habeas case and an employment case.
The first case up, the habeas case Hill v. Curtin, involved the denial of a request by a criminal defendant to represent himself at trial. This sparked active questioning concerning the contours of the right to self-representation. Interestingly, one of the judges asked questions relating to an amicus brief that had been filed in the case. We have previously reported on the impact an amicus brief can have at the Sixth Circuit, and at least this amicus brief attracted the attention of the judges.
The second case up was EEOC v. Ford, the significant telecommuting decision that we previously reported on. This case attracted nationwide attention based on the potential scope of telecommuting obligations. However, the argument in the case yesterday seemed more fixated on the facts than any broad policy pronouncements. Much of the debate between counsel and the judges centered on factual details that impacted the propriety of summary judgment. It remains to be seen whether those issues will drive the en banc court’s determination. Two members of the Court did not participate in the second case, presumably for recusal reasons.