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Reinhart Petition For Review Denied By Sixth Circuit Court

Editor’s Note: Bill Reinhart provided the following letter to the Walking Horse Report.

Mr. David Howard
Walking Horse Report
P.O. Box 1007
Shelbyville, TN 37160

Dear David:
As the attached ruling indicates, the full Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has denied my Petition for Review. The central issue was whether or not my appeal was timely filed within the 30 day period specified in the Horse Protection Act. As a result of those rulings, the law in the Sixth Circuit is you have 30 days to file an appeal from the final decision of the USDA even though the USDA is not required to give you notice of their decision until after the 30 day period has passed. Further, the USDA does not maintain a public docket of their cases as all Courts of general jurisdiction are required to do. These two decisions by the Sixth Circuit were made even though a constitutional challenge of the Horse Protection Act was a part of this appeal, as well as the constitutional issue of equal protection of the law based on the fact that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected in total the very evidence used in my case, namely, soreness detected through palpation.

I have 90 days to file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court which, realistically, given the number of appeals to the Supreme Court and the number of cases actually accepted does not offer much hope. This is true, not because my case lacks merit, but because the Supreme Court is not in the business of correcting every injustice where lower courts fail.

The only relief I see in sight for the walking horse industry is a concentrated effort through Congress to change the Horse Protection Act or to get Congress to repeal this law. If the thrust is to reform the law, two critical areas are at issue:

1. Congress must change the law to make the time for appeal begin to run from the date of actual service of the final decision of the USDA.

2. The prosecution of these cases should be through federal district courts with appeal to the Circuit Court of Appeals.

3. There must be a method of checking horses that is uniform and is legal in all Federal Circuits. Repeal Of The Law

I believe that a strong case can be made that this law should be repealed since we have totally different standards of evidence for conviction between the Sixth Circuit and the Fifth Circuit. The existence of a law in one circuit and no law in another circuit has the potential for serious economic dislocations if allowed to stand over a period of time. Let me give you an example from personal experience. I served as Development Coordinator for Mayor Briley in Metro Nashville during the 1960s. During this time, the Mayor asked me to explore with potential developers why there were absolutely no places in Nashville where live country music could be heard. The results of my inquiries were unanimous. No developer thought it was possible to have live music without a liquor-by-the-drink law which Nashville did not have at the time. Enterprising developers in the city of Branson, Missouri seized on this opportunity, passed a liquor-by-the drink law and over a fairly short period of time lured millions of dollars of investment from the Nashville community along with a substantial drain of the music talent from Nashville.

In short, laws do effect economic decisions. Any effort to mount a serious effort with Congress must begin with the understanding that the Horse Protection Act is a law of concurrent jurisdiction with the states. Thus, our task would be to engage the state government as a partner in changing or repealing this law. It is my belief that if the Horse Protection Act was to have been selectively enforced, targeting Tennessee and other southeastern states which are the heart of the walking horse industry, Congress would never have passed this law.

My efforts up to this point have been a private and individual effort since I had standing with the Court based on the case against me. Any effort with Congress would need to be a collective action with the walking horse industry and the state government of Tennessee. I believe, if well done, such an effort could produce positive benefits for the walking horse industry.

This is a broad outline of my thinking but a good deal more strategic thinking will be required if there is any interest within the industry to go forward.

Very truly yours,
William J. Reinhart

cc: Congressman Bart Gordon
2201 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-4206

United States Court of Appeals
For the Sixth Circuit

William J. Reinhart, Petitioner
United States Department of Agriculture, Respondent

BEFORE: Clay and Gilman, Circuit Judges; and Haynes, District Judge.

The court having received a petition for rehearing en banc, and the petition having been circulated not only to the original panel members but also to all other active judges of his court, and no judge of this court having requested a vote on the suggestion for rehearing en banc, the petition for rehearing has been referred to the original panel.

The panel has further reviewed the petition for rehearing and concludes that the issues raised in the petition were fully considered upon the original submission and decision of the case. Accordingly, the petition is denied.

Entered By Order Of The Court
Leonard Green, Clerk

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