HomePublicationsNewsletter ArchiveNewslettersVolume 21Issue 21Sixth Circuit Affirms Fifth Amendment Rights for Racing Licensees

On Tuesday, June 16, 2015, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued an opinion finding that horse racing license applicants may assert Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination to refrain from responding to questions asked by a regulator without suffering adverse licensing action. The ruling follows a lawsuit filed by four harness horsemen that had been denied racing licenses due, in part, to their refusal to answer certain questions during a regulatory investigation.

The Sixth Circuit found that the racing licenses had been denied licenses solely for the fact that the applicants asserted their Fifth Amendment rights by declining to answer potentially incriminating questions. “Based on the applicable law, the facts viewed in the light most favorable to the harness drivers show that the Constitution entitled the harness drivers to refuse to answer potentially self-incriminating questions, unless the state immunized them from prosecution. To punish the drivers violated the Constitution, and both suspension and exclusion [from horse racing] constitute punishment.”

In addition, the Sixth Circuit remanded certain claims related to the licensing denial and appeals procedures for further consideration by the District Court. For the full text of the Sixth Circuit opinion, please click here.


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