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Militia Unlikely to Secure Appellate Reload

CINCINNATI (CN) - The 6th Circuit seemed unlikely Wednesday to revive civil-rights claims by members of the Hutaree Militia, a group that thinks President Barack Obama is the antichrist.

The Hutaree members who brought the suit, Michael Meeks and Thomas Piatek, had beat charges that their group, which espouses the creation of a "Colonial Christian Republic," plotted to kill law enforcement officers in 2012.

They say that the searches conducted during that criminal investigation, which uncovered 41 guns and more than 100,000 rounds of ammunition, were unconstitutional.

Though a federal judge dismissed the case, their attorney J. Nicholas Bostic said the case "must be remanded" for the chance to add more details that satisfy pleading requirements.

Bostic said law-enforcement officers obtained the warrant to search the home of Meeks' parents, co-plaintiffs in the case, even though they knew the 40-year-old son had his own address.

Throughout Bostic's opening statement to the appellate panel, Judge David McKeague peppered the attorney with questions and, at times, bluntly demanded the he make his case.

"You supposedly know which statements [in the warrant] are false, but you haven't told us," McKeague said.

Bostic said remanding the case will give him time to delve deeper into the record, discover pertinent facts and file an amended complaint.

Judge Danny Julian Boggs also asked for Bostic's proof. "Where is the falsity?" he said. "[That the informant] was an unreliable person is the only one you have shown to this point."

Judge Boggs went on to say that a person can be out of control but still provide reliable information to law enforcement.

Judge McKeague used the final minute of Bostic's time as a last chance for the attorney to provide proof of his claims.

"Does the affidavit say that someone lived somewhere and it was false?" he asked "And that the government knew it? Where is the paragraph? It's a simple question."

Bostic replied: "I can't tell you. I don't have [the paragraphs] burned into memory."

Boggs then turned to defense Justice Department attorney Patricia Gaedeke, asking, "Since you're on top of it, can you help us?"

Gaedeke pointed out that the address searched by law enforcement officers - owned by Eugene and Sylvia Meeks - was the one on Michael Meeks' driver's license.

She argued the plaintiffs have failed to establish that the government did not have probable cause to search the home, and that their only argument deals with the reliability of the informant.

Noting that the dismissed complaint had already been amended, Gaedeke also said Bostic missed his chance to add the details that would satisfy pleading requirements.

During Bostic's rebuttal, Judge Boggs said that a weak case against Meeks by the government "does not always create civil liability."

Chiding the attorney, Boggs said that digging deeper into the record is "what you should have done before you filed the case."

A final note from Judge McKeague ended the session and, it would seem, the case. "When you say you want a do-over, [you have to] tell us the reason for the do-over," McKeague said. "You haven't done that."

U.S. District Judge Benita Pearson rounded out the panel, sitting by designation from the Northern District of Ohio.

No timetable has been set for the panel's decision.

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