Amul Thapar is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Previously he was a district court judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, serving since his appointment in 2007, when he became the first South Asian Article III judge. He has taught law students at the University of Cincinnati and Georgetown. Judge Thapar has served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C. and the Southern District of Ohio. Immediately prior to his judicial appointment, Judge Thapar was the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky. Judge Thapar received his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley.
In an employment discrimination case, Judge Thapar granted summary judgment in favor of the employer, Sherwin-Williams. Wagner worked as a store manager and salesman for a local branch of the paint dealer. But he lost his eyesight and Sherwin-Williams fired him. Wagner sued, arguing the company fired him because of his disability, failed to provide him with reasonable accommodation, and retaliated against him. Judge Thapar rejected Wagner’s claims because driving was an essential function of Wagner’s job, something he could not do even with an accommodation. The Sixth Circuit affirmed.
Judge Thapar denied a seventy-year-old inmate’s habeas petition filed sixteen years late. Judge Thapar held that even though Roy Stiltner was mentally incompetent, he did not diligently pursue his rights. Therefore, equitable tolling did not apply to his petition. But, the Sixth Circuit reversed and remanded. The case is pending.
In a criminal conspiracy trial, Judge Thapar rejected the government’s request to instruct the jury on a deliberate-ignorance theory among the conspirators. Judge Thapar reasoned that because criminal activity requires a criminal mind, the deliberate-ignorance instruction ought to be given sparingly.
In 2014, Judge Thapar oversaw the criminal trial of the former Mayor of Martin, Kentucky. The government brought a basket of conspiracy, fraud, and identity theft charges against the disgraced politician. A jury convicted the former mayor and some of his associates. On appeal, the Sixth Circuit affirmed the convictions and reasoned the district court did not err at trial or at sentencing.
Judge Thapar held that a federal court could not enjoin a parallel Kentucky state court proceeding. Watson wanted Judge Thapar to stop a Kentucky drug court from mandating that she take methadone as a condition of pre-trial release. Watson argued the order violated ADA and her due process rights. But, Judge Thapar relied on Youngerto argue that the principles of federalism counseled against interfering with the state court decision.