Justia Constitutional Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

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Simic received a ticket for driving while texting on her cell phone, in violation of a Chicago ordinance. Simic failed to pay the $100 ticket and the city took steps to collect a fine. Simic then sued, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief and monetary damages greater than one million dollars. She alleged that Chicago’s cell phone ordinance violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause and the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause, plus several state-law claims, and sought class certification. The city non-suited its case against her. The district court denied Simic’s motion for an injunction. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, reasoning that Simic did not face any threat of irreparable harm and that it appears that Simic lacks Article III standing for the relief she seeks. The court directed the district court to consider dismissing Simic’s lawsuit for lack of jurisdiction. View "Simic v. City of Chicago" on Justia Law

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Collins, a regular heavy drinker, had suffered alcohol withdrawal, and kept a bottle of Librium to treat withdrawal and anxiety. Collins had Librium with him when he was arrested for DUI. The jail physician, Dr. Al‐Shami, who approved Collins’s use of the Librium while in custody. Collins was taken to a cell; officers checked on him every 15 minutes. The next day Collins began to complain of shaking from alcohol withdrawal. He was given Librium and vitamins. By lunchtime, Collins was better and eating normally. In the afternoon, he began to complain again. A nurse called Dr. Al‐Shami, who ordered that Collins be given the normal treatment for alcohol withdrawal. After being treated for additional incidents, Collins was taken to the hospital. The examining physician concluded that Collins was not suffering from delirium tremens. Collins was returned to the jail. Collins continued to display strange behavior, interspersed with periods of normalcy. Officers continued to check on Collins every 15 minutes. Eventually, Collins was again taken to the hospital. Collins was hypothermic, had low blood pressure, and was suffering from dehydration, sepsis, and acute respiratory failure. He was in a medically‐induced coma for several days. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the defendants in Collins's suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, concluding that the level of care was reasonable. View "Collins v. Al-Shami" on Justia Law

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While lifting a heavy door at his prison job in 2008, Cesal heard a “snap” in his back and felt pain in his leg and hip. He sought treatment from the prison’s medical staff but was dissatisfied with their response. He alleged that he received a three-year runaround, during which his pain was ignored, that the Clinical Director canceled Cesal’s insulin prescription in retaliation for Cesal’s filing a complaint about the inadequate care. Without the prescription, Cesal, an insulin-dependent diabetic, was unable to control his blood sugar and suffered additional pain and harm. He filed a second complaint with the prison about the insulin deprivation. Cesal, acting pro se, sued the Clinical Director and another Pekin physician. At the screening phase, 28 U.S.C. 1915A, the district court identified an Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim and a First Amendment retaliation claim related to the withholding of insulin. The court granted the defendants summary judgment, reasoning that the statute of limitations had run and that, in any event, there was no question of material fact that would justify allowing his case to proceed. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, acknowledging that "Cesal’s allegations are troublesome," but noting important differences between ordinary, or even aggravated, medical malpractice, and an Eighth Amendment violation View "Cesal v. Molina" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, serving a 110 year sentence for two murders he committed when he was 16 years old, filed a 28 U.S.C. 2244(b)(3) application seeking authorization to file a second or successive petition for a writ of habeas corpus under section 2254. Petitioner challenged his sentence under Miller v. Alabama, which was made retroactive by Montgomery v. Louisiana. The court agreed with the state that petitioner cannot state a claim to relief under Miller because his sentencing judge was afforded significant discretion by the Indiana Code to fashion an appropriate sentence and, in fact, considered petitioner's age at the time of the offense in mitigation. Accordingly, the court denied the authorization and dismissed the application. View "Kelly v. Brown" on Justia Law

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Crutcher was incarcerated for robbery, unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, aggravated discharge of a firearm at an occupied vehicle, and mob action. Crutcher was released but returned to prison for domestic battery. Weeks later, he was discharged on supervised release. Chicago police received a tip about guns at Crutcher's residence. Officers and Crutcher's parole agent performed a compliance check at 6:30 AM. Crutcher saw the officers and called Colbert (his brother and housemate) at work. Crutcher took several minutes to open the door. Officers handcuffed Crutcher. Colbert arrived and was handcuffed. Neither was permitted to observe the search. Colbert claimed the officers pulled out insulation, put holes in the walls, ripped the couch, and broke hinges. Colbert did not provide any evidence of the residence’s pre‐search condition and could not identify the officers who allegedly damaged his property. Colbert stated that a locked room was his bedroom. He claims an officer wrestled him to the ground and took his keys. The officers found an unregistered shotgun, a handgun case, and ammunition in the closet. Colbert admitted that he owned both firearms. The officers arrested both men. The arrest report stated: After being Mirandized ...[Crutcher] stated that he had full knowledge of the firearm … but ... it was OK because it was his brother’s. Crutcher, denies that statement. Crutcher was found not guilty of being an armed habitual criminal and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon. Unregistered firearm charges against Colbert were dismissed. The Seventh Circuit affirmed dismissal of the brothers' civil rights suit. View "Colbert v. City of Chicago" on Justia Law

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The DEA received a tip that Carraway was distributing narcotics in East St. Louis. Agents arranged controlled purchases of crack cocaine from Carraway’s distributors and received authorization to wiretap Carraway’s phone. Carraway was obtaining cocaine from a barbershop; Graham was the intermediary. Carraway distributed cocaine from “the Gate.” On January 14, intercepted calls revealed that Carraway and Graham were going to retrieve narcotics from the barbershop; surveillance teams watched and intercepted calls between Carraway and Jenkins. Two weeks later, agents intercepted calls planning another pickup. Agents followed them to the Gate, where they saw the same vehicle from their previous surveillance. They described it to Illinois Trooper Leckrone. The vehicle had illegally tinted windows; the driver was not wearing a seat belt. Leckrone stopped the vehicle near the Gate. Leckrone observed that Jenkins acted nervous and an odor of burnt cannabis. Leckrone searched the dashboard and center console and found a plastic panel, concealing cocaine, plus ringing cell phones. One phone had the number from which agents had intercepted calls and showed recent calls to Carraway. Jenkins stated that the truck belonged to his cousin. Jenkins was charged with conspiracy to distribute, and possession with intent to distribute cocaine, 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A)(ii), and 846, and 18 U.S.C. 2. The court denied a motion to suppress, citing the collective knowledge doctrine. Jenkins was found guilty of possession with intent to distribute. The court sentenced Jenkins to 27 months’ imprisonment, consecutive to an unrelated sentence for kidnaping and carrying a firearm. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, upholding denial of the motion to suppress and the imposition of a consecutive sentence. View "United States v. Jenkins" on Justia Law

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Inmate Diggs injured his knee in a fight in 2006 and complained to medical staff about knee pain and instability 14 times. In 2009, Dr. Ghosh, the prison’s medical director, recommended that Diggs be assigned to a lower bunk and ordered an MRI, which revealed that his right ACL had a complete tear. Ghosh got approval from Wexford, the private company that contracts with Illinois to provide prison medical care, for Diggs to receive orthopedic follow‐up. Notwithstanding recommendations by the outside providers, Diggs received no physical therapy and no follow‐up. After several delays and changes in staff, Diggs unsuccessfully filed an emergency grievance, requesting surgery and complaining that his placement effectively confined him to his cell. In 2015, a Wexford physician reportedly stated that no local doctor would perform the surgery. Diggs sued, alleging that the doctors and warden were deliberately indifferent to his torn ACL and intentionally had caused him emotional distress. He sought an injunction to compel the warden to authorize surgery. The district court granted summary judgment for all defendants, finding that the doctors had treatment choices and that Diggs did not establish that the warden knew about the supposed mistreatment nor that the defendants’ conduct was extreme and outrageous. The Seventh Circuit vacated in part, finding that a reasonable jury could rule in favor of Diggs on the deliberate indifference claims. View "Diggs v. Ghosh" on Justia Law

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Mulvania, arrested for domestic battery, refused to exit the vehicle at the jail. Officers moved her. Mulvania’s speech was slurred, she screamed obscenities, and was physically combative. Mulvania claims she was experiencing a “post‐traumatic stress disorder flashback.” Mulvania tested positive for cocaine and cannabinoids that day. Mulvania refused to change into a jail uniform. The defendants claim that misdemeanor detainees are permitted to change in a private room when they are cooperative. Two female and three male officers restrained her, placed Mulvania on her stomach, held her arms over her head, and lifted her shirt off. Mulvania banged her head against the floor and yelled, “They’re going to rape me.” After removing her clothing, the officers draped a jail uniform over her body and left the cell. Minutes later, Mulvania had a seizure and was taken to the hospital. After she returned, she was released without charges. Mulvania filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and the Americans With Disabilities Act, amending her pleadings several times, claiming the jail had a widespread practice of conducting strip searches with excessive force and without accommodating people who are experiencing mental distress. Others joined the suit to challenge a policy that requires female detainees to either wear white underwear or no underwear. The Seventh Circuit affirmed rejection of Mulvania’s claims and denial of class certification, but reversed as to underwear claims. View "Mulvania v. Rock Island County Sheriff" on Justia Law

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Illinois’ Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) subsidizes childcare services for low-income and at-risk families. The program pays about 60,000 childcare providers. The Home Services Program (HSP) pays about 25,000 “personal assistants” who help “customers” with basic living needs. The Illinois Public Labor Relations Act (IPLRA) generally allows public employees in a bargaining unit to choose, by majority vote, an exclusive bargaining representative to negotiate with the state over employment terms. A majority of both HSP and CCAP providers chose SEIU as their exclusive bargaining representative, but the providers are under no obligation to join SEIU or pay dues. SEIU cannot discriminate against a provider because of membership or lack thereof, so providers are able to present their own grievances to the state, publicly oppose the SEIU, and associate with whomever they want, without retaliation from the union. Providers sued the SEIU and Illinois officials under 42 U.S.C. 1983, claiming that the IPLRA violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments because the statute forces them into an agency-like association with SEIU. The district court dismissed. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. IPLRA’s authorization of a majority-elected exclusive bargaining representative does not compel an association that triggers heightened First Amendment scrutiny; the law survives rational basis analysis. View "Hill v. Service Employees International Union" on Justia Law

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Gill was in a crowd outside a Milwaukee club when shots were fired, killing Crawley. Detectives collected security videos and interviewed witnesses. Gill’s mother told detectives that Gill had cognitive impairments. Gill voluntarily went to an interview. Gill made statements that were disproved by the video footage, about the people he was with and where he was standing. Police arrested Gill for obstruction and read Gill his Miranda rights. Gill requested a lawyer. The interview ended. Gill said that he wanted to take a polygraph test and would waive his right to a lawyer. The next morning, detectives reiterated that Gill could not take the polygraph without a lawyer present, unless he waived counsel. Gill interpreted this to mean that he could take a polygraph without a lawyer or not take one. Gill stated that he understood and would proceed. He denied any involvement with the shooting. The examination lasted six hours, followed by fives of interrogation. Gill maintained his innocence. The next morning, Gill stated that he wanted a lawyer, but detectives convinced him to waive his rights and employed various interrogation techniques, falsely stating that Gill had been identified as the shooter and had failed his polygraph test. Gill professed innocence more than 140 times, but eventually confessed. He was charged with first-degree reckless homicide and remained in jail. The court suppressed the confession, stating that Gill was “functionally illiterate” and had previously been found incompetent to stand trial for a different crime. Gill filed claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983, which were rejected on summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Gill failed to demonstrate that his right to be free from the interrogation tactics was clearly established; officers had probable cause for Gill’s arrest for obstruction. “Brady” does not require the disclosure of favorable evidence before trial. View "Gill v. City of Milwaukee" on Justia Law