Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

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On October 12, Gomes, a 52-year-old Indian national, was arrested for failing to appear for jury duty. A non-citizen, Gomes, was actually ineligible for jury duty. Gomes pulled away from the officer and was charged with resisting arrest. At Lake County Jail, Gomes was placed on suicide watch. On October 14, Gomes was transferred to ICE custody. She was released within days. On December 14, after failing to appear on the resisting-arrest charge, Gomes was back in the Jail. Her physical and mental health were deteriorating. She refused to eat and drink. Medical providers did little other than monitoring. Gomes died. The administrator of Gomes’s estate filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against Lake County, Jail officials, and CCS, the Jail’s contract medical provider, and its employees. The court dismissed the County defendants and granted the medical defendants FRCP 50(a) judgment on some claims. The Estate prevailed on another claim. The Seventh Circuit affirmed in part. Nothing in the record justifies a finding of personal liability against the County defendants, who received assurances that CCS staff were regularly monitoring Gomes. Medical providers stated that Gomes was stable and promised to send her to the hospital if necessary. The Estate presented no evidence that some feature in the Jail’s policy caused Gomes’s death. Rule 50(a) judgment, however, was premature. The record contains ample evidence from which a jury could infer that the doctors’ inaction diminished Gomes’s chances of survival. View "Miranda v. County of Lake" on Justia Law

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Chicago Officer Frano obtained the approval of the state’s attorney’s office and obtained a search warrant based on a tip from a confidential informant, who claimed to have purchased heroin from Edmond at 736 North Ridgeway. Frano had driven the informant past the building to confirm the location and showed the informant a photograph to confirm Edmond's identity. The complaint specified the date of the tip but not the date of the alleged drug sale. Frano attested that the informant had provided dependable information about narcotics activities for five years. The complaint did not mention that the informant was facing felony drug charges or that a state court had revoked his bail and issued an arrest warrant. Officers searched the Ridgeway apartment and recovered loaded handguns, heroin, and cocaine. Edmond was not present but was arrested later. Before trial, Edmond unsuccessfully moved to suppress his post-arrest statements, claiming that he did not waive voluntarily his Miranda rights. .He was convicted of firearm and heroin charges but acquitted of a cocaine charge. The Seventh Circuit dismissed his appeal, citing "Anders." The district court denied his 28 U.S.C. 2255 pro se motion to set aside his conviction. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Applying "Strickland," the court agreed that Edmond’s trial attorney performed below an objective standard of reasonableness; but, although the search warrant was not supported by probable cause, the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule applied. Objectively reasonable police officers could have relied in good faith on the search warrant so Edmond was not prejudiced by his attorney’s deficient performance. View "Edmond v. United States" on Justia Law

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Wheelchair-using detainees sued Cook County, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act, based on purportedly inaccessible ramps and bathroom facilities at six county courthouses. The district court certified a class for purposes of injunctive relief. The named plaintiffs also sought damages individually for the same alleged violations. The district court held an evidentiary hearing on the equitable claims and entered a permanent injunction, finding that the defendants had violated the ADA. Relying largely on the same findings, the court granted the plaintiffs partial summary judgment on liability in their personal damage actions, then submitted the question of individual damage awards to a jury. The Seventh Circuit vacated in part. The district court improperly relied on its own findings of fact when it granted partial summary judgment to the plaintiffs on their damage claims. When equitable and legal claims are joined in a single suit, common questions of fact should be tried first to a jury unless there are extraordinary circumstances or an unequivocal waiver by all parties of their jury trial rights. The court upheld the class certification. View "Lacy v. Cook County, Illinois" on Justia Law

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In 2006, plaintiffs purchased a 400-acre Barrington horse farm with Amcore financing. In 2009, Amcore filed for foreclosure in Illinois state court. Amcore failed and the FDIC became its receiver. BMO bought Amcore’s loan assets at a discount from the FDIC and took over the foreclosure action. To cut its losses on the loan, BMO assigned the note to the Forest Preserve for $14 million. The Forest Preserve made the (winning) credit bid of about $14.5 million at the foreclosure sale. The foreclosure court entered a deficiency judgment of $6 million. The Illinois Appellate Court later reversed the foreclosure judgments. There is apparently no current judgment in that action. The original owners have filed five lawsuits, in addition to raising affirmative defenses and counterclaims in the foreclosure action. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of their suit that alleged unconstitutional takings, fraud, and derivative claims for conspiracy and aiding and abetting. The court rejected arguments that the Forest Preserve violated the takings clause by passing an ordinance converting the estate into a forest preserve; by buying the mortgage and taking over the foreclosure action; and by physically entering the estate and installing Forest Preserve signs at the estate entrances. Derivative conspiracy and aiding-and-abetting claims fall with the three theories. View "Squires-Cannon v. Forest Preserve District of Cook County" on Justia Law

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Indiana requires that, at least 18 hours before a woman has an abortion, she must be given information provided by the state about the procedure, facts about the fetus and its development, and alternatives to abortion. That information is meant to advance the state’s asserted interest in promoting fetal life. The state also required that a woman have an ultrasound and hear the fetal heartbeat before an abortion although she may decline, as 75% of women did. Before July 1, 2016, women could, and generally did, have the ultrasound on the same day of the procedure. Almost all abortions in Indiana occur at four Planned Parenthood (PP) health centers; only those PP facilities have ultrasound equipment. House Enrolled Act 1337 requires women to undergo an ultrasound procedure at least 18 hours before the abortion. PP filed suit and sought preliminary relief. The district court granted a preliminary injunction. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The court weighed the burdens, given the locations of the PP clinics, the populations served by those facilities, and how the new regulations impact finances, employment, child care, and the safety of women in abusive relationships, against the benefits the law confers and the state's legitimate interest in discouraging abortion, and concluded that the new law has “the effect of placing a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman’s choice” to have an abortion. View "Planned Parenthood of Indiana v. Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Health" on Justia Law

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Vasquez and Miguel, convicted child sex offenders, must register as sex offenders and comply with state restrictions on where they may live. A child sex offender may not knowingly live within 500 feet of a school, playground, or child-care center, 720 ILCS 5/11-9.3. A few years after their convictions, Illinois added child and group day-care homes to the 500-foot buffer zone. When the men updated their sex-offender registrations, the Chicago Police Department told them they had to move because child day-care homes had opened up within 500 feet of their residences and gave them 30 days to comply. The men sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983, claiming that the statutory amendment imposed retroactive punishment in violation of the Ex Post Facto Clause; that applying the amended statute to them constituted an unconstitutional taking of their property; and that the statute is enforced without a hearing for an individualized risk assessment and is not rationally related to a legitimate state interest, in violation of their due process rights. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the rejection of the suit on the pleadings. The amended statute is neither impermissibly retroactive nor punitive. The Takings Clause claim was unexhausted and the amendment was adopted before they acquired their homes, so it did not alter their property-rights expectations. The procedural due process claim fails because there is no right to a hearing to establish a fact irrelevant to the statute. The law “easily satisfies rational-basis review.” View "Vasquez v. Foxx" on Justia Law

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Flatoff took hostages at a Neenah, Wisconsin motorcycle shop. After Flatoff threatened to start shooting, police unsuccessfully attempted an entry. Hostage Funk escaped out the back door of the shop and was shot and killed in the alleyway by two police officers, who mistakenly believed Funk was Flatoff. Funk’s wife filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against the officers and the city, alleging that both officers used unreasonable and excessive force against Funk. The district court granted the defendants summary judgment, finding that the officers’ conduct was not objectively unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment and that even if their conduct was unreasonable, they were shielded from liability by qualified immunity. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, finding the qualified immunity issue dispositive. The court noted that at least one officer believed that the situation was an ambush and that when Funk appeared in the officers’ line‐of‐sight holding a gun, the officers, in a matter of seconds, concluded that Funk was one of the people inside the shop who had shot at them only minutes ago. View "Mason-Funk v. City of Neenah" on Justia Law

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Mitchell is a transgender person who has identified as a woman her entire life. In 2008, Mitchell received a diagnosis of gender dysphoria. She was convicted of a crime and sent to Wisconsin’s Columbia Correctional Institution in 2011. Mitchell requested hormone treatment, triggering a multistep process that the Department of Corrections outlined in its then-new policy on Health Care Treatment of Gender Identity Disorder. It took DOC over a year to evaluate Mitchell’s candidacy for hormone therapy. DOC then refused to provide Mitchell with the treatment its own expert recommended, on the ground that Mitchell was within a month of release from the prison. Although DOC’s Mental Health Director encouraged Mitchell to find a community provider to prescribe her hormones, the terms of Mitchell’s parole actually prohibited her from taking hormones or dressing as a woman. Mitchell sued. The Seventh Circuit concluded that the district court prematurely rejected some of Mitchell’s claims. Persons in criminal custody are entirely dependent on the state for their medical care, so prison officials have a constitutional duty to provide inmates with the care they require for serious medical needs. Prison staff cannot wait for an inmate’s sentence to expire before providing necessary treatments; state officials may not block a parolee from independently obtaining health care. The condition must be serious enough to trigger constitutional protection; otherwise, the nature of the disorder is irrelevant. View "Mitchell v. Kallas" on Justia Law

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After Indianapolis police officers Anders and Carmack divorced, Anders stalked and threatened Carmack. The police department eventually opened a criminal investigation and placed a GPS tracking device on Anders's car with a warning mechanism to alert Carmack if he passed nearby. Carmack spent nights away from home so Anders could not locate her. Anders eventually discovered the device on his car and called Robinett—his friend and fellow police officer—who examined it and confirmed that the device was a GPS. Robinett did not tell investigators that Anders had discovered the device. Days later Anders drove to Carmack’s house and killed her and himself. She was not alerted to his approach. Carmack’s estate sued the city, Robinett, and others. The judge granted the defendants summary judgment, holding that Robinett was not liable under 42 U.S.C. 1983 because he did not act under color of state law. Robinett requested that the city pay his attorney’s fees and costs under the Indiana public-employee indemnification statute. The judge denied the motion, ruling that the statute applies only when the employee acted within the scope of his employment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. A mere allegation that the employee acted within the scope of his employment does not trigger the indemnification obligation. View "Robinett v. City of Indianapolis" on Justia Law

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Wallace was convicted of murder and sentenced to life without parole in 2006. A few months after he entered prison, he assaulted a guard. He has been in solitary confinement ever since. Wallace lodged a proposed complaint against prison officials and the Illinois Department of Corrections, alleging that his prolonged isolation exacerbates his mental illness, increases his risk of suicide, and violates his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. He is unable to pay the civil filing fee and sought leave to proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. 1915. The district court denied the motion because Wallace had three “strikes” under the Prison Litigation Reform Act for frivolous cases and did not qualify for the statutory exception for a prisoner who is “under imminent danger of serious physical injury.” The Seventh Circuit vacated. Wallace has alleged sufficiently that he faces imminent danger of serious physical injury and has not yet received three “strikes” under the Act. Wallace cannot attend educational or religious classes, visit the law library used by the general population, or earn income from a prison job. Despite taking antidepressants for PTSD he experiences depression, anxiety, panic attacks, difficulty sleeping, and auditory hallucinations. He has attempted suicide at least five times, including three times during his years in segregation. Wallace’s motion to intervene in another prisoner’s suit under FRCP 24 did not qualify for a strike. View "Wallace v. Baldwin" on Justia Law