Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

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Dearborn pled guilty to distributing crack cocaine, 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1) & 846.. In 2015, the Seventh Circuit remanded for correction of certain conditions of supervised release. In a second appeal, Dearborn argued that during resentencing the court should have reconsidered its earlier denial of a motion to suppress evidence. He claimed that, in describing the investigation in the search warrant application, the officer did not inform the warrant judge that one of the controlled buys might have occurred one day later than specified in the search warrant application; the police might have used an unduly suggestive procedure in obtaining an identification of Dearborn from an informant; the informants had criminal histories and received compensation for helping the police; and certain audio and video recordings referred to in the application were of poor quality. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, concluding that Dearborn waived that argument. The court noted that Dearborn did not ask to withdraw his guilty plea and that his arguments “could have been raised earlier” and were irrelevant to the re-sentencing proceedings. Dearborn has not shown that extraordinary circumstances required the district court to reconsider its earlier denial of a Franks hearing. View "United States v. Dearborn" on Justia Law

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In 2014, two Green Party members sought to appear on the Illinois general election ballot as candidates for state representative. Because the Election Code (10 ILCS 5/1-1) deemed the Green Party a “new” political party in both districts in which they sought ballot placement, both were required to obtain nomination petition signatures equaling 5% of the number of voters in the prior regular election for state representative in their district. The signatures had to be collected in the 90 days preceding the petition deadline, with each petition sheet be notarized. Neither candidate met those requirements. In their suit under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, the district court granted the defendants summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. State ballot access laws seek to balance state interests with “the right of individuals to associate for the advancement of political beliefs, and the right of qualified voters, regardless of their political persuasion, to cast their votes effectively.” The Supreme Court has never required a state to make a particularized showing of the existence of voter confusion, ballot overcrowding, or the presence of frivolous candidacies before the imposition of reasonable restrictions on ballot access. The signature and notarization requirements, even in conjunction with the 90‐day petitioning window and geographic layouts of the districts at issue, do not violate the First or Fourteenth Amendment. View "Tripp v. Scholz" on Justia Law

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Cook County criminal defendants could secure pretrial release on personal recognizance; execution of a full deposit bail bond, to be fully returned upon performance of the bond conditions; or execution of a 10% bail bond, 10% of which (the Fee) was retained by the state upon performance of the bond conditions (725 ILCS 5/110-7). In 2014, Platt was arrested and charged with murder. His bail amount was $2 million. Platt executed a bail bond of $200,000. After Platt’s acquittal, the Clerk returned $180,000—his 10% deposit less the 10% Fee of $20,000. In 2015, Illinois amended section 5/110-7 to cap the Fee at $100 in Cook County, effective January 1, 2016. The return of Platt’s bail deposit depended upon the satisfaction of his bond conditions, not upon his acquittal. Platt sued on behalf of a putative class of individuals who paid a Fee of more than $100 during five years preceding January 1, 2016, alleging that retention of the Fee: violated their due process rights, having no rational relationship to the cost incurred in administering bail bonds; violated their equal protection rights; violated the Illinois Constitution uniformity clause; and constituted unjust enrichment. The Seventh CIrcuit affirmed dismissal, reasoning that Platt did not challenge the process by which the Fee was imposed and alleged only disparate impact, not unequal treatment. The Fee bore a relationship to legitimate governmental interests. View "Platt v. Brown" on Justia Law

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Consolino is a Cook County Sheriff’s Office correctional officer and a Marine Reservist counterintelligence specialist. Beginning in 1999, Consolino was assigned to the Boot Camp, an alternative sentencing program for non-violent inmates. Consolino’s wife, Trzos, also worked at the Boot Camp, as an administrative assistant. Trzos filed a Shakman complaint that went to arbitration in 2012, asserting that she was transferred for political reasons. Shakman refers to consent decrees entered in an Illinois case challenging government "patronage" employment practices. Consolino testified on his wife's behalf. An arbitrator denied her claims. Around the same time, Consolino was seeking a two-year assignment to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. Based on a mistaken belief that Consolino had been approved for an open position, the FBI sent specifically requested Consolino for the task force. Consolino was subsequently told that the FBI rescinded its offer for failure to follow protocol. Consolino checked with the FBI and requested clarification from the Sheriff’s Office. Receiving no response, Consolino filed a complaint. An Assistant State’s Attorney ultimately concluded that Consolino’s complaint of retaliation was not well-founded. Seven months later, Consolino was reassigned to the jail. Consolino filed suit, alleging retaliation for engaging in protected speech because he testified in his wife’s hearing and later filed a grievance. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the defendants. Consolino produced no evidence that the defendants were personally involved in his transfer or aware of his testimony. View "Consolino v. Towne" on Justia Law

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Interstate 90 runs through Campbell, Wisconsin, with a speed limit of 65 miles per hour. Two streets and one pedestrian overpass cross the highway within the town. A traffic survey in 2008 found that 23,000-29,000 trucks and cars pass through the town on I-90 every day. The local Tea Party placed banners on the pedestrian overpass, bearing messages such as “HONK TO IMPEACH OBAMA,” leading the town to enact an ordinance forbidding all signs, flags, and banners (other than traffic-control information) on any of the overpasses, or within 100 feet of the end of those structures. The district court rejected a suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 on summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit vacated as to the challenge to the 100-foot buffer zone but otherwise affirmed. The ordinance is content-neutral; it does not matter what message any privately placed sign bears. It is a time, place, and manner limit, permitting messages to be conveyed anywhere else in Campbell. A “state or local legislature that attempts to reduce the incidence of sudden braking on a superhighway cannot be thought to be acting irrationally or trying to suppress speech for no good reason.” The town did not try to justify the buffer zone. View "Luce v. Town of Campbell, Wisconsin" on Justia Law

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Under Illinois law, a political party that has not attained sufficient votes in past elections must field candidates for all offices on the ballot in the political subdivision in which it wishes to compete. In the 2012 election, the Libertarian Party could field a candidate for Kane County auditor only if it also proposed candidates for six other offices. In its suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, the Party argued that the full-slate requirement violated its right of political association under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The Seventh Circuit agreed, rejecting an argument that the requirement is justified by its interests in political stability, preventing ballot overcrowding, and avoiding voter confusion. The core of the fundamental right to political association is the right to band together in a political party to advance a policy agenda by electing the party’s members to office. That necessarily includes the candidates’ right to appear on the ballot under the party banner. For a minor party and its nominees, Illinois’s full-slate requirement extinguishes those rights unless the party fields candidates in races it may want no part of. This is a severe burden on fundamental constitutional rights. Illinois has not offered a compelling state interest to justify it. By incentivizing minor parties to manufacture frivolous candidacies, the full-slate requirement actually thwarts the interests Illinois invokes. View "Libertarian Party of Illinois v. Cunningham" on Justia Law

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Faucett possessed large quantities of child pornography, including 59 sexually explicit photos of his five-year-old granddaughter that he took while she was sleeping. When investigators found the collection on his computer, he initially denied knowledge of it. He later confessed. Faucett pleaded guilty to producing and possessing child pornography, 18 U.S.C. 2251(a), 2252(a)(4)(B). His presentence report detailed his alcoholism and mental-health issues, including ADHD, insomnia, depression, and anxiety. When he took the pictures of his granddaughter, he had active prescriptions for Adderall (for ADHD) and Paxil (an antidepressant). The defense strategy was acceptance of responsibility. He is serving a 30-year prison term. In a pro se motion under 28 U.S.C. 2255, he claimed that his attorney was constitutionally ineffective for failing to advise him that involuntary intoxication was an available defense and at least should have developed an argument about diminished capacity as a mitigating factor. The district judge denied the motion without a hearing, reasoning that neither defense strategy would have had any chance of success. The Seventh Circuit affirmed without addressing whether involuntary intoxication is an available defense in a case like this one. Faucett did not articulate a viable factual basis for the defense even if it would apply. Nor was his counsel constitutionally ineffective for not arguing diminished capacity as a mitigating factor at sentencing. View "Faucett v. United States" on Justia Law

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Under Chicago’s 2014 “puppy mill” ordinance, pet retailers in the city “may offer for sale only those dogs, cats, or rabbits” obtained from an animal control or care center, pound, or kennel operated by local, state, or federal government or “a humane society or rescue organization.” Plaintiffs challenged the ordinance as exceeding the city’s home-rule powers and the implied limits on state power imposed by the Commerce Clause. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the case. The Illinois Constitution permits home-rule units like Chicago to regulate animal control and welfare concurrently with the state. The ordinance does not discriminate against interstate commerce, even in mild practical effect, so it requires no special cost-benefit justification under the Commerce Clause. The court found that the ordinance survives rational-basis review, noting the city’s concerns that large mill-style breeders are notorious for deplorable conditions and abusive breeding practices, including overbreeding, inbreeding, crowded and filthy living conditions, lack of appropriate socialization, and inadequate food, water, and veterinary care, causing pets to develop health and behavioral problems, creating economic and emotional burdens for pet owners and imposing financial costs on the city as owners abandon their pets. View "Park Pet Shop, Inc. v. City of Chicago" on Justia Law

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In 2013, a confidential informant informed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives about Toby Jones, the leader of a drug‐distribution operation on Chicago’s West Side. The informant introduced Toby and his brother, Kelsey, to ATF Agent Labno, who posed as a firearms and drug dealer. During several controlled drug purchases, Toby negotiated a drugs‐for‐guns transaction with Agent Labno. Eventually, Toby instructed one of his drug workers, Fields, to complete the transaction; Fields was arrested immediately after the exchange. Toby and Kelsey engaged in a week‐long effort to track down and kill the informant, resulting in two separate shootings. In the later shooting, Kelsey fled the scene in a getaway car driven by Whitfield. The brothers were later arrested and convicted of several crimes. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the convictions and sentences. The court rejected claims that there was insufficient evidence to support convictions involving retaliatory intent, drug conspiracy, and possession of a gun in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and upheld the district court’s denial of a motion to suppress eyewitness identification and its imposition of sentencing enhancements. View "United States v. Jones" on Justia Law

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Ford and Hoefle were passengers in a car driven by Mincks when the car was stopped in Moline, Illinois for a traffic violation, around 2:00 a.m. Officers noticed open beer bottles and asked the men to exit the car. While frisking Ford they found a loaded pistol. Ford was arrested. Ford argued that the pat‐down exceeded the scope of a protective frisk for weapons. The government countered that the officers had reasonable suspicion to believe that the men were armed and planned to avenge a shooting that had wounded Hoefle days earlier. The men had previously stated to investigators that they would deal with the shooting themselves. The government also contended that the officer who conducted the frisk had kept his hands outside of Ford’s clothing until encountering a heavy object weighing down his jacket. The Seventh CIrcuit affirmed denial of a motion to suppress. There was reasonable suspicion to frisk Ford under these circumstances. The officers had been warned via e‐mail that Ford and his companions might seek to retaliate for the shooting; the men likely had been drinking, as evidenced by the beer bottles, and their alcohol use gave the police greater reason to worry that one of them “might do something unpredictable, unwise, and dangerous.” View "United States v. Ford" on Justia Law