Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

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Henderson was indicted for possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute and two related firearms offenses. In accordance with the Marshals Service’s policy in the Springfield Division, Henderson appeared in court for arraignment encircled by four security officers and shackled with leg irons and handcuffs connected to a waist chain. His attorney moved to have him unshackled except for the leg irons for the remainder of the arraignment and at all future pretrial hearings. Counsel argued that routine shackling in court violates the accused’s right to due process and asked the judge to hold a hearing to determine whether Henderson posed an individualized risk to justify the use of full restraints. The judge denied the request, deferring to the Marshals Service’s policy of using full restraints on prisoners at every nonjury court appearance. The Seventh Circuit dismissed an appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding that the collateral-order doctrine does not apply; due process shackling claims may be effectively reviewed on appeal from a final judgment. The court declined to reframe the appeal as a petition for a writ of mandamus. View "United States v. Henderson" on Justia Law

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DEA agents, with an arrest warrant for Terry, waited for him to return from taking his son to school, arrested him when he got out of his car, and took him in for questioning. Other agents knocked on Terry’s apartment door. A woman answered, wearing a bathrobe. The agents identified themselves, explained that they had arrested Terry, and asked to enter. They did not ask the woman who she was or whether she lived at the apartment. She let them in, signed a consent form, and the search began. The woman then identified herself as the mother of Terry’s son, explaining that her son lived at Terry’s apartment, but she did not. Agents continued the search. At the field office, Terry refused to sign an advice‐of‐rights form, citing his previous experience with law enforcement but stated “he was willing to talk” and made incriminating statements about his role in a conspiracy to distribute heroin. The Seventh Circuit reversed the denial of his motion to suppress. It is not reasonable for officers to assume that a woman who answers the door in a bathrobe has authority to consent to a search of a male suspect’s residence. Terry’s education, sophistication, and familiarity with the criminal justice system provide sufficient evidence that he understood his rights when the agents read them to him and his willingness to speak was a “course of conduct indicating waiver,” notwithstanding his refusal to sign the form. View "United States v. Terry" on Justia Law

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Spiegel has lived in a Wilmette condominium building for 22 years. In 2015, the McClintics bought a unit in the building. The McClintics, apparently in violation of association rules, do not live in the building but use the building pool almost daily. To document the violations, Spiegel photographed and filmed them. Corrine McClintic filed police reports. Spiegel was not arrested but officers threatened him with arrest for disorderly conduct if his conduct persists. Spiegel sued Corrine and the Village, arguing that they conspired to violate his constitutional rights and that Corrine intruded upon his seclusion, in violation of Illinois law, by photographing the interior of his condominium. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of his complaint. Spiegel has not identified a constitutional violation or shown that he suffered damages from the alleged intrusion upon his seclusion. The mere act of filing false police reports is not actionable under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and it is unclear whether McClintic’s reports contained falsehoods. Spiegel’s claim that the officers refused to listen to his explanations for why his conduct was lawful is not enough to establish a conspiracy. Spiegel has not plausibly alleged an express Wilmette policy to enforce the disorderly conduct ordinance unconstitutionally. He merely alleges that officers received reports of a disturbance and advised an apparent provocateur to stop his surveillance. View "Spiegel v. McClintic" on Justia Law

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Adkinson and others robbed an Indiana T-Mobile phone store and a Kentucky Verizon store at gunpoint. They later robbed nine additional stores. During its investigation, T-Mobile pulled data from cell sites near two victim stores and determined that only one T-Mobile phone was near both robberies; Adkinson was an authorized user on that account. T-Mobile determined where Adkinson’s phone traveled and voluntarily gave the data to the FBI, which used the information to obtain a court order under the Stored Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. 2703, granting the FBI access to additional cell-site data. Adkinson unsuccessfully moved to suppress the evidence obtained without a warrant. The court ruled that T-Mobile was not the government’s agent and, in his user agreement, Adkinson consented to T-Mobile’s cooperation with the government. Adkinson did not timely file a change of venue motion. On the morning of trial, seeing only one African-American prospective juror, Adkinson moved to transfer the case to a venue with “a better pool of African Americans.” Convicted of robbery, brandishing a firearm to further a crime of violence, and conspiracy to commit those crimes, Adkinson was sentenced to 346 months’ imprisonment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The Constitution does not entitle a defendant to a venire of any particular racial makeup and federal law authorized the government to prosecute Adkinson in any district where he offended. The government’s mere receipt of T-Mobile’s data is not a ratification of T-Mobile’s conduct. View "United States v. Adkinson" on Justia Law

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Scabby the Rat is a giant, inflatable balloon that is associated with labor disputes. After the Union learned that a masonry company working at Kolosso Toyota in Grand Chute, was not paying area standard wages, it engaged in informational picketing and to set up a 12-foot Scabby in the median across from the dealer, along the frontage road for a major local thoroughfare. The Code Enforcement Officer required that the Union remove Scabby as violating the Sign Ordinance. The Union filed suit, arguing that the ordinance distinguished among signs based on content. The district court rejected the suit on summary judgment. The Town amended its Code. On remand, the district court held that the case was not moot because the Union was seeking damages for having to use greater resources to maintain the protest. The court noted that the likelihood of recurrence theory was not available because of the Code amendment and rejected the claims on the merits. The Seventh Circuit agreed that claims based on the former ordinance were not moot, despite the fact that construction was complete and that ordinance did not discriminate on the basis of content. It was narrowly tailored to meet its stated purpose—banning anything on the public right-of-way that might obstruct vision or distract passing drivers. Whatever dispute may exist over the new law is not ripe. View "Construction and General Laborers' Union Number 330 v. Town of Grand Chute" on Justia Law

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Pro-life “sidewalk counselors” sued to enjoin Chicago’s “bubble zone” ordinance, which bars them from approaching within eight feet of a person within 50 feet of an abortion clinic if their purpose is to engage in counseling, education, leafletting, handbilling, or protest. They argued that the floating bubble zone was a facially unconstitutional content-based restriction on the freedom of speech. The district judge dismissed the claim, relying on the Supreme Court’s 2000 decision (Hill), which upheld a nearly identical Colorado law against a similar First Amendment challenge. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Abortion clinic buffer-zone laws “impose serious burdens” on core speech rights but under Hill, a floating bubble zone is not considered a content-based restriction on speech and is not subject to strict judicial scrutiny. The ordinance is classified as a content-neutral “time, place, or manner” restriction and is tested under the intermediate standard of scrutiny;Hill held that the governmental interests at stake—preserving clinic access and protecting patients from unwanted speech—are significant, and an 8-foot no-approach zone around clinic entrances is a narrowly tailored means to address those interests. The court noted that Hill’s content-neutrality holding is hard to reconcile with subsequent Supreme Court decisions, but those decisions did not overrule Hill, so it remains binding. View "Price v. Chicago" on Justia Law

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A confidential informant bought cocaine from Yarber on four separate occasions near the same Champaign intersection while police watched. Each time, Yarber drove a white Dodge Charger, which was registered to his girlfriend. Immediately following two buys, Yarber drove to his girlfriend’s apartment. Police surveilled the apartment three other times and saw the Charger parked in front. Once they saw Yarber exit the Charger and go inside the apartment. Police obtained a warrant, authorizing the police to search the apartment for drugs, drug paraphernalia, and suspected proceeds from drug transactions. Nowhere did the affidavit state that Yarber lived at the apartment or that he stayed there overnight. It referred to an Urbana apartment as Yarber’s “residence.” Yarber moved to suppress evidence discovered during the search of the Champaign apartment, arguing that, failing to establish a nexus between the drug dealing and the apartment, the affidavit failed to establish probable cause. After the court denied his motion, Yarber pleaded guilty to drug possession with the intent to distribute and to possession of a firearm by a felon; he was convicted of possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, and sentenced to 420 months’ imprisonment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The warrant contained other facts sufficient to establish probable cause and, in any event, the police acted in good faith. View "United States v. Yarber" on Justia Law

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Between 2012 and 2013, the Kankakee, Illinois Detention Center prohibited inmates from receiving any newspapers. While awaiting trial on bank robbery charges, Miller’s family bought him a $279 subscription to the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin to help him with his case. Deeming the Law Bulletin a newspaper, jail officials precluded Miller from receiving it. Miller challenged the jail’s prohibition and confiscation of the publication and sought to recover the subscription fee. The district court addressed the broader question of whether the jail’s ban on all newspapers offended the First Amendment, upheld the newspaper ban, and awarded the defendants summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit vacated. The district court erred in reaching and resolving such a broad constitutional question. Miller’s claim was that Law Bulletin was a legal publication, not a newspaper; the record was not fully developed as it pertains to the jail’s restriction on legal publications. The court noted that the Center had no law library, and while inmates had access to an electronic database with Illinois legal resources, there was a dearth of material on federal law in the jail. The court further noted that the district court had not addressed Miller’s due process claim. View "Miller v. Downey" on Justia Law

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Delhorno, age 42, came to the U.S. with his parents when he was three years old. Living as a lawful permanent resident, he was pulled over for speeding. A drug-detection canine alerted to the presence of drugs. Officers discovered four kilograms of cocaine in a trap compartment. Delhorno pleaded guilty to possessing cocaine with intent to distribute. His hearing was more than a year after the Supreme Court held (Padilla v. Kentucky), that a defense lawyer provided ineffective assistance of counsel by failing to advise his client that his guilty plea would subject him to automatic deportation. Although the judge was informed of his status, there was no discussion about the immigration consequences of Delhorno’s guilty plea. Delhorno was sentenced to 60 months. Delhorno never filed an appeal or a habeas corpus petition. In 2017, Delhorno completed his prison sentence and was deported to Mexico. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the denial of Delhorno's petition for a writ of coram nobis without a hearing. The common-law remedy of coram nobis is available to correct errors in criminal cases, only when the error is of the most fundamental character as to render the conviction invalid, there are sound reasons for the defendant’s failure to seek earlier relief, and the defendant continues to suffer from his conviction although he is out of custody. Delhorno cannot offer “sound reasons” for failing to seek earlier relief through a direct appeal or habeas corpus petition. View "United States v. Delhorno" on Justia Law

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Officers stopped Vaccaro for running a red light. Vaccaro made a “ferocious move,” leaning “his entire top torso and both arms into the back seat.” Afraid that Vaccaro might be trying to “gain control of something from the back seat,” the officers ordered Vaccaro out of his car, immediately handcuffed Vaccaro and patted him down. Vaccaro expressed frustration, stating that “people are trying to kill me” and that he merely “took [his] coat off” when he pulled over. Vaccaro appeared to be in a “real amped‐up state,” making the officers believe that Vaccaro was under the influence of drugs. There was a GPS monitor on Vaccaro’s ankle. Vaccaro confirmed that he was on supervision for “false imprisonment,” which the officers understood to be a felony. The officers noticed a rifle case in the backseat but did not want to alert an “agitated” Vaccaro that they had seen it. They locked Vaccaro in the backseat of their squad car, removed a coat on top of the rifle case, and found a rifle inside. Vaccaro conditionally pled guilty to possessing a firearm as a felon. The Seventh Circuit upheld the denial of his motion to suppress the gun. Based on Vaccaro’s “furtive movements,” the pat-down was lawful under Terry v. Ohio. The sweep of the car was permissible because Vaccaro was not under arrest and would have been allowed to return to his car; could have gained “immediate control of weapons.” View "United States v. Vaccaro" on Justia Law