U.S. Seventh Circuit - FindLaw

U.S. Seventh Circuit - The FindLaw 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog


Frivolous lawsuits like this have to be the bane of studios' existence. (Get it? Bane!) In "The Dark Knight Rises," Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) sought a computer program ("Clean Slate") that would wipe all traces of her sordid criminal past from the world's computers. The fictional program was mentioned twice, and viral marketing websites were set up for "Clean Slate" and the fictional company behind it, in order to promote the movie.

In real life, a company called Fortres Grand has a program called "Clean Slate." It resets a computer back to default settings whenever the computer is restarted -- the sort of program that would come in handy on public computers (libraries, hotels, schools) to wipe out user changes to the system, downloaded junk, and personal data.

Fortres Grand sued, claiming that the fictional product created "reverse confusion" with its trademark on "Clean Slate," harming its sales in the process.

You remember Rod Blagojevich, right? The former governor of Illinois who was convicted of corruption for attempting to sell former U.S. Senator Barack Obama's senate seat? (I wonder what happened to that guy?)

Blagojevich and his awesome hair resurfaced in an opinion from the Seventh Circuit on Friday, where the court found there was sufficient evidence to survive summary judgment on a RICO claim against him.

Armslist is a website that provides a place for private gun owners to sell guns to each other. It has several disclaimers excepting it from liability because it "does not certify, investigate, or in any way guarantee the legal capacity of any party to transact."

Demetry Smirnov met Jitka Vesel online (though not on Armslist). Vesel rejected Smirnov, and in response, Smirnov illegally purchased a gun through Armslist (illegal because, under federal law, a gun can't be transferred directly to someone from a different state; the seller was from Washington and Smirnov lived in Chicago).

Smirnov followed Jitka to a parking lot and killed her with the handgun he bought through Armslist. The Seventh Circuit ruled Tuesday that Armslist has no liability.

In June, the Seventh Circuit ruled on a case involving the copyrights of the estate of Arthur Conan Doyle, a/k/a the creator of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Judge Posner ruled against the estate, and the Seventh Circuit recently issued a sequel opinion.

In what may be the next Sherlock Holmes series, let's take a closer look at Judge Posner's follow-up opinion: Sherlock Holmes and the Declaratory Judgment Attorney's Fees.

Am I the only one whose ears perk up when I hear "porno copyright trolls"?

Let's back up. The Prenda Law saga began several years ago when a law firm began suing for copyright infringement on behalf of Lightspeed Entertainment, which makes adult films. Prenda Law alleged that many thousands of John Does were illegally downloading copyrighted material and tried to use the discovery process to get their real names.

Courts around the country collectively raised their eyebrows when each one eventually learned that the principals of Prenda Law were also, coincidentally, the principals of the companies holding the copyrights to the works being allegedly infringed. Prenda Law not only failed to disclose this fact, but also used possibly every procedural tactic in the book to avoid having to disclose this information. Many hundreds of thousands of dollars and referrals to various state authorities later, Prenda Law's tactic of making money by suing file-sharers is toast.

The tsunami of same-sex marriage cases sweeping the country is seeing a new trend: consolidation of cases on appeal. The same-sex marriage cases working their way through the Seventh Circuit, challenging Indiana and Wisconsin laws, are no different.

Last week, the Seventh Circuit denied motions for en banc review, and later changed the hearing date from August 13 to August 26, reports The Associated Press. As we near the oral arguments date, let's take a closer look at the cases the Seventh Circuit will be reviewing.

Earlier this month, the Wisconsin Supreme Court held that a sheriff's deputy knocking on a car window, by itself, was not a sufficient show of authority to lead the driver to believe that he was being detained. As a result, the encounter was consensual because the driver could have driven away at any time.

Background

At around 1 a.m. on Christmas Day 2011, Grant County Sheriff's Deputy Matthew Small noticed a car pull into a closed park and stop in the parking lot. Small pulled up behind the car, but didn't have his red-and-blue lights on. He walked up to the window and tapped on it, telling him to roll down the window. Daniel Vogt rolled down the window. Small administered a field sobriety test, which Vogt failed. Vogt was arrested for driving while intoxicated and later moved to suppress evidence obtained from the traffic stop.

In Woodridge, Illinois, it used to be that everyone who was arrested and then bailed out of jail had to pay a $30 fee. Jerry Markadonatos was arrested for misdemeanor shoplifting, arrested, booked, paid bail, and was released. Later, he pleaded guilty, served 12 months of probation, and then had the charges dismissed.

This misdemeanor and the $30 booking fee, however, led to a big split on an en banc panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. They disagreed on what the problem was, how it applied to Markadonatos, and whether he even had standing in the first place.

Here's a rundown of the Seventh Circuit panel's four separate opinions in Markadonatos v. Village of Woodridge:

Perhaps these requests have something to do with the Seventh Circuit's cancellation of previously scheduled oral arguments in two gay marriage appeals out of Wisconsin and Indiana. Earlier this month, the appeals were combined and fast-tracked for oral arguments on August 13.

Late last week, however, the Seventh Circuit issued this release (H/T to Equality on Trial):

The court, on its own motion, ORDERS that the oral argument in this appeal, scheduled for Wednesday, August 13, 2014, is VACATED. A new oral argument date will be set by separate court order.

Okay, but why? It might have something to do with requests from the states of Indiana and Wisconsin to proceed directly to an en banc hearing of the case, rather than the typical three-judge panel.

The Sixth Circuit is not alone in consolidating appeals of same sex marriage cases within the circuit: last week, the Seventh Circuit consolidated two same sex marriage cases.

The Seventh Circuit also recently decided a case affecting all of the states surrounding the Great Lakes, and is going to hear a case about an Indiana law regulating the sale of cold beer. Finally, our favorite benchslapper speaks out.

Read on for details on all of these stories.