U.S. Seventh Circuit - FindLaw

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


If you've ever run into the so-called 'sovereign citizen' theory of the law, you know that it is, well, complete BS. The sovereign citizen movement is based on a strange interpretation of common law, the Uniform Commercial Code, and maritime law, which followers believe allows them to avoid taxes and pretty much all legal authorities. It's a movement based out of conspiracy, confusion, and a paranoid view of reality. It's just nuts.

But Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner is taking some heat from his colleagues for saying as much in court. Faced with a pro se sovereign citizen defendant in 2015, Posner showed little patience for the man's arguments, calling them "complete bullshit." Now his colleagues are considering whether Posner's frustration denied the man a fair trial.

No Part-Time Vacation at Red Lobster, Court Rules

A federal appeals court has rejected a class action claim that Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and other restaurants failed to pay part-timers vacation pay.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals said that two employees failed to qualify for class action status because they were not proper representatives, particularly because they were part-time employees and vacation was offered only to full-time employees. Under Illinois wage laws, the court said, the restaurants were not required to pay part-time employees vacation benefits.

The Supreme Court has held that the Sixth Amendment's right to a public trial extends to the voir dire process. But that right doesn't require a new trial for two Wisconsinites who were convicted after their judge barred the public from voir dire, the Seventh Circuit ruled last week.

Why? Lack of objection from the defense attorneys. In a brief opinion penned by Judge Richard Posner, the Seventh ruled that those attorneys "forfeited their clients' right to an audience by failing to object to the judge's ruling excluding the audience in whole or part."

7th Circuit Upholds Ban on Robocalls

It's not easy being a machine. Put another way, robots do not have free speech rights. Or in other words, you can't use robocalls to convey political messages. Or perhaps even better said, as a federal appeals court said after listening to arguments that a ban on robocalls discriminated against political speech:

"We don't get it," the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals said. "Nothing in the statute ... disfavors political speech."

Listen up, suspicious husbands, nosy wives, and exes who just can't let go: unpermitted snooping into your partner's email may be a violation of the federal Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Act. That is, according to a recent decision from the Seventh Circuit.

The case involves a contentious divorce between Paula and Barry Epstein. Paula accused Barry of "serial infidelity." Barry demanded proof. Much to his surprise, Paula handed over Barry's own, purloined emails. Barry sued, saying that his soon-to-be ex-wife had violated the Wiretap Act. It was an interpretation of the act the Seventh Circuit endorsed, though it noted that "Congress probably didn't anticipate" the use of the Wiretap Act "as a tactical weapon in a divorce proceeding."

Acquitted Attorney Can't Sue Prosecutors, 7th Cir. Rules

No good deed goes unpunished, and you can't even sue for it.

That's a summary of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals' decision in Katz-Crank v. Haskett, which says an acquitted lawyer is barred from suing government officials who unsuccessfully prosecuted her. Here's what happened:

An attorney discovered her client was committing fraud and reported him to authorities. But they already knew about it and were investigating whether the attorney was involved. They charged her with aiding and abetting, and she was acquitted. She sued, and a judge dismissed. The court of appeals affirmed.

No Minimum Wage for NCAA Athletes, 7th Circuit Rules

Two track-and-field students sued for the love of the game and minimum wage, but came up short at the finish line.

The Seventh Circuit ruled that the plaintiffs could not make a case for minimum wage claims because of the "long tradition of amateur sports" that students play for reasons "wholly unrelated to immediate compensation."

"Simply put, student-athletic 'play' is not 'work,'" Judge Michael S. Kanne wrote for the unanimous court in Berger v. National Collegiate Athletic Association.

The Supreme Court ruled last year that gays and lesbians were entitled to equal marriage rights. But when it comes to the right to work free from discrimination, federal protections currently don't cover LGBTQ employees.

That could soon change in the Seventh Circuit, however, as the en banc court hears a case today that could result in employment discrimination protections being extended to gay and lesbian workers.

Meanith Huon's battle with blogs will continue after the Seventh Circuit revived his lawsuit against Jezebel this week. Huon, an Illinois attorney, began his battle with Jezebel, once part of the Gawker network, and the legal blog Above the Law over their coverage of a rape accusation against him. Huon sued the blogs for defamation based on their portrayal of him as a serial rapist.

Huon's suit against Jezebel was originally dismissed in district court but was given new life on Monday, when the Seventh Circuit ruled that Huon's accusations regarding the blog's comments were strong enough to withstand summary judgement, particularly given Huon's claims that user comments were created and developed with the help of Jezebel's staff.

Indiana governor and Donald Trump running mate Mike Pence did well for himself in this week's vice presidential debate, if pundits and flash polls are to be believed. But his debate night triumph came on the heels of a stinging legal defeat, as the Seventh Circuit upheld an injunction against his Syrian refugee ban. Pence instituted the ban last year, after the terrorist attack in Paris, directing state agencies to stop funding the resettlement of Syrian refugees.

The Seventh Circuit wasn't having it. On Monday, the Seventh shut down Pence's ban, in a six-page tongue lashing that described the governor's logic as unfounded and based on "nightmare speculation." The ruling came shortly after last month's oral arguments during which Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner could barely contain his withering disdain for the state's position. Scratch that. He couldn't contain his distain at all, declaring at one point "Honestly. You are so out of it."