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


Lawyer's Mistake Dooms Client's Case at 7th Circuit

Once in a while, a case matters more to the lawyer than to the client.

That is no doubt the case in Jaworski v. Master Hand Contractors. The defendant appealed a $340,000 judgment, but the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed.

Unfortunately for defense counsel, the appeals court also said it was the lawyer's fault. Add to that an attorney's fee sanction, and you're having a really bad day.

The former Subway pitchman turned social pariah, Jared Fogle, has filed a motion requesting Judge Tanya Pratt recuse herself from his case. The longshot motion is not only not likely to go anywhere, it has no bearing on his conviction or length of his sentence, as those appeals have already been taken and squashed.

In short, Fogle incredulously claims that Judge Pratt is biased against him because she has teenage daughters and Fogle's case involves convictions for child pornography with teen girls and for sex with teens as well. But at this point, Judge Pratt likely has little jurisdiction over Fogle's case and incarceration.

Sadly for the parents of a child in Illinois that lost his middle finger due to an injury at a Starbucks, the Seventh Circuit unanimously refused to overturn the lower district court's grant of summary judgment dismissing the claim over the child's lost finger.

The court found that Starbucks could not be held liable due to the fact that the child was being supervised by his parents at the time of the injury. Despite the danger inherent in the structure at the Starbucks that contributed or caused the injury, the appellate court agree that it was the parent's, and not Starbuck's, fault. The appellate opinion explains the seemingly harsh result:

In a unanimous ruling, the Illinois State Supreme Court has found that a state law banning firearms within 1,000 feet of a park violates the Second Amendment. The ruling rested upon the concept that Second Amendment rights cannot simply be categorically restricted unless there are very good reasons.

The law that came under question didn't just ban firearms from within 1,000 feet of a park, but also schools, courthouses, public transit facilities, and public housing. However, due to how restrictive the law made it to carry a gun near a park, the ruling only impacted that portion of the law.

A rather narrow yet fascinating issue just got a definitive answer from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals: Even if a jury finds an accused murderer not guilty by reason of insanity, if the accused did it, they can't inherit from their victim.

Out of context, it sounds really crazy, but in the context of domestic abuse and spousal or parent murder, it begins to make much more sense. Why should a surviving spouse benefit from an inheritance if they murdered their spouse? When there is a mental health issue, for some, that might complicate matters. But, for the Seventh Circuit, its reading of the Illinois slayer statute didn't leave much room for interpretation, or a murdering spouse's chance at inheriting anything.

Teens Win Coerced Confession Case

Judge Diane Wood must be over it with coercive police interrogations.

Writing for the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, she reviewed a complaint by teenagers who allegedly confessed to murdering their uncle. Calling out the cops facing civil liability in the case, Wood sets off every so-called "confession" in parentheses.

"Even though William and Deadra 'confessed,' if a trier of fact could conclude that the officers knew that the confessions were false, then the officers are not entitled to qualified immunity for their actions," the court said in Hurt v. Wise.

For many United States citizens, it comes as a shock to learn that fellow U.S. citizens living in the U.S. territories don't have the right to vote for the president. While Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands are all part of the United States, and the residents born there are all citizens, they simply do not get the right to vote for president under the constitution.

This lack of a constitutional right to vote was recently confirmed by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Segovia v. United States. A group of citizens from Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, filed suit to be permitted to vote in their former home state of Illinois via absentee ballot. Both the district and appellate courts rejected their claim.

Court Clerk Can't Withhold Press Access

If you want to find the bleeding edge of press freedoms, look no further than legal news stories.

In a case filed by a news agency, a federal judge has ordered a Chicago court clerk to make newly filed complaints immediately available to the press. That includes lawsuits that haven't yet been processed by the clerk's office for electronic filing.

It's one of many cases filed by news companies, which will challenge any law that curtails their freedoms. It's about more than fighting for the First Amendment, however; it's because yesterday's news isn't news anymore.

Indiana Beer, Wine, and Liquor Battle Continues

A legal battle over beer, wine, and liquor licensing has been brewing for years in Indiana.

Monarch Beverage -- the state's largest beer distributor -- won't let go of a state law that prohibits companies from holding permits for both beer and liquor wholesaling at the same time.

After the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, however, one thing is clear: the strange brew battle is not over yet.

Judge Refuses to Order School to Suspend Transgender Policy

When you lose a case at trial, sometimes it's better to just let it go.

Gary McCaleb, a lawyer for the Alliance Defending Freedom, doesn't think that way. He lost a ruling in Chicago that says anti-discrimination laws protect transgender students.

"It's not a defeat until the Supreme Court rules the wrong way," McCaleb said. "And I don't think they will."