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

Decisions in Section 1983 Cases and Criminal and Tax Matters

The Seventh Circuit decided a tax matter involving tax deductions of an S corporation, criminal matters, and 42 U.S.C. section 1983 cases involving sex offender registration requirement.

In US v. Corner, No. 08-1033, the court faced a challenge to the district court's holding that, in light of US v. Welton, district courts are not entitled to disagree with U.S.S.G section 4B1.1, in sentencing defendant to 188 months for possession of more than five grams of cocaine with intent to distribute as a career offender.  However, in reversing the decision, the court concluded that under Kimbrough and Spears, district judges are at liberty to reject any Guideline on policy grounds.  Thus, the court overruled Welton to the extent that it holds that section 4B1.1 differs from other Guidelines.

In Brown v. Finnan, No. 08-3151, the court dealt with a defendant's request for relief claiming ineffective assistance of counsel at both trial and appellate levels.  The defendant had claimed that his counsel declined to request a hearing to determine the impact of an in-court statement by one of the victim's mother and her out-of-court statement on the jury.  However, in rejecting defendant's ineffective assistance claim the court held that he failed to demonstrate that his counsel's assistance was objectively unreasonable and resulted in a substantial risk of prejudice.

In US v. Panice, No. 08-3323, the court faced a challenge to the district court's imposition of a 360 month sentence on a defendant convicted of various fraudulent schemes including a scheme to defraud people seeking jobs in the technology sector.  The court rejected most of defendant's contentions and affirmed the conviction but vacated and remanded his sentence as the sentencing record left too much doubt about whether the judge impermissibly started the presumption that a within-guidelines sentence in entitled to a rebuttable presumption of reasonableness and whether he completed adequate consideration of all the relevant section 3553(a) factors.

In Rosin v. Monken, No. 08-4132, the court addressed the issue of whether a plaintiff, having pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor offense of non-consensual sexual contact in New York under assurances that he would not be required to register as a sex offender, is nevertheless subject to mandatory life-long registration by Illinois.  In affirming the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's section 1983 suit in holding that the New York order was merely stricken and was silent on the subject.  Furthermore, because plaintiff's plea agreement did not purport to prevent any state other than New York from registering plaintiff as a sex offender, and any such provision would have been ineffective anyway.

In US v. Ray, No. 09-2392, the court addressed defendant's motion for a reduction in his 263 month sentence for possessing almost two kilograms of crack cocaine, which was significantly lower than the guidelines range of 292-365 months.  In affirming that the district court was correct to conclude that the defendant's sentence was not based on the guidelines, the court held that in the absence of explicit language in the plea agreement to the contrary, a sentence imposed under 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement is not based on the sentencing guidelines.

In T.E. v. Grindle, No. 09-2920, the court faced a challenge to the district court's denial of a school principal's  motion for summary judgment claiming she was entitled to qualified immunity because plaintiffs failed to establish a clearly established right in their 42 U.S.C. section 1983 suit against the principal and a district band teacher who allegedly molested the plaintiff-children.   The court affirmed the summary judgment motion denial and held that the plaintiffs have put forth evidence that is sufficient to create liability under clearly established law of the circuit. 


In Tully v. Barada, No. 09-3237, the court faced a challenge to the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. section 1983 suit against a prosecutor for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.  In deciding on the merits of the case, because the defendant waived defense of absolute immunity and others, the court held that a section 1983 claim cannot lie for a mere court summons and prosecution without probable cause.

In Vainisi v. Comm'r of Internal Revenue, No. 09-3314, the court addressed the issue of whether the plaintiffs were entitled to deduct from their taxable income the entire interest expense that their QSub bank had incurred in borrowing money with which to buy qualified tax-exempt obligations.  In reversing the Tax Court's conclusion that the plaintiffs were entitled to deduct only 80 percent of that expense, the court held that for firms that have been S corporations for at least three years escape the "except" clause in section 291, and as such, the zero percent rule and the 80 percent rule are replaced by a 100 percent rule so that all the interest expense incurred in acquiring qualified tax-exempt obligations is deductible.

In DeKoven v. Plaza Assocs., No. 09-2016, the court faced a challenge to the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants in a class action lawsuit brought under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  The case involved two letters sent to plaintiffs concerning a statement that the offer of settlement is valid for only 35 days and an additional statement in another letter regarding "satisfactory proof" that the account is in error.  As required, the plaintiffs conducted a consumer survey, but the court affirmed the district court's decision and held it was inadmissible under the standards governing admission of survey evidence as it was confusing and misleading. 

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