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

November 2011 News

Misconduct Results in Junk Fax Class Action Certification Denial

The Junk Fax Prevention Act of 2005 sets a $500-per-fax penalty on unsolicited fax advertisement senders. That amount triples for senders who willfully or knowingly deplete recipients’s ink and paper supplies with their unwanted ads.

Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner thinks the Junk Fax Act penalties are “draconian,” but he accepts that the law “is what it is.” But that doesn’t mean that he has to agree with class action certification for every Junk Fax Act lawsuit.

Last week, a three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a district court’s class action certification decision in the claim.

Court OKs Malicious Prosecution, Unlawful Arrest Case Against Cop

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that a police officer who built a shaken-baby death case against a daycare provider to deflect suspicion from the baby’s mother was not entitled to qualified immunity.

In the opinion, the appellate court reinstated false arrest and malicious prosecution claims against Hanover Park Police Officer Todd Carlson.

Rick Aleman provided daycare in his home. Aleman tried to perform CPR on Joshua Schrik, an 11-month-old child, after he collapsed on his third day at daycare. When Joshua was unresponsive to CPR, Aleman called 911. Four days later, Joshua died. Aleman was charged with first degree murder, though the charges were eventually dismissed.

Wisconsin Amends Bar Dues Rules After Free Speech Rights Suit

It should come as no surprise that the members of the Wisconsin State Bar are a litigious bunch, but did you know that members of the bar have been challenging the First Amendment implications of their dues for over fifty years?

To practice law in the State of Wisconsin, lawyers must join the Wisconsin State Bar. To join the State Bar, lawyers must pay State Bar dues.

In 2007, the State Bar used a portion of members’ dues to conduct a public image campaign with the goal of improving the public’s perception of Wisconsin lawyers. Jon Kingstad, Steven Levine, and James Thiel (collectively described as the “Objectors”) objected to the State Bar’s use of their mandatory bar dues to fund the campaign as a violation of their First Amendment free speech rights.

Ineffective Counsel Plus Prejudice Needed to Withdraw Guilty Plea

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that a petitioner had to demonstrate a combination of ineffective counsel and prejudice to win an appeal to withdraw a guilty plea.

Gregory Payne pleaded guilty to four felony charges, including rape and detention of a 17-year-old boy. In light of his prior felony convictions, a state judge sentenced Payne to 50 years in prison.

In a collateral proceeding, Payne sought to set aside the plea, arguing that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because his lawyer gave him incorrect advice about the sentence he could receive.

Rose Acre Chickens Out of Commercial General Liability Indemnity

A commercial general liability policy may cover patent infringement defense in some jurisdictions, but it does not cover a price-fixing case defense in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Rose Acre, the nation's second-largest producer of eggs, was charged with conspiring to fix the price of eggs in violation of the Sherman Act. Rose Acre asked its liability insurers to defend it in the class action suits, arguing that the complaints sought damages for what Rose Acre's policies called "personal and advertising injury."

Seventh Circuit Threatens Attorney Sanctions for Frivolous Appeal

As observers of the legal world, we implore you: Don't irritate the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, or you could be slapped with attorney sanctions and a scathing opinion that forever links your name with the term "bungling attorney" on the Internet.

Cathleen Sambrano filed a discrimination charge against her employer, the U.S. Navy, with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Because Sambrano was employed by a federal agency, EEOC had authority to resolve the grievance rather than simply mediate. The EEOC found that Sambrano's claim was unsupported.

Rob Sherman Brings Bald Knob Cross Challenge to Seventh Circuit

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals is hearing arguments Wednesday in Sherman v. State of Illinois, better known as the Bald Knob Cross case. Rob Sherman, famous in the Midwest for his separation of church and state challenges, brought the claim to contest a $20,000 state grant allocated to restore the 11-story cross.

The Bald Knob Cross - built with area farmers’ profits from selling pigs - was erected on Bald Knob Mountain in 1959. Easter services have been held on the mountain since 1937.