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

May 2012 News

Alienage Not Grounds for Employment Discrimination Lawsuit

Discrimination based on a person's national origin is a Title VII violation. Discrimination based on a person's alienage, however, is legal. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that a banker's spouse's legal status was not a valid basis for an employment discrimination lawsuit. (Brief thanks to BNA for bringing this case to our attention.)

So how does a banker get fired for her husband's alienage? By helping him open bank accounts.

Seventh Circuit: U.of Illinois FOIA Case a State Court Issue

The Chicago Tribune published an exposé series in 2009 called “Clout Goes to College.” In those articles, the Tribune reported that the University of Illinois had a special process for reviewing the applications of persons with well-placed supporters. Many applicants considered through this process were admitted even though they would not have been under the University’s normal criteria.

The story, however, is incomplete. The Tribune still wants more information about the students who received preferential treatment. Thursday, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Tribune has to ask for the information in an Illinois state court.

Seventh Circuit Reinstates Hospital Whistleblower Case

Most of our knowledge of medical residency programs comes from Grey’s Anatomy, which means we have a skewed view of residency: Everyone has perfect hair, and doctors don't lose their licenses for tampering with medical trials or cutting a patient's LVAD wire.

But it’s not completely unrealistic. One thing that Grey’s gets right is that medical professionals occasionally tattle on one another, like in a recent Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals hospital whistleblower case under the False Claims Act.

Let’s go straight to what happened, and why the Seventh Circuit reinstated the case.

Seventh Circuit Can't Agree on 'Class of One' Standard

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals released an unusual per curiam opinion this week. More accurately, the court released 73 pages of non-binding opinions, because the en banc court couldn't assemble a majority in the case.

Plaintiff Lewis Del Marcelle sued Brown County and law enforcement officers, charging that they had denied him equal protection of the laws by failing to respond to his complaints about gangs that were harassing him and his wife. The gangs eventually forced them to sell their house in the Village of Denmark and move to another village in the county.

Law Crushes and Phone Numbers Change, Robo-Dialing Fines Remain

You might consent to a business calling you on your cell phone, but that doesn't mean that the successor to your phone number will do the same.

Unwanted phone calls to cell phones can be costly for both the recipient, (through air time fees), and the caller, (under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act). Last week, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a caller that repeatedly calls a cell phone number for which the "called party" did not consent to being called can be held liable at the rate of $500 per call under the TCPA.

Seventh Circuit Says Citizens Have a Right to Record the Police

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals enjoined enforcement of the Illinois eavesdropping law on Tuesday. In a 2-1 decision, the court ruled that the law, which prohibits people from making audio recordings of police officers in public, “likely violates” the First Amendment, reports the Chicago Tribune.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois (ACLU) filed a pre-enforcement action to challenge the statute. The organization was concerned that videographers participating in its Chicago-area “police accountability program,” which includes a plan to openly make audiovisual recordings of police officers performing their duties in public places and speaking at a volume audible to bystanders, would be prosecuted under the eavesdropping law.

Defendant Can't Withdraw Guilty Plea After Waiving Appeal

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that lack of education and the language barrier can’t trump a waiver of appeal.

Hipolito Alcala was charged with conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine and heroin. Though he initially pleaded not guilty, Alcala decided to change his plea after the trial began. Alcala and prosecutors agreed that he would plead to a reduced charge of unlawful use of a communication facility to further a drug trafficking offense. Alcala later attempted to withdraw his guilty plea, but a three-judge panel ruled that withdrawing the plea counted as appealing the conviction.

Cops Shouldn't Shoot Drunk Drivers, Even with Rubber Bullets

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals is tired of bad police judgment. The Chicago-based appellate court recently denied cops qualified immunity in two cases.

We told you about the first case, involving the arrest and release of a bipolar woman last week. Now we're going to discuss the second case, which involved cops using rubber bullets to subdue a drunk driver.

Plaintiff Tamara Phillips contends that Waukesha, Wis. police officers used excessive force in arresting her after she disregarded their orders to exit her car; the cops shot her four times in the leg with an SL6 baton launcher.