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

July 2012 News

Worst Defense Ever: My 41 Other Arrests Don't Count

Edgar Lopez-Hernandez, a Mexican citizen, pleaded guilty to being in the United States without permission after he had been deported. He had five previous convictions — including one for attempted armed robbery — which placed him in the 57- to 71-month guidelines range.

Based on Lopez-Hernandez's convictions, as well as 41 prior arrests that didn't result in convictions, the district court sentenced him to 71 months in prison.

On appeal, Lopez-Hernandez told the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals that the district judge shouldn't have considered his 41 arrests that had not resulted in convictions during sentencing.

He was correct, but that didn't change anything.

Easterbrook: Judge Can't Refuse to Screen Prisoner Lawsuit

Few judges can hand down a benchslap with the same panache as our current law crush, Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook.

This week, Judge Easterbrook told District Judge Michael J. Reagan that he was three kinds of wrong for refusing to screen an Illinois prisoner Anthony Wheeler’s complaint alleging that prison officials had failed to provide effective medical care for his “golf-ball-size hemorrhoids,” leaving him in excruciating pain. (According to Judge Easterbrook, “Documents submitted with the complaint show that Wheeler is not fantasizing.” Yikes.)

You Can't Do That in Church

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that two public schools cannot continue to hold graduation ceremonies in a local church.

If you work for a school that planned to hand out diplomas to your 2013 graduations in a church, it’s time to think about your backup plan. The Seventh Circuit issued an en banc ruling on Monday, holding that the Elmbrook School District’s church-based commencement ceremonies resulted in government endorsement of religion and coercion of students in violation of the Establishment Clause, reports Education Week.

Will Jailed Governor George Ryan Walk?

Disgraced Illinois Governor George Ryan may be scheduled for release from prison in 2013, but he was back in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday to challenge his conviction, The Associated Press reports.

Last year, Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook, writing for the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, noted that there was sufficient evidence of bribery and kickbacks in Ryan's case.

Certifiable: FedEx Drivers Independent Contractors or Employees?

FedEx Ground (FedEx) provides small package pick-up and delivery services through a network of pick-up and delivery drivers. The drivers claim that they are employees, entitled to the perks — like overtime pay and reimbursement of costs — that the employer-employee relationship offers. FedEx claims that the drivers are contractors.

Last week, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals declined to resolve that question, instead certifying the independent contractor question to the Kansas Supreme Court, reports Bloomberg BNA.

No Duty to Mitigate: Immigration Law Mandates Spousal Support

If you sponsor an immigrant spouse for permanent residency and later divorce, you could be on the line for spousal support, regardless of whether your former spouse attempts to find work, according to a recent Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.

Timothy Mund, an American, married Wenfang Liu in China. Two years later the couple decided to move to the United States. The Immigration and Nationality Act forbids admission of any alien who “is likely at any time to become a public charge,” so Mund had to sign an I-864 affidavit agreeing to support Liu at 125 percent of the poverty level — approximately $13,500 a year — even if they divorced.

They divorced two years later.

You Can't Manufacture a Legal Dispute Over a Factual Disagreement

Today’s Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals case serves as a reminder that factual interpretation is a subjective art, and an appeal might not provide relief from an immigration fraud ruling.

Saladin Abdel Jawad, a Jordanian citizen, has been in the U.S. for 25 years since his non-immigrant visitor visa expired. He and his ex-wife had five children in the U.S. before divorcing in 1998. Despite being approved for an immediate-family visa, Jawad has been deemed removable.

Cops Can't Stop Vehicle Based on Proximity to Suspected Meth Lab

While peers can judge you by the company you keep, do the cops have probable cause to stop a vehicle just because it was a leaving a cabin that may have been a meth lab?

Last week, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that police may not stop a vehicle only because it emerged from a site suspected of drug activity.

SCOTUS to Review 7th Circuit Harassment Case, Vicarious Liability

If you often find yourself lamenting the ambiguity in the Supreme Court's harassment jurisprudence, you're in for a treat during the 2012 Term.

Last week, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Vance v. Ball State University, a harassment case out of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, according to the ABA Journal.