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

December 2012 News

As you know, qualified immunity often shields cops who have behaved badly. This year, however, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals took big steps in reining in qualified immunity by tackling a number of cases involving bad police judgment.

Below, we've included three of the more interesting cases in which qualified immunity was denied this year.

Posner Ponders: Does the Punishment Fit the Criminal?

David Michael Craig sounds like a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad person.

Let's qualify that. Craig pleaded guilty to four counts of producing child pornography. He produced those images by photographing his repeated sexual assaults on a friend of his daughter's. He obtained additional images of her by threatening to kill her unless she photographed herself in sexually explicit poses and emailed him the images.

The abuses began when she was 11 years old and continued until she was 14.

Seventh Circuit: Illinois Gun Law Unconstitutional

Illinois law bars people from carrying loaded, accessible guns. There are exceptions for police and other security personnel, hunters, and members of target shooting clubs. There are more exceptions for a person on his own property or in his home. An apartment dweller can have a gun in his unit, but not in the building's common areas. Carrying an unloaded gun in public is prohibited, unless carried openly outside a vehicle in an unincorporated area without accessible ammo.

In other words, it's complicated.

Tuesday, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeal un-complicated the state's carry laws. In a 2-1 decision, the appellate court found the ban on carrying a weapon in public unconstitutional, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Dismissed: A Blunderbluss of Federal and State Claims

Everyone gets excited about clean energy sources these days. Who wants to be stuck in the coal age when there's wind power to be harnessed?

Several years ago, Winnebago County, Illinois answered the wind power siren song by making wind farms a permitted use within the zoning ordinance without the need for a special use permit.

Since no good deed goes unpunished, Patricia Muscarello sued the Winnebago County Board, the County Zoning Board of Appeals, and some County officials, (along with several affiliated companies that operate wind farms), to challenge the ordinance as a taking.

The courts and the defendants were left scratching their heads with the same question: What's her damage?

Donning, Doffing, and the Hourly Wage: Worker Can Bring FLSA Claim

For certain jobs, getting dressed for work is compensable. In such jobs, employers should place time clocks where employees can access them before changing into their work clothes.

Time clock placement, like real estate, is controlled by location, location, location.

Over the last five years, Kevin Kasten’s Fair Labor Standards Act lawsuit about time clock placement was also controlled by location: It bounced like a pinball between the district court, Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court. This week, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals sent Kasten’s suit back to the district court, concluding that the court should hear his unlawful retaliation claim.