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

July 2013 News

Just last month, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the Second Circuit's decision in Vance v. Ball State, holding "than an employer may be vicariously liable for an employee's unlawful harassment only when the employer has empowered that employee to take tangible employment actions against the victim."

The ink of the decision is barely dry, and the Seventh Circuit is back at it.

Two weeks ago, we posted about Mary Shepard, the 69-year old gun-toting woman who challenged Illinois’s concealed carry law. She, together with the Illinois State Rifle Association, was successful in her challenge, and as a result, Illinois was the last state to deem bans on concealed carry a violation of the Second Amendment.

The Seventh Circuit stayed the mandate for 180 days, giving the Illinois state legislature time to enact a new law that complied with its ruling. After a 30 day extension, the Illinois legislature passed the Firearms Concealed Carry Act. In what was proving to be a volatile issue, Illinois State Governor Quinn vetoed the act, which the Illinois General Assembly quickly overrode.

Troy Shaw and two other men were charged with the aggravated battery of Brett King, who was beaten to death. The two men plead guilty and received shorter sentences, in return for testifying against Shaw. As a result of the plea deals, the prosecution amended its charge from aggravated battery (punishable from 6 to 20 years), to murder (punishable from 45 to 65 years).

Shaw's trial counsel objected, pursuant to Indiana Code § 35-34-1-5, which gives the state 30 days to make an amendment to the pending charges. In some cases, an amendment may be permitted if made later, merely a matter of form and not prejudicial. The trial court denied Shaw's trial attorney's objection, and allowed the state to proceed.

Shaw was found guilty by a jury and sentenced to 60 years in prison.

What happens when you are filthy rich and have lots of time on your hands? You sue your trustees of course, for breach of fiduciary duty. What happens when you lose the lawsuit? You have to pay your trustee's attorney's fees.

In a recent 7th Circuit case, the heirs not only lost their claim, but now owe attorney fees exceeding the amount they were suing for.

Sometimes, you shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth.

Illinois was the last holdout state to enact a concealed carry law (check out Slate's helpful map) -- not that it wasn't heavily contested. The controversy started when the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a portion of an Illinois law making it illegal for persons to carry weapons in public as a violation of the plaintiffs' Second Amendment rights. The court stayed its mandate for 180 days, effectively giving Illinois lawmakers time to enact a law that complied with its ruling.

On May 31, the Illinois General Assembly passed a concealed carry law making it legal for people to carry firearms in public. On July 2, Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed the measure. But just one week later, the Illinois General Assembly voted to override the governor's veto.

So why are we still talking about this?

Officers Immune Despite Cuffing, Detaining Legally Armed Man

Ignorance of the law is an excuse, at least if you are a bumbling officer unfamiliar with firearm carrying statutes.

Illinois, despite being notoriously gun-averse, has a statute that allows certain individuals, such as private detectives, to carry a firearm in public. These "tan card" holders are admittedly a rarity in the state, which, until last year's landmark decision, essentially prohibited all individuals from carrying legally-owned firearms.

EPA Can Shut Down Campground for Not Testing Water

Do bears poop in the woods?

The Seventh Circuit must assume so, because the court agreed with the Environmental Protection Agency that campsites with water sources should test their water for contaminants.

The EPA can regulate “public water systems,” and it turns out that putting “non-potable” on your spigots isn’t enough.

Malicious Prosecution Conspiracy Theory Meets Pleading Standard

Michael Alexander, an Indiana attorney, recently found himself in a near-familiar place: the defendant’s side of the courtroom. This time, however, he wasn’t the attorney. He was accused of bribing witnesses to provide favorable testimony on his clients’ behalf. Though he was acquitted after only an hour of deliberations, his investigator was later convicted of a related offense.

According to Alexander, not only was he innocent, but the entire fiasco was the result of a grudge by Indiana state prosecutor Mark McKinney, who conspired with two FBI agents to fabricate some evidence, destroy other evidence, and attempt unsuccessfully to frame him for a bribery scheme that he played no part in. Alexander had previously criticized McKinney for his work on a City of Muncie/Delaware County Drug Task Force.