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

November 2014 News

5 Things to Be Thankful for in the Seventh Circuit

As we give thanks this year, we wondered, what is there to be thankful for in the Seventh Circuit?

Partly it's that we never stop to consider the court beyond its opinions (and partly it's a slow news week in the Seventh). When we crunched the numbers, we found out there was a lot of great stuff happening in the court of appeals that covers Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana. Here are just five of them.

Grumpy Posner Removes Judge From Case for Grumpiness, Errors

Judge Richard Posner is known for his way with words, especially his ability to criticize deserving parties in a caustic, humorous, and legally sound manner. So on first glance, it may seem strange that he'd criticize a district court judge for his "tone of derision that pervades his opinion" before reassigning the case on remand.

Except there is one big difference: Posner's opinions stand on solid ground. U.S. District Judge Milton Shadur's opinion, and his handling of an employment discrimination case, seem to have been far less stable, reports the ABA Journal. While Posner hesitated to call out Shadur by name in his opinion (hat tip to the ABA for digging up the district court opinion), his treatment of Shadur's work was otherwise classic, unrestrained Posner.

7th Cir.: Convict Entitled to Use Entrapment Defense on Remand

For some reason, criminals think there is magic in the phrase: "You gotta tell me if you're a cop." Except there isn't and really, police don't. This lead to Leslie Mayfield's predicament. Mayfield was set up by undercover government agents to rob a fake drug "stash" house. Mayfield tried to invoke the "entrapment" defense, but predictably, the court said no. Mayfield was convicted and sentenced to a "whopping" 322 months in prison (that's almost 27 years).

In this opinion from an en banc rehearing, the Seventh Circuit took a long, concerted look at entrapment, concluding that, because it's a fact-based defense, it should have at least been submitted to the jury for consideration. The opinion attempts to settle some confusion within the circuit about the appropriate standard for entrapment.

NU Cut Ties From Boozy Jewish House, Not Discrimination: 7th Cir.

Illinois of course prohibits people under 21 from drinking alcohol. Except that it's permitted "in the performance of a religious ceremony or service." Students attending ostensibly religious functions (a.k.a. "parties") at the Tannenbaum Chabad house at Northwestern University did indeed consume alcohol there -- so much, in fact, that one student had to be hospitalized for excessive consumption.

A discrimination suit against the university arose after Chabad's advisor, Rabbi Klein, failed to make any changes to the house, resulting in the university "disaffiliating" itself from Chabad and barring Klein from contracting with a food company called Sodexo to provide rabbinic supervision over its kosher food.

A federal district court dismissed the case, and so too did the Seventh Circuit.

Adjunct Prof.'s Critical Letter to College Was Protected: 7th Cir.

Robin Meade was an adjunct professor at Moraine Valley Community College in the Chicago suburbs. While we recently blogged about why lawyers might want to be adjuncts, Meade was none too pleased with the way the college treated her and other adjuncts. She said so in a letter to the college, signed by her in her capacity as president of the Moraine Valley Adjunct Faculty Organization (MVAFO).

Two days later, Meade was fired. The college made it clear that she was fired for the letter she wrote. She sued -- which you'd do, right? Seems like the college retaliated for exercising her First Amendment rights. Incredibly, though, the district court dismissed her complaint for failure to state a claim.