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

July 2015 News

Lex, the drug-sniffing dog, has been a very bad boy. No, Lex didn't bite anyone. He never peed on the carpet or tore apart an officer's shoe. Rather, Lex sniffed drugs on just about everyone he encountered -- whether there were drugs present or not.

Lex's nose was just about as accurate as a coin toss, according to the Seventh Circuit. Lex's poor drug-sniffing skills weren't bad enough to remove probable cause, however. Lex's shortcomings did allow the court, in an opinion released Tuesday, to highlight the risk of police using inaccurate dogs as a pretext for otherwise unconstitutional searches.

You won't find him wandering the streets of Chicago anytime soon, let alone reviving his political career, but ex-Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich became a bit less of a felon yesterday, as the Seventh Circuit tossed out five of his 18 convictions. Blagojevich, you may remember, was arrested while serving as Governor of Illinois in 2009, after investigators caught him trying to sell Barack Obama's former Senate seat.

Blagojevich was convicted on 18 counts of corruption, attempted extortion, wire fraud, and associated crimes. Mistakes in jury instructions require that five of those convictions be vacated, the Seventh Circuit ruled.

Got bad precedent? Differentiate it. Did a question certified to a state court come out not in your favor? Try to spin it. But remember, there are limits to legal interpretation. If you're not careful, you might soon find yourself simply denying reality.

This is exactly what happened to FedEx, according to the Seventh Circuit. For nine years, FedEx had classified its drivers as independent contractors, not employees, leading to litigation throughout the country. When the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the drivers were employees under state law, FedEx simply attempted to ignore that reality, much to the Seventh Circuit's chagrin.