7th Circuit Court News News - U.S. Seventh Circuit
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Recent Court News Decisions

If you've ever run into the so-called 'sovereign citizen' theory of the law, you know that it is, well, complete BS. The sovereign citizen movement is based on a strange interpretation of common law, the Uniform Commercial Code, and maritime law, which followers believe allows them to avoid taxes and pretty much all legal authorities. It's a movement based out of conspiracy, confusion, and a paranoid view of reality. It's just nuts.

But Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner is taking some heat from his colleagues for saying as much in court. Faced with a pro se sovereign citizen defendant in 2015, Posner showed little patience for the man's arguments, calling them "complete bullshit." Now his colleagues are considering whether Posner's frustration denied the man a fair trial.

No Part-Time Vacation at Red Lobster, Court Rules

A federal appeals court has rejected a class action claim that Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and other restaurants failed to pay part-timers vacation pay.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals said that two employees failed to qualify for class action status because they were not proper representatives, particularly because they were part-time employees and vacation was offered only to full-time employees. Under Illinois wage laws, the court said, the restaurants were not required to pay part-time employees vacation benefits.

7th Circuit Upholds Ban on Robocalls

It's not easy being a machine. Put another way, robots do not have free speech rights. Or in other words, you can't use robocalls to convey political messages. Or perhaps even better said, as a federal appeals court said after listening to arguments that a ban on robocalls discriminated against political speech:

"We don't get it," the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals said. "Nothing in the statute ... disfavors political speech."

Acquitted Attorney Can't Sue Prosecutors, 7th Cir. Rules

No good deed goes unpunished, and you can't even sue for it.

That's a summary of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals' decision in Katz-Crank v. Haskett, which says an acquitted lawyer is barred from suing government officials who unsuccessfully prosecuted her. Here's what happened:

An attorney discovered her client was committing fraud and reported him to authorities. But they already knew about it and were investigating whether the attorney was involved. They charged her with aiding and abetting, and she was acquitted. She sued, and a judge dismissed. The court of appeals affirmed.

Meanith Huon's battle with blogs will continue after the Seventh Circuit revived his lawsuit against Jezebel this week. Huon, an Illinois attorney, began his battle with Jezebel, once part of the Gawker network, and the legal blog Above the Law over their coverage of a rape accusation against him. Huon sued the blogs for defamation based on their portrayal of him as a serial rapist.

Huon's suit against Jezebel was originally dismissed in district court but was given new life on Monday, when the Seventh Circuit ruled that Huon's accusations regarding the blog's comments were strong enough to withstand summary judgement, particularly given Huon's claims that user comments were created and developed with the help of Jezebel's staff.

'Rats. This case is about rats.' And so begins Seventh Circuit Judge Frank Easterbrook's finest judicial opinion, his Marbury v. Madison, his Brown v. Board of Ed., his Fisher v. Lowe.

Well, maybe that's going a bit far. But for a case about rats, this one from Easterbrook is pretty good.

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U. of Wisconsin Wins Big Against Apple in Patent Litigation, Returns for More

The University of Wisconsin's Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) convinced a federal jury in the Seventh Circuit yesterday that Apple had infringed on one of its processor patents. The iPhone maker is said to have infringed upon the WARF patent in the A7, A8, and A8X processors that are used heavily in 2013-14 iPads and iPhones.

Now that it has been established that Apple infringed on U of W's patent, the only matter left to be determined are damages. So far, the number that is being bandied about the Internet is a cool $862.4 million. A mere bagatelle considering Apple's coffers.

It was a sad day in the Seventh Circuit last Tuesday, as Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Cudahy died of natural causes in his home. Judge Cudahy, a Carter appointee, joined the circuit in 1979 and served for a total of 36 years, with 15 years on active status. He was 89 years old.

Judge Cudahy was "unusually productive," his Seventh Circuit bio notes. And though he got his start in the U.S. Air Force and later ran a family meatpacking plant, he made his name as an influential jurist and a respected expert on environmental and energy law. He was a great example of "how to combine intellect with compassion," his former clerk Ralph Weber told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Another Seventh Circuit judge is in hot water these days, and no, it's not for forgetting a case for a few years this time. Judge Posner, perhaps one of the highest profile judges in the federal courts, minus only those on SCOTUS, came under fire after he did his own Internet research on a case -- and citing Wikipedia in the process.

The case involved a prisoner suing pro se after prison officials took away his medication. His suit was originally tossed out, only to be revived in part because Judge Posner did his own research to show that a genuine factual dispute existed, relying on information that wasn't submitted by the parties or present during trial. As Judge David Hamilton noted in his dissent, that goes beyond the "permissible boundaries" of an appellate court.