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

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.

The Seventh Circuit simply forgot about a case, for over five years. In a surprising ruling issued by Judges Easterbrook and Kanne last Thursday, the court admitted that it had misplaced court filings, then forgotten about them for more than five years. The case was lost for so long that one of the three judges originally on the panel, Judge Terence Evans, passed away before it was rediscovered.

The case, involving investment adviser's fees, was on remand from the Supreme Court when it vanished among the clutter. It's rare to see a case languish for so long, but ridiculous delays and oversights in the justice system aren't unheard of, whether they're Seventh Circuit cases, decade's long failures to arrest convicts, or jailing individuals for years without charges.

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson's suit challenging Obamacare's changes to congressional health plans was dismissed by the Seventh Circuit for lack of standing on Tuesday. Johnson and his legislative counsel had sued after the Affordable Care Act resulted in changes to their healthcare options, including federal subsidies for their health care plans. Johnson, however, had purchased his own private healthcare instead of participating in the federal program.

The two couldn't show an injury, needed to provide standing to sue, a unanimous Seventh Circuit ruled. The government had simply provided them a benefit which they refused.

On Monday, the Supreme Court decided a case that had circuit court of appeals split, that is, whether property, as defined by the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act of 1996 ("Act"), is "'returned' when a victim takes title to collateral securing a loan that an offender fraudulently obtained from the victim."

The Supreme Court clarified its stance, and affirmed the Seventh Circuit's opinion.

Francis Grady was on a mission to "blow up" a Planned Parenthood clinic in Grand Chute, Wisconsin, and when we was arrested, tried and convicted of arson and intentionally damaging property, he was surprised. With no wiggle room to get out of his conviction, he challenged the district court's definition of "maliciously" on appeal.

The Arson

Grady went to Daniel Wolf's house seeking gasoline and told him "that he wanted to blow up Planned Parenthood." Wolf refused, and Grady proceeded to buy gasoline, go to Planned Parenthood and start a fire. After hearing about the fire on the news, Wolf contacted police about Grady. During the police interview Grady confessed and said that he "lit the clinic up," that his "intention was to light the building," and he had told a friend afterward that he "thought as far as I know I though it f*****' burned right down."

We've been writing a bit about the "Benchslappy" Seventh Circuit -- we can't help ourselves. The Seventh Circuit's benchslaps are funny, and often illuminating -- so much so we had to do a review of some that have occurred only within the past three months.

After reviewing some of the more notable Seventh Circuit benchslaps through the years, we've decided to put a list together for you on how to avoid getting whapped the next time you submit a brief, or argue, before the Seventh Circuit.

We're only three months into 2014, and the "Benchslappy" Seventh Circuit (so dubbed by Above the Law) has already issued enough benchslaps to warrant a review. And we're not just talking Judge Posner, but Judge Easterbrook as well. Here's a little round up of some of the latest benchslaps coming out of the Windy City.

Judge Posner's Benchslaps During Oral Arguments

Earlier this month we posted on the Seventh Circuit's opinion, written by Judge Posner, affirming a district court's denial of Notre Dame's motion for a preliminary injunction in a contraception mandate case. Apparently, the court's opinion may be getting as much press as some of the interactions between the bench and Notre Dame's attorney Matthew Kairis during oral arguments.

With the Supreme Court in full swing, Monday was a busy day for denials (just take a look at the order list). One of the cases denied cert. was a case originating in the Seventh Circuit, and one of a trio of cases the SCOTUSblog likes to call the "washing machine" cases.

We also take a look at Wisconsin's voter photo ID law that is before Wisconsin's highest court.

It's amazing how Judge Posner can take a simple issue, and use it as an excuse to go on, and on. In this case, the issue before the Seventh Circuit was "whether the defendant was served with process" -- but Judge Posner characterized it as one that "could be the basis for a novel of international intrigue."

No matter what you say, this is no case for 007, we just see it as a case of stereotyping, and over-simplification.

We called it. What probably will be one of many upsets this Supreme Court term has happened: the writ of certiorari for Madigan v. Levin was dismissed as improvidently granted.

Ouch.