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

Recent Criminal Law Decisions

Witnesses at Sentencing Weren't a Breach of Gov't Plea Deal

The Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled recently that the government did not breach the terms of a plea agreement that it entered into with a defendant whom it had indicted on several counts of fraud. Those terms, the defendant argued, limited the number of victims allowed to testify at sentencing.

The Fourth Circuit, however, disagreed. Whatever plea agreement the defendant had entered into with the government, it could not have been meant to limit the number of victims used against the defendant.

Chicago Drug Conspiracy Case Confirmed by 7th Circuit

The Seventh Circuit just affirmed a lower district court decision that could inflame the passions of many civil rights groups. The issue: Can criminal convictions stand against defendants if another criminal conviction on which the other convictions depended was dismissed?

To most people, the reasonable answer is no. But the Seventh Circuit turned to past presidential case law and said, "Yes, that sounds about right."

Hi-Frequency Trader's Conviction Overturned by the 7th Circuit

An analyst who stole computer information related to the writing of algorithms used in High Frequency Trading ("HFT") caught the sympathetic ear of the Seventh Circuit which overturned three year prison sentence ordered by the lower court. The case has been remanded back to the trial court for a new sentence.

The Seventh Circuit Court determined that although definite crimes took place, there was a disconnect between the claimed intended damage of $12.7 million as the plaintiff company claimed; and his actual intent.

'Looks Like Texting' Isn't Texting, Suppress that Heroin! 7th Cir.

It can't be overstated: Indiana has some funny laws. In the case at bar, Judge Posner authored an opinion that overturned a criminal conviction for possession of heroin all because the police failed to prove probable cause. Now if this seems perfectly reasonable, get a load of the facts before you make your final assessment. It's a great case.

Before you read on, ask yourself a question and remember the answer. If you passed a car on the highway and saw the driver with their head bent forward fiddling with their cell-phone what would you suppose they were doing? Texting, right? Be honest.

A Wisconsin law requires convicted sex offenders who have been released from civil commitment to wear a GPS ankle bracelet all day, every day, for the rest of their lives. And that is not an unconstitutional violation of their privacy, the Seventh Circuit ruled recently.

The ankle monitor sends daily reports of the offender's movements to the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, who can then use the information to connect offenders to reported sexual assaults.

A Putnam County, Indiana, sheriff's deputy who was convicted for excessive force won't get off with just a 14-month sentence, the Seventh Circuit ruled last Thursday. Calling the sentence "light," when compared to similar cases, the court demanded that sheriff's deputy Terry Joe Smith be resentenced.

Smith was convicted following a series of violent episodes in 2012, characterized by the court as "violent, gratuitous, and sadistic," which included beating subdued, unresisting, and handcuffed suspects.

Posner Shoots Down 'Bounty Hunter' Who Exposed Fraud for Money

This week, Judge Richard Posner authored a rather pithy and readable opinion in which his court affirmed a lower district court's dismissal of a relator's claim seeking a hefty reward for shining a light on a contractor's fraud.

Nice try, said Judge Posner. You can't collect a bounty for a target already in hand.

7th Cir. Tosses Man's Arson Conviction, Waffles on Lying Charge

The Seventh Circuit overturned a lower court's conviction of a man who was found guilty of arson, but remanded the case with regards to lying to the FBI during the investigation.

Fortunately for the defendant, continued law enforcement officer (LEO) searches of his business went beyond the scope and purpose of the search, underscoring again the very blurry region of "fruit of poisonous tree" and the "purged taint."

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.