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Decisions in Criminal Matters and a Parent's Civil Rights Claim for False Arrest

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By FindLaw Staff on March 22, 2010 2:43 PM

The Seventh Circuit decided two criminal matters today, and a 42 U.S.C. section 1983 case brought by a mother and a grandmother against an elementary school principal and others for their arrest.

In Brown v. Watters, No. 08-1171, the court faced a challenge to the district court's denial of defendant's petition for habeas relief for his civil commitment as a sexually violent person.  Defendant argued that he was denied due process because the state court relied on evidence that was not supported by scientific knowledge or accepted in the medical community. 

First, although the court noted that the diagnosis for paraphilia NOS nonconsent was minimally sufficient for due process purposes, it was not so lacking in scientific validity that relying upon it for civil commitment amounts to a denial of due process. Second, the court rejected defendant's claim that the diagnosis for APD was overbroad and too imprecise to provide a meaningful evidence of a mental disorder.  Finally, the court rejected defendant's claim that the expert testimony was unreliable under Daubert as he pointed to no authority in which the Daubert standard has been imposed on states as a requirement of due process.

In US v. Thompson, No. 09-1926, the court deal with an issue of first impression involving a district court's imposition of an 8 month re-imprisonment sentence on a defendant for violating the conditions of his supervised release via video conference hearing.  In vacating the sentence of re-imprisonment, the court held that a supervised-release revocation hearing by video conference violates Rule 32(b)(2) as the form and substantive quality of the hearing is altered when a key participant, here the judge, is absent from the hearing room even if participating by virtue of a cable or satellite link. 

In Stokes v. Bd. of Educ. of the City of Chicago, No. 09-1180, the court faced a challenge to the trial court's dismissal of plaintiffs' 42 U.S.C. section 1983 case against an elementary school principal and the city's board of education for alleging that the principal violated their constitutional rights by swearing to false complaints leading to their arrests.  In affirming the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendants, the court held that the undisputed facts showed that the principal had probable cause to sign criminal complaints for disorderly conduct against the parent and the grandparent based on the verbal and physical altercation between the plaintiffs and the parent of another student on the school premises while school was in session. 

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