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

June 2012 News

If Your Llama's on the Lam, Fight the Conviction

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals appreciates exotic animals and irony more than most of its sister circuits. Lucky for you, the court touched on both of these topics in this safety valve sentencing appeal.

Once upon a time, Mark Burge’s llama escaped from its pen and wandered away. A llama on the loose counts as misdemeanor abandonment under the Illinois animal cruelty statute. Rather than hire a lawyer to defend against the charge, Burge chose to plead guilty and pay a $525 fine. Burge moved on with his life, (hopefully with the llama by his side).

School District Loses Seasonal Affective Disorder ADA Appeal

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against a Wisconsin school district in a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(b) appeal this week, finding that there was sufficient evidence to support a jury verdict that a teacher suffering from seasonal affective disorder was entitled to reasonable accommodation under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA).

In the fall of 2005, after the school year began, elementary school teacher Renae Ekstrand began to experience symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, a form of depression. Ekstrand spoke with the school principal several times to request a different classroom with exterior windows. Though the principal tried to make Ekstrand's classroom more hospitable, she denied the room change requests.

If at First You Don't Succeed, File a Copycat Class Action?

Just a Wisconsin is known for cheese, Illinois is known for shady politicians, Indiana is known for the 500, and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals' feeder courts are known as breeding grounds for class action lawsuits.

Some of those claims make the class certification cut. Others fail.

But even when one federal judge closes a class certification door, a different judge might open a certification window. This week, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that comity between federal district judges' rulings on class certification rulings is not preclusive.

Plaintiff Loses FRAP 4(a)(6) Appeal in Life-Ruining Lawsuit

The lawsuit at the root of this appeal alleged that a host of defendants — including the former Prime Minister of Singapore, the Governor of Wisconsin, and tenants in the plaintiff’s apartment building — conspired to ruin Plaintiff Khor Chin Lim’s life. Shockingly, the district court dismissed the complaint as “fantastical.”

Lim had 30 days to appeal the judgment to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Since he took almost 90 days to appeal, he filed a motion to reopen the appeals period under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure (FRAP) 4(a)(6). The Seventh Circuit ruled this week that Lim doesn’t qualify for relief under the rule.

Can South Park Get a 'What What'? 7th Circuit Says Its Fair Use

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that a South Park parody of a viral video, (which, in turn, became its own viral video), was clearly a parody of the original and protected under the fair use doctrine, reports TechDirt.

In 2008, South Park incorporated a parody of a video called, "What What (In the Butt)" (WWITB) in one of its episodes. The parody featured Butters, one of the South Park characters, singing WWITB. The Seventh Circuit described it as "a paean to anal sex."

Judge Posner Trusts Judges' Sentence Enhancement Instincts

Criminal masterminds may make the big bucks, but the minions get out of jail faster.

The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines provide harsher sentences for a defendant who is found to be an organizer, leader, manager, or supervisor of criminal activity.

This week, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals addressed answered the question, "Who qualifies as an "organizer, leader, manager, or supervisor?" with ambiguous aplomb.

Save the Drama for Your Mama: 7th Cir Can't Hear Disbarment Appeal

Do you know why you can’t appeal a state disbarment decision in federal appellate court? Mahendra Mehta does.

Mahendra Mehta filed a civil rights claim against the Illinois Supreme Court, the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, and a Review Board of the Commission, claiming that an order of the Illinois Supreme Court suspending his license to practice law violated his right to due process. The district court dismissed Mehta’s complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine.

Because the suspension order was the final judgment of a state court rather than a federal court, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal.

Nunc Pro Tunc Motion: Justice Loses Again

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals addressed the particulars of the nunc pro tunc motion this week in ongoing litigation over unregistered guns seized from John Justice.

We're covering this opinion for three reasons.

  1. Judge Frank Easterbrook, our current favorite on the Seventh Circuit, wrote it.
  2. The party's name is Justice. We like the ambiguities of Justice.
  3. We can all benefit from a nunc pro tunc refresher.

Court Can't Impose Impossible Bond Requirement on Indigent Inmate

In times of tightened belts, courts have to find creative ways of operating as lean, mean, judicial machines.

This week, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals directed its appellate spotlight on one such court, which required a litigious inmate to post a $1,000 bond to cover the defendants' costs if his lawsuit proved unsuccessful. According to the Seventh Circuit, that's not cool.