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

April 2013 News

7th Cir. Reopens One-Child Appeal Based on Changed Conditions

Ji Cheng Ni has been in the U.S. since 2001, despite the fact that an Immigration Judge ordered him removed in 2003. Ni has two children, and argues that he should get a second shot at removal proceedings based on China’s one-child policy.

Last week, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.

American Red Cross Loses Anti-Union Appeal

People typically associate the American Red Cross with collecting donations and offering disaster relief. It's a do-gooder group.

On the flip side, there's Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Cudahy's description of the Red Cross as "a company charged with unilaterally changing conditions of employment in order to cripple a new union."

This week, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals stepped into a dispute between the Red Cross and the National Labor Relations Board with its own brand of disaster relief: instructions for an interim injunction.

No, Sir: You Are Incorrect. SCOTUS Affirms Kiobel

In a far away land, an American corporation harms people. It could be a physical attack. Maybe it's just property destruction. The victims, cognizant of the rampant corruption within their own judicial and political systems, turn to the U.S. for relief.

They sue in a federal court under the Alien Tort Statute. Over 200 years old, it's a brief law:

The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.

So can the victims in the scenario we described above sue in the U.S.? Until today, popular federal opinion said yes.

Do Employees Have a Property Interest in a Government Gig?

The City of Momence, Illinois fired Steven Cromwell, a former police lieutenant, after an incident of alleged alcohol-related misconduct. He sued, arguing that his termination was procedurally inadequate under the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause, because that’s what all the kids are doing these days.

Momence city regulations provide that probationary employees may be terminated at any time for any reason, but omit similar language when it comes to nonprobationary employees. Cromwell — a nonprobationary employee — believes that omission means that he has a contractual right to continued employment absent cause for termination.

A district court and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed.

Nun Sequitur: Jury Can't Decide Religious Question

Federal courts get the opportunity to resolve the great debates of our time. In 2001, the Nine were asked to answer the question, “What is golf?” This week, Judge Richard Posner and the Seventh Circuit — not ones to be outdone by Justice Scalia and the Supremes — addressed an equally important issue: Who decides if a  Catholic nun is really a “nun.”

(Hint: If you guessed the Catholic Church, you’re correct.)

Respond to Summary Judgment Motions, Even the Crappy Ones

We get it. Sometimes someone insults you, and the best response is a haughty “I’m not going to dignify that with a response.”

The rules, however, are slightly different when someone insults your complaint in a lawsuit. When a defendant moves for summary judgment based on your “complete lack of proof concerning all of the essential elements” of your claim, you can’t just attack the perceived deficiencies of his claim without offering any evidence to support your case.

At least, you can’t do that in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Are Edgar County Jail Conditions Cruel and Unusual?

No one ever said that a jail cell should be comfortable, but Richard Budd claims in a civil rights lawsuit that pretrial detention conditions in the Edgar County, Illinois Jail were downright unlivable.

Budd alleges that he was subject to unconstitutional conditions of confinement as an Edgar County pretrial detainee, and that the sheriff was deliberately indifferent to his medical needs. After a video conference to screen Budd’s complaint, the district court dismissed his action for failure to state a claim. The court, however, never prepared a transcript of the proceedings and it failed to issue a written statement of reasons for the decision.

According to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Budd’s claims were actionable.

Cook County Sheriff Gets Qualified Immunity in Jailbreak Appeal

If you're the guard on duty during a prison break, you should probably assume that you will be investigated.

The Seventh Circuit ruled this week that such investigations are objectively reasonable.