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

March 2014 News

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.

Last September we posted about a Seventh Circuit opinion that admonished an attorney for his conduct -- or more specifically, his lack of conduct. Surprised? Don't be -- we're in the "Benchslappy" circuit, remember? (Hat tip to Above the Law). Well, what started out as a benchslap has turned into a suspension.

Michael Finn was Kenneth Clark's appellate counsel, and oral arguments were scheduled for April 14, 2011. One problem: Finn didn't show up. Initially, Finn claimed that he was ill, and "not well enough to go to court," reports the ABA Journal. Needless to say, his client lost his appeal.

A second-year law student posted an ad on Craigslist asking parents to "sell me your teenage daughter" and then was surprised when he was caught, convicted and thrown in jail. Do you think he skipped the semester when they covered criminal law first year?

The Underlying Offense

Harry McMillan is the law student who sought sex online from minors, and he engaged in a negotiation with Chief Andrews, a member of the Illinois Attorney General's Task Force on Internet Crimes Against Children and the U.S. Secret Service's Southern Illinois Cyber Crimes Task Force, though McMillan thought he was communicating with "Mike," the father of a teenage girl willing to have sex. Though he feared "Mike" might be a police officer, Officer Andrews (as "Mike") told him "I don't want to go to jail either."

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.

We usually leave the marketing talk to the Strategist Blog writers, but we have a hunch that attorneys in the Seventh Circuit might need some help marketing too. While you're trying to get through the winter hunkered down under blankets (as we can only imagine here in sunny California), putting together a marketing plan may be just the thing you need to get the blood pumping.

Here are three easy things you can do to boost your firm's business, so next winter you can take that tropical vacation and leave those blankets behind.

Last week, Above the Law reported on a most interesting clerkship rejection letter they called "rejection via resignation." In the letter, Judge John Daniel Tinder of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit softly let an applicant down, stating: "Your credentials are outstanding. However, I recently decided that I will be leaving the court in 2015 so I will not be hiring any additional clerks."

A testament to the applicant's resourcefulness, the "tipster" could not find any formal retirement announcements and let ATL know.

A divided panel of the Seventh Circuit found a school's policy prohibiting boys from sporting long hair on the basketball court violated the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause and was sex discrimination under Title IX, reports the ABA Journal.

Long Hair Don't Care

The parents of A.H. sued his school district alleging violations of substantive due process, equal protection of the laws and Title IX regulations when A.H. was removed from the basketball team for not complying with the coach's hair length policy promoting "team unity" and a "clean cut" image, reports The Indianapolis Star.

In the ongoing legal saga that is made up of multiple legal challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate (with 93 pending cases and counting), the Seventh Circuit has added its two cents again.

Back in November the Seventh Circuit weighed in on the issue of the contraception mandates applicability to for-profit, secular businesses, and came out on the side of business owners when it granted an injunction pending appeal, stating that "compelling [business owners] to cover those services substantially burdens their religious exercise rights."

A few weeks ago, the Seventh Circuit issued an opinion in another case challenging the mandate, only this time, it's regarding self certification Form 700 that allows religiously affiliated institutions to exempt themselves from carrying out the contraception mandate.