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

June 2017 News

7th Cir. Overturns Conviction of Brendan Dassey From 'Making a Murderer'

Is it bigger news that another murder conviction was overturned, or that the alleged killer was featured in a television series?

In either case, there will be a second season to "Making a Murderer," the Netflix documentary that told the story of Steven Avery, who spent 18 years in prison for being wrongfully convicted of sexual assault and attempted murder.

That's because now there is a new story to tell. Brendan Dassey, who was convicted with Avery in a later murder, has been exonerated by a federal appeals court.

Supreme Court to Review Wisconsin Gerrymandering Case

In a case that could affect elections nationwide, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review a gerrymandering decision from Wisconsin.

All legislatures draw voting districts to favor the incumbent party, but the court will decide how far they can go in drawing maps along party lines. In Gill v. Whitford, a federal court panel said Republican lawmakers had unlawfully drawn state assembly maps to keep Democrats from securing legislative seats.

While agreeing to review that decision, the Supreme Court also stayed the lower court's order to re-draw the maps while the appeal is pending.

Transgender Teen May Use Boys' Bathroom, Court Rules

A federal appeals court affirmed an injunction allowing a 17-year-old transgender student to use the boys' bathroom at school.

The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals said Ashton Whitaker, who was born female, will likely prevail on his claim of sexual stereotyping against his school district. Whitaker said the district denied him access to the bathroom in violation of anti-discrimination laws.

The Kenosha Unified School District said it was not sexual stereotyping to require a biological female to use the girls' bathroom, but the appeals court disagreed in Whitaker v. Kenosha Unified School District.

"By definition, a transgender individual does not conform to the sex-based stereotypes of the sex that he or she was assigned at birth," Judge Ann Claire Williams wrote for the court, adding: "A policy that requires an individual to use a bathroom that does not conform with his or her gender identity punishes that individual for his or her gender non-conformance, which in turn violates Title IX."