Justia U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Smego v. Payne

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Smego, a civilly committed sex offender at Rushville, sued his treatment team, alleging that another resident sexually assaulted him and that defendants forced Smego to continue group therapy with his alleged assailant and retaliated against Smego. After the Seventh Circuit held that Smego was entitled to a jury trial, Smego was represented by University of Illinois law students. Before trial, Smego appeared by video conference or telephone at hearings. For trial, Smego appeared in person. During an off‐the‐record break after closing arguments, the judge removed Smego for transport back to Rushville. The court did not address this removal on the record and issued no cautionary jury instruction regarding Smego’s absence, but instructed the jury that its verdict must be unanimous. Smego was not presemt when the jury found in favor of defendants. The judge asked whether the students wanted the jury polled, and a student, without consulting Smego, responded in the negative. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. There is no evidence that the jury had questions during deliberation or had any reason to know that Smego was not present during deliberations. Failing to poll the jury when it is clear that the verdict was unanimous, was a “minor matter.” View "Smego v. Payne" on Justia Law