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

Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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In 2009, following a court-authorized interception of phone calls involving suspected drug traffickers, Milwaukee police obtained consent from Cannon’s son to search their home, found $14,000 in cash, and arrested Cannon, based on a report that a government informant had purchased cocaine, and borrowed a gun, from Cannon. Cannon posted bail but was not released because a new complaint charged him with giving a gun to an unauthorized person. Cannon eventually made bail, but was arrested after he moved without notifying the police. In 2011, Cannon was acquitted of the drug charge, but pleaded guilty to illegal possession of the gun, and a warrant issued for his arrest on new gun and drug charges. In 2013 Cannon obtained documents relating to his 2009 arrest and filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983. That suit was dismissed as premature, because his appeals were pending. In 2014 he was convicted of the 2011 charges and sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment. In 2015 he filed two 42 U.S.C. 1983 lawsuits based on the 2009 events. The Seventh Circuit affirmed dismissal of the claims as barred by the six‐year statute of limitations and noted that Cannon has incurred four strikes under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 28 U.S.C. 1915(g), so he may not file a federal civil action or appeal without prepaying all fees, unless he is in imminent danger of serious injury. View "Cannon v. Newport" on Justia Law

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Drs. Gupta and Wahi operated Illinois nutrition clinics. In 2011 they were indicted for mail fraud, healthcare fraud, and conspiracy to defraud Medicaid, private insurers, and patients. Gupta fled the country, but Wahi faced the charges. After a year of pretrial proceedings, the government learned that during the execution of a search warrant for electronic records, the FBI had inadvertently accessed emails that might have contained communications covered by the attorney-client privilege. Because the prejudice to Wahi’s case was unknown, the court, on the government’s motion, dismissed the indictment and ordered the government to file all discovery materials with the clerk under seal. The judge retained jurisdiction for the limited purpose of monitoring compliance. The government complied and the case was closed. Two years later, Wahi filed a petition for expungement of the judicial and FBI records related to his case. The court reasoned that Seventh Circuit precedent supported jurisdiction over requests to expunge judicial records but not records maintained by the executive branch, then concluded that Wahi’s circumstances did not justify the extraordinary remedy of expungement. The Seventh Circuit vacated, overruling the precedent cited by the district court in light of the Supreme Court’s 1994 holding in Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Insurance. Expungement authority is not inherent and must be grounded in a jurisdictional source found in the Constitution or statutes. View "United States v. Wahi" on Justia Law

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Rockford police responded to a report that two individuals were asleep in a running, parked car in a McDonald’s drive-thru. Officers saw a bottle of vodka in the front seat and tried to wake the driver, Dickson. Another officer observed a handgun lodged in the center console, lunged through the passenger’s-side door, and recovered the gun. Dickson was arrested. An inventory search of the car uncovered small amounts of heroin and marijuana. Dickson was charged as a felon in possession of a firearm. 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1). Dickson moved to suppress the gun and drugs. The government introduced evidence that the car’s rental agreement did not list Dickson as an authorized driver and that Dickson’s driver’s license was suspended. The court denied the motion, concluding that Dickson lacked standing to challenge the search and that the officers acted reasonably. The court classified Dickson as an armed career criminal and sentenced him to 235 months’ imprisonment. Dickson objected to supervised-release conditions requiring that he “remain within the jurisdiction where the defendant is being supervised, unless granted permission” and to “notify, as directed by the Probation Officer, third parties of risks that may be occasioned by the defendant’s criminal record or personal history or characteristics.” The Seventh Circuit affirmed denial of the motion to suppress, but remanded for limited resentencing, based on the “vague” conditions. View "United States v. Dickson" on Justia Law

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Jenkins was charged with Kidnapping, 18 U.S.C. 1201(a), and Using or Carrying a Firearm to Commit a Crime of Violence, 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(1)(A)(ii). Jenkins agreed to cooperate and entered into a proffer agreement, which prohibited the government from making direct use of any statements or information Jenkins provided in its case‐in‐chief, but permitted the government to derivatively use such information. Jenkins told the government where he hid the gun he used during the kidnapping. The government recovered the gun and introduced physical evidence and the testimony of the agents who found the gun during its case‐in-chief. Convicted, Jenkins received sentences of 188 months for kidnapping and 120 months for using a firearm to commit a federal crime of violence, to run consecutively. Jenkins argued that the government breached the proffer agreement. After arguments in Jenkins’ appeal, the Supreme Court decided Johnson v. United States, holding the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminals Act, 18 U.S.C. 924(e), to be unconstitutionally vague. Jenkins then challenged his conviction for using a weapon during a “crime of violence,” (kidnapping), arguing that in light of “Johnson,” kidnapping is no longer a “crime of violence” under section 924(c). The Seventh Circuit agreed; kidnapping under section 1201(a) does not have, as an element, the use, threatened use, or attempted use of physical force. The court did not address whether the government breached the proffer agreement. View "United States v. Jenkins" on Justia Law

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Glisson was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer. His larynx, part of his pharynx, portions of his mandible and 13 teeth were removed. He was fitted with a voice prosthesis, and received postoperative radiation treatment. Later, doctors inserted a gastrojejunostomy tube to help with nutrition and a cancerous lesion on his tongue was excised. Glisson also suffered memory issues, hypothyroidism, depression, smoking, and alcohol abuse. Glisson was sentenced to incarceration for giving a friend prescription painkillers. Prison medical personnel noted spikes in Glisson’s blood pressure, low pulse, low oxygen saturation level, confusion, and anger. His condition worsened, indicating acute renal failure. After a short hospital stay, Glisson died in prison. The district court rejected his mother’s suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 on summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit initially affirmed, rejecting a claim that failure to implement an Indiana Department of Corrections Health Care Service Directive, requiring a plan for management of chronic diseases, violated the Eighth Amendment. On rehearing, en banc, the court reversed. The Department’s healthcare contractor, Corizon, was not constitutionally required to adopt the Directives or any particular document, but was required to ensure that a well-recognized risk for a defined class of prisoners not be deliberately left to happenstance. Corizon had notice of the problems posed by lack of coordination, but did nothing to address that risk. Glisson was managing his difficult medical situation successfully until he fell into the hands of the Indiana prison system and Corizon. View "Glisson v. Indiana Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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Wright was arrested by Calumet City police, without a warrant, based on the murder of one individual and the shooting of others. Wright admitted to having a gun. At a minimum, he was to be charged with felony unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, but the prosecutor instructed the officers to wait to charge Wright until lab results came back establishing whether his gun matched casings and bullets at the scene. After being in custody for 55 hours, Wright sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that the city violated his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by failing to provide him with a judicial determination of probable cause within 48 hours of his arrest. The next day, a judge made a probable cause finding. In the section 1983 action, Wright sought class certification, asserting that the city had a policy or practice authorizing officers to detain persons arrested without a warrant for up to 72 hours before permitting the arrestee to appear before a judge. The city made an offer of judgment. Despite accepting that Rule 68 offer, granting him relief as to "all claims brought under this lawsuit,” Wright appealed the denial of certification of a proposed class of “[a]ll persons who will in the future be detained.” He did not appeal with respect to persons who had been detained. The Seventh Circuit dismissed, finding that Wright is not an aggrieved person with a personal stake in the case as required under Article III of the Constitution. View "Wright v. Calumet City" on Justia Law

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Five defendants were arrested as they were preparing to execute a planned robbery of a fictitious narcotics “stash house.” They had been recruited by an undercover agent, posing as a drug courier seeking to rob a Mexican drug cartel. Two of the defendants, Walker and Paxton, were arrested outside of a Chicago restaurant and placed into a police transport van that was clearly marked as a Chicago Police Department vehicle. Task force officers then drove the van to a warehouse, where the other three defendants had convened with the undercover agent for a final pre‐robbery meeting. The three were placed into the rear‐most compartment of the van along with Walker and Paxton. None were given Miranda warnings before being placed into the van. During the drive to the field office, the defendants conversed quietly. Unbeknownst to them, two recording devices had been hidden in the rear compartment of the van to capture their conversation. Although one defendant remarked that the van was “probably bugged,” the defendants continued to converse and make incriminating statements. The Seventh Circuit reversed the district court’s suppression of the recorded statements. The defendants lacked an objectively reasonable expectation of privacy in the van. View "United States v. Paxton" on Justia Law

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In 2013, Roake, an off-duty Forest Preserve District of Cook County police officer, took champagne to a department police station to celebrate the New Year, allegedly with permission from a sergeant. In January 2014, the department initiated disciplinary proceedings against Roake for his participation in the New Year’s Eve gathering. Roake alleges that hearing officers “upheld the charges” against him, and that he saw the “handwriting on the wall,” so he resigned his job. Roake claimed that his involvement in the party was a pretext for disciplining him because he had previously reported official misconduct within the department: an October 2013 incident involved racial profiling; the other, around February 6, 2014, involved a fellow officer whom Roake believed had been unjustly disciplined. Roake alleges that officials of the Forest Preserve department told certain prospective employers that he had consumed alcohol while on duty, damaging his professional reputation and making it difficult for him to find work. The Seventh Circuit affirmed dismissal of his retaliation action under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Roake did not show that he was disciplined for engaging in constitutionally protected speech, or that he was deprived of a constitutionally protected liberty or property interest without due process. View "Roake v. Forest Preserve District of Cook County" on Justia Law

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Lake, a prisoner at Illinois’ Hill Correctional Center, claimed, in his suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, that Dr. Jackson, the prison’s dentist had refused to send him to an outside dentist to extract a decayed tooth that was causing him pain. Lake claimed that Wexford, the contractor serving the prison, has policy of withholding medical care to save money. Although Dr. Jackson assured him that his mouth could be numbed successfully, Lake refused to let her pull the tooth and complained to Wexford that he was suffering needlessly because of its refusal to provide him with outside treatment. Lake later agreed to let a different prison dentist extract the tooth. A local anesthetic was used during the extraction, but Lake complained afterward that the procedure had been painful. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment, rejecting Lake’s claims, and agreeing that a jury would have to find that Dr. Jackson had been exercising professional judgment in predicting that administering a local anesthetic would enable her to extract the decayed tooth without inflicting significant pain. View "Lake v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc." on Justia Law

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Harper, an Illinois prisoner, sued a prison doctor and a nurse under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for deliberate indifference to his pain following nine abdominal surgeries, the management of his diet, and inattention to a possible renal cell tumor. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the defendants, concluding that Harper had not produced evidence from which a jury could find that either defendant ignored a substantial risk of harm. Harper was evaluated and treated each time that he appeared at the health center, given a treatment plan, and told to return if his symptoms persisted. Harper is not entitled to dictate how he should have been treated or whether he should have been transferred. View "Harper v. Santos" on Justia Law