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Carroll and Lizzie Raines purchased their Mundelein home in 1975 as joint tenants. When Raines’ wife died, he became the sole owner until his 2009 death. Raines died intestate with six heirs. In 2007, Raines had filed federal income taxes for tax years 2000, 2001, 2003, and 2004. The IRS assessed taxes, penalties, and interest that remained unpaid. In 2010, the government recorded a notice of a $115,022.42 federal tax lien with the Lake County Recorder of Deeds. The Notice incorrectly identified “Carrol V. Raines” as the debtor, omitting the second “l” from his first name, and failed to include a legal description or permanent index number, but did correctly identify the property address. Raines’ heirs conveyed their interest in the property to Chicago Title Land Trust, which made improvements and capital investments in the property. In 2017, the government instituted proceedings to foreclose the tax lien, naming Chicago Title, other financial institutions, and municipal entities. The district court found that the defendants had adequate notice of the lien, which conformed to 26 U.S.C. 6323, so the government could enforce the lien. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, upholding a determination that the Affidavit of Bond, a title insurance executive who has conducted thousands of title searches and prepared thousands of title reports, commitments, and insurance policies, was inadmissible because it consisted of undeclared expert testimony and improper legal conclusions. The errors did not make the Lien undiscoverable. View "United States v. Z Investment Properties, LLC" on Justia Law

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In 2005, Joliet proposed to condemn and raze New West's apartments as a public nuisance. By 2017 the district court held that Joliet is entitled to condemn the buildings, set just compensation at $15 million, and held that New West cannot obtain relief against the city under federal housing discrimination statutes. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The parties then disputed the status of a reserve fund, about $2.8 million, that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) held for the federally-subsidized apartment complex. New West argued that the money came from rents to which it was entitled by contract with HUD and that, once it no longer had responsibility for the buildings, HUD must write it a check. The district court recognized that the fund was not part of the condemnation or housing-discrimination suits, but nonetheless rejected New West’s claim and concluded that the fund should accompany the buildings. The Seventh Circuit vacated. HUD controls the reserve fund and is the only entity that can use or disburse it; HUD was dismissed as a party in 2013. The court lacked authority to order HUD to do anything. New West needs to file a new action, seeking an order that the federal government pay it a sum of money, in the Court of Federal Claims, under the Tucker Act or in the district court. “In either forum, the judge should start from scratch, disregarding the missteps in the condemnation suit.” View "Joliet v. New West, L.P." on Justia Law

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At 3:31 a.m., East St. Louis Police Officer Sherrod received a report of a vehicle playing loud music. Approaching the vehicle, Sherrod saw Cherry looking for something in the grass. Cherry stated that he was looking for the key to his tire rims. Although Cherry seemed intoxicated, Sherrod decided to help him. As he was searching, Sherrod noticed a handgun a few feet from Cherry. Sherrod handcuffed Cherry for officer safety, without arresting him. Cherry tried to run. Sherrod then arrested Cherry and took him the police station where Cherry told Officer Simon that, earlier that night, he had stopped his car to pick a CD and thought that he saw an acquaintance. After rolling down his window, he realized that he did not know the person, who had a gun; Cherry knocked it out of the man’s hands. The stranger then fled. Cherry explained that during the scuffle he lost his cell phone and got out of the car to look for it. He admitted to picking up the gun. Cherry was charged as a felon in possession of a firearm, 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1); 924(a)(2) for forfeiture, 18 U.S.C. 924(d)(1). Cherry requested an “innocent possession” instruction. The Seventh Circuit affirmed Cherry’s conviction, declining to recognize an innocent possession defense. Even where the defense is recognized, it applies only where the defendant immediately surrenders the firearm to law enforcement. No reasonable juror could have failed to find a nexus between the gun and Cherry’s conviction, so the court’s failure to ask whether either party wanted the jury to determine forfeitability of the firearm did not affect Cherry’s substantial rights. View "United States v. Cherry" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In 1998, Garcia-Martinez pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon under N.J.S. 2C:12-1(b)(2). According to his plea colloquy, Garcia-Martinez’s role was minor: he stuck out his foot to trip the victim. Once the victim was on the ground, Garcia-Martinez’s friends “jumped on [the victim] and started hitting him” and “some of [Garcia-Martinez’s] friends punched [the victim], kicked him and struck him.” Garcia-Martinez stood by during their assault; he soon left the scene. The Board of Immigration Appeals has found in the past that “assault with a deadly weapon” is a generic crime of moral turpitude that makes a noncitizen ineligible for cancellation of removal, 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(2)(A)(i)(I). The Board found that there was no realistic probability that the New Jersey law could be applied to conduct outside the scope of the generic crime and concluded that Garcia-Martinez’s conviction was for a crime involving moral turpitude. The Seventh Circuit granted a petition for review and remanded. Although the New Jersey statute appears to fit the generic definition of assault with a deadly weapon, only some of the conduct covered by the statute appears to be sufficiently vile, base, immoral, or depraved to deserve the label moral turpitude. The Board speculated about the type of weapon that Garcia-Martinez’s accomplices may have possessed and did not explain why the generic definition of assault with a deadly weapon includes tripping. View "Garcia-Martinez v. Barr" on Justia Law

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In 1996 Aldaco pleaded guilty to battery and received a sentence of six months’ supervision, a diversionary disposition under Illinois law. The court entered a finding of guilt and deferred proceedings. After Aldaco complied with the conditions of her supervision, the court dismissed the charge. Aldaco could have had the battery record expunged, but did not ask the court to do so. Nineteen years later Aldaco wished to rent an apartment. As part of one application process, she consented to a criminal background check, which the landlord outsourced to Yardi. Its report flagged her battery sentence and the landlord refused to rent to Aldaco. She protested to Yardi, falsely asserting that the battery record did not pertain to her. She did not inform Yardi that the reported length of her sentence was incorrect. Yardi reexamined its work and confirmed that the record pertained to Aldaco. Aldaco filed suit, contending that Yardi—as a consumer reporting agency—violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act when it disclosed her criminal history. The Act prohibits reporting agencies from disclosing any arrest record or other adverse items more than seven years old but permits them to report “records of convictions” no matter how old, 15 U.S.C. 1681c(a). The Act does not define the word “conviction.” The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment for Yardi. Federal law controls; the word “convictions” encompasses pleas of guilt. View "Aldaco v. Rentgrow, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law

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Patel pleaded guilty to five counts of wire fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1343, for his role in selling $179 million in fraudulent loans to an investment advisor. Patel delayed his sentencing date for a year while he purported to help recover funds for his victims. While on bond, just days before he was to be sentenced, Patel attempted to flee the U.S. and seek political asylum elsewhere. Agents arrested him just before he boarded a chartered flight to Ecuador. The government discovered that while on bond, instead of earning money for his victims through consulting fees and redevelopment projects, Patel and another used fictitious identities and entities to defraud an Iowa lender out of millions of dollars. Approximately $2.2 million of the money Patel had ostensibly earned for the fraud victims was newly‐stolen money. The court imposed a below-guidelines sentence of 25 years’ imprisonment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the sentence as procedurally and substantively reasonable. Patel made a disparity argument, the government had the opportunity to respond, and the court addressed it on the record; nothing more is required. The court’s comments regarding Patel’s psychological state and motivations relate to factors that a court must consider at sentencing, 18 U.S.C. 3553(a)(1), (2)(A). There is no indication that the court “did not like” him and sentenced him inappropriately as a result. View "United States v. Patel" on Justia Law

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Since his March 2008, birth, L.D.R. has consistently received medical care in the fields of pediatrics, otolaryngology, pulmonology, psychology, and speech pathology. His mother first sought social security benefits on his behalf when he was one year old. L.D.R.’s health, development, and behavioral issues deteriorated and improved at various times. A child is disabled under social security income rules if the child has a “medically determinable physical or mental impairment, which results in marked and severe functional limitations” that “has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months,” 42 U.S.C. 1382c(a)(3)(C)(i). The Social Security Administration determined that L.D.R. was disabled as of August 2015, just before he enrolled in second grade. The Seventh Circuit rejected a request for retroactive payments and a challenge to the constitutionality of the law prohibiting an award of benefits for a period before the application for benefits. The AuSgust 2015 disability date was well supported in the ALJ’s decision, which considered in particular detail L.D.R.’s various conditions, their history, the treatments he received, and L.D.R.’s reactions to these treatments. The prohibition on pre-application benefits satisfies rational basis scrutiny. View "L.D.R. v. Berryhill" on Justia Law

Posted in: Public Benefits

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The Illinois Firearm Concealed Carry Act requires an applicant for a concealed-carry license to show that he is not a clear and present danger to himself or a threat to public safety and, within the past five years, has not been a patient in a mental hospital, convicted of a violent misdemeanor or two or more violations of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or participated in a residential or court-ordered drug or alcohol treatment program, 430 ILCS 66/10(a)(4), 66/25(3), 66/25(5); 430 ILCS 65/4, 65/8. These standards are identical for residents and nonresidents. State police conduct an extensive background check for each applicant. During the five-year licensing period, state police check all resident licensees against the Illinois Criminal History Record Inquiry and Department of Human Services mental health system daily. The law mandates that physicians, law enforcement officials, and school administrators report persons suspected of posing a clear and present danger to themselves or others within 24 hours of that determination. Monitoring compliance of out-of-state residents is limited by Illinois’s inability to obtain complete, timely information about nonresidents, so Illinois issues licenses only to nonresidents living in states with licensing standards substantially similar to Illinois standards. The Seventh Circuit upheld the law in a challenge by nonresidents, as respecting the Second Amendment without offending the anti-discrimination principle at the heart of Article IV’s Privileges and Immunities Clause. View "Culp v. Raoul" on Justia Law

Posted in: Constitutional Law

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Sanchelima contracted to serve as Walker’s exclusive distributor of silos in 13 Latin American countries. Walker agreed not to sell silos directly to third parties in those countries. The contract contained a limited remedies provision and a damages disclaimer and was subject to Wisconsin law. Walker assigned a representative to work with Sanchelima, but otherwise did not market its products in the relevant countries. In 2014, Walker nonetheless sold silos for a factory in Mexico and to a Nicaraguan company. In 2015, Walker sold silos to a Mexican plant; in 2017, Walker sold tanks to a Mexican company. Sanchelima notified Walker that it considered the sales a breach of the agreement, then filed suit. Walker terminated the agreement without cause. Sanchelima sought lost profits of more than $600,000. Walker cited the limited remedies provision as an affirmative defense. It explicitly precludes recovery of “any lost profits … arising out of or in connection with the Distributor Agreement.” The district court held that provision violates Wisconsin’s version of the UCC 2‐719, Wis. Stat. 402.719: Where circumstances cause an exclusive or limited remedy to fail of its essential purpose, remedy may be had as provided in chs. 401 to 411... Consequential damages may be limited or excluded unless the limitation or exclusion is unconscionable. Because the limited remedy provision provided no relief for Walker’s breach of the exclusivity provision, the court held it failed of its essential purpose and awarded Sanchelima $778,306.70. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has interpreted UCC's limited remedy provisions; other states have interpreted those provisions differently. The Seventh Circuit declined to overturn state precedent as inconsistent with modern trends, “until and unless the Wisconsin Supreme Court decides to overturn it.” View "Sanchelima International, Inc. v. Walker Stainless Equipment Co., KKC" on Justia Law

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The labor agreement between Brock, a provider of industrial services, including scaffolding, painting, and shoring, and the Laborers Union requires arbitration of grievances and establishes a bipartite arbitration procedure for resolving most disputes. Work-jurisdiction disputes—disputes over whether the Laborers or another union is entitled to perform work—are instead subject to a tripartite arbitration procedure involving the company and the contending unions. Before signing the agreement, Brock hired the Laborers to perform scaffolding work at a chemical plant. After the agreement became effective, Brock informed the Laborers that it was reassigning the work to the Carpenters Union. Invoking the bipartite arbitration procedure, the Laborers filed a grievance with the Grievance Review Subcommittee of the National Maintenance Agreement Policy Committee. Brock responded that the Subcommittee lacked authority to arbitrate the matter. The Subcommittee disagreed and sustained the grievance and filed suit under section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 185. The district judge determined that the Subcommittee had authority and issued an order enforcing the decision. The Seventh Circuit reversed. The grievance concerns which of two unions was entitled to perform the scaffolding work at the chemical plant, a jurisdictional dispute, so the Subcommittee had no authority over the matter and its decision must be vacated. View "Brock Industrial Services, LLC v. Laborers' International Union of North America Construction & General Laborers Local 100" on Justia Law