by
Prolite Building Supply bought Ply Gem windows, which it resold to Wisconsin builders. Some homeowners were not satisfied with the windows, which admitted air even when closed. Contractors stopped buying from Prolite, which stopped paying Ply Gem. Prolite and homeowners sued. Ply Gem removed the action to federal court and counter-claimed against Prolite for unpaid bills. Additional parties intervened. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of Prolite. The court vacated the judgment on the homeowners’ claims for remand to state court. The service agreement between Prolite and Ply Gem requires Prolite to repair the Ply Gem windows in exchange for a discount and needed parts. There was no breach of that agreement. The homeowners’ claims can be resolved under supplemental jurisdiction only if they “are so related to claims in the action within such original jurisdiction that they form part of the same case or controversy,” 28 U.S.C. 1367(a). The language of the window warranties received by the homeowners and the service agreement did not overlap. Prolite complained that Ply Gem did not do enough to ensure that its customers (the builders) remained willing to purchase Ply Gem windows. The homeowners just wanted to stop drafts and moisture. The nature of the work done differed. View "ProLite Building Supply, LLC v. Ply Gem Windows" on Justia Law

by
Ramos-Braga's São Paulo neighborhood was controlled by a gang (PCC), which tried to recruit him and attacked him many times. Police did not help but beat him when he made reports. After a beating hospitalized him for two weeks, Ramos-Braga stopped attending college and spent months moving around. When he returned home, a PCC member shot him. Months later, Ramos-Braga was admitted to the U.S. on a student visa. He married a U.S. citizen, but Ramos-Braga estimated that his wife physically abused him over 100 times. Seven years after he arrived, Ramos-Braga was charged as removable, 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(1)(B). He sought special-rule cancellation of removal for battered spouses and withholding of removal under 8 U.S.C. 1231(b)(3) and the Conviction Against Torture. Meanwhile, Ramos-Braga and his wife got into a fight. He was convicted of battery and, after asking his wife not to testify, witness intimidation. DHS added a charge under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(ii) for having been convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude. The BIA affirmed a removal order. During his appeal, his attorney ended the representation. Ramos-Braga continued pro se. After his petition was denied, Ramos-Braga, still pro se, moved the BIA to reopen proceedings. The motion was denied as untimely, but Ramos-Braga maintains he never received notice of this decision. Ramos-Braga filed a second pro se motion to reopen, which was denied as untimely and successive. The BIA rejected arguments that equitable tolling for ineffective assistance of counsel and changed conditions in the country of removal excused his noncompliance. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The BIA did not abuse its discretion in finding that neither exception applied. View "Ramos-Braga v. Sessions" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law

by
Indiana juvenile courts may establish juvenile facilities; the judge must appoint staff and determine budgets. The county must pay the facility's expenses from general funds. The Allen Superior Court established a juvenile center, where Harris began working in 1995. His offer of employment included the seal of the “Allen Superior Court,” and he signed the Court’s Employee Handbook, acknowledging an employment relationship with the Court. His job description bore the seal of the Board of Commissioners; his medical records authorization identified the Commissioners as his employer and the juvenile center as his department. Harris’s discipline was handled by the Court; his evaluations were titled “Allen County Employee Performance Appraisal.” Harris injured his back at work. County Attorney Murphy sent Harris a form listing “Allen County Government” as his employer so that he could collect workers’ compensation benefits. A doctor determined that Harris had reached maximum medical improvement and imposed work restrictions. Murphy stated that his restrictions prevented Harris from “perform[ing] the essential functions” of his position “with or without a reasonable accommodation.” Harris applied to several county jobs but did not obtain employment. Harris sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The district court granted the County summary judgment, concluding that the Board was not Harris’s employer. Harris voluntarily dismissed the Court. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Harris did not establish that the Board sufficiently controlled his employment, so a reasonable trier of fact could only conclude that the Board was not Harris’s employer. View "Harris v. Allen County Board of Commissioners" on Justia Law

by
Presiding over Wade’s 2008 sentencing for possessing child pornography, Judge Gilbert imposed a sentence of just 36 months, although the guidelines recommendation was 120 months’ imprisonment. Judge Gilbert also granted Wade an early termination of supervised release. FBI agents subsequently seized Wade’s computer when executing a search warrant and discovered over 2000 images of child pornography. Wade pled guilty under 18 U.S.C. 2252A(a)(5)(B). Under U.S.S.G. 2G2.2(b), his base offense was increased 13 levels due to the number and the especially odious content of the images. Wade’s total offense level of 28 and criminal history category of II would have prescribed a recommended sentence of 87-108 months’ imprisonment, but because Wade committed a repeat offense, his recommendation became the statutory minimum term: 120 months. Wade argued that the mandatory minimum term was appropriate because his addiction to pornography and his stress caused his recidivism, the guidelines accounted for the reasons the government gave for varying upwards, and he had support from family. Judge Gilbert imposed a sentence of 132 months’ imprisonment followed by 10 years’ supervised release, noting his previous leniency and expressing concern that Wade would offend again. The judge observed that “not a single 3553(a) factor” favored Wade. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The judge responded to Wade’s mitigation arguments and adequately justified Wade’s sentence, View "United States v. Wade" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
Laux broke into his ex‐wife’s home and murdered her with a crowbar. An Indiana jury decided that the aggravating circumstance that he committed murder during a burglary outweighed the primary mitigating circumstance that he had no criminal history and recommended a sentence of life without parole, which the court imposed. Indiana state courts affirmed Laux’s convictions and sentence. After a post‐conviction hearing, they also rejected the claim that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance. Laux filed a federal habeas corpus petition. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of relief, rejecting a claim that trial counsel was ineffective by not fully investigating and presenting all of the available mitigating evidence about Laux’s childhood that surfaced at his post‐conviction hearing. The state courts’ conclusion that Laux received effective assistance of counsel was not unreasonable. A defendant can often point to some additional subject and argue it should have been pursued further. The Sixth Amendment does not require counsel to investigate every conceivable line of mitigation evidence—it requires counsel to make reasonable decisions about which matters to pursue. The evidence of Laux’s childhood failed to show significant hardship; he was never a victim of abuse or neglect, was never in trouble, and excelled in high school and college. View "Laux v. Zatecky" on Justia Law

by
Van Cannon pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm as a felon, 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1). He was sentenced under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), which imposes higher penalties on section 922(g) violators who have three prior convictions for a “violent felony” or “serious drug offense.” Van Cannon had five qualifying predicates, including Iowa convictions for burglary and attempted burglary and a Minnesota conviction for second-degree burglary. The judge imposed the mandatory minimum 15-year sentence. In 2015 the Supreme Court (Johnson) invalidated the "residual clause" in the “violent felony” definition. Van Cannon sought relief under 28 U.S.C. 2255, citing Johnson. Days later, the Supreme Court (Mathis) held that Iowa burglary does not qualify under the definition. The government conceded that Iowa attempted burglary and burglary no longer qualified under ACCA but argued harmless error because three predicates remained. The Seventh Circuit reversed the dismissal of Van Cannon's claims. He properly challenged his sentence within one year of Johnson. The Minnesota crime of second-degree burglary is not an ACCA predicate. A burglary counts for ACCA purposes only if its elements match the elements of “generic” burglary: “an unlawful or unprivileged entry into, or remaining in, a building or other structure, with intent to commit a crime.” The Minnesota statute covers a broader swath of conduct, permitting conviction without proof that the offender had the intent to commit a crime at the moment he unlawfully entered or unlawfully “remained in” the structure. View "Van Cannon v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
In 2009, Tobey placed an order with an internet site advertising “videos of young girls.” When the videos arrived at Tobey’s Florida home, he signed for them and was arrested by U.S. Postal Inspectors as part of a sting operation. Searches of computers in his Florida and Illinois homes led to the discovery of downloads that resulted in charges in both states. Tobey pled guilty to Florida charges. In 2012, when Tobey finished serving his Florida prison sentences, he returned to Illinois where he again pled guilty and was sentenced to two and a half years of probation. Supervision of his Florida probation was transferred to Illinois through the Interstate Compact on Adult Offender Supervision. Because of his noncompliance with probation conditions relating to psychological treatment, signing a “behavioral agreement,” and internet access, Tobey was taken into custody and was transported to Florida, where he eventually signed a behavioral agreement. He was returned to Illinois after 106 days in jail. He continued to have compliance issues. In 2016, Tobey sued his probation officer and an assistant state’s attorney, alleging illegal arrest and detention in violation of the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments; violation of due process and his rights under those Amendments; malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress and conspiracy. Tobey characterized his extradition as “kidnapping” and his supervision as “being threatened.” The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit without an award of sanctions. View "Tobey v. Chibucos" on Justia Law

by
Romeoville Police received a call from a Wisconsin mother who stated that her 15-year-old daughter (April) left Wisconsin with an unknown man and called her from a motel, wanting to come home. Officers went to the motel, which had a reputation for prostitution and drug problems. A clerk stated that there was one guest from Wisconsin and showed the officers a photocopy of that guest’s identification. The officers proceeded to the room, where the door was propped open. The officers knocked and Key—who matched the identification—answered. Key said April had gone to a restaurant. The officers asked if they could check the room for the girl; Key consented. Inside the room, the officers saw a tablet open to the website backpage.com, which was commonly used to post prostitution advertisements; a large number of prepaid credit cards; used and unused condoms, and multiple cellphones. Crayton, another young woman, was in the room. Crayton stated that she and April were prostituting and that Key was their pimp. They found April at the restaurant. Following Key's arrest, officers seized the tablet, credit cards, cellphones, and other evidence from the room and Key’s car. Key unsuccessfully moved to suppress the evidence. The court instructed the jury that voluntary participation by the victim was not a defense. The Seventh Circuit affirmed Key's conviction, upholding the denial of the motion and the jury instruction. View "United States v. Key" on Justia Law

by
Learn died after Perrone injected her with cocaine in 2008. Perrone pleaded guilty to unlawful drug distribution and stipulated that his distribution of the cocaine caused Learn’s death, claiming that they had made a “suicide pact.” The court applied a statutory enhancement that mandates a 20-year minimum prison term if unlawful drug distribution results in death. The Supreme Court later clarified that this provision requires a defendant’s drugs to be a but-for cause of the death, not merely a contributing cause. Perrone filed a petition under 28 U.S.C. 2255, arguing that the narrowed interpretation indicated that he is actually innocent of causing Learn’s death and that his counsel was ineffective for failing to advise him of a Seventh Circuit case decided one day before his sentencing that narrowly interpreted the enhancement. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the denial of relief. While the coroner’s report listed the cause of death as “[c]ombined toxicity with cocaine, ethanol and opiates,” Perrone stated he gave Learn additional cocaine because he concluded that she would not die without it. Perrone cannot establish that it is more likely than not that no reasonable juror would have voted to find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Even assuming that Perrone could show “deficient performance” by counsel, it is unlikely that he could satisfy the “prejudice” prong. The evidence of causation was strong and his plea agreement allowed him to obtain a sentence reduction for cooperating View "Perrone v. United States" on Justia Law

by
SP operates Dayton International Airport parking facilities and is headquartered in Chicago. Plaintiffs allege that they used these parking lots and received receipts that included the expiration date of their credit or debit cards, violating the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA), 15 U.S.C. 1681c(g)(1). They filed a class-action complaint in the Circuit Court of Cook County. The complaint did not describe any concrete harm that the plaintiffs had suffered. SP removed the action to federal court, arguing that the claim arose under a federal statute, then moved to dismiss for lack of Article III standing because the plaintiffs did not allege an injury in fact. Plaintiffs sought remand to state court, arguing that it was SP’s responsibility to establish subject-matter jurisdiction and that, without it, 28 U.S.C. 1447(c) required return of their case to state court. Because Article III does not apply in state court, they presumably hoped that their case could stay alive there despite their lack of a concrete injury. The district court denied the motion, determined that plaintiffs could not establish standing by stating only that the defendant had violated statutory requirements, and dismissed the case. The Seventh Circuit vacated and ordered a remand. The case was not removable, because the plaintiffs lack Article III standing—negating federal subject-matter jurisdiction. View "Collier v. SP Plus Corp." on Justia Law