by
The Sisters own Blue Island buildings: a convent, a church, and a boarding school that closed long ago. The buildings were used as a public high school until 2009. Affordable wanted to use the buildings as a recovery home, providing lodging, meals, job training, religious outreach, and other services to adult men fighting drug or alcohol addiction. The Sisters agreed; the few remaining nuns would continue to occupy the convent and the Sisters would obtain rental income. Occupancy would prevent vandalism. With the mayor’s approval, Affordable moved 14 staff members into the buildings. The city required installation of a sprinkler system in the sleeping rooms. Affordable had already moved in 73 men without the required special‐use permit. Affordable filed suit. The court denied a preliminary injunction. The residents vacated. Four subsequently suffered fatal overdoses. Affordable obtained a recovery house license from the Illinois Department of Human Services, which does not require sprinklers in buildings fewer than four stories high. The court granted Affordable partial summary judgment on preemption grounds but rejected claims under the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act that would have been entitled Affordable to damages and attorneys’ fees. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Affordable did not argue that the sprinkler requirement would have substantially burdened its religious exercise even if it had complied. Affordable was not excluded from Blue Island or even required to install a sprinkler system. View "Affordable Recovery Housing v. City of Blue Island" on Justia Law

by
Lombardo, a long-time member of the Chicago Outfit, the lineal descendant of Al Capone’s gang, is serving a life sentence on his convictions for racketeering, murder, and obstruction of justice. After the Seventh Circuit affirmed his convictions and sentence on direct appeal, he retained a new attorney to argue that ineffective assistance of counsel. His new attorney misunderstood when the one-year limitations period for motions under 28 U.S.C. 2255 began running and filed Lombardo’s motion too late. The attorney represented that he miscalculated the deadline due to his mistaken belief that the statute of limitations began running only when the Supreme Court denied a petition for rehearing, not when it denied a petition for certiorari and that this error was “based on misinformation provided by a trusted paralegal.” The Seventh Circuit affirmed dismissal. An attorney’s miscalculation of a statute of limitations does not justify equitably tolling the limitations period for a motion under section 2255, even if the result is to bar a claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel. View "Lombardo v. United States" on Justia Law

by
From 2008-2012, Stuckey worked as an AutoZone manager and was transferred between Chicago-area stores several times. None of the transfers entailed any loss in pay, benefits, or responsibilities. In 2012 he was transferred again, this time from a store on Kedzie Avenue that serves a largely Hispanic clientele. Stuckey never reported for work at his new assignment. He filed an EEOC complaint. Stuckey is black; he claimed that AutoZone transferred him out of the Kedzie location in an effort to make it a “predominantly Hispanic” store. The EEOC filed suit on Stuckey’s behalf alleging that the transfer violated 42 U.S.C. 2000e-2(a)(2), an infrequently litigated provision of Title VII that makes it unlawful for an employer “to limit, segregate, or classify his employees … in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment for AutoZone, holding that the transfer was not an adverse employment action. The court rejected EEOC’s argument that the statute does not require the claimant to prove that the challenged action adversely affected his employment opportunities or status. View "Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. AutoZone, Inc." on Justia Law

by
In 2002, Barnett was charged with felony battery. At the time, Indiana courts established an “omnibus date” for substantive amendments to charges. The court set Barnett’s omnibus date so the last day for substantive amendment was December 8, 2002. In February 2003 the prosecutor added felony burglary, felony intimidation, and habitual offender charges. No one caught the error. Barnett was convicted and sentenced to 80 years’ imprisonment. Barnett’s appellate lawyer also overlooked this problem. Barnett later unsuccessfully pursued the issue in state post-conviction proceedings and in a petition under 28 U.S.C. 2254. After the district court denied his habeas petition, the Seventh Circuit granted another Indiana petitioner habeas relief on the same theory. The Seventh Circuit remanded Barnett’s case. The district court’s order on remand stated “[w]ithin 120 days of this Order, the State must either release the Petitioner or grant him leave to file a new direct appeal.” When the state had done nothing within 120 days, Barnett sought immediate release. Indiana responded that it had misunderstood the order as requiring its courts to grant a new appeal upon Barnett’s request. The state simultaneously filed a request for appeal on Barnett’s behalf and asked the court to extend the release date. The district court granted that request. The court denied a motion to amend because the Indiana Court of Appeals had granted leave for Barnett to file a new appeal. The Seventh Circuit affirmed; the district court was entitled to extend the state’s deadline. View "Barnett v. Neal" on Justia Law

by
Lunn was convicted of five counts of bank fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1344, based on his operation of a Chicago investment advisory firm that advised mostly high-net-worth clients. The charges arose from Lunn’s conduct surrounding three extensions of credit by Leaders Bank, in which Lunn had invested: a line of credit he obtained for himself; a loan that Lunn arranged for former Chicago Bulls player Scottie Pippen; and a loan that Lunn arranged for Geras, a Lunn Partners client. Lunn provided false financial information with respect to his own loan; misled Pippen about the nature of the transaction and forged Pippen’s name; and forged Geras’s signature. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the convictions, rejecting Lunn’s claims that the court’s multiple intrusions into his testimony were so serious that he did not receive a fair trial and that the court erred in refusing to give a “good faith” instruction. The court instructed the jury that the government was required to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Lunn “knowingly executed” a scheme to defraud “with the intent to defraud.” A good faith instruction was unnecessary. View "United States v. Lunn" on Justia Law

by
Owens, an Illinois state prisoner, filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that nearly two dozen prison employees deliberately ignored his medical needs and retaliated against him for filing grievances and lawsuits. He is primarily dissatisfied with the adequacy of the toothpaste, mail supplies, and laundry detergent he received at three different prisons over a six-year period. The district court narrowed the list of defendants at screening, 28 U.S.C. 1915A, and later granted summary judgment for the remaining defendants. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. “This lawsuit is not the first one in which Owens has tossed into a single complaint a mishmash of unrelated allegations against unrelated defendants.” Owens engaged in “nearly constant” litigation during 2009 and 2010. View "Owens v. Godinez" on Justia Law

by
Hanson provides public refrigerated warehousing and transportation services. It employs dozens of workers in Michigan and Indiana. Teamsters Union Local 142 filed a petition to be the exclusive collective‐bargaining representative for a subset of Hanson’s Indiana employees; 37 employees voted. Hanson and the union disputed two of the votes, a sufficient number to affect the outcome of the election. Hanson argued that one vote should not count, claiming that the voter’s intent could not be discerned from the ballot; the union argued that another vote should not count, claiming that the voter was not employed by the employer at the time of the vote. The National Labor Relations Board rejected Hanson’s argument and counted the first disputed vote as a vote in favor of representation, then concluded that the second disputed vote was no longer outcome determinative and certified the union. The Seventh Circuit reversed, finding it impossible to divine the voter’s intent from the face of the ballot. View "National Labor Relations Board v. Hanson Cold Storage Co. of Indiana" on Justia Law

by
Fulton received an unsolicited fax from Bisco and sued for damages under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. 227. Before Fulton moved for class certification, Bisco tried to moot its claim by tendering an offer ($3,005 plus costs) under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68 that, Bisco claimed, gave Fulton all possible individual relief. Two days after Bisco’s offer, the Supreme Court held that “an unaccepted settlement offer or offer of judgment does not moot a plaintiff’s case.” Fulton rejected the offer. Bisco then moved to deposit $3,600 with the court under Rule 67. The court dismissed the suit, concluding that Bisco’s maneuver mooted Fulton’s individual claim and disqualified it from serving as a class representative. The Seventh Circuit remanded, finding dismissal premature. Bisco’s payment did not moot the case; the court’s registry does not function as plaintiff’s account. An unaccepted offer to settle a case, accompanied by a payment intended to provide full compensation into the registry of the court under Rule 67, is no different in principle from an offer of settlement made under Rule 68. It is not clear, as a matter of law, that the unaccepted offer was sufficient to compensate Fulton for its loss of the opportunity to represent the putative class. View "Fulton Dental, LLC v. Bisco, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Betts‐Gaston and Ross formed a company that defrauded homeowners and mortgage lenders. They found homeowners facing foreclosure and convinced them to sign documents that deeded their homes to a trust; arranged for straw buyers to obtain mortgages to buy the homes; and produced loan applications that inflated the buyers’ incomes and misrepresented the purpose of the purchases. Once a sale was completed, the buyer deeded the property back to the trust, so that the defendants had both the mortgage proceeds and title to the properties. The homeowners initially still lived in the homes but at least two were eventually evicted. At trial, the government offered evidence of three such transactions. Betts‐Gaston and Ross were indicted for wire fraud in 2011. Ross pled guilty and agreed to cooperate. Betts‐Gaston was convicted and sentenced to a 57-month prison term. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that: the government concealed the terms of Ross’s plea agreement, in violation of its Brady obligations; the court’s limited questioning of prospective jurors violated the right to an impartial jury; evidence on the materiality of her misrepresentations was excluded, impairing the right to present a defense; insufficient evidence supported the conviction on Count II; and the judge was hostile in front of the jury, impairing the right to a fair trial. View "United States v. Betts-Gaston" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
Nicholson has been a Peoria police officer since 1991. In 2003, she became the Asset Forfeiture investigator. Five years later, Nicholson had serious issues with fellow officer Wilson, whom she accused of using department equipment to place her under surveillance. The department conducted an investigation, after which Wilson was suspended for 20 days Nicholson then filed an EEOC charge of discrimination, followed by a lawsuit, which was settled. A new Rotation Policy, implemented in 2012, provided that all specialty assignments, including the Asset Forfeiture investigator position, were subject to three-year rotations. Nicholson sought reappointment. According to the panel that interviewed her, Nicholson “[i]nterviewed very poorly, seemed angry [and] controlling.” She began her interview by refusing to answer questions until she read aloud a nine-page manifesto. The panel selected another officer. After failing to retain the Asset Forfeiture position and having not applied to any other position, Nicholson was reassigned to patrol by default. Nicholson filed another EEOC charge, alleging that sex discrimination and unlawful retaliation. She then filed suit. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of defendants, stating that Nicholson did not present enough evidence to survive summary judgment on either claim and that her motion to recuse the judge was frivolous. View "Nicholson v. City of Peoria" on Justia Law