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

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Railey clocked in and out of work at the Sunset Food Mart by placing her hand on a biometric scanner. She brought a class action in state court in 2019 alleging violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. Two years into litigation, Sunset removed the case to federal court, alleging that Railey’s claims were completely preempted by the Labor Management Relations Act. Sunset explained the timing of the removal by pointing to an interrogatory response it received from Railey in October 2020 in which she confirmed her membership in a labor union.The district court found Sunset’s removal untimely. Citing the Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. 1453(c)(1), the Seventh Circuit affirmed the remand to state court. A Class Action Fairness Act exception for “home-state controversies” directs that district courts “shall decline to exercise jurisdiction” over a class action in which “two-thirds or more of the members of all proposed plaintiff classes in the aggregate, and the primary defendants, are citizens of the State in which the action was originally filed,” 28 U.S.C. 1332(d)(4)(B). Railey brought a putative class action on behalf of Illinois citizens against a small Illinois grocery chain under Illinois law. Sunset missed its preemption-based removal window. View "Railey v. Sunset Food Mart, Inc." on Justia Law

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Wilks, indicted for possessing a firearm as a prohibited person, was released on bond with conditions, including home confinement with limited exceptions. A superseding indictment in an earlier-filed drug-trafficking case added Wilks as a defendant. The new indictment included the original firearm charge; his bond and release conditions were carried over. Wilks obtained the court’s permission to leave his home near Indianapolis to stay overnight in Centralia, Illinois for medical appointments, a family wedding, and religious services. He went to a bar in Mount Vernon, where a fatal shooting occurred. The government moved to revoke Wilks’s release for violating his release conditions prohibiting any contact with codefendants and requiring him to promptly report any contact with law enforcement. The district judge viewed a video of Wilks in the bar and revoked Wilks’s release, finding that Wilks had violated his home-confinement condition as amended by the order allowing his visit to Centralia.The Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded. A finding that the defendant violated a release condition does not alone permit revocation; the judge must make findings under 18 U.S.C. 3148(b)(1) and (b)(2) before he may revoke release. Though it was not improper for the judge to reframe the inquiry, Wilks’s counsel did not have an opportunity to address the specific issue that the judge was concerned about. The judge did not explain why detention was necessary under section 3148(b)(2). View "United States v. Wilks" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Nyandwi, a citizen of Burundi and a native of Tanzania, came to the U.S. as a refugee in 2006 and became a lawful permanent resident. After Nyandwi was convicted of robbery in the second degree, receiving a stolen firearm, and illegal possession of a controlled substance, DHS began removal proceedings under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii), (B)(i). Nyandwi sought Asylum and Withholding of Removal under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). Nyandwi submitted evidence of country conditions in Burundi and testified that he was an ethnic Twa whose parents fled Burundi in 1996 because of a civil war that resulted in the death of Twas, including his family members. Nyandwi was unable to speak the native language, had no proof of political allegiance to the governing regime, and was unable to pay compulsory election contributions.The IJ and BIA denied relief. The Seventh Circuit denied a petition for review. The IJ considered the relevant factors such as evidence of past torture, ability to relocate within the country, evidence of grave human rights violations or other relevant country conditions, reflecting a careful analysis of the component parts of a holistic claim, and did not fail to consider critical evidence. View "Nyandwi v. Garland" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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The Association of American Physicians & Surgeons (AAPS), is a nonprofit organization of physicians and surgeons. The American Board of Medical Specialties, a nonprofit provider of medical certification services, is an umbrella organization for 24 member boards, each dedicated to a particular medical practice area. The Board deems physicians who meet its requirements to be “Board-certified.” To remain certified, physicians must comply with the Board’s Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program and continuing education requirements. All states permit physicians who are not Board-certified to practice medicine.According to AAPS, the Board conspired with its member boards, hospitals, and health insurers to condition the granting of staff privileges and in-network status on physicians’ continued participation in the MOC program so that physicians find themselves forced to participate in the program to practice medicine, at least if they wish to do so in hospitals or to accept certain forms of insurance. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of its suit under section 1 of the Sherman Act and claiming negligent misrepresentation on the Board’s website to “create the false impression that [the MOC program] is indicative of the medical skills of physicians.” The complaint does not plausibly allege an agreement between the Board, hospitals, and insurers. Mere legal conclusions are “not entitled to be assumed true.” View "Association of American Physicians & Surgeons, Inc. v. American Board of Medical Specialties" on Justia Law

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Murry, a Jamaican citizen, entered in 2005 the U.S. as the fiancé of a U.S. citizen, whom he later married. Murry applied for permanent residence based on the marriage. USCIS denied the application in 2011. The government started removal proceedings. Murry has remained in the U.S. without authorization. Murry sought relief based on his sexual orientation. He testified that he has been attracted to men since he was a teenager and that in 2004 after a man publicly called him gay and urged bystanders to shun him, five men hit and kicked Murry. Fearing repercussions, he did not seek medical care or ask the police for help.The IJ considered evidence about how the treatment of gay people in Jamaica has evolved since 2004. The IJ denied Murry relief; Murry was ineligible for withholding of removal because the private attack in 2004 did not demonstrate state-sanctioned past persecution, and other evidence of the country’s conditions did not show a clear probability of future persecution. The BIA dismissed Murry’s appeal. The Seventh Circuit denied a petition for review. Jamaica rarely enforces its anti-sodomy laws for consensual sexual relations, and recent reports show growing public support for gay rights. Substantial evidence indicates that Murry does not face a likelihood of state-sanctioned persecution. View "Murry v. Garland" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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In 2011, Campos-Rivera, a citizen of Mexico, was convicted of Illinois state felonies He was removed but reentered and was apprehended in 2018. Charged with unlawfully reentering the U.S. after removal, 8 U.S.C. 1326(a), he was initially represented by an assistant public defender. Counsel was allowed to withdraw at Campos-Rivera’s request based on an irreconcilable conflict. A new lawyer was appointed. Campos-Rivera then filed multiple pro se motions raising issues that his new attorney declined to pursue. The judge told him that he could not proceed pro se and through counsel. Campos-Rivera asked the judge to dismiss his attorney and appoint a third. The judge declined, giving Campos-Rivera a choice: move forward with his current lawyer or proceed pro se. Campos-Rivera chose the latter. The judge then denied the pro se motions and later found Campos-Rivera guilty.The Seventh Circuit affirmed. A disagreement between attorney and client over pretrial motions is not grounds for the appointment of a new attorney. Campos-Rivera validly waived his right to counsel; the judge conducted a comprehensive waiver colloquy to ensure that the decision was fully informed and voluntary. Campos-Rivera’s challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence fails because section 1326(a) is a general-intent crime. The government need only prove that the defendant knowingly reentered the U.S., not that he intended to do so unlawfully. The stipulated facts support an inference of knowing reentry. No specific factual finding regarding the intent element was necessary. View "United States v. Campos-Rivera" on Justia Law

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While on parole, Cunningham was riding in a car that police officers stopped for having an unregistered license plate. The driver sped away, provoking a high-speed chase. At some point, Cunningham exited the car and ran until he fell and dropped a 9mm round of ammunition. Cunningham, a felon, pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of ammunition, 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1).His PSR calculated a base offense level of 24 under U.S.S.G. 2K2.1(a)(2) because Cunningham had two previous convictions for a crime of violence, U.S.S.G. 4B1.2(a)(1). In 2007 and 2010, Cunningham had been convicted of aggravated battery against a peace officer. The PSR noted that the government provided the certified disposition, reflecting, as did the Chicago Police Department and Illinois State Police rap sheets, that Cunningham was convicted of 720 ILCS 5/12-4(a); information provided by the Department of Corrections (DOC) indicated that he was convicted of 720 ILCS 5/12- 4(b)(6). Cunningham was sentenced to 60 months, below the calculated range of 70-87 months. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting an argument that the court should have relied on the DOC records in determining whether his 2010 conviction constituted a crime of violence. The court appropriately relied on the certified record. View "United States v. Cunningham" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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For about 30 years, Hicks worked as a Chicago police officer. He used his position to steal drugs and guns from pushers and to extort money. Hicks and his confederates obtained from informants and other officers information about where drugs might be found then used police cars and other departmental equipment to search drug houses and cars thought to be carrying drugs. They used forged search warrants to reduce resistance.A jury convicted Hicks of eight felonies, including failure to appear on the day initially set for his trial. He was a fugitive for about 15 years. Sentenced to 146 months’ imprisonment, he did not contest the sufficiency of the evidence but challenged his convictions under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1962, and for stealing money belonging to the United States, 18 U.S.C. 641 (the FBI had provided money as bait in places they thought he might rob). The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that the jury could have confused the conspiracy with the “enterprise” or treated the pattern of other crimes (such as stealing or possessing drugs and guns) as if it were the RICO enterprise and that the jury instructions were defective because they did not state that conviction depended on finding beyond a reasonable doubt that Hicks knew that the money he stole belonged to the United States. View "United States v. Hicks" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Sprenger pled guilty to the production and possession of child pornography with a plea agreement. He sought to withdraw his guilty plea and invalidate the entire agreement on the ground that the legal theory upon which his production conviction (18 U.S.C. 2251(a)) rests is invalid. Spring argued that he produced images in which he was engaged in sexually explicit conduct but the sleeping victim was not engaged in sexually explicit conduct. When Sprenger initially entered into the plea agreement, his admitted conduct was sufficient to provide the factual basis for his production conviction.The government agreed with Sprenger’s position and the Seventh Circuit vacated his production conviction. The plea agreement still provides an adequate factual basis for the possession conviction, which supports that Sprenger’s plea to the possession offense remains knowing and voluntary notwithstanding the invalidity of the production conviction. View "United States v. Sprenger" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Illinois’s Firearm Concealed Carry Act creates a scheme for licensing individuals to carry concealed firearms in public. White was twice denied a concealed carry license. White unsuccessfully appealed the first denial in Illinois state court. Following the second denial, White and the Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA) filed suit in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the Act.The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. ISRA lacks Article III standing. White’s facial challenges to the Act are precluded by the state court judgment. The Act does not violate the Second Amendment as applied to the denial of White’s second application. White has two criminal convictions—including one for unlawful use of a firearm—and multiple gun-related arrests. Illinois’s individualized determination that White’s criminal history renders him too dangerous to carry a concealed firearm in public survives intermediate scrutiny. View "White v. Illinois State Police" on Justia Law