Articles Posted in Civil Rights

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Jones observes Islamic dietary restrictions, which forbid the consumption of certain foods and require that others be prepared in accordance with Islamic law (halal). There is overlap in halal and Jewish kosher requirements. Some Muslims—including Jones—find kosher food acceptable. The Indiana Department of Correction (DOC) formerly provided kosher meal trays, with kosher meat, to inmates who requested them. The cost increased. DOC stopped offering the kosher trays and put those inmates on a vegan diet. Inmates seeking kosher food successfully sued the DOC under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. 2000cc. DOC built kosher kitchens at some facilities and moved as many kosher inmates into those facilities as possible. Inmates who could not be moved continued to receive kosher trays. Inmates (including Jones) in a facility with a kosher kitchen had to eat the food prepared there, which is vegetarian. While many Jewish and Muslim inmates find that diet acceptable, Jones does not. Jones's sect believes that the Qur’an commands him to eat meat regularly. DOC refused his request for kosher trays with meat. The Seventh Circuit held that Indiana’s refusal to provide Jones with meat substantially burdens his exercise of religion under RLUIPA, rejecting the DOC’s argument that he could purchase halal meat at the prison commissary. The state cannot demand that Jones, uniquely among inmates, empty his account and forgo purchasing hygiene products to avoid a diet that violates his religious beliefs. View "Jones v. Carter" on Justia Law

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Henderson was indicted for possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute and two related firearms offenses. In accordance with the Marshals Service’s policy in the Springfield Division, Henderson appeared in court for arraignment encircled by four security officers and shackled with leg irons and handcuffs connected to a waist chain. His attorney moved to have him unshackled except for the leg irons for the remainder of the arraignment and at all future pretrial hearings. Counsel argued that routine shackling in court violates the accused’s right to due process and asked the judge to hold a hearing to determine whether Henderson posed an individualized risk to justify the use of full restraints. The judge denied the request, deferring to the Marshals Service’s policy of using full restraints on prisoners at every nonjury court appearance. The Seventh Circuit dismissed an appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding that the collateral-order doctrine does not apply; due process shackling claims may be effectively reviewed on appeal from a final judgment. The court declined to reframe the appeal as a petition for a writ of mandamus. View "United States v. Henderson" on Justia Law

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DEA agents, with an arrest warrant for Terry, waited for him to return from taking his son to school, arrested him when he got out of his car, and took him in for questioning. Other agents knocked on Terry’s apartment door. A woman answered, wearing a bathrobe. The agents identified themselves, explained that they had arrested Terry, and asked to enter. They did not ask the woman who she was or whether she lived at the apartment. She let them in, signed a consent form, and the search began. The woman then identified herself as the mother of Terry’s son, explaining that her son lived at Terry’s apartment, but she did not. Agents continued the search. At the field office, Terry refused to sign an advice‐of‐rights form, citing his previous experience with law enforcement but stated “he was willing to talk” and made incriminating statements about his role in a conspiracy to distribute heroin. The Seventh Circuit reversed the denial of his motion to suppress. It is not reasonable for officers to assume that a woman who answers the door in a bathrobe has authority to consent to a search of a male suspect’s residence. Terry’s education, sophistication, and familiarity with the criminal justice system provide sufficient evidence that he understood his rights when the agents read them to him and his willingness to speak was a “course of conduct indicating waiver,” notwithstanding his refusal to sign the form. View "United States v. Terry" on Justia Law

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Spiegel has lived in a Wilmette condominium building for 22 years. In 2015, the McClintics bought a unit in the building. The McClintics, apparently in violation of association rules, do not live in the building but use the building pool almost daily. To document the violations, Spiegel photographed and filmed them. Corrine McClintic filed police reports. Spiegel was not arrested but officers threatened him with arrest for disorderly conduct if his conduct persists. Spiegel sued Corrine and the Village, arguing that they conspired to violate his constitutional rights and that Corrine intruded upon his seclusion, in violation of Illinois law, by photographing the interior of his condominium. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of his complaint. Spiegel has not identified a constitutional violation or shown that he suffered damages from the alleged intrusion upon his seclusion. The mere act of filing false police reports is not actionable under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and it is unclear whether McClintic’s reports contained falsehoods. Spiegel’s claim that the officers refused to listen to his explanations for why his conduct was lawful is not enough to establish a conspiracy. Spiegel has not plausibly alleged an express Wilmette policy to enforce the disorderly conduct ordinance unconstitutionally. He merely alleges that officers received reports of a disturbance and advised an apparent provocateur to stop his surveillance. View "Spiegel v. McClintic" on Justia Law

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Between 2012 and 2013, the Kankakee, Illinois Detention Center prohibited inmates from receiving any newspapers. While awaiting trial on bank robbery charges, Miller’s family bought him a $279 subscription to the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin to help him with his case. Deeming the Law Bulletin a newspaper, jail officials precluded Miller from receiving it. Miller challenged the jail’s prohibition and confiscation of the publication and sought to recover the subscription fee. The district court addressed the broader question of whether the jail’s ban on all newspapers offended the First Amendment, upheld the newspaper ban, and awarded the defendants summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit vacated. The district court erred in reaching and resolving such a broad constitutional question. Miller’s claim was that Law Bulletin was a legal publication, not a newspaper; the record was not fully developed as it pertains to the jail’s restriction on legal publications. The court noted that the Center had no law library, and while inmates had access to an electronic database with Illinois legal resources, there was a dearth of material on federal law in the jail. The court further noted that the district court had not addressed Miller’s due process claim. View "Miller v. Downey" on Justia Law

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Delhorno, age 42, came to the U.S. with his parents when he was three years old. Living as a lawful permanent resident, he was pulled over for speeding. A drug-detection canine alerted to the presence of drugs. Officers discovered four kilograms of cocaine in a trap compartment. Delhorno pleaded guilty to possessing cocaine with intent to distribute. His hearing was more than a year after the Supreme Court held (Padilla v. Kentucky), that a defense lawyer provided ineffective assistance of counsel by failing to advise his client that his guilty plea would subject him to automatic deportation. Although the judge was informed of his status, there was no discussion about the immigration consequences of Delhorno’s guilty plea. Delhorno was sentenced to 60 months. Delhorno never filed an appeal or a habeas corpus petition. In 2017, Delhorno completed his prison sentence and was deported to Mexico. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the denial of Delhorno's petition for a writ of coram nobis without a hearing. The common-law remedy of coram nobis is available to correct errors in criminal cases, only when the error is of the most fundamental character as to render the conviction invalid, there are sound reasons for the defendant’s failure to seek earlier relief, and the defendant continues to suffer from his conviction although he is out of custody. Delhorno cannot offer “sound reasons” for failing to seek earlier relief through a direct appeal or habeas corpus petition. View "United States v. Delhorno" on Justia Law

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Illinois prison officials issued a disciplinary report charging Morgan with offenses stemming from a violent assault on fellow prisoners. Morgan disputed the charges and asked to call a witness to testify at his Adjustment Committee hearing. The Committee never called Morgan’s witness. He was found guilty; the Committee imposed a punishment of one year of segregation, status and access restrictions, and revocation of three months of good-time credits. Morgan filed a grievance and appealed its subsequent denial to the Administrative Review Board, which adjusted the revocation of good-time credits but rejected a due-process claim, concluding that Morgan’s witness request did not comply with prison rules. Morgan sued three officers for damages under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The officers cited the “Heck” rule: When a state prisoner seeks damages in a section 1983 suit, the district court must consider whether a judgment in [his] favor … would necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction or sentence.” The Seventh Circuit affirmed that the due-process claim was not cognizable under section 1983. Prisoners cannot make an end run around Heck by filing an affidavit waiving challenges to the portion of their punishment that revokes good-time credits. Judgment in Morgan’s favor would necessarily imply the invalidity of his prison discipline. The suit was premature. View "Morgan v. Schott" on Justia Law

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In 1993, Carey was a security guard at a night school. Carey arrived for his shift, traversed the premises, then returned to his car to read. The parking lot was not well lit. Around 7:00 p.m., Carey saw three black men walking toward his vehicle. About two feet from Carey’s car one man grabbed a gun from his coat and fired it through the window. Carey, shot in the face, made his way into the school. Help was summoned; 15-20 minutes after the shooting, the Elkhart police found Sims near about 20 feet from Carey's car. Carey’s identification of Sims in the photographic lineup was not unequivocal but Carey identified him at trial as the shooter. The police never found the gun. Sims was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 35 years’ imprisonment. In 2012, during a post-conviction evidentiary hearing, Sims learned the prosecution withheld evidence that Carey, the only identification witness, was hypnotized before trial to enhance his recollection. After the Indiana courts denied habeas relief, Sims filed a federal petition. The district court held that the Indiana court did not unreasonably apply established federal law. The Seventh Circuit reversed. The Supreme Court recognizes that suppression of strong, non-cumulative evidence related to the credibility of a witness who is critical to the prosecution's case, is material under Brady. The fact that Carey had been hypnotized would have undermined his credibility and changed his cross-examination dramatically. View "Sims v. Hyatte" on Justia Law

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Illinois prisoner Giles suffers from schizoaffective disorder. Giles filed a pro se suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging the defendants violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment by being deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, subjecting him to unconstitutional conditions of confinement, and failing to protect him from other inmates. The district court granted the defendants summary judgment, holding that Giles could not establish the subjective elements of his claims because the defendants, who are all non-medical officials, appropriately relied on the judgment of medical professionals. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Giles cannot establish the defendants possessed a sufficiently culpable state of mind. Giles received regular medical attention from psychologists, psychiatrists, and mental health professionals; several of his grievances were subjected to emergency review. Giles has not presented evidence that his grievances were ignored or mishandled not was there an indication from his medical records that he was not receiving adequate care. The non-medical officials relied on the medical professionals to provide proper treatment, and there was nothing to give notice to the officials of a need to intervene. View "Giles v. Godinez" on Justia Law

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In September 2013, Chicago police officers searched an apartment where they encountered Lewis and two others and discovered a handgun. Lewis alleges that the officers had no basis to believe the gun was his; that he didn’t live at the apartment and never told the officers otherwise; and that the officers never found anything in the apartment indicating that he lived there. Lewis spent more than two years in pretrial detention on charges of unlawfully possessing a firearm. After the charges were dropped, Lewis sued the city and police officers under 42 U.S.C. 1983 seeking damages. The district court dismissed the suit, ruling that both claims were time-barred. Days later the Supreme Court decided Manuel v. City of Joliet, clarifying that detention without probable cause violates the Fourth Amendment “when it precedes, but also when it follows, the start of legal process in a criminal case.” The Court declined to decide when such claims accrue, remanding the case to the Seventh Circuit, which held that a Fourth Amendment claim for wrongful pretrial detention accrues on the date the detention ends. The Seventh Circuit then held that Lewis had filed a viable, timely Fourth Amendment claim for unlawful pretrial detention. Lewis filed it within two years of his release from detention. The court affirmed the dismissal of the due-process claim. View "Lewis v. Chicago" on Justia Law