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Judicial Reform Seventh Circuit

United States Court of Appeals: 7th Circuit

Leans Pro Freedom
Total Judgeships: 

11 (2 vacancy)

Political Makeup: 

3 Dem – 6 GOP

Location(s): 
Chicago, Illinois
Jurisdictions: 
Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin
Caseload: 

2,917

About The Court:

The Seventh Circuit Court was established on December 10, 1869 and is known to be one of the most modern courts of appeals, offering oral arguments and opinions over internet resources such as RSS feeds and a wiki. The only other court with similar features is the Eleventh Circuit, which offers RSS feeds.

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decided

Union Strike Against Hotel Raises 1st Amendment Questions

Tue, 07/29/2014

520 S. MI Ave. Associates, Ltd. V. Unite Here Local 1: Unite Here, a union, organized a series of strikes against the hotel from 2003 to 2013. In order to coerce the hotel to change its policies, the union began sending groups of its members to businesses and organizations who had booked large blocks of rooms from the hotel to pressure them to cancel their reservations. The hotel filed suit against the union on the basis that the harassment of their patrons violated federal law code. The district court granted summary judgment to the union on the grounds that if its actions were deemed illegal, it would set dangerous precedent against freedom of speech.

Decision

The 7th Circuit Court upheld, in part, the decision of the lower court, recognizing the potential 1st Amendment threat but finding issue with the fact that the hotel suffered loses and are potentially entitled to compensation. As a result, the Court remanded the case for further trial.

Read the full decision here
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Business Gets Acknowledged for Hiring and Helping Disabled

Thu, 07/17/2014

Reeves v. Jewel Food Stores, Inc: Reeves had Down syndrome but has worked for Jewel, with assistance from a vocational tutor, for years. After many episodes that would have ended in Reeves’ termination if he was a regular employee, Jewel kept him on staff. Reeves’ parents asked that Reeves receive additional supervision and mentoring, which the Jewel manager deemed unnecessary. Later on, Reeves was fired for a work-inappropriate conversation with customers. The EEOC wants further investigation to see if Reeves was discriminated against on the basis of his disability.

Decision

The 7th Circuit Court affirmed the ruling of the lower courts by upholding the dismissal of the Americans with Disabilities Act on the grounds that Jewel made multiple accommodations for Reeves and did not clearly say “no” to the parents’ request of assigning Reeves additional supervision.

Read the full decision here
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Line Between Excessive Force and Police Protection

Mon, 07/14/2014

Wilson v. City of Chicago: Wilson called the police after her schizophrenic son locked himself in his room and she feared that he may harm himself. Police arrived and found that the son had a hunting knife. They got the door opened and attempted to tase him, resulting in the son lunging toward the officers. The son died from his injuries which included 2 gunshot wounds. Wilson filed suit against the police for excessive use of force, wrongful death, and the Survival Statute.

Decision

The 7th Circuit Court upheld the ruling of the jury of the lower court, ruling in favor of the police by dismissing Wilson’s challenges to the rulings.

Read the full decision here
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Involuntarily Medicated to "Further Important Governmental Interests"

Mon, 06/30/2014

United States v. Norman Breedlove: After pleading guilty to drug trafficking, Breedlove filed a “notice of ineffective counsel” stating that his attorney conspired against him. Upon being assigned new counsel, his new attorney recommended that Breedlove be psychologically tested, resulting in a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. He was moved to a federal medical facility where the staff recommended that he be involuntarily medicated for his illness. Breedlove’s defense argued that success in this approach is not as high as believed.

Decision

The 7th Circuit Court ruled in favor of the United States and involuntary medication. The Court deemed that this situation warranted involuntary medication because “important governmental interests are at stake; involuntary medication would significantly further those interest; no viable alternative exists; and administering the drugs is in the patient’s best medical interest.”

Read the full decision here
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Individual's 4th Amend. Rights Protected From Law Enforcement

Mon, 06/23/2014

Hawkins v. Mitchell: Mitchell and Bowersock, two police officers, arrived at the home of Bumgarner and Hawkins after Bumgarner called reporting that she was locked out of the house after the two of them got into a heated argument. Hawkins did not want to talk to the police so Mitchell prevented Hawkins from closing his door, entered the home, and refused to leave after Hawkins called his attorney. After Hawkins refused to hang up the phone, Mitchell and Bowersock wrestled him to the ground and arrested him. Hawkins filed suit against the officers claiming a violation of his 4th Amendment rights.

Decision

The 7th Circuit Court reverses the decision of the lower courts on granting summary judgment in favor of the officers. The Court ruled that the officers are liable for violating Hawkins’ 4th Amendment rights. The Court remanded the case to the district court for re-trial to determine the liability and damages owed to Hawkins by the officers.

Read the full decision here
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Assumed Guilty Before Innocent

Tue, 06/17/2014

Gibbs v Lomas: While driving, a couple looked over and the man in the car next to them, Gibbs, was seen pointing a handgun at his ceiling. After being notified, the police tracked Gibbs' car, approached him, placed him in handcuffs, and searched his vehicle. Police discovered that Gibbs was coming from an airsofting event and therefore, the guns were replicas of real firearms. Gibbs filed suit against Lomas, a police officer, who he claims searched his jeep and cuffed him against his rights.

Decision

The district court ruled in favor of Gibbs, denying summary judgment for Lomas. The 7th Circuit reversed this decision, stating that Lomas did not violate any rights of Gibbs because at the time of the vehicle search and Gibbs’ handcuffing, Gibbs’ rights were apparently not clearly established.

Read the full decision here
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Seventh Circuit Rules in Favor of Employer on Discrimination Case

Fri, 06/13/2014

Huang v. Continental Casualty Co.: Eric Huang's employer, CNA commercial insurance, required him to be on pager duty every fourth weekend for 24 hours a day. Huang refused pager duty, and after multiple warnings from his supervisors, he was fired. Huang filed suit for race-based discrimination, and the District Court granted CNA summary judgment, concluding that Huang did not provide evidence that he had met the company's legitimate job expectations.

Decision

The Seventh Circuit Court affirmed the decision of the District Court.

Read the full decision here
decided

What Witness Rights?

Mon, 06/09/2014

Petty v. City of Chicago, et al.: Petty was arrested and tried on murder charges, for which he was proven innocent. After his acquittal, Petty filed suit against the city stating that the Chicago police department tampered with the evidence of the case by coercively handling a witness. Petty claimed the witness was held for over 13 hours in a room without access to food, water, or a bathroom. The District Court rejected the claim upon the basis that Petty should have brought up his complaint during his previous trial.

Decision

The Seventh Circuit Court upheld the District Court’s decision, agreeing that Petty’s right to due process was not violated and that Petty had ample opportunity to voice his complaints during his previous trial. The court affirmed that the city has a justifiable right to detain witnesses for extended periods of time against their will.

Read the full decision here
decided

Limits to the Bargaining Power of Wisconsin's Unions

Fri, 04/18/2014

Laborers Local 236, AFL-CIO v. Walker: Public-employee unions and an individual union member alleged that Wisconsin’s Act 10 violates equal protection and 1st Amendment rights. The act prohibits government employers from collectively bargaining with non-public safety employees over anything besides base wages, prohibits general-employee unions from using automatic payroll deductions and fair-share agreements, and mandates these unions to submit to a recertification election each year. The district court rejected on all claims.

Decision

Applying rational basis review, the Seventh Circuit affirmed the decision, stating that the act is rationally related to promoting flexibility in government budgets by giving more leverage to public employers.

Read the full decision here
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Union Employees Try to Upend Their Own Deal

Tue, 03/18/2014

Mitchell v. JCG Indus., Inc.: Union employees of a Chicago poultry processing plant alleged that their employer violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Illinois Minimum Wage Law by not compensating them for time spent changing. Before work, they are required to put on a sterilized jacket, plastic apron, cut-resistant gloves, plastic sleeves, earplugs, and a hairnet. They must remove this gear before lunch and put it back on before returning to work. The employer and the union had an agreement to not count this time as compensated work.

Decision

The Seventh Circuit Court affirmed the decision, ruling in favor of the employer.

Read the full decision here

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