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The Cook County circuit court found sections of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (705 ILCS 405/5-101(3), 5-605(1) unconstitutional as applied to Destiny who was 14 years old when she was charged with four counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder, one count of aggravated battery with a firearm, three counts of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, and one count of unlawful possession of a weapon. The court held that these sections, which do not provide jury trials for first-time juvenile offenders charged with first-degree murder, violated the equal protection clauses of the U.S. and Illinois Constitutions, but rejected the defense argument that these sections were unconstitutional on due process grounds. On direct appeal, the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed with respect to the due process challenge but reversed with respect to equal protection. Destiny cannot show that she is similarly situated to the comparison groups: recidivist juvenile offenders charged with different crimes and tried under one of two recidivist statutes. These are the only classes of juvenile offenders who face mandatory incarceration if adjudicated delinquent and the legislature has denied a jury trial only to the former. The two classes are charged with different crimes, arrive in court with different criminal backgrounds, and are tried and sentenced under different statutes with distinct legislative purposes. Due process does not mandate jury trials for juveniles. View "In re Destiny P." on Justia Law

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Rozsavolgyi filed a charge of discrimination on the basis of disability with the Illinois Department of Human Rights against the city of Aurora. Rozsavolgyi had been employed by the city from 1992 until she was involuntarily discharged in 2012. Months later, Rozsavolgyi was notified that she had the right to commence a civil action. Rozsavolgyi filed suit, alleging civil rights violations under the Illinois Human Rights Act, 775 ILCS 5/1-101, including failure to accommodate her disability, disparate treatment, retaliation, and hostile work environment. The circuit court certified three questions for permissive interlocutory review to the appellate court under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 308. After the appellate court addressed each question Rozsavolgyi obtained a certificate of importance under Rule 316 as to one question: Does the Local Government and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act, 745 ILCS 10/1, apply to a civil action under the Human Rights Act where the plaintiff seeks damages, reasonable attorneys’ fees, and costs? If yes, should the court modify, reject or overrule its prior holdings that the Tort Immunity Act applies only to tort actions and does not bar actions for constitutional violations? The Illinois Supreme Court vacated and remanded the appellate court’s response. The question is “improperly overbroad, should not have been answered, and does not warrant” review. The question ignores the breadth of the Human Rights Act, which provides for numerous types of civil actions for unlawful conduct in a variety of contexts. View "Rozsavolgyi v. The City of Aurora" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a 28 U.S.C. 2254 petition for writ of habeas corpus, alleging that defense counsel rendered ineffective assistance in the investigation and presentation of mitigation evidence during his penalty phase proceedings. The court held that the state court's denial of petitioner's ineffective trial counsel claim was not contrary to, or an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law, nor was it based on an unreasonable determination of the facts. In this case, petitioner has not shown a reasonable probability that, had he presented all mitigating evidence, the outcome of the proceedings would have been different. The court explained that petitioner's claims about his counsel's investigation were immaterial and irrelevant to the prejudice analysis. View "Krawczuk v. Secretary, FL DOC" on Justia Law

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In 2005, Saxon was convicted in Illinois state court of the 1995 first-degree murder of a 12-year-old girl, arson, and concealment of homicide. The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed. After his state appeals were exhausted, Saxon sought habeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction.The Seventh Circuit affirmed the denial of relief. The state’s case included testimony from 15 witnesses, numerous stipulations and exhibits. The victim’s mother testifed that Saxon was at her house almost every day, and was there the night the girl disappeared. Saxon’s aunt testified that she had lived at the residence with the garage in which the victim’s burned body was found before the fire and that Saxon frequently visited. By the time police obtained a search warrant for a sample of Saxon’s blood in 2000, Saxon was serving a 10-year prison sentence following a conviction for the sexual assault of his nephew. Saxon’s blood sample showed that his DNA matched the DNA profile found on the sperm fraction found on the victim’s body. Eventually, Saxon admitted that he had sex with the victim. The evidence was sufficient to find Saxon guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crimes charged was not objectively unreasonable. View "Saxon v. Lashbrook" on Justia Law

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A local government violated the Establishment Clause when it displays and maintains on public property a 40-foot tall Latin cross, established in memory of soldiers who died in World War I. The Fourth Circuit reversed and remanded the district court's judgment and held that the monument has the effect of endorsing religion and excessively entangles the government in religion. The court explained that the Latin cross is the core symbol of Christianity. In this case, the cross is 40 feet tall; prominently displayed in the center of one of the busiest intersections in Prince George's County, Maryland; and maintained with thousands of dollars in government funds. The court held that the purported war memorial breaches the "wall of separation between Church and State." View "American Humanist Assoc. v. Maryland-National Capital Park" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court denying Defendant’s motion to suppress. As grounds for the motion, Defendant argued that the search warrant authorizing the search was unsupported by probable cause under the Fourth Amendment and that its execution violated the search-and-seizure protections of the Fourth Amendment and Ind. Const. art. I, 11. The trial court denied the motion. A jury subsequently found Defendant guilty of of several drug-related offenses. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) under a state constitutional analysis, the police did not act unreasonably under the totality of the circumstances; and (2) under a federal constitutional analysis, the search warrant was supported by probable cause. View "Watkins v. State" on Justia Law

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From 1986-2015, Forgue was a Chicago Police Department (CPD) officer. Forgue alleges that, from 2012-2015, he was harassed by fellow police officers for adhering to CPD policy and procedure and for filing numerous internal complaints. Forgue filed suit against the city and individual officers under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for First Amendment retaliation, equal protection, civil conspiracy, and procedural due process, and related state law claims. He claimed, among other things, that he was denied a Retirement Card when he retired. Without one, Forgue cannot carry a concealed firearm, procure benefits such as health insurance, or find other employment in law enforcement. The district court dismissed. The Seventh Circuit affirmed in part. Forgue’s complaints were made pursuant to his job responsibilities; he spoke as a public employee, not a private citizen, so Forgue’s speech is not entitled to First Amendment protection. The district court properly rejected Forgue’s equal protection class-of-one claim and his conspiracy claims. Reversing the dismissal of a procedural due process claim, the court stated that Forgue sufficiently alleged that he has a legitimate entitlement and cognizable property interest in receiving a Retirement Card. View "Forgue v. City of Chicago" on Justia Law

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Sanders has been in solitary confinement for eight years, and the prison plans to keep him there for another ten. He has been diagnosed with intermittent explosive disorder, schizoaffective disorder, and other conditions that make him dangerous to others. Sanders alleged in a suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 that the isolation, heat, and restricted airflow in solitary confinement harm aggravate his psychological problems and his asthma. The filing fee in federal court is $400. Sanders asked for permission to litigate in forma pauperis, 28 U.S.C. 1915(b), which is unavailable if the prisoner has, on three or more occasions, while incarcerated or detained in any facility, brought an action or appeal in a court of the United States that was dismissed on the grounds that it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim, unless the prisoner is under imminent danger of serious physical injury. Sanders conceded that at least three of his prior suits or appeals have been dismissed as frivolous, malicious, or failing to state a claim. The Seventh Circuit vacated the dismissal of his suit, citing “the exception to the exception.” Sanders argued that his mental condition disposes him to self-harm, that he has twice tried to commit suicide, and has engaged in self-mutilation. Sanders’s history, coupled with the prison’s diagnosis of his condition, make his allegations plausible. The court stated that a court cannot simply disregard such an allegation as self-serving. View "Sanders v. Melvin" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging that defendant fired her for supporting defendant's political rival, and thus violated plaintiff's First Amendment rights. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's determination that, as an Assistant State's Attorney, plaintiff was a policymaker exempt from the First Amendment's protection against patronage dismissals. The court reasoned that to hold otherwise would undermine the public mandate bestowed upon the victor of a hard-fought election and would needlessly interfere with a state official's managerial prerogative. View "Borzilleri v. Mosby" on Justia Law

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In 1998 Haynes was convicted of 12 federal crimes and sentenced to life plus 105 years in prison. His direct appeal and a collateral attack under 28 U.S.C. 2255 failed. After the Supreme Court retroactively held that the residual clause in 18 U.S.C.924(e)(2)(B)(ii) is unconstitutionally vague in labelling as a violent felony a crime that “involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another,” the Seventh Circuit authorized Haynes to pursue another collateral attack. The district court concluded that Johnson implies the invalidity of the residual clause in 18 U.S.C. 3559(c)(2)(F)(ii), under which Haynes’s life sentences were imposed and concluded that Haynes must be resentenced. The court did not invalidate any of his convictions. Haynes argued that three of his 18 U.S.C. 924(c) convictions for use of a firearm in committing a crime of violence depended on a conclusion that interstate travel in aid of racketeering, 18 U.S.C. 1952(a)(2), is a crime of violence. The Seventh Circuit dismissed his appeal for lack of jurisdiction. The length of Haynes’ new sentences for Hobbs Act robbery may affect the appropriate length of his section 924(c) sentences. When a judge in a section 2255 proceeding orders a resentencing, that proceeding is not over, and the decision is not appealable until that resentencing has occurred. View "Haynes v. United States" on Justia Law