Justia Civil Rights Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
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The Seventh Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Appellant's petition for a writ of habeas corpus, holding that the Wisconsin Supreme Court's decision affirming Defendant's conviction did not reflect an unreasonable application of clearly established law.Defendant moved to suppress incriminating statements he made to a detective, arguing that his statement "I don't want to talk about this" expressed an unambiguous intention to cut off all further questioning and that the detective's continued questioning violated Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). The trial court denied the motion, after which Defendant pleaded guilty to armed robbery and first-degree reckless injury. The Wisconsin Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no abuse of Miranda. Thereafter, Appellant brought his habeas petition. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of the petition, holding that the Wisconsin Supreme Court's decision amounted to a reasonable application of the Supreme Court's Miranda line of cases. View "Smith v. Boughton" on Justia Law

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The Seventh Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying the motion filed by the Word Seed Church after the district court dismissed this suit for lack of standing, holding that Word Seed failed to show exceptional circumstances warranting relief from the denial of that motion.Word Seed and an organization to which it belonged (collectively, Word Seed) brought this action against the Village of Homewood, Illinois alleging violations of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The district court dismissed the suit for lack of standing after concluding that Word Seed did not suffer an injury and denied Word Seed's ensuing motions to reconsider. In the second motion, which the district court considered under Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b), Word Seed raised for the first an argument that could have been raised before the district court entered judgment dismissing the case. The district court denied the motion. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, holding that the court did not abuse its discretion in denying Word Seed's Rule 60(b) motion. View "Word Seed Church v. Village of Homewood" on Justia Law

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The Seventh Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Defendant's motion to suppress without holding an evidentiary hearing, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying an evidentiary hearing.A law enforcement officer stopped Defendant while he was riding a motorized bicycle and arrested him under the theory that his bicycle was a motor vehicle requiring a license. During the arrest, police searched Defendant and found various drugs and drug paraphernalia. Defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the government needed to establish probable cause that he was driving a motor vehicle on a revoked license. The district court summarily denied the motion. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, holding that the evidence established that the arresting officer had probable cause to believe that Defendant rolled past a stop sign, which independently supported Defendant's arrest. View "United States v. Norville" on Justia Law

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In this complaint brought under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and 42 U.S.C. 1985(3) relating to the custody of Plaintiffs' children, the Seventh Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing this suit seeking damages for alleged violations of Plaintiffs' constitutional rights to familial integrity, free exercise of religion, and due process of law, holding that there was no error.Plaintiffs brought this action seeking money damages and equitable relief for actions Defendants took with respect to three of their daughters. On appeal, Plaintiffs challenged the dismissal of their claims for money damages regarding the custody of S.M. and D.M. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the judge properly dismissed as untimely all claims relating tot he custody of S.M.; and (2) as to the remaining claims, the trial judge properly concluded that the complaint failed to allege conduct plausibly exposing Defendants to liability and that other claims were foreclosed by absolute immunity. View "Milchtein v. Milwaukee County" on Justia Law

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In this action brought the estate of Jonah Marciniak and Marciniak's son pursuing both federal and state claims stemming from Marciniak's arrest and ensuing suicide, the Seventh District held that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of the Village of Shorewood and three of its officers who arrested Marciniak after his roommate fell from a fourth story window, holding that there was no error.After arresting Marciniak and placing him in a booking cell, Marciniak used his t-shirt to hang himself. Marciniak died six days later. Plaintiffs brought this action alleging that the three officers falsely arrested Marciniak without probable cause and failed to provide medical care and attention and to protect from self-harm. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Defendants had an absolute defense of probable cause to Plaintiffs' claims; and (2) even if the officers did not have probable cause to arrest for battery, they were still entitled to qualified immunity. View "Jump v. Village of Shorewood" on Justia Law

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The Seventh Circuit reversed the order of the district court granting summary judgment and dismissing this complaint brought by Plaintiff after he was fired from his commissary job while incarcerated at Indiana State Prison, holding that the district court erred in finding that Plaintiff failed to comply with the Prison Litigation Reform Act's (PLRA) exhaustion requirement, 42 U.S.C. 1997e(a).Plaintiff was hired for a job in the commissary with the understanding that he would miss work on Fridays to attend the prison's weekly Jumu'ah Muslim prayer service. When Officer Julie Anton refused to allow Plaintiff to attend Jumu'ah and he went anyway, Anton fired Plaintiff based on a work evaluation accusing Plaintiff of theft. Plaintiff sued Anton under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging a violation of his First Amendment rights. The district court dismissed the complaint because Plaintiff did not file a formal grievance before bringing suit. The Seventh Circuit reversed, holding that the prison's grievance policy excepted Plaintiff's claim from the prison's administrative process. View "Miles v. Anton" on Justia Law

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The Seventh Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court entering summary judgment to Defendants and dismissing this complaint brought by Plaintiff, the former general counsel for Chicago State University, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in its rulings.Plaintiff brought this action under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against several University defendants alleging that the University fired him in retaliation for reporting a potential conflict of interest in violation of the First Amendment and Illinois's State Officials and Employees Ethics Act and that Defendants violated his due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment by not paying him severance pay. The district court entered summary judgment for Defendants. The Seventh District affirmed, holding that Plaintiff's actions fell outside the Ethics Act and that Plaintiff's speech lacked protection under the First Amendment. View "Cage v. Harper" on Justia Law

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The Seventh Circuit affirmed the decision of the district judge entering summary judgment for Rush University Medical Center on all claims brought by Dr. Peter Jokich under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Illinois law, holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion in the proceedings below.Jokish, a radiologist who had worked at Rush for nearly two decades before being fired, brought this action arguing that his termination was unlawful retaliation for his participation in a colleague's Title VII lawsuit and that Rush both violated the employment contract and failed to adhere to an agreement guaranteeing his employment for an additional time period. The district court granted summary judgment against Jokish on all claims. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, holding that the record did not support Jokich's Title VII claims or his breach of contract claims. View "Jokich v. Rush University Medical Center" on Justia Law

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The Seventh Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and dismissing Plaintiff's claims that the FAA violated Title VII by retaliating against her for filing a formal complaint of religious discrimination, holding that a reasonable juror could conclude that retaliatory animus influenced Defendant's decision-making and proximately caused Plaintiff's termination.Plaintiff violated the FAA's alcohol and drug policy when she was arrested for an alcohol-related offense. By self-reporting her infraction, Plaintiff avoided disciplinary action if she completed a rehabilitation plan supervised by the FAA. Plaintiff objected on religious reasons to the plan's requirement that she attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and complained of religious discrimination, even after the FAA approved her participation in an alternate recovery program. The district court concluded that Plaintiff failed to establish a causal link between the formal complaint and her termination and granted summary judgment to the FAA. The Seventh Circuit reversed, holding that, under the causation standard for federal-sector retaliation claims, a reasonable juror could conclude that retaliatory animus influenced the FAA's decision-making and proximately caused Plaintiff's termination. View "Huff v. Buttigieg" on Justia Law

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The Seventh Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing for failure to state a claim this lawsuit raising claims under the Fourth Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, holding that the judge properly dismissed the case in its entirety and with prejudice.In 2017, agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) executed a search warrant at an Indiana facility owned by Paraklese Technologies, LLC, which makes and sells firearm accessories, and seized approximately $21,000 worth of inventory. In 2017, Paraklese and its owner sued ATF agents seeking damages from the search and seizure. The district court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in dismissing the case. View "Fosnight v. Jones" on Justia Law