Weekly Case Digests July 1, 2019 July 5, 2019.

 
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Byline: Rick Benedict

7th Circuit Digests

7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: Fidelity and Deposit Company of Maryland v. Edward E. Gillen Company

Case No.: 18-2144; 18-3446

Officials: EASTERBROOK, SYKES, and BRENNAN, Circuit Judges.

Focus: Quia Timet Claims

Although linguists call Latin a "dead language," legal nomenclature dies hard. This case presents a surety's claim for quia timetequitable protection from probable future harm. The surety (an insurance company) is suing its principal (a construction company) that allegedly went belly up on a government project. The ancient equitable doctrine of quia timet remains viable into the 21st century, but the surety's claim in this case is a dead letter. We affirm summary judgment for Gillen on the merits and dismiss Fidelity's challenge to the costs taxed by the clerk of court.

Affirmed in part. Dismissed in part.

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7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: United States of America v. Herman D. Adair

Case No.: 18-2796

Officials: SYKES, SCUDDER, and ST. EVE, Circuit Judges.

Focus: 4th Amendment Violation

Officer Curtis Squires received a crime-in-progress notification while patrolling in Bloomington, Illinois during the late evening hours of September 21, 2017. More details followed. The 911 operator informed Officer Squires that a caller from the Tracy Drive Apartments reported a group of persons outside her apartment engaged in suspicious activity. The caller added that a short black male wearing a hoodie had a gun in his front pocket. Arriving moments later, Officer Squires saw the group, approached to see what was going on, and observed that Herman Adair roughly fit the 911 caller's description and had a large bulge in his front pants' pocket. Adair sought to evade Officer Squires by moving and weaving throughout the larger grouptrying to put others between Officer Squires and himself. Officer Squires then stopped and patted down Adair, finding a gun in his front pocket. The district court concluded that all of this respected the Fourth Amendment. We agree and affirm.

Affirmed

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7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: Common Cause Indiana, et al. v. Marion County Election Board, et al.

Case No.: 18-2735

Officials: FLAUM, KANNE, and SYKES, Circuit Judges.

Focus: Vacatur of Consent Decree

Indiana counties must maintain a three-member election board, made up of the circuit court clerk and two individuals the clerk appoints, one "from each of the major political parties of the county." Ind. Code 3-6- 5-2. The board makes various decisions about a county's voting system, including rules for in-person early voting.In May 2017, Common Cause Indiana, the Greater Indianapolis Branch of the NAACP, and two Marion County registered voters sued the Board and its members in their official capacities pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983. Plaintiffs alleged the Board's decision to not approve in-person early voting satellite offices from 2010 to 2016and more specifically, the application of the Satellite Office Provision's unanimity requirement and the Republican Board member's decision to withhold consentburdened voters' rights to cast early votes without any relationship to a legitimate government interest, in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Indiana moved to intervene, arguing plaintiffs' complaint "calls into question the federal and state constitutional validity" of the Satellite Office Provision. The district court issued a conditional grant, allowing Indiana to attend a settlement conference, challenge a settlement agreement at a fairness hearing, and seek permission to appeal any approved settlement.

Indiana does not believe the appeal is moot because the Consent Decree is still in effect. It contends the district court did not have authority to enter the Consent Decree in the first place and therefore asks that we vacate the Decree on the merits. However, Indiana "does not disagree with the Board and Common Cause that, under the Board's new vote center plan, the consent decree is unnecessary." It acknowledges that its "main objective with [its] appeal is vacatur of the consent decree," and "whether that occurs because the State prevails on the merits, because the case is moot, or merely because the parties voluntarily agree to vacatur is unimportant." And at oral argument, Indiana reiterated this view, stating that "as long as the Consent Decree is vacated, [it] will be happy with that end result."

In short, Indiana asks us to vacate the Decree, while joint- appellees ask us to remand to the district court with instructions to vacate. Though the result they seek differs slightly, in essence, they seek the same relief: a vacatur of the Consent Decree. Indeed, at oral argument, the Board's counsel recognized that "whether the district court is ordered to vacate the Consent Decree or this Court vacates the Consent Decree on its own makes no practical difference." Because both sides ultimately agree that the Decree should no longer be in effect, we have no need to address whether the district court had authority to enter the Decree. And we need not remand the case to the district court for vacatur. Given our authority to vacate district court judgmentsincluding consent decreeswe can and should vacate the Decree ourselves. See 28 U.S.C. 2106; cf. Frank v. Walker, 819 F.3d 384, 385 (7th Cir. 2016) (citing United States v. Munsingwear, Inc., 340 U.S. 36 (1950)).Accordingly, we VACATE the Consent Decree and REMAND to the district court with instructions to dismiss the case

Decision

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7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: United States of America v. Demontae Bell

Case No.: 17-3505

Officials: RIPPLE, HAMILTON, and ST. EVE, Circuit Judges.

Focus: Probable Cause Suppression of Evidence

Mark Turner persuaded Demontae Bell to help him sell several stolen firearms. When Turner later ran into trouble with the law, he cooperated with law enforcement, provided information about the sale, and aided the government in targeting Bell. As a result, Bell was arrested.

Upon Bell's arrest, an officer opened Bell's flip phone and viewed a photograph of a firearm on the home screen in what was likely an unconstitutional search. Yet the district court declined to suppress the evidence obtained from the phone because the government subsequently obtained valid search warrants for it. Bell challenges this suppression decision on appeal. Bell also argues that his statutory and constitutional rights to a speedy trial were violated due to continuances granted by the district court and the nearly two-year delay between his indictment and trial.

We conclude that the search warrants were supported by probable cause and that Bell's speedy trial rights were not violated. We therefore affirm.

Affirmed

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7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: Julio Cesar Najera-Rodriguez v. William P. Barr

Case No.: 18-2416

Officials: RIPPLE, HAMILTON, and ST. EVE, Circuit Judges.

Focus: Immigration - Removal Order

Petitioner Julio Cesar Najera-Rodriguez is a lawful permanent resident of the United States. In 2016, an Illinois state court convicted him of unlawful possession of several Xanax pills without a prescription. Federal law provides in relevant part that any non-citizen, including a lawful permanent resident, is removable if he is convicted of a federal or state crime "relating to a controlled substance (as defined in section 802 of title 21)." 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(B)(i). Whether the Xanax possession conviction made Najera-Rodriguez removable depends on whether the Illinois criminal law under which he was convicted, 720 ILCS 570/402(c), is "divisible" for purposes of applying the "modified categorical approach" under the elaborate and sometimes technical body of law that has developed under federal recidivism statutes and their immigration law analogs. See, e.g., Mejia Galindo v. Sessions, 897 F.3d 894, 896 (7th Cir. 2018) (summarizing "categorical" and "modified categorical" approaches and "divisibility" as applied to removal of lawful permanent resident under 1227(a)(2)(B)(i)), citing Mellouli v. Lynch, 135 S. Ct. 1980, 198687 & n.3 (2015) (holding that categorical method applies to questions under 1227(a)(2)(B)(i)). As we explain below, 720 ILCS 570/402(c) is not divisible, so Najera-Rodriguez's conviction does not render him removable. We therefore grant his petition for judicial review, vacate the removal order, and remand this case to the Board of Immigration Appeals.

Petition Granted. Vacated and Remanded

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7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: Paula Casillas v. Madison Avenue Associates, Inc.

Case No.: 17-3162

Officials: SYKES and BARRETT, Circuit Judges, and DURKIN, District Judge.

Focus: FDCPA Violation

The bottom line of our opinion can be succinctly stated: no harm, no foul. Madison Avenue Associates, Inc. made a mistake. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires debt collectors to notify consumers about the process that the statute provides for verifying a debt. Madison sent Paula Casillas a debt-collection letter that described the process, but it neglected to specify that she had to communicate in writing to trigger the statutory protections. Casillas noticed the omission and filed a class action against Madison.

The only harm that Casillas claimed to have suffered, however, was the receipt of an incomplete letterand that is insufficient to establish federal jurisdiction. As the Supreme Court emphasized in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, Casillas cannot claim "a bare procedural violation, divorced from any concrete harm, and satisfy the injury-in-fact requirement of Article III." 136 S. Ct. 1540, 1549 (2016). Article III grants federal courts the power to redress harms that defendants cause plaintiffs, not a freewheeling power to hold defendants accountable for legal infractions. Because Madison's violation of the statute did not harm...

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