Seventh Circuit Affirms Sanction Against Frequent Plaintiff Prince Foryoh

In a published opinion in In Re City of Chicago, No. 07-2608,  the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reaffirmed its prior orders sanctioning Prince Foryoh for making false statements on his application for in forma pauperis ("IFP") status. The prior orders barred Foryoh from conducting any federal litigation until all of his outstanding fees and costs, in all of his cases had been paid. The appeal arose after the district courts in Foryoh's pending cases determined that they would allow Foryoh to litigate his pending cases notwithstanding the court's orders. When the defendants objected, the district court judges referred the matter to the Executive Committee, which issued orders stating that barring Foryoh from proceeding would raise due process concerns and prejudice the defendants, since the cases would have to be stayed until Foryoh could pay. On the City's motion, the Seventh Circuit reaffirmed its prior sanctions. The court rejected the view that the sanctions posed any constitutional problem, and described the sanction as "modest." The court emphasized that Foryoh had filed frivolous lawsuits and attempted to defraud both the judiciary and his opponents. The court also rejected the idea that Foryoh's cases would have to be stayed, stating that Foryoh must meet the normal schedule for civil litigation, and that if he fails to do so, his suits must be dismissed with prejudice for failure to prosecute. The court did clarify that once Foryoh pays what he owes, he is entitled to have the order lifted immediately. Avi Kamionski handled the case in the district court and Myriam Kasper handled the appeal.

Seventh Circuit Rejects Qualified Immunity Defense In Towing Incident

Plaintiffs Ryan Belcher and Daraina Gleason filed suit against the town of Orland, Indiana and Deputy Marshall Vaughn Norton after their vehicle was towed and they were arrested after attempting to remove a radio from the vehicle at the impoundment lot. Defendant Vaughn argued that even if he violated plaintiffs Fourth Amendment rights, he was entitled to qualified immunity. The Seventh Circuit stated that the doctrine of qualified immunity  "can shield a public official such as Deputy Marshall Norton from civil liability if he can demonstrate that he was performing a discretionary function and that a reasonable law enforcement officer would have believed that, at the time he acted, his actions were within the bounds of the law," citing Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982). The court further stated that "qualified immunity protects an official from suit and from liability for civil damages when, at the time of the challenged action, the contours of the constitutional right were not so defined as to put the official on notice that his conduct violated the Constitutions," citing Hope v. Pelzer, 536 U.S. 730, 739 (2002). The Seventh Circuit held that the qualified immunity defense was not available to Deputy Marshall Norton because a reasonable police officer acting at the time would have known that he lacked probable cause to arrest the plaintiffs for criminal conversion since Indiana's lien statute gave the towing company a lien on the vehicle but not its contents. The case was decided on August 15, 2007 and bears case number 06-3174.

Evan Zimmerman Seventh Circuit Appeal Dismissed

Evan Zimmerman, who served three years in prison for a murder conviction that was later overturned, has died of cancer at the age of 61. Zimmerman had been convicted of strangling his ex-girlfriend Kathleen Thomson in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. After being released from prison, Zimmerman filed a federal civil rights lawsuit claiming he had been framed by the police. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the the police officers and the City of Eau Claire. Zimmerman then appealed the decision to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Oral argument was heard in April 2007. On July 1, 2007,  prior to the Seventh Circuit rendering a decision, Zimmerman died of cancer.  Zimmerman's attorneys have now dismissed their Seventh Circuit Appeal. Zimmerman was represented by Jon Loevy of the law firm of Loevy & Loevy.

Judge Agrees to Review Confession of James Andrews

Cook County Circuit Judge Thomas Sumner has agreed to review the confession that James Andrews made back in 1983 when he confessed to killing Floyd Jenkins and Keith Lewis. Andrews was questioned by police at the Area 2 detective division. Andrews has claimed that he was physically and psychologically abused and forced to confess. No date has been set yet for a hearing on the matter.

Aaron Patterson Sentenced To 30 Years In Prison

Former death row inmate Aaron Patterson was sentenced to 30 years in prison stemming from gun and drug charges. Back in 2003, Patterson received a gubernatorial pardon from then-Governor George Ryan. Patterson was sentenced by United States District Court judge Rebecca Pallmeyer. Patterson was represented by attorney Andrea Gambino. Patterson's civil rights suit is still pending in the Northern District of Illinois.

Seventh Circuit Reiterates That Duty To Disclose Exculpatory Information Extends To Post-Conviction Proceedings

In a case styled Gordon Steidl vs. Steven Fermon, Diane Carper, Charles Brueggeman, et al., the Seventh Circuit rejected the defendants' qualified immunity defense. Plaintiff Gordon Steidl spent 17 years in prison for a double homicide in Paris, Illinois that he alleges he did not commit. Steidl was released from prison in 2004 after a federal district court granted his petition for habeas corpus. After his release, Steidl brought a civil rights lawsuit against Fermon, Carper, Brueggeman, who were Illinois State police officers, and others. These defendants asserted a qualified immunity defense arguing, in part, that the obligations to disclose under Brady do not extend beyond the original trial. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals rejected that argument, stating: "In our view, Brady, Ritchie, and the other cases in this line impose on the state an ongoing duty to disclose exculpatory information if, as Brady put it, that evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment and available for the trial. . . For evidence known to the state at the time of the trial, the duty to disclose extends throughout the legal proceedings that may affect either guilt or punishment, including post-conviction proceedings."

Couple Sues Rosemont Police Chief Over Use Of Stun Gun

Rosemont residents Jose Blancas and Maria Martinez have filed a lawsuit against Rosemont police chief Donald E. Stephens III and two other Rosemont police officers alleging that the officers violated their civil rights by using a stun gun on them during a confrontation on August 6, 2006. The suit alleges that Martinez was 8 months pregnant at the time. At the time, both Blancas and Martinez were charged with resisting a police officer and Blancas was also charged with pubic intoxication and Martinez was also charged with batter.y.