Seventh Circuit

The Federal Docket

United States v. Hible (7th Cir. September 2021)

The Seventh Circuit held that the deadline for filing a notice of appeal in a criminal case is measured from the date a district court denies a motion for reconsideration, not the date of a district court’s order on the underlying motion.

United States v. Soybel (7th Cir. September 2021)

The Seventh Circuit affirmed a defendant’s sentence for initiating cyber attacks against his former employer. The Court held that suppression was not warranted where agents monitored the defendant’s internet traffic through a pen register for IP addresses, which was not meaningfully distinguishable from a pen register for phone numbers.

Roderick Lewis v. Dushan Zatecky (7th Cir. April 2021)

In a 2-1 opinion, the Seventh Circuit reversed the denial of Roderick Lewis’s 2254 motion and remanded his case for re-sentencing. The Court held that the defendant received ineffective assistance of counsel when his lawyer at sentencing only said he was “going to defer to Mr. Lewis if he has any comments. I don’t have anything to add.” The Court further held that this was one of those rare instances where prejudice is presumed pursuant to SCOTUS’s decision in U.S. v. Cronic, since trial counsel’s silence at sentencing “went beyond a failure to conduct adversarial testing; it was an announcement of abandonment.”

United States v. Anthony Jordan (7th Cir. March 2021)

The Seventh Circuit reversed a district court’s revocation of the defendant’s supervised release and 6-month sentence. Reviewing the district court’s decision under the Court’s “supervisory power,” the Court held that the district court did not adequately address the defendant’s explanation for his non-criminal, unintentional violations, and it did not properly explain its sentencing decision in accordance with the 3553(a) factors.

Jeffery Bridges v. United States (March 7th Cir. 2021)

The Seventh Circuit remanded a defendant’s 2255 motion for an evidentiary hearing, holding that the defendant had made a sufficient showing that he may have received ineffective assistance of counsel based on his lawyer’s failure to argue that his Hobbs Act robbery was not a crime of violence under the career offender provision of the sentencing guidelines. While the Seventh Circuit had not yet decided whether Hobbs Act robbery was a crime of violence at the time of the defendant’s sentencing, other circuits had, the categorical approach under the Guidelines was well-known, and this was enough to warrant at least a hearing to determine whether the defendant’s counsel failed to reasonably investigate the issue before the defendant’s sentencing.

United States v. Fred McGee (7th Cir. January 2021)

The Seventh Circuit vacated a defendant’s sentence based on the district court improperly applying a role enhancement. While the defendant distributed drugs through his own local network in addition to the main network in his offense and paid others to act as lookouts or drivers, the Court held this was insufficient to apply the enhancement because, explaining that having a local network of buyers alone does not establish authority over others and that there was insufficient evidence that the defendant exercised authority over others simply by paying them to act in their roles as directed by the organization’s actual leader.

United States v. Gregory Sanford (7th Cir. January 2021)

The Seventh Circuit joined the Fifth, Sixth, and Third Circuits in holding that the exhaustion requirement under 3582(c)(1)(A) is a “mandatory claim-processing rule” that cannot be waived by a court. Therefore a defendant filing a motion for sentence reduction must first submit a request the warden, wait 30 days or exhaust their remedies, or the Government may waive the requirement.

Sixth and Seventh Circuits Hold Courts Have Broad Discretion to Determine Inmate Eligibility for Compassionate Release

The Sixth Circuit and Seventh Circuit have joined the Second Circuit in holding that district courts considering motions for sentence reductions under 18 USC 3582(c)(1)(A) can exercise their discretion in determining whether an inmate has presented “extraordinary and compelling reasons” warranting a sentence modification.

United States v. Blair Cook (7th Cir. August 2020)

Upon remand from the United States Supreme Court, the Seventh Circuit reconsidered the defendant’s conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3) in light of Rehaif v United States (2019) where the knowledge requirement applied to both elements including possession of a firearm and defendant belonging to a barred category. The Court vacated the defendant’s conviction for unlawful drug user in possession of a firearm and held that the record established that the defendant knew he was a drug user but did not sufficiently establish that the defendant knew his use was illegal.

United States v. Kevin Kizart (7th Cir. July 2020)

The Seventh Circuit upheld a defendant’s drug convictions and denial of suppression because the officer had probable cause to search the trunk of the defendant’s car due to the smell of burnt marijuana and the defendant’s observable reaction when asked about the trunk.

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