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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides two Indiana cases today [Updated]

In Lax, Kenneth R. v. City South Bend (ND Ind., Robert L. Miller, Jr., Chief Judge), a 3-page opinion, Circuit Judge Posner concludes:

But once the case has moved beyond the pleading stage, the plaintiff cannot ward off an adverse judgment by asserting hypothetical facts. He needs evidence. Well, Lax had evidence—his affidavit. The affidavit was vague, and the district judge could have asked for more detail, but did not. What the judge could not properly do was equate vagueness to an absence of evidence, especially when the plaintiff, by indicating what he hoped to prove, made clear that the vagueness of his affidavit was not an acknowledgment that the officer had not used excessive force. The district judge thus erred in granting summary judgment for the officer, though in all other respects the decision is correct. AFFIRMED IN PART,REVERSED IN PART, AND REMANDED.
In Lambert, Michael Allen v. Davis, C. (SD Ind., Larry J. McKinney, Chief Judge), a 19-page opinion (with Judge Ripple's dissent beginning on p. 9), Circuit Judge Evans concludes:
As we have observed, “Nothing in the Constitution entitles state defendants to obtain a federal benefit from errors of state law.” In re Page, 170 F.3d 659, 662 (on reh’g, 179 F.3d 1024 (1999)). And, at most, that’s what Lambert points to. Accordingly, we AFFIRM the district court’s judgment and DENY Lambert’s requests for leave to file a successive petition for a writ of habeas corpus. We also vacate the stay of execution entered on June 17, 2005.

RIPPLE, Circuit Judge, dissenting.

At this stage of the proceeding, the prime question before us is whether the district court was correct in ruling that Mr. Lambert’s petition was a successive petition. Having characterized the petition as successive, the district court dismissed the action because the petitioner had not obtained permission from this court to file such a petition.

In my view, the district court erred in this determination. It should have permitted the petition to be filed and decided the matter in due course. I would therefore reverse the judgment of the district court and remand this case for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

[Update] A reader has pointed me to this noteworthy footnote on p. 7 that I missed:
Our dissenting colleague, in a bit of overheated hyperbole, accuses us of a “willingness to tolerate even the most egregious forms of discrimination at the hands of a state.” But the Supreme Court of Indiana didn’t decline to grant relief to Mr. Lambert (to use the dissent’s examples) because of his race or religion. It applied—free of discrimination—state law. That our dissenting colleague is more comfortable with the view expressed by the dissenters in Indiana is not a reason why we are free to jettison the view of that court’s majority.
Re the reference, see pp. 16-17 of the dissent.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 31, 2006 11:48 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions