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Friday, July 25, 2008

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit issues two today from Indiana

In U.S. v. Lawrence, Jackson, Anderson, and Johnson (ND Ind., Judge Lozano) - a 13-page opinion, Judge Tinder writes:

This case involves the consolidated appeals of Francis Lawrence, Anthony Jackson, David Anderson, and Leon Johnson, who filed motions with the district court to reduce their sentences under the retroactive sentencing guideline reductions for crack cocaine offenses. The court granted the defendants’ motions and reduced their sentences according to the guidelines, but the court also, apparently inadvertently, included language in the orders that converted each sentence into “time served.” Within a few weeks, the court recognized the error and entered modifications to correct the language. Accordingly, the defendants are challenging the district court’s authority to substantively modify their sentences outside of the seven-day window permitted by Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 35. * * *

Congress has given the government the authority to appeal a sentence if the sentence was imposed in violation of law, was imposed as a result of an incorrect application of the sentencing guidelines, is less than the guidelines minimum sentence, or was imposed for an offense for which there is no sentencing guideline and the sentence is plainly unreasonable. 18 U.S.C. § 3742(b). The government has 30 days after the entry of the order being appealed to file a notice of appeal with the district court. Fed. R. App. P. 4(b)(1)(B). Here, the government’s time to file a notice of appeal had not yet expired, when, on March 26, the district court sua sponte entered new orders. At that point, the government had no reason to appeal the original orders because the orders had been superseded by sentences that presumably no longer fit within the appealable conditions specified by § 3742(b). It appears that here, unlike in Greenlaw, the government had not yet exercised its prerogative to forgo appeals because the time periods had not expired when the court purported to correct the sentences. Now that the sentences of March 4, 6, and 13 are at issue again, it would not seem to run afoul of the cross-appeal rule or undermine the interests of fair notice and finality to permit the government to file notices of appeal within the remainders of the 30-day time periods that had not expired as of March 26. If the government chooses to appeal, the district court should consider whether the defendants should be detained pending the appeals pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3143(c). Any such appeals should be returned to this panel as successive appeals under Operating Procedure 6(b).

III. CONCLUSION. The district court lacked the authority to correct the sentences on March 26, 2008, and we VACATE those orders and the explanatory orders of the same date. The prior sentence orders of March 4, 6, and 13 are again in effect.

In Peals v. Terre Haute Police Dept. (SD Ind., Judge Young), a 16-page opinion, Judge Ripple writes:
Robert Peals filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Terre Haute Police Department and several individual police officers. Mr. Peals alleged that the defendants had performed an unlawful search, falsely arrested him, initiated a retaliatory prosecution against him and used excessive force against him. Before trial, the district court granted the defendants’ summary judgment motion with respect to Mr. Peals’ unlawful search, false arrest and retaliatory prosecution claims. The court also dismissed his claims against all of the defendants except Officers Trey Gilbert and Curt Brinegar. The remaining excessive-force claim proceeded to trial, and the jury found in favor of the defendants. Mr. Peals timely appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment on two of his claims and two of the court’s rulings at trial. For the reasons discussed in this opinion, we affirm the judgment of the district court.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 25, 2008 02:40 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions