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Monday, September 20, 2010

Ind. Decisions - Two interesting non-Indiana decisions today from the 7th Circuit

The opinion in Spivey v. Adaptive Marketing, involving an Illinois case, is notable because it was written by "The Œ Honorable Sandra Day O’Connor, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court (Ret.), sitting by designation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 294(a)." From p. 13 of 17:

The voluntary payment doctrine has long been recognized in common law and accepted by the Illinois courts whose jurisprudence we apply in this diversity action. The doctrine, stated succinctly, maintains that “[a]bsent fraud, coercion or mistake of fact, monies paid under a claim of right to payment but under a mistake of law are not recoverable.”
The second opinion, out of Wisconsin, Guajardo-Palma v. Martinson, involves the issue of prison mail. Some quotes from Judge Posner's 12-page opinion:
This appeal from the dismissal of a suit for failure to state a claim presents the recurrent issue of the constitutional rights of prison inmates regarding “legal mail,” a technical term for mail relating to legal proceedings. Fed R. App. P. 4(c); Fed. R. App. P. 25(a)(2)(C). Almost all civil proceedings by prisoners pit the prisoner against employees of the prison, the prison itself, or a state or federal correctional authority. It is natural for courts to be concerned about the defendants or their agents reading the prisoner’s correspondence with his lawyer, if he has one. It is like a litigant’s eavesdropping on conferences between his opponent and the opponent’s lawyer. The plaintiff claims that his constitutional rights were violated when prison guards, outside his presence, opened legal mail addressed to him. * * *

No legal mail is sacrosanct, however. Prison officials cannot be certain, just from the return address on an envelope, that a letter is from a lawyer (or indeed from a court or agency) rather than from a criminal confederate of the prisoner masquerading as a lawyer, as in Fontroy v. Beard, 559 F.3d 173, 175 (3d Cir. 2009), and State v. Steffes, 659 N.W.2d 445, 448-49 (Wis. App. 2003).

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 20, 2010 12:51 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions