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Friday, December 17, 2010

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides 2 Indiana cases today

In U.S. v. Tanner (ND Ind., Lozano), a 33-page opinion, Judge Hamilton writes:

Appellant Charles Tanner abandoned a promising career in boxing to become a major player in a conspiracy to distribute large amounts of cocaine. Like many other drug dealers, Tanner was caught when his co-conspirators turned on him in an attempt to reduce their own prison time. After a jury convicted him for his role in the conspiracy, Tanner was sentenced to life in prison, in large part because of the significant amount of cocaine he helped distribute. On appeal Tanner argues that the prosecutor violated his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination by pointing out in closing arguments defense counsel’s failure to rebut the government’s case. Tanner also argues that the district court improperly admitted certain evidence against him and instructed the jury improperly. Tanner further asserts that the district court miscalculated his advisory sentencing guideline range and that life imprisonment is unreasonable.

None of Tanner’s arguments warrant reversal of his conviction or his sentence. A number of individuals other than Tanner could have been in a position to rebut the government’s case, so we find no error in the prosecutor’s closing argument. Except for certain testimony regarding Tanner’s possession of a firearm on one occasion, all of the complained-of evidence was clearly admissible. The one exception was harmless. As for the jury instructions, the district court’s only error was in giving an “ostrich” instruction lacking sufficient factual support in the trial record. That error was also harmless. The district court properly calculated Tanner’s sentence, and a life sentence was reasonable under these circumstances. Accordingly, we affirm.

In Karl Schmidt Unisia, Inc. v. Internation Union (ND Ind., Van Bokkelen), a 13-page opinion, Judge Kanne concludes:
The CBA’s arbitration clause creates a presumption that the Union’s grievance is arbitrable. Because the CBA does not expressly exclude the grievance from arbitration and the Company has not shown most forceful evidence of the parties’ intent to exclude the grievance from arbitration, the Company has not rebutted the presumption of arbitrability. Therefore, we AFFIRM the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the Union, Jenkins, and Smith.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 17, 2010 11:14 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions