« Courts - "SCOTUS docket on lawyer discipline to be public" | Main | Ind. Decisions - More on: Rare published dissent to transfer denial [Updated] »

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

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

In USA v. Jeffrey P. Taylor (ND Ind., Lozano), a 19-page opinion, Judge Sykes writes:

In this new appeal, Taylor argues that the Double Jeopardy Clause barred the second prosecution. He also challenges the district court’s handling of strikes for cause during jury selection and certain limitations on his cross-examination of two law-enforcement officers. His final claim of error is a challenge to the district court’s determination that his conviction for violating § 1470 triggers the registration requirements of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (“SORNA”). 42 U.S.C. § 16911(5)(A)(ii), (7)(I) (2012) (defining “sex offense” for purposes of the registration regime).

Taylor’s double-jeopardy claim is foreclosed by Supreme Court precedent; he has preserved it for further review. The challenge to the composition of the jury fails for two reasons: (1) Taylor used peremptory strikes to remove two of the three jurors about whom he now complains; and (2) he did not object to the third, and the judge did not commit plain error in seating that juror. The judge’s evidentiary rulings also were sound; the relevance of the excluded cross-examination was tenuous at best. Finally, a procedural impediment prevents us from reviewing the judge’s SORNA ruling. * * *

We appreciate that Taylor needs to know what his legal obligations are after his probation ends. Perhaps for this reason, SORNA requires that “[a]n appropriate official” notify sex offenders of the duty to register “shortly before” their release from custody, or if the offender is not in custody, “immediately after the sentencing of the sex offender[] for the offense giving rise to the duty to register.” 42 U.S.C. § 16917(a). The statutory language contemplates notice from the Executive Branch, not the judiciary. The Department of Justice takes the position that Taylor must register under SORNA; that much is clear from the government’s argument at sentencing and on appeal. Taylor disputes the government’s position, of course, which is why he joined the prosecutor in asking the district court to decide the question. The federal courts can issue declaratory judgments to resolve concrete disputes, of which this is one. But the district court did not issue a declaratory judgment resolving the parties’ dispute about whether SORNA applies.

In short, because the judgment does not incorporate the judge’s SORNA ruling and the government has not filed a cross-appeal contesting that omission, there is nothing for us to review. See Azeez v. Fairman, 795 F.2d 1296, 1297 (7th Cir. 1986). AFFIRMED

In Awok Ani-Deng v. Jeffboat (SD Ind., Barker), a 7-page appeal, Judge Posner writes:
The plaintiff filed a scattershot of discrimination and related claims against her former em-ployer, Jeffboat (a division of American Commercial Lines), the nation’s largest inland shipbuilder and second-largest manufacturer of barges. The district judge dismissed all the claims, some on the pleadings and the rest on summary judgment. * * *

The affidavit was entitled to no weight, as it had no foundation. * * *

Without the affidavit, the plaintiff had nothing. The district judge was therefore on sound ground in dismissing her suit. AFFIRMED

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 27, 2015 06:32 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions