Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

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Order that juveniles submit to psychological evaluation before court ruling on motion to transfer for adult prosecution is not subject to immediate appellate review. Juveniles allegedly robbed a pharmacy. They were charged with Hobbs Act Robbery, 18 U.S.C. 1951(a), and possession of a firearm during that robbery, 18 U.S.C. 924(c). The government sought transfer for adult prosecution, 18 U.S.C. 5032 and moved to have the juveniles examined by government psychologists. The juveniles argued that the examinations—without counsel present—would violate their Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights. The magistrate granted the motion, ordering that the psychologists “not talk … about the specific allegations.” The district court affirmed. The Seventh Circuit dismissed an interlocutory appeal for lack of jurisdiction, without addressing the merits. The order did not fit within the “small class” of nonfinal orders that “finally determine claims of right separable from, and collateral to, rights asserted in the action, too important to be denied review and too independent of the cause itself to require that appellate consideration be deferred until the whole case is adjudicated.” The juvenile will not be irreparably harmed by failure to review his constitutional claims now; he can raise these same claims on an immediate appeal if the district court grants the motion to transfer. If the court denies that motion, the government will be prohibited from using at any subsequent prosecution any information obtained during the examination. View "United States v. Sealed Defendant Juvenile Male (4)" on Justia Law

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In 2003, Murdock was convicted of first-degree murder and aggravated battery with a firearm. In connection with his post-conviction claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, a suppression hearing was held to determine whether Murdock's statements to the police were voluntary, given that Murdock was 16 years old and was without an attorney or other adult present. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed denial of a motion to suppress. The federal district court denied habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254, finding that the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision was not unreasonable. The Seventh Circuit affirmed: the court applied the correct test in a reasonable manner in finding that the totality of the circumstances indicated that Murdock gave his statements voluntarily. The court considered Murdock’s age, and that he did not have an attorney or other adult present, but found that he was able to understand and provide an adequate waiver of his rights. The court considered that Murdock was detained for approximately seven hours, but noted that the interview lasted only three hours and that Murdock was given the opportunity to eat and use the restroom. There was no evidence that the officers threatened him or otherwise created a coercive environment. The court found that Murdock did not appear to be under distress or frightened on a video recording. View "Murdock v. Dorethy" on Justia Law

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Woods and other gang members robbed two convenience stores. People were shot during the robberies, but did not die. At the time the government charged Woods he was 20, but at the time of the crime he was 15; under the Juvenile Delinquency and Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. 5031, Woods was considered a juvenile. The government successfully moved to transfer Woods’s case for adult prosecution. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. To charge Woods under the Juvenile Act, the Attorney General was required to certify that the case should be transferred for adult prosecution because it met certain factors, which were not at issue here, and that “there is a substantial Federal interest in the case or the offense to warrant the exercise of Federal jurisdiction.” The government must also submit the juvenile’s court records as a jurisdictional prerequisite to a transfer proceeding. The district court must then consider: the juvenile’s age and social background; the nature of the offense; any prior delinquency record; the present intellectual development and psychological maturity; past treatment efforts and the juvenile’s response; the availability of programs to treat the juvenile’s behavioral problems. In this case, the court thoroughly considered those factors. View "United States v. Woods" on Justia Law

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In 2005, Martinez, Vallejo, and 47 others were indicted for crimes committed while they were members of the Milwaukee chapter of the Latin Kings gang organization. Martinez and Vallejo pled guilty to a RICO offense, 18 U.S.C. 1962, and admitted to engaging in predicate racketeering activities, including a 2003 murder. Vallejo, who was 17 years old at the time, and Martinez, who was 16, each fired several shots at the victim. Martinez also pled guilty to attempted murder of a rival gang member; Vallejo’s plea agreement included two attempted murders. All of the attempted murders occurred while the defendants were under the age of 18. In both cases, the court imposed the “maximum sentence”—life in prison.. Neither Martinez nor Vallejo filed a direct appeal. In 2012, the Supreme Court held, in Miller v. Alabama, that the Eighth Amendment prohibits the imposition of a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole for juveniles. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of their motion to vacate, set aside, or correct their sentences under 28 U.S.C. 2255. Martinez and Vallejo’s life sentences were imposed after an individualized sentencing, and not by statutory mandate,and did not violate Miller. View "Vallejo v. United States" on Justia Law