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Circuit court upholds Section 8 precedent

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals declined today to overturn precedent on the due process rights of someone rejected from specific Section 8 housing.

In Marshall Fincher v. South Bend Heritage Foundation, No. 09-1964, Marshall Fincher sued after his Section 8 application for housing in a building owned by South Bend Heritage Foundation was denied due to a previous eviction. Fincher claimed he was denied due process of law or that SBHF breached a contract with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development to which Fincher is a third-party beneficiary.

Fincher wanted the Circuit Court to overturn its precedent in Eidson v. Pierce, 745 F.2d 435 (7th Cir. 1984), but the judges declined because they found Eidson to be a well-reasoned opinion. That ruling found there is no legitimate claim to entitlement for people rejected from a specific housing unit.

“Under Section 8, even if a plaintiff proved that the landlord relied on false information in coming to its decision to deny the plaintiff housing, the plaintiff still would not be entitled to the housing so long as the housing went to another eligible candidate,” wrote Judge Joel Flaum. “Therefore, the due process hearing would be meaningless.”

Section 8 only provides landlords with a series of guidelines to apply when choosing between two eligible candidates and leaves the landlord with considerable discretion in making the final decision, he continued.

The Circuit judges rejected Fincher’s arguments to rely on a 9th Circuit case that was decided two years before Eidson because the 7th Circuit had already rejected the reasoning from that case in Eidson. They also declined to adopt rulings out of a New Jersey District Court or the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts because those cases tackled different issues than the one in Eidson. In the New Jersey case, the issue was whether an individual had a right to a due process hearing when she was denied eligibility for the Section 8 housing program in New Jersey. The Massachusetts case addressed a situation where the defendants were allegedly in violation of numerous state public housing regulations that set forth mandatory priority and preference categories.

“Because Eidson was a well-reasoned opinion, and no significant changes in the law have occurred between when we decided that case and now, we decline the invitation to overturn Eidson and affirm the district court on the due process challenge,” wrote Judge Flaum.

The 7th Circuit also affirmed the District Court’s rejection of Fincher’s claim that he can bring a suit as a third-party beneficiary of a contract entered into between SBHF and HUD. Fincher must point to specific regulations or contract provisions that are being violated in this case to give rise to this cause of action.
 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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