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7th Circuit blasts counsel, tosses race-based traffic-stop appeal

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An Elkhart man failed to show a traffic stop and drunken-driving arrest was unconstitutional in an appeal that a 7th Circuit Court of Appeals panel rejected with an opinion blasting his lawyer’s work.

The panel affirmed summary judgment on behalf of the city of Elkhart, city police officers and others involved in the arrest in Kenny A. Jones, Sr. v. City of Elkhart, Indiana, et al., 12-3912.

Judge Theresa Springmann of the District Court for the Northern District of Indiana in Hammond had ruled for the city on Jones’ claims that his arrest violated his rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments and that his race was a factor in the stop.

Jones was stopped in the early morning hours of Oct. 22, 2008, when Elkhart police said he was driving more than 50 mph in a 35-mph zone and that he crossed the center line. He appeared to be intoxicated, and a breath test revealed a blood alcohol content of .09 percent, just above the legal limit. He was arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
 
Jones argued Elkhart police stopped him without probable cause and alleged the city had an institutionalized practice of “stopping of citizens without probable cause based on race.”

But Judge John Tinder wrote for the 7th Circuit panel that Springmann rightly found for the city by granting summary judgment on her own motion, noting that the panel was perplexed by Jones’ appeal that seemed to have waived the race argument.

“Counsel for Jones stated his claims broadly and vaguely. He listed a series of irrelevant facts untethered to any legal claims, and asserted constitutional injury without specifying what provisions of the Constitution were violated and how,” Tinder wrote.

“Unfortunately, on appeal, counsel fashioned his brief in a similar manner. … The argument section of Jones’s brief recite legal standards for the elements of the case but offer us no analysis on how to apply them to the facts at hand,” he wrote.

Springmann’s grant of summary judgment on her own motion was not improper, the panel held, noting defendants didn’t brief Jones’ equal protection argument in essence because it wasn’t clear from the pleadings what exactly he alleged.

“It is not difficult to see why Defendants had difficult grappling with the legal claims at play in this case,” Tinder wrote. “The complaint is drafted in broad, generalized strokes. … (I)t is by no means a clearly presented argument to which Defendants failed to respond, either out of irresponsible lawyering or some tactical decision to conceal the equal protection claim.”

       
 

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  • Overlooked Info here, Jose
    Justicia reveals the plaintiff counsel: http://dockets.justia.com/docket/circuit-courts/ca7/12-3912/
  • Agreed
    Agreed.
    • Permissive parenting-like
      This paper, and even the Seventh Circuit, blames Mr Jones for the fault of his greedy counsel. The attorney is charged with the duty of knowing if a case passes Rule 11 plausibility, which this one seems to fail, not the client. Yet whose name is tied to this total waste of judicial resources? Only Mr Jones, the client. His greedy attorney, seeking a payoff under 42 usc 1983, an attorney who evidently knows little about how to plead or defend such a claim, is rightly called to account, but done so, in the Court opinion on in this article, without a name. Where is the accountability in that? How can the market forces work? This is like the permissive parenting of the Sixties and beyond, and look how badly that is serving us as a social order.

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    1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

    2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

    3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

    4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

    5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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