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Seventh Circuit Affirms Against Illinois Arbitrary Gain-Time Allegation

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed an Illinois federal district court’s decision that granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment in a case involving aggravated driving while license revoked. Petitioner Peter Peretz was taken into custody February 17, 2007, and sentenced March 7, 2007, to eighteen months imprisonment. The charge carried a mandatory minimum sentence of 180 days. Statutory good-time is one day for each day served, leaving Peretz with a nine month incarceration period.

Also by statute, the Director of Illinois Department of Corrections may award up to an additional 180 days meritorious good-time credit. Peretz was awarded 87 days meritorious good-time credit, which was the issue under contention. Peretz asserted the figure, 87 days, was arbitrary, notwithstanding the fact that 87 days adjusted his release date so he served a total of 180 days, the minimum mandatory sentence.

Peretz argued that full meritorious good-time credit was routinely awarded, and that any amount below the maximum reduction was a deprivation of his liberty interest in violation of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. He brought suite under §1983, naming three state employees: the warden of his prison and two correctional counselors.

In May 2010, the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on three grounds: 1) Peretz suffered no constitutional deprivation because he was required by statute to serve 180 days, 2) the Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections was the party responsible for the alleged constitutional deprivation, and 3) the named state employees were entitled to qualified immunity.

Despite two time extensions granted to Peretz, he failed to respond to the state’s motion for summary judgment. The court granted the state’s motion, deemed Peretz failure to respond as an admission of the state’s proposed undisputed facts, and consequently granted the state’s motion for summary judgment on the basis that Peretz suffered no constitutional deprivation, thereby mooting the state’s contention that Peretz sued the wrong people and the people he sued had qualified immunity. See: Peretz v. Sims, 662 F.3d 478 (2011).

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Related legal case

Peretz v. Sims