205 F.3d 1015 (7th Cir. 2000), 99-1508, Fed Elec. Comm. v. Salvi

Docket Nº:99-1508 and 99-2183
Citation:205 F.3d 1015
Party Name:Federal Election Commission, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Al Salvi for Senate Committee and Stephanie Mustell, as Treasurer, Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:March 08, 2000
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
 
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205 F.3d 1015 (7th Cir. 2000)

Federal Election Commission, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

Al Salvi for Senate Committee and Stephanie Mustell, as Treasurer, Defendants-Appellees.

Nos. 99-1508 and 99-2183

In the United States Court of Appeals, For the Seventh Circuit

March 8, 2000

Argued December 8, 1999

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 98 C 4933 and No. 98 C 1321--George W. Lindberg, Judge.

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Before Harlington Wood, Jr., Coffey and Flaum, Circuit Judges.

Flaum, Circuit Judge.

The Federal Election Commission ("Commission") appeals an order of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois denying the Commission's motion under Rules 60(b)(1) and (b)(4) for relief from an order dismissing a civil enforcement action the Commission had brought against the Al Salvi for Senate Committee and its treasurer, Stephanie Mustell, (collectively, "defendants") for violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act. The Commission also appeals the dismissal, and refusal to alter or amend the judgment, of a subsequent action, which the district court held was barred by the first dismissal under res judicata. For the reasons stated below, we affirm.

Background

On March 3, 1998, the Commission filed a complaint in the district court alleging that the defendants violated the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 by failing to properly report campaign contributions. At the time it filed the complaint, the Commission had no attorneys on the case who were members of the Northern District of Illinois Bar, and the Commission had neither designated local counsel for service, as required by the district court's General Rule 3.13, nor filed a petition for admission pro hac vice under General Rule 3.12.

On April 2, 1998, the Commission filed an ex parte motion for waiver of the local counsel and admission requirements. On April 7, the district court issued an order denying the Commission's motion for failure to comply with General Rule 15(B), which requires that an ex parte motion be supported by an affidavit showing cause. The front side of the order stated, at the bottom of the page, that further details were printed on the reverse side. On the reverse side, the order indicated that the court had considered and rejected the merits of the Commission's motion for waiver of the court's requirements: "even

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if the requirements of 15(B) had been met and even if the court had determined plaintiff's motion was appropriate for consideration ex parte, the motion would have been denied."

Due to a recording error at the court clerk's office, the Commission's counsel only received notice of the April 7 order on May 8, 1998. At that time, the Commission's counsel only copied and read the front side of the order, and were therefore unaware that the court had considered and rejected the merits of the Commission's April 2 motion. Consequently, the Commission refiled its motion for waiver of the court's local counsel and admission requirements.

On June 10, 1998, the district court again denied the Commission's motion, and this time struck all documents filed by the Commission for failure to designate local counsel. The June 10 order also noted that the Commission's counsel had, in failing to do so, directly violated the court's previous, April 7 order. On July 8, 1998, the court, sua sponte, entered an order pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b) dismissing the Commission's action.

According to the Commission, it had begun compliance with the court's directives upon receipt of the June 10 order by obtaining local counsel, petitioning for admission pro hac vice, and filing an amended complaint, appearance form, and summonses. Following dismissal of its case, on August 10, 1998, the Commission refiled its case against the defendants, and this second case was assigned to the same district court judge as the first action. The Commission did not move to alter or amend the July 8...

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