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Wilson v. Williams

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
182 F.3d 562 (1999)


Jackie Wilson (plaintiff) was accused and subsequently convicted as an accomplice to the murder of two police officers. While Wilson was awaiting trial, prison guard James Williams (defendant) allegedly attacked Wilson without provocation. Wilson sued Williams for the serious injuries Wilson sustained in the alleged attack. Wilson filed a pretrial motion in limine, which would have prevented Williams from telling the jury about Wilson's involvement in the police murders. The trial judge denied Wilson's motion. In his opening statement to the jury, Wilson's lawyer acknowledged Wilson had been convicted as an accomplice in the police murders, and argued the nature of Wilson's crime explained Williams's otherwise unprovoked attack. Throughout the trial, Williams's lawyer used inflammatory language to emphasize Wilson's involvement in the crime, and repeatedly referred to Wilson as a "cop killer." Wilson's lawyer did not object to this language. The jury found for Williams, and Wilson appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Easterbrook, J.)

Dissent (Wood, J.)

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