All the briefs are filed, and the next step in the saga of Rowe v. Gibson, No. 14-3316 (Aug. 19, 2015), is for the nine judges in regular active service on the Seventh Circuit to cast their votes in favor of or against rehearing the case en banc.
We first wrote in August about Rowe, a decision written by Judge Richard Posner that created considerable controversy regarding the propriety of internet factual research by appellate courts. In short, Judge Posner relied on publicly available information on the web concerning the effects and use of Zantac to conclude that the district court should not have granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants in an Eighth Amendment claim. The use of that internet research sparked the controversy, beginning with one of the members of the panel in Rowe, Judge David Hamilton, who wrote a strong dissent. The third member of the panel, Judge Ilana Rovner, concurred in the result, but not in Judge Posner’s surfing the web.
Rowe first appeared pro se, but the court appointed counsel to represent Rowe and to file a response after the defendants filed a petition for rehearing en banc in September (see our post here). Rowe filed that response on Monday.