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Supreme Court Quick Takes


Kerry Bryson reviews People v. Holmes, handed down Thursday, August 3. 

Round v. Lamb

By Kerry Bryson, Office of the State Appellate Defender

Petitioner Danny Round brought a complaint for habeas corpus, or, in the alternative, for an order of mandamus. Round’s present incarceration is the result of his serving his mandatory supervised release (MSR) term in custody because an acceptable electronic monitoring host site could not be identified. In the instant proceeding, Round sought immediate release, arguing that the sentencing order in his case did not include the 4-year MSR term on which he is presently being held; that even if that 4-year MSR term applies, it started to run when he completed his term of imprisonment on the count with which it is associated and not when he completed a longer, concurrent term of imprisonment; and that his sentence should have been amended to be no more than seven years total. because that was the maximum term he expected at the time of his plea.

It would be difficult to provide a more clear and succinct summary of the court’s analysis of each of Round’s contentions than that provided by Justice Garman, writing for the Court, at the conclusion of the opinion (¶¶ 28-30):


Kerry Bryson reviews People v. Holmes, handed down Thursday, July 20.

People v. Holmes

By Kerry Bryson, Office of the State Appellate Defender

Prior to the Illinois Supreme Court’s issuing its decision in Aguilar, David Holmes was arrested at a Chicago beach when officers observed a revolver sticking out of his waistband. After his arrest, the police learned that he did not have a FOID card. He was charged with two counts of AUUW for carrying an uncased, loaded, and immediately accessible firearm and two counts of AUUW for carrying a firearm without a valid FOID card.

Those first two counts were nolle prossed by the state after Aguilar was decided. Prosecution of the no-FOID counts continued.

Holmes filed a motion to suppress arguing that the police lacked probable cause to believe he was committing a crime because the AUUW statute upon which his arrest was based was later held unconstitutional and thus was void ab initio (or, as if it had never existed). Holmes further argued that the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule did not apply where the police were enforcing an unconstitutional statute. The trial court allowed the motion to suppress, noting that it was “unfortunate” because the officer’s actions were not improper at the time. The appellate court affirmed, concluding that the void ab initio doctrine precluded application of the good faith exception.


Kerry Bryson reviews People v. Ringland, handed down Thursday, June 29. 

People v. Ringland

By Kerry Bryson, Office of the State Appellate Defender

In these consolidated cases, the defendants were subjected to traffic stops on I-80 in LaSalle County, with each stop resulting in the discovery of a controlled substance. Those stops were initiated by a team of special investigators appointed by then LaSalle County State’s Attorney Brian Towne pursuant to Section 3-9005(b) of the Counties Code allowing State’s Attorneys to appoint special investigators. Towne named the team the State’s Attorney’s Felony Enforcement unit (or SAFE). The specific purpose of SAFE was to act as a drug interdiction team on I-80.

The defendants filed motions to suppress, challenging the investigators’ authority to conduct traffic stops, as well as the adequacy of the procedure by which they were appointed. The circuit court granted the motions on the basis that statutory procedural requirements for appointment of special investigators had not been met. The appellate court affirmed but on the basis that the investigators lacked authority under Section 3-9005 (b) to conduct the traffic stops in question. The Supreme Court agreed with the appellate court.

Section 3-9005(b) provides that the state’s attorney has the authority to appoint special investigators to: (1) serve subpoenas, (2) make return of process, and (3) conduct investigations which assist the state’s attorney in the performance of his or her duties. The supreme court agreed with the appellate court’s observation that this is an exclusive list.


Leading appellate attorneys review the Illinois Supreme Court opinions handed down on Thursday, June 15. The cases are People v. Alexander and People v. Nelson

People v. Alexander

By Jay Wiegman, Office of the State Appellate Defender

In 2011, the Occupy Chicago movement demonstrated in Chicago’s financial district. About three weeks into the protest, the demonstrators were directed to an area known as Congress Plaza in Grant Park, but were then told they would have to leave at 11:00 p.m., pursuant to an ordinance that closes the park overnight, so that park employees could clean and maintain the park, and for safety concerns. Protesters who remained in the park at 1:00 a.m. were arrested for refusing to leave the park.

The circuit court dismissed the charges, finding that the ordinance was unconstitutional on its face and as applied to the defendants, in part because the Chicago Police Department occasionally permitted after-hours assemblage, including President Obama’s election night rally in 2008.

The appellate court, First District, reversed, holding that the ordinance did not violate the defendants’ right to assemble under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The Illinois Supreme Court entered a supervisory order, which directed the appellate court to consider whether the Park District Ordinance violated the Illinois Constitution. The appellate court again reversed the circuit court’s judgment.

Kerry Bryson reviews People v. Sebby, handed down by the court Friday, June 2.

People v. Sebby

By Kerry Bryson, Office of the State Appellate Defender

On October 27, 2011, LaSalle County Sheriff's Deputies went to the Sebby residence to serve a custody order. They were looking for the defendant's mother, Bonnie, who they believed had current physical custody of the defendant's niece (L.S.). L.S.'s mother, Casey, was the defendant's sister. Casey died in a car accident a month prior, and the custody order directed law enforcement to assist L.S.'s biological father in obtaining custody of her.

Deputies had gone to the Sebby residence on two occasions during the week prior to October 27, but had been unsuccessful in serving Bonnie with the custody order. On the 27th, deputies arrived at 6 a.m., knocked on the door, and were met by a young woman who did not live at the home. The events that followed were recounted by both the deputies and the defendant and his family and friends, with each side giving a version which differed from the other, and with each version being plausible. The encounter ended with the defendant's arrest for resisting.

Ultimately, the case proceeded to jury trial. During jury selection, there were defects in the Rule 431(b) admonishments provided by the court (commonly known as the Zehr admonishments). Defense counsel, however, did not object to the defective admonishments. On appeal, the defendant relied on the plain error doctrine to challenge the unpreserved 431(b) error.


Leading appellate attorneys review the Illinois Supreme Court opinions handed down Thursday, May 18. The cases are Better Government Ass'n v. Illinois High School Ass'n, In re Estate of Shelton, Ferris, Thompson & Zweig, Ltd v. Esposito, Chultem v. Ticor Title Insurance Co., and People v. Veach.

CIVIL

Better Government Ass'n v. Illinois High School Ass'n

By Joanne R. Driscoll, Forde Law Offices LLP

In the ongoing battle involving public records requests made of governmental agencies, the supreme court was asked to define the term “subsidiary bod[y]” as used in the definition of “public body” in the Freedom of Information Act (5 ILCS 140/2(a) (West 2014)) and then to determine whether the Illinois High School Association (“IHSA”) is subject to the FOIA.  The IHSA governs and coordinates interscholastic athletic competitions for public and private secondary schools in Illinois.

A leading appellate attorney reviews the Illinois Supreme Court opinion handed down Thursday, April 20. The case is People v. Way. 

People v. Way

By Kerry J. Bryson, Office of the State Appellate Defender

Ida Way was driving a vehicle when she crossed into oncoming traffic and struck another vehicle head-on, causing injuries to the driver of that vehicle as well as a passenger in her own car. Subsequent forensic testing revealed the presence of cannabis metabolite in Way's urine. She was charged with aggravated DUI based upon her having "any amount" of a drug, substance, or compound in her urine.

Way sought to defend against the charge by introducing evidence that a sudden, unforeseeable medical condition that caused her to lose consciousness was the proximate cause of the accident. She offered that her passenger would testify that she lost consciousness, three eyewitnesses would testify that they saw her shortly before the accident and she did not appear impaired, and her doctor would testify that it was possible that her loss of consciousness was due to her low blood pressure. The trial court rejected her request, concluding that the statute was one of strict liability "as to the accident." The appellate court looked to the law of proximate cause in civil cases and held that Way should have been permitted to present medical evidence.

Leading appellate attorneys review the Illinois Supreme Court opinions handed down Thursday, March 23. The civil cases are The Carle Foundation v. Cunningham Township, In re Marriage of Heroy, and Barr v. Cunningham, and, from the criminal docket, People v. Howard and People v. Pearse.

CIVIL

The Carle Foundation v. Cunningham Township

By Michael T. Reagan, Law Offices of Michael T. Reagan

The issues presented in The Carle Foundation v. Cunningham Township will one day provide an important statement about charitable-use tax exemptions for medical care facilities. For now, this opinion provides important lessons on SCR 304(a) jurisdiction, the proper scope of declaratory judgments, and factors touching upon the court’s use of its supervisory authority. 

Leading appellate attorneys review the Illinois Supreme Court opinions handed down Friday, February 17. The cases are Stone Street Partners, LLC v. City of Chicago Dept. of Administrative HearingsWardwell v. Union Pacific Railroad Co.Grimm v. Calica, and, from the criminal docket, People v. Fort, People v. Ayres, and People v. Shinaul.

CIVIL

Stone Street Partners, LLC v. City of Chicago Dept. of Administrative Hearings

By Michael T. Reagan, Law Offices of Michael T. Reagan

In Stone Street Partners, LLC v. City of Chicago Dept. of Administrative Hearings, a limited scope Armageddon was expected to occur concerning a claim of unauthorized practice of law, but by a vote of 4 to 3 that battle was called off.  Stone Street Partners, LLC brought this action in the circuit court to obtain administrative review and other relief after discovering that a judgment had been recorded against one of its properties for failure to pay $1,050 in fines and costs imposed by Chicago’s department of administrative hearings for alleged violations of the city’s building code, such as installation of carbon monoxide detectors, removal of garbage and debris, and the installation of lighting and exit signage.

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys reviews the Illinois Supreme Court opinions handed down Friday, January 20. The cases are The Hertz Corporation v. City of Chicago, Board of Education of Springfield School Dist. No. 186 v. Attorney General of Illinois, Village of Bartonville v. Lopez, and People v. Johnson.

CIVIL

The Hertz Corporation v. City of Chicago

By Michael T. Reagan, Law Offices of Michael T. Reagan