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Supreme Court Quick Takes


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

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys reviews the Illinois Supreme Court opinions handed down Friday, December 30. The cases are Bremer v. The City of Rockford, Johnson v. Ames, People v. Price, and People v. Smith.

CIVIL

Bremer v. The City of Rockford

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

In three cases since 2003, the Supreme Court has construed the phrase “catastrophic injury” in the Public Safety Benefits Act (820 ILCS 320/10(a)) to be synonymous with an injury resulting in a line-of-duty disability pension under section 4-110 of the Pension Code (40 ILCS 5/4-110). The controlling issue in this case is whether that phrase is also synonymous with an injury resulting in an occupational disease disability pension under section 4-110.1 of the Pension Code. The court, with Justice Thomas writing, unanimously held that the legislature did not intend for that phrase to be synonymous with a disease  which resulted in the award of an occupational disease disability pension. The court stated that its prior cases were based on references in the legislative history to only the “line-of-duty” disability provision, and that nothing in the legislative history  indicated an intent to expand the definition of “catastrophic injury.”

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursdays's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the criminal case People v. McDonald and the civil cases Schweihs v. Chase Home Finance, LLC and In re M.I. 

CRIMINAL

People v. McDonald

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

Defendant Stanley McDonald stabbed his partner, Larry Gladney, resulting in Gladney’s death.  A paramedic who had responded to the scene testified that Gladney was very combative as they tried to treat him.  Gladney smelled of alcohol and had needle track marks indicative of drug use.  Later testing showed a BAC of .19 and cocaine in Gladney’s system.  Gladney died two days later, with the cause being a stroke resulting from a stab wound to his right cheek which had damaged his carotid artery and caused a blood clot.

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's top Illinois Supreme Court Civil opinions in In re M.M.Bueker v. Madison County Illinois,  Beggs v. The Board of Education of Murphysboro Community Unit School District No. 186, Blanchard v. Berrios, Murphy-Hylton v. Lieberman Management Services, Inc. and Zahn v. North American Power & Gas, LLC.

In re M.M.

By Joanne R. Driscoll, Forde Law Offices LLP

This case raises the procedural question of whether, in the adjudication of an abuse and neglect petition, the court has the authority to appoint a guardian for the minor when there has been no finding that a parent is unfit, unable or unwilling to care for the child.  Answering the question “no,” the Illinois Supreme Court, in a unanimous opinion, repudiated and overruled several cases that were in conflict.