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Supreme Court Quick Takes

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil cases In re Marrige of Mueller and Hadley v. Subscriber Doe and the criminal case People v. Downs.

CIVIL

In re Marriage of Mueller

By Karen Kies DeGrand, Donohue Brown Mathewson & Smyth LLC

 

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil cases Marks v. Vanderventer, McVey v. M.L.K. Enterprises, LLC, Turcios v. The DeBruler Company and Warren County Soil and Water Conservation Dist. v. Walters and the criminal cases People v. Allen, People v. Gaytan and People v. Kuehner.

CIVIL

Marks v. Vanderventer

By Karen Kies DeGrand, Donohue Brown Mathewson & Smyth, LLC

Here the Illinois Supreme Court overturned the trial court’s rulings that held unconstitutional a $10 surcharge collected by a county recorder of deeds as set forth in the original and amended versions of state legislation primarily aimed at funding the Rental Housing Support Program, which the General Assembly created to help local governments address the shortage in the state of affordable, decent rental housing. The circuit court certified a class of plaintiffs required to pay the fee for recording real estate-related documents and a class of defendants consisting of the county recorders of deeds throughout the state.

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil cases Leetaru v. The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois and Illinois State Treasurer v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission and the criminal case People v. Barner

CIVIL

Leetaru v. The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois

By Alyssa M. Reiter, Williams, Montgomery & John Ltd.

Issues of sovereign immunity divided the Court in this suit by a doctoral student against the University of Illinois and one of its associate vice chancellors (Guenther). Leetaru filed a circuit court action to enjoin further action in connection with an investigation defendants were pursuing against him regarding allegations that he engaged in academic misconduct. Leetaru contended that defendants violated University rules and regulations in conducting the investigation, exceeded their authority, and deprived him of due process.

The circuit court dismissed the action, finding that the Court of Claims had exclusive jurisdiction. After the appellate court affirmed, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded.

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil cases Brunton v. Kruger, Cowper v. Nyberg, Skaperdas v. Country Casualty Ins. Co. and Harris v. One Hope United, Inc and provide short summaries for In People ex rel. Madigan v. J. T. Einoder, Inc., McCormick v. Robertson and In re Parentage of Scarlett Z.-D.

CIVIL

Brunton v. Kruger

By Alyssa M. Reiter, Williams, Montgomery & John Ltd.

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Friday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the criminal cases People v. Almond, People v. Mosley, People v. Boyce and In re the Interest of Jordan G.

People v. Almond

By Jay Wiegman, Office of the State Appellate Defender

Many people mocked Barney Fife for carrying a single bullet in his shirt pocket, but today's decision in People v. Almond, 2015 IL 113817, shows that to have been a wise policy.

Based on an anonymous tip that drugs were being dealt out of a store, police officers approached Almond (who had prior felony convictions), asked him what he was doing there and whether  he was in possession of any narcotics or weapons. The officer testified that the defendant said “I just got  to let you know I got a gun on me.” The defendant was frisked, and the gun was recovered. The defendant filed a motion to quash arrest and suppress  evidence. At a hearing on the motion, Almond denied that he was even asked whether he had contraband and denied he ever told officers that he possessed a firearm, claiming that he would not tell a police officer that  information  because  he knew “it’s wrong to have a gun.” The motion was denied. Following a bench trial, the defendant was convicted on all counts.

A review of Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court criminal opinion in the case People v. Smith.

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Friday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil cases Ferris, Thompson & Zweig, Ltd. v. Esposito, Williams v. BNSF Railway Company, Lutkauskas v. Ricker and Grand Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star of the State of Illinois v. Topinka and the criminal cases People v. Simpson, People v. Chenoweth and People v. Taylor.

CIVIL

Ferris, Thompson and Zweig, Ltd. v. Esposito

By Alyssa M. Reiter, Williams, Montgomery & John Ltd.

This case involves the question of subject matter jurisdiction as between the Workers’ Compensation Commission and the circuit court.  The Court held that an attorney fee dispute based upon referral agreements wherein the plaintiff referred workers’ compensation claims to the defendant fell within the circuit court’s jurisdiction.

Plaintiff sued defendant in circuit court, asserting that, pursuant to written agreements, plaintiff agreed to act as co-counsel in representing two women who had workers’ compensation claims.  After the cases settled, defendant refused to pay plaintiff its share of fees. 

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil case Bettis v. Marsaglia and the criminal cases People v. Belknap and People v. Stevens.

CIVIL

Bettis v. Marsaglia

By Karen Kies DeGrand, Donohue Brown Mathewson & Smyth LLC

Interpreting a provision of the Election Code and resolving a split among appellate districts, the Illinois Supreme Court found that a petitioner seeking judicial review of an electoral board’s denial of a request to submit a public question for referendum satisfied the statutory service requirement. The Election Code, 10 ILCS 5/10-10.1(a) (West 2012), provides that a candidate or objector seeking judicial review of an electoral board’s decision must serve a copy of the petition upon the electoral board. The petitioner, Carolyn Bettis, wished to challenge a resolution of the Macoupin, Montgomery and Sangamon counties’ school district to issue working cash bonds in the amount of $2,000,000. Bettis petitioned the local election board to place the issue on the ballot for an April 9, 2013 election. When the board sustained the objections of two individuals to Bettis’ request, she sought judicial review and served a petition on all of the members of the electoral board at their homes, but did not serve the board as a separate entity.

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil case Michael v. Precision Alliance Group, LLC and the criminal cases People v. Jolly and People v. Simth.

CIVIL

Michael v. Precision Alliance Group, LLC

By Karen Kies DeGrand, Donohue Brown Mathewson & Smyth LLC

Reversing an appellate decision entering judgment for plaintiffs in a retaliatory discharge case, the Illinois Supreme Court reinstated a judgment entered for an employer after a bench trial. The case turned on the legal standard that governs an employee’s burden of proving causation in a retaliatory discharge lawsuit. Illinois recognizes such a claim as a narrow exception to the general rule that an employer may terminate an “at-will” employee at any time, for any reason. The plaintiff in such cases must prove that the employer discharged the employee in retaliation for the employee’s activities and that the discharge violates public policy, such as when an employer fires an employee for asserting a workers’ compensation claim or for “whistleblowing,” reporting illegal or proper conduct. 

In this case, the employees contended that they were fired for whistle blowing  concerning weight labeling violations investigated by the Department of Agriculture. The employer, an agricultural supply company selling soybean seeds, convinced the trier of fact that the company fired the plaintiffs for nonpretextual reasons; one was discharged for engaging in horseplay with a forklift and two others were terminated in connection with a reduction in force. 

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil cases Keating v. City of Chicago, Madigan v. Illinois Commerce Commission, Pusateri v. Peoples Gas Light and Coke Company and Huber v. American Accounting Association and the criminal cases People v. Denson, People v. Holt, In re Detention of New and Cordrey v. Illinois Prison Review Board. The court also released In re Edmonds.

 

CIVIL

Keating v. City of Chicago

By Alyssa M. Reiter, Williams, Montgomery & John Ltd.

This opinion, while not reaching the merits of the case, reflects an important point of Illinois constitutional law.

The appellants sought review from a Supreme Court Rule 23 Order which affirmed dismissal of the plaintiffs’ complaint challenging the City of Chicago’s red light camera ordinance.  On review, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal:

In this case, two Justices of this Court have recused themselves and the remaining members of the Court are divided so that it is not possible to secure the constitutionally required concurrence of four judges for a decision (see Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, § 3).  Accordingly, the appeal is dismissed.

The Court explained that the effect of this dismissal is the same as an affirmance by an equally divided court of the decision under review but it does not have precedential value.