Articles Posted in Illinois Supreme Court

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The trial court concluded that section 5-615 of the Juvenile Court Act, 705 ILCS 405/5-615, was unconstitutional, and ordered a continuance under supervision in a case involving a minor, rejecting a negotiated plea agreement. The minor had been the subject of multiple charges and had failed to appear for court dates. The Illinois Supreme court vacated. The provision at issue grants a State’s Attorney, among others, authority to object to the entry of an order of continuance under supervision in a juvenile case before a finding of guilt. The court noted that juvenile proceedings are fundamentally different from criminal proceedings, a difference which extends to the role of the state. The purposes and objectives of the Juvenile Court Act are protective in nature, to correct and rehabilitate, not to punish, and the Act lists the State’s Attorney among those who would undoubtedly be concerned with the children’s best interests. The State’s Attorney has a duty to see that justice is done not only to the public at large, but to the accused as well. In this case, the state exercised its authority under section 5-615 in accordance with that duty. View "In re Derrico G." on Justia Law

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Public Act 97-695 (eff. July 1, 2012), amended section 10 of the State Employees Group Insurance Act of 1971, 5 ILCS 375/10, by eliminating the statutory standards for the state’s contributions to health insurance premiums for members of three of the state’s retirement systems. The amendment requires the Director of Central Management Services to determine annually the amount of the health insurance premiums that will be charged to the state and to retired public employees. It is not limited to those who become annuitants or survivors on or after the statute’s effective date. The amendment was challenged by members of the affected entities: State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS), State Universities Retirement System (SURS), and Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS), as violation the pension protection clause, the contracts clause, and the separation of powers clause of the Illinois Constitution. Certain plaintiffs added common-law claims based on contract and promissory estoppel. The Illinois Supreme Court, on direct review, reversed dismissal, stating that health insurance subsidies are constitutionally protected by the pension protection clause and rejecting an argument that only the retirement annuity itself is covered. View "Kanerva v. Weems" on Justia Law

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The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, 750 ILCS 5/607(e), prohibits a non-custodial parent who has been convicted of a sexual offense perpetrated on a victim less than 18 years of age from obtaining court-ordered visitation with his children while serving his sentence and until successfully completing “a treatment program approved by the court.” A child abuse report was made to a hot line, alleging that Donald had sexually abused an unrelated minor. Donald pled guilty and was sentenced to two years’ probation. Donald was required to register as a sex offender, to provide a DNA sample, and to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases, but not required to obtain sex offender treatment. A court subsequently granted Donald’s ex-wife sole custody of their children suspended Donald’s visitation pursuant to section 607(e) Donald argued that a parent’s right to visitation with his child is a fundamental right, which the state may not abridge unless there is a compelling state interest and a finding that denying visitation is in the child’s best interest. The court agreed and found the law unconstitutional. The Illinois Supreme Court vacated, finding the matter moot. Donald successfully completed his probation. His cooperative participation in the sex offender evaluation, plus the evaluator’s assessment and recommendation that no further treatment was necessary, were sufficient to show compliance with section 607(e)’s requirement that he “successfully complete a treatment program approved by the court.” The court declined to apply the “public interest" exception. View "In re Marriage of Donald B." on Justia Law

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Sheridan Liquors operated with a City of Peoria liquor license. Adnan owned the store; his brothers, Mike and Jalal managed the business, which included a check-cashing service. Mike and Jalal were indicted under the Money Laundering Control Act, 31 U.S.C. 5324(a)(3). To support the check-cashing operation, they withdrew large amounts of cash from Sheridan Liquors’ bank account and, knowing of federal reporting requirements, structured the withdrawal of more than $4 million to evade the requirements. Mike was convicted. Jalal fled the country. The city charged violation of a code section that prohibits any liquor licensee or its agent from engaging in activity in or about the licensed premises that is prohibited by federal law, claiming that the brothers conspired to unlawfully structure financial transactions. Sheridan Liquors maintained that Mike’s federal conviction should not have preclusive effect against it because Adnan was never permitted to present a defense in the federal proceeding. Sheridan argued that its insurance coverage had limits of $10,000 for cash on the premises and that structuring the transactions below $10,000 was not done to evade reporting requirements. The city presented testimony regarding loitering, litter, and potential drug use around the store. The Illinois Liquor Control Commission and the trial, appellate, and supreme courts affirmed revocation of the license, finding that Adnan’s due process rights were not violated. The court noted the 148-page transcript of the two-and-one-half-hour local hearing and that Sheridan had an opportunity to present evidence and defenses. Procedural due process does not guarantee an outcome, but only a meaningful opportunity to be heard. View "WISAM 1, Inc. v. IL Liquor Control Comm'n" on Justia Law

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Clark was indicted under 720 ILCS 5/14-2(a)(1)(A) for having used an eavesdropping device to record a conversation between himself and attorney Thomas without her consent and having used a device to record a conversation between himself, Judge Janes, and Thomas while Janes was acting in the performance of official duties, without the consent of either. Defendant stated that he was in court and attorney Thomas was representing the opposing party; there was no court reporter nor was there any recording device, so he made recordings to preserve the record. He claimed he had a first amendment right to gather information by recording officials performing their public duties. The circuit court dismissed, holding that the statute is unconstitutional on substantive due process and first amendment grounds. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, reasoning that if another person overhears what we say, that person may write it down and publish it, but if that same person records our words with a recording device, even if it is not published in any way, a criminal act has been committed. The statute goes too far in its effort to protect individuals’ interest in the privacy of their communications and burdens substantially more speech than necessary to serve interests it may legitimately serve. It does not meet the requirements necessary to satisfy intermediate scrutiny. View "People v. Clark" on Justia Law

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Defendant was driving a van owned by Chattic when a marked police squad car pulled alongside at a stop sign. The police officer followed defendant for several minutes before activating the squad car’s lights. The defendant had not violated any traffic laws. The citations he received were unrelated to the movement or condition of the van. The officer testified that “It appeared that the registration on the vehicle had expired.” He checked its registration and learned that the registration was valid, but that the owner, Chattic, was wanted on a warrant. He was unable to determine whether the driver was a woman. After he determined that the driver was a man, the officer asked the defendant for a driver’s license and proof of insurance and explained why he stopped the van. The defendant had no license and received a citation for driving while license suspended, 625 ILCS 5/6-303(d), a Class 4 felony. According to the officer, asking for a license and proof of insurance is “standard operating procedure. The trial court granted a motion to suppress. The appellate court affirmed, stating “Except where there is articulable and reasonable suspicion that a motorist is unlicensed or the vehicle is unregistered, or that either the motorist or vehicle is in violation of the law, stopping and detaining a motorist in order to check his credentials is unreasonable under the fourth amendment.” The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. Unless a request for identification is related to the reason for the stop, it impermissibly extends the stop and violates the Constitution. View "People v. Cummings" on Justia Law

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In 1990, defendant, then 14 years old, was arrested for two fatal shootings. Following a discretionary hearing under the Juvenile Court Act, the court allowed defendant to be prosecuted under the criminal laws. He was convicted of two first degree murders, attempted first degree murders of two others, and home invasion. Because defendant was convicted of murdering more than one victim, the Unified Code of Corrections, 730 ILCS 5/5-8-1(a)(1)(c), required a term of natural life imprisonment, with parole not available. He was also sentenced to 30 years for each attempted murder and home invasion, all to run concurrently. The appellate court affirmed. In 1996-1998 defendant filed three post-conviction petitions. All were dismissed; the appellate court affirmed the dismissals. In 2002, defendant filed another petition, arguing that the natural life sentence was unconstitutional because defendant did not actually participate in the act of killing; that the sentence violated the Eighth Amendment; and that the statute requiring a mandatory life sentence violated the Illinois Constitution as applied to a 14-year-old. The circuit court dismissed, noting that defendant carried a weapon and actually entered the abode where the murders occurred. The appellate court affirmed. Defendant another petition in 2011, arguing violation of the Eighth Amendment in light of the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision, Graham v. Florida, and ineffective assistance because counsel failed to interview an eyewitness before the juvenile hearing. The court denied the petition. While appeal was pending, the Supreme Court decided in Miller v. Alabama (2012), that “mandatory life without parole for those under the age of 18 at the time of their crimes violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on ‘cruel and unusual punishments.’ ” The appellate court concluded that Miller applies retroactively on post-conviction review and remanded for a new sentencing hearing, but upheld denial of the ineffective assistance claim. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. View "People v. Davis" on Justia Law

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Defendant was charged with computer tampering in an unrelated case. The docket sheet, the judge’s half sheet, and the court call sheet for the arraignment date indicate that defendant was not in court and that the arraignment did not take place. Defendant’s efforts to have a court reporter change the transcript were unsuccessful. The court reporter referred defendant to her supervisor, Taylor. In a telephone conversation, Taylor explained that any dispute over the accuracy of a transcript should be presented to the judge. Defendant surreptitiously recorded three telephone conversations with Taylor and posted recordings and transcripts of the conversations on her website. Defendant eventually obtained a fraudulent court transcript. Defendant was charged with eavesdropping, (720 ILCS 5/14-2(a)(1), and using or divulging information obtained through the use of an eavesdropping device, 720 ILCS 5/14-2(a)(3). Defendant claimed am exception for “reasonable suspicion that another party to the conversation is committing, is about to commit, or has committed a criminal offense against the person … and there is reason to believe that evidence of the criminal offense may be obtained.” The state argued that the exception did not apply because the reporter accused of creating a forged transcript was not a party to the recorded conversations. After a mistrial, the court found the statute facially unconstitutional and unconstitutional as applied to defendant. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, applying intermediate scrutiny and finding the statutes overbroad as criminalizing a range of innocent conduct. The eavesdropping statute does not distinguish between open and surreptitious recording and burdens substantially more speech than is necessary to serve a legitimate state interest in protecting conversational privacy. The language of the recording statute criminalizes the publication of any recording made on a cellphone or other such device, regardless of consent. View "People v. Melongo" on Justia Law

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Police officers testified that they received a tip that Cregan would arrive by train on November 3, 2009, and that he had an active warrant for his arrest. They learned that he was a member of the Satan Disciples gang and that a civil warrant sought his arrest for failure to pay child support. Officers waited at the train station, approached Cregan, placed him under arrest, and searched his bags. An officer testified that he intended to bring the bags into custody, as Cregan was alone, and that he intended to conduct an inventory search of the bags, pursuant to department policy. Cregan asked if his bags could be turned over to his friend Collins, but the officer told him the bags had to be searched first. Another officer testified that gang members are “known to carry weapons,” so the officers had safety concerns. Cregan testified that when he exited the train Collins was waiting to give him a ride and that he greeted Collins before the officers approached. Officers found a jar of hair gel in the bags. Its appearance was not noteworthy. Opening it, they found a bag containing powder cocaine. Cregan was charged with unlawful possession of less than 15 grams of cocaine, a controlled substance. The court denied his motion to suppress; Cregan was convicted. The appellate court held that the search was valid incident to the arrest, because the bags were immediately associated with his person and was not limited to a brief search for weapons. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, finding the search lawful incident to the arrest. View "People v. Cregan" on Justia Law

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McChriston was convicted of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance, a Class 1 felony that carried a mandatory Class X sentence. The trial judge sentenced him to 25 years’ imprisonment. The order did not indicate that he would also be required to serve a term of mandatory supervised release (MSR) under the Unified Code of Corrections, 730 ILCS 5/5-8-1(d), nor did the judge mention MSR at the sentencing hearing. The appellate court affirmed the conviction and sentencing on direct appeal. McChriston filed a pro se post-conviction petition under the Post-Conviction Hearing Act, 725 ILCS 5/122-1, raising issues not related to the MSR term. The circuit court dismissed. The appellate court affirmed. He filed a pro se petition for relief from judgment under the Code of Civil Procedure, arguing that the Department of Corrections (DOC) impermissibly added a three-year MSR term to his sentence. The trial court dismissed. The appellate court affirmed, rejecting arguments that imposition of the MSR term violated constitutional rights to due process and the separation of powers clause of the Illinois Constitution. The MSR term attached by operation of law and was not unconstitutionally imposed by the DOC. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, reasoning that the trial court had no discretion with respect to MSR. View "People v. McChriston" on Justia Law