Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Illinois

by
Defendant was charged with aggravated battery of a child, heinous battery, and aggravated domestic battery. The indictments alleged that defendant immersed his six-year-old stepson, J.H. in hot water. The court admitted J.H.’s out-of-court statement to his nurse at Stroger Hospital. The state also offered expert testimony from Dr. Fujara, a specialist in child abuse pediatrics and from White, a retired investigator with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Defendant acknowledged that he falsely identified himself at the hospital. The trial court found him guilty. The appellate court held that the trial court erred in admitting J.H.’s statement identifying defendant as the offender under the hearsay exception for statements made for the purpose of medical diagnosis and treatment and held that the double jeopardy clause barred retrial because the evidence was insufficient to prove defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, reasoning that J.H.’s hearsay statement was the only identification evidence placing defendant in the bathroom when the injury occurred. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, concluding that the double jeopardy clause does not bar retrial. Dr. Fujara offered persuasive expert testimony that J.H.’s burns resulted from forcible immersion in hot water, ruling out alternative causes and rebutting defendant’s argument that J.H. may have been burned accidentally as a result of a faulty water heater. Defendant was the only adult present in the house at the time J.H. was injured and did not seek prompt treatment. View "People v. Drake" on Justia Law

by
The circuit court found section 25(b)(2) of the Drug Dealer Liability Act, 740 ILCS 57/25(b)(2), facially unconstitutional. The Act provides a civil remedy for persons injured as a result of illegal drug use. Persons who may sue for damages include: a parent, legal guardian, child, spouse or sibling of the individual drug user, an individual who was exposed to an illegal drug in utero, an employer of the drug user, a medical facility, insurer, governmental entity, employer, or other entity that funds a drug treatment program or employee assistance program for the individual drug user or that otherwise expended money on behalf of the drug user, or a person injured as a result of the willful, reckless, or negligent actions of a drug user. Under section 25(b)(2), a plaintiff may seek damages from “[a] person who knowingly participated in the illegal drug market if: (A) the place of illegal drug activity by the individual drug user is within the illegal drug market target community of the defendant; (B) the defendant’s participation in the illegal drug market was connected with the same type of illegal drug used by the individual drug user; and (C) the defendant participated in the illegal drug market at any time during the individual drug user’s period of illegal drug use.” The Illinois Supreme Court concluded that the section is unconstitutional and severable. Section 25(b)(2) requires no relationship between the parties whatsoever for liability to attach and violates substantive due process protections. View "Wingert v. Hradisky" on Justia Law

by
Webb was charged with misdemeanor unlawful use of weapons (UUW) statute (720 ILCS 5/24-1(a)(4)) after he was discovered carrying a stun gun in his jacket pocket while in his vehicle on a public street. Greco was charged under the same section after he was found carrying a stun gun in his backpack in a forest preserve, a public place. No concealed carry permit is available for stun guns. Both defendants moved to dismiss, arguing section 24-1(a)(4) operated as a complete ban on the carriage of stun guns and tasers in public and was, therefore, unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. The circuit court and Illinois Supreme Court agreed with defendants. Stun guns and tasers are bearable arms under the Second Amendment and may not be subjected to a categorical ban. Section 24-1(a)(4) constitutes a categorical ban. View "People v. Webb" on Justia Law

by
In 2008, Defendant was charged with the sexual assault of his 10-year-old daughter, J.G. The indictment alleged that defendant inserted his fingers in J.G.’s vagina, licked her vagina, and touched her buttocks. After his conviction, Defendant filed multiple pro se collateral challenges to his convictions and at various times was represented by different attorneys. In 2015, Defendant filed a pro se motion seeking DNA testing under the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (725 ILCS 5/116-3). The state argued that the controversy at trial was not whether another individual had committed the crime but whether the alleged assault occurred at all. At a hearing, Defendant appeared pro se but was accompanied by attorney Brodsky, who sought to file a Supreme Court Rule 13 limited scope appearance. The court denied Brodsky’s oral request, stating that allowing the motion would mean that attorney Caplan, Brodsky, and the defendant were all working on the case. Defendant later argued extensively in support of his DNA motion. Brodsky was not present. The appellate court vacated the denial of the motion, citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s "Powell: decision concerning a court's refusal to hear chosen counsel. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, finding no “Powell” violation. A section 116-3 action is civil in nature and independent from any other collateral post-conviction action and Brodsky’s request failed completely to comply with the requirements of that rule. View "People v. Gawlak" on Justia Law

by
Defendant was charged following a search of his residence pursuant to warrant. He unsuccessfully moved to quash the warrant and suppress evidence and was convicted of unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon but was acquitted of unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, finding that the facts recited in the warrant application did not establish a sufficient nexus between the residence and the criminal activities. The officer had stated that: two of three drug buys conducted over 19 days occurred in the vicinity of the residence; Casillas arrived at the first drug buy in a vehicle registered to Hernandez (defendant’s live-in girlfriend) at the residence; while the officer was texting Casillas about the third drug buy, other officers, watching the residence, observed Casillas exit the residence and walk to meet the officer and exchange cocaine for $150 in cash; Casillas had been identified from a driver’s license photograph; law enforcement records showed that Casillas was an associate of Hernandez. The connection between Casillas and Hernandez was not further explained. The statement alone did not create an inference that the two were involved in drug dealing together, let alone that Casillas was storing evidence at defendant’s home. There was no evidence that Hernandez had ever been suspected of or charged with any crime nor any evidence that Casillas had been involved in drug dealing before his three transactions with the officer. There was no evidence that Casillas used Hernandez’s vehicle more than the one time described in the complaint. View "People v. Manzo" on Justia Law

by
Petitioner sought reinstatement of his withdrawn post-conviction petition. The state argued that neither the Post-Conviction Hearing Act, 725 ILCS 5/122-5 nor the Code of Civil Procedure, 735 ILCS 5/13-217 authorizes “reinstatement,” so that the motion should, instead, be treated as a motion for leave to file a new, successive petition that must meet the cause-and-prejudice test. Referencing only section 122-5, Petitioner argued, broadly, that a “judge has discretion to allow a post-conviction petitioner’s motion to reinstate his petition after he has voluntarily withdrawn it.” Petition argued that the state coerced him into withdrawing his petition by stating that it would again seek the death penalty upon retrial if he succeeded in his challenge; that his attorney and the court failed to adequately admonish him regarding his options, the current law, and the likely course of death penalty jurisprudence; and that the procedure by which the withdrawal took place was generally unlawful. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the trial court’s denial of the motion as untimely, having been filed seven years after the motion to withdraw; “it is clear that petitioner sought reinstatement well beyond either statute's time limitations.” The facts of record would not have supported a finding that petitioner’s delay in refiling was not due to his culpable negligence. The timing was intentional and strategic. Petitioner is, free to seek leave to file a successive post-conviction petition. View "People v. Simms" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs, participants in public pension funds, sued, challenging the constitutionality of three reforms in Public Act 97-651, which altered articles 8, 11, and 17 of the Illinois Pension Code (40 ILCS 5/8, 11, 17) and modified the calculation of annuities. The circuit court invalidated two provisions eliminating the right to earn union service credit for leaves of absence beginning after the amendments' effective date as violating the Illinois Constitution's (Ill. Const. 1970, art. XIII, 5) pension-protection clause but upheld the constitutionality of the third reform. The Illinois Supreme court affirmed regarding the elimination of the right to earn service credit for a union leave of absence; for participants who were already members on the Act's effective date, the ability to earn service credit on leave of absence for labor organization employment is a "benefit" that "cannot be diminished or impaired." The court reversed the dismissal of a claim that the change in the law to deny the use of a union salary under section 8-226(c) or 11-215(c)(3) to calculate the “highest average annual salary” violate the pension clause. The court also reversed the rulings on the that resulted from the circuit court’s construction of section 8-226(c)(3) to include defined contribution plans within the definition of “any pension plan.” View "Carmichael v. Laborers' & Retirement Board Employees' Annuity & Benefit Fund of Chicago" on Justia Law

by
In 2012, then-Governor Quinn nominated Gregg to be a salaried member of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board (IPRB). Gregg submitted a statement of economic interests for the preceding calendar year, indicating that in 2011, he was mayor of Harrisburg. Asked to identify any gift valued over $500 and its source, Gregg wrote “None.” At the time, Gregg was recovering from an illness. Gregg did not complete a statement of economic interests for calendar year 2012. In 2013, Gregg resigned as mayor of Harrisburg. A former Harrisburg city treasurer notified the Illinois Department of Corrections that Gregg failed to include in his statement of economic interests a medical lift chair received as a gift. IPRB legal counsel investigated; neither the IPRB nor the Governor’s office took further action. In November 2013, the Illinois Senate approved Gregg’s appointment for a six-year term. In 2014, Gregg filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition. Governor Rauner took office in 2014 and removed Gregg from the IPRB based on his misstatements and omissions on the statement of economic interest and his bankruptcy petition. The circuit court found that Gregg’s removal was judicially reviewable and determined that Rauner wrongfully terminated Gregg’s appointment. The Illinois Supreme Court disagreed, holding that Rauner’s decision to remove Gregg from the IPBR was not subject to judicial review. The Illinois Constitution, article V, section 10 provides: “The Governor may remove for incompetence, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office any officer who may be appointed by the Governor.” The IPRB is not one of those rare agencies whose functions require complete independence from gubernatorial influence. View "Gregg v. Rauner" on Justia Law

by
Following a third trial, the jury found Defendant guilty of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder. Defendant appealed, arguing that the state failed to exercise due diligence in obtaining DNA test results, so the trial court erred in granting an extension of the speedy-trial deadline. The appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court denied leave to appeal; the U.S. Supreme Court denied his petition for writ of certiorari. In 2014, a private attorney retained by Defendant filed a post-conviction petition, which was summarily dismissed. Defendant’s attorney filed a notice of appeal. Two weeks later, defendant filed a timely pro se motion to reconsider the dismissal and to allow supplementation, alleging his post-conviction attorney had failed to include several claims that defendant had requested be part of the petition. Defendant stated that, after receiving a letter from his attorney “about money and why he didn’t raise ineffective [assistance] of direct appeal counsel,” defendant “never heard from counsel again, until [the] court dismiss[ed] [the] petition.” The circuit court denied the motion and did not consider the merits or whether defendant’s attorney should have included those claims. The appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed. A defendant who retains a private attorney at the first stage of postconviction proceedings is entitled to reasonable assistance of counsel. At the first stage, there are no hearings, no arguments, and no introduction of evidence; any assertion of deficient attorney performance will almost certainly be that counsel failed to include claims the defendant wanted to have raised. A defendant who retains private counsel is bound by the attorney’s decision not to include a claim in the petition. The rationale for requiring a reasonable level of assistance from privately retained counsel at the second and third stages of postconviction proceedings applies equally to first stage representation. View "People v. Johnson" on Justia Law

by
Section 15-86 of the Property Tax Code (35 ILCS 200/15-86 ) provides a charitable property tax exemption specifically for eligible not-for-profit hospitals and their hospital affiliates. In a suit alleging that the section, on its face, violated section 6 of article IX of the Illinois Constitution, which requires that the subject property be “used exclusively for … charitable purposes,” the circuit court granted the defendants summary judgment. The appellate court and Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, based on legislative intent. Section 15-86 does not dispense with the Illinois Constitution’s requirements for charitable property tax exemption but, rather, the Department of Revenue must still evaluate a hospital applicant’s claim for a section 15-86 exemption under constitutional requirements and precedent. The plaintiff also failed to show that section 15-86 was inherently flawed in all circumstances. View "Oswald v. Hamer" on Justia Law