Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Illinois

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In 2014, the defendant was charged with four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against a nine-year-old girl. During deliberations, the judge indicated on the record that she had received a note from the jury: “After deliberating for five hours, and despite our best efforts, we are at an impasse.” The judge explained that the jury had also, earlier, informed the bailiff that they were at an impasse. The judge questioned the foreperson in open court in the presence of the jury. After the judge conferred with the attorneys, the judge discharged the jurors and the court declared a mistrial. The prosecution announced its intention to retry defendant. The court notified the parties, without objection that the matter was continued to reset for trial. Thereafter, defendant unsuccessfully moved to bar further prosecution based on double jeopardy principles, arguing that there had been no manifest necessity to declare a mistrial. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the denial of that motion. When a mistrial is declared, a retrial may proceed without offending double jeopardy principles if the defendant consents or there is a manifest necessity for the mistrial. Manifest necessity was evidenced by two statements from the jury indicating. The judge initially urged the jurors to continue and subsequently took care to clarify where the jury stood with respect to the deliberative process. The judge specifically asked the foreperson whether additional time would be helpful and expressed concern about coercion. View "People v. Kimble" on Justia Law

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Fillmore, an inmate at the Sumner, Illinois Lawrence Correctional Center, sued three Corrections officers for failing to follow mandatory legal procedures before imposing discipline upon him for violating prison rules relating to “unauthorized organizational activity” by “intimidation or threats” on behalf of the Latin Kings gang. Fillmore claimed violations of Illinois Administrative Code provisions relating to the appointment of Hearing Investigators to review all major disciplinary reports; service of the report no more than eight days after the commission of an offense or its discovery; provision of a written reason for the denial of his request for in-person testimony at his hearing; not placing him under investigation; failing to independently review notes, telephone logs, and recordings; denial of his requests to see the notes he had allegedly written; and lack of impartiality and improper refusal to recuse. Fillmore alleged he made a timely objection to the committee members’ lack of impartiality, but the committee failed to document that objection. The circuit court dismissed the complaint. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed that Fillmore failed to state a claim for mandamus or common-law writ of certiorari for alleged violations of Department regulations. Department regulations create no more rights for inmates than those that are constitutionally required. The court reversed with regard to his claim that defendants violated his right to due process in revoking his good conduct credits View "Fillmore v. Taylor" on Justia Law

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The 2007 Act, 40 ILCS 5/16-106(10), amended the Pension Code, which governs the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS): An officer or employee of a statewide teachers’ union was permitted to establish TRS service credit if the individual: was certified as a teacher no later than February 27, 2007, applied to the TRS within six months, and paid into the system both the employee contribution and employer (state) contribution, plus interest, for his prior union service. Plaintiff worked as a union lobbyist from 1997 until his 2012 retirement. In 2006, plaintiff obtained a substitute teaching certificate. In January 2007, he worked one day as a substitute teacher. Within six months, plaintiff became a member of the TRS. Plaintiff then contributed $192,668 to the system for his union service. In 2011, the Chicago Tribune published an article, identifying plaintiff and criticizing the law that allowed him to qualify for a teacher’s pension. In response to the negative media coverage, the 2012 Act repealed the 2007 amendment and provided for a refund of contributions. TRS eliminated plaintiff’s service credits and refunded his contributions. Plaintiff sought a declaratory judgment that the retroactive repeal violated the state constitution’s pension protection clause (Ill. Const. 1970, art. XIII). The Illinois Supreme Court ruled in favor of plaintiff. The 2007 amendment's inclusion of a cutoff date did not render it unconstitutional special legislation (Ill. Const. 1970, art. IV); the amendment applied generally to all eligible employees who met its criteria. Under the pension clause, “once a person commences to work and becomes a member of a public retirement system, any subsequent changes to the Pension Code that would diminish the benefits conferred by membership in the retirement system cannot be applied to that person.” View "Piccioli v. Board of Trustees of the Teachers’ Retirement System" on Justia Law

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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