Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Illinois

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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

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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

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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

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Bingham had a 1993 conviction for attempted criminal sexual assault but was not required to register as a sex offender at that time because the conviction occurred before the 1986 enactment of the Sex Offender Registration Act (730 ILCS 150/1). Under section 3(c)(2.1) of the Act as amended in 2011, Bingham’s 2014 felony theft conviction triggered a requirement that he register as a sex offender on account of his 1983 conviction for attempted criminal sexual assault. Sex offender registration was not reflected in the trial court’s judgment. Bingham argued that the registration requirement was unconstitutional as applied to him on due process grounds and that it violated the ex post facto clauses of the United States and Illinois Constitutions. The appellate court upheld the Act. The Illinois Supreme Court vacated, concluding that the appellate court lacked jurisdiction. That court was not exercising any of the powers delineated in Ill. S. Ct. Rule 615(b)(2) with respect to defendant’s argument, which did not ask the reviewing court to reverse, affirm, or modify the judgment or order from which the appeal is taken, nor did it ask to set aside or modify any “proceedings subsequent to or dependent upon the judgment or order from which the appeal is taken.” View "People v. Bingham" on Justia Law

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N.G., born in 2011, was declared a ward of the court, based on neglect, and was placed with relatives. Her father, Floyd, was incarcerated. The Will County Circuit Court terminated the parental rights of N.G.’s mother and of Floyd, on the grounds that he was an unfit person under section 1(D) of the Adoption Act (750 ILCS 50/1(D)) because, before N.G.’s birth, he had been convicted of at least three felonies and was therefore “depraved.” The appellate court held that because one of the felonies on which the circuit court had relied, a 2008 conviction for aggravated unlawful use of a weapon (AUUW) (720 ILCS 5/24-1.6(a)(1), (a)(3)(A), (d)), was based on a statute the Illinois Supreme Court declared unconstitutional under the Second Amendment in 2013, the conviction had no legal effect and should not have been considered in making the fitness determination. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, finding that it had “an affirmative duty to invalidate" Floyd’s AUUW conviction and to treat the statute on which it was based as having never existed. Absent that conviction, the statutory presumption of depravity under section 1(D)(i) would not have been triggered. Under Illinois law, there is no fixed procedural mechanism or forum, nor is there any temporal limitation governing when a void ab initio challenge may be asserted. View "In re N.G." on Justia Law

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The Illinois Vehicle Code prohibits anyone with a revoked driver’s license from driving a “motor vehicle.” 625 ILCS 5/6-303(a); such an individual may still drive a “low-speed gas bicycle.” Section 1-14-.15 defines “low-speed gas bicycle” as a “2 or 3-wheeled device with fully operable pedals and a gasoline motor of less than one horsepower, whose maximum speed on a paved level surface, when powered solely by such a motor while ridden by an operator who weighs 170 pounds, is less than 20 miles per hour.” Plank, charged with driving a motor vehicle with a revoked license, claimed that the definition of “low-speed gas bicycle” was unconstitutionally vague. The Illinois Supreme Court held that the definition of “low-speed gas bicycle” satisfies due process requirements. The statutory language means that a defining characteristic of a low-speed gas bicycle is an engine that is incapable of transporting 170 pounds at 20 miles per hour without help from gravity or pedaling. A bicycle’s motor will either have this capability or not, regardless of the weight of any particular driver. The vagueness doctrine is not implicated every time officers cannot conclusively determine at a glance whether someone has violated a statutory provision. Once someone is charged with violating section 6-303(a), the prosecutor has the burden of proving the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt—including that the bicycle at issue had a strong enough motor to qualify as a “motor vehicle.” View "People v. Plank" on Justia Law

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A Robinson police officer heard a motorcycle “revving” before observing it making a “very wide” turn, nearly hitting a telephone pole. The officer followed, turned on his emergency lights, and activated his siren, but the motorcycle continued to weave across the road for about 12 blocks before turning into a driveway. The motorcycle was driven by Mark, whose wife, Petra, was a passenger on the back. Mark got off the motorcycle, exhibiting “a strong odor of alcohol,” slurred speech, and poor balance. A breath test revealed his blood alcohol concentration was 0.161, over twice the legal limit. Mark was charged with aggravated DUI and driving without a valid driver’s license. Since 1996, his license had been summarily suspended multiple times; it was revoked following his 2008 DUI conviction. That revocation was extended after he was convicted of driving with a revoked license. Police seized the 2010 Harley-Davidson. The state sought forfeiture (720 ILCS 5/36-1(a)(6)(A)(i)). Petra was shown to be the vehicle’s title owner, although Mark maintained it and had the key. The court entered an order of civil forfeiture, finding Petra’s testimony not credible, and that she consented to Mark driving, knowing he was intoxicated and did not have a valid license. The court rejected her claim that forfeiture constituted an as-applied violation of the Eighth Amendment's excessive fines clause. The Illinois Supreme Court agreed. Petra’s culpability in Mark’s aggravated DUI was far more than negligible and she did not establish the motorcycle’s value for purposes of showing disproportionality. View "Hartrich v. 2010 Harley-Davidson" on Justia Law

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Chairez pled guilty to possessing a firearm within 1000 feet of a park in Aurora, Illinois. He filed a post-conviction petition, arguing that the statute was unconstitutional under the Second Amendment because an individual who is barred from carrying a firearm within 1000 feet of the locations listed in the statute (schools, public parks, public transportation facilities, residential properties owned, operated or managed by a public housing agency) is essentially barred from carrying a firearm in public. The circuit court declared section 24-1(a)(4)(c)(1.5) unconstitutional. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, vacating Chairez’s conviction, without addressing other provisions of the statute. With respect to the provision concerning public parks, which is severable, the state provided no evidentiary support for its claims that prohibiting firearms within 1000 feet of a public park would reduce the risks posed to the police and public from dangerous weapons. The state merely speculates that the proximity of firearms threatens the health and safety of those in the public park. The lack of a valid explanation for how the law actually achieves its goal of protecting children and vulnerable populations from gun violence amounts to a failure by the state to justify the restriction on gun possession within 1000 feet of a public park. View "People v. Chairez" on Justia Law

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Brooks was charged with driving under the influence (625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(2) following a single-vehicle motorcycle accident. The state subpoenaed blood test results from the hospital where Brooks was taken after the accident. He moved to suppress the results on the ground that the blood draw was a governmental search conducted in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Brooks alleged that, after the accident, police officers forcibly “placed him in an ambulance and sent him to the hospital,” even though he had refused medical treatment. The circuit court granted defendant’s motion. The appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed. Brooks presented no evidence that his blood was actually drawn at the hospital. Although this matter was within his personal knowledge, Brooks never testified that he was subjected to a blood draw but stated only that he refused to consent to having his blood drawn. In addition there was no evidence that any police officer sought or encouraged a blood draw or was even aware that one had been done. Even assuming blood was drawn at the hospital, it was a private search that did not implicate the Fourth Amendment. View "People v. Brooks" on Justia Law

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Defendant had worked as an intern at the radio station Blakey managed but was rejected for employment. After he repeatedly tried to contact station employees, defendant was informed that he was not welcome at the station and should stop making contact. He continued his behavior. Defendant was convicted of stalking (720 ILCS 5/12-7.3(a)(1), (a)(2)) and cyberstalking (720 ILCS 5/12-7.5(a)(1), (a)(2)), based on allegations that he called Blakey, sent her e-mails, stood outside of her place of employment, entered her place of employment, used electronic communication to make Facebook postings expressing his desire to have sex with Blakey and threatening her coworkers and employer and that he knew or should have known that his conduct would cause a reasonable person to fear for her safety and to suffer emotional distress. The appellate court vacated the convictions, finding subsection (a) of the statutes invalid. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the speech restrictions imposed by subsection (a) do not fit within any of the “historic and traditional” categories of unprotected speech under the First Amendment. Subsection (a) does not require that the prohibited communications be in furtherance of an unlawful purpose. Given the wide range of constitutionally protected activity covered by subsection (a), a substantial number of its applications are unconstitutional when judged in relation to its legitimate sweep. The portion of subsection (a) that makes it criminal to negligently “communicate[ ] to or about” a person, where the speaker knows or should know the communication would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress, is facially unconstitutional. View "People v. Relerford" on Justia Law