Justia Civil Rights Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Illinois Supreme Court
Madigan v. Burge
Burge was a Chicago police officer, 1970 to 1993, and served as supervisor of the violent crimes unit. In 1997, Burge was granted pension benefits by the Policemen’s Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago. A 2003 civil rights lawsuit alleged torture and abuse by officers under Burge’s command. Burge denied, under oath, having any knowledge of, or participation in, the torture or abuse of persons in custody. In 2008, Burge was convicted of perjury, 18 U.S.C. 1621(1), and obstruction of justice, 18 U.S.C. 1512(c)(2), and sentenced to four and one-half years’ imprisonment. His convictions were affirmed. Burge has not been indicted for conduct which occurred while he was still serving on the Department. In 2011, the Board held a hearing to consider whether, under the Illinois Pension Code, 40 ILCS 5/5-227, Burge’s pension benefits should be terminated because of his federal felony convictions. Section 5-227 states that “[n]one of the benefits … shall be paid to any person who is convicted of any felony relating to or arising out of or in connection with his service as a policeman.” Burge maintained that his felony convictions related solely to the giving of false testimony in a civil lawsuit filed years after his retirement from the force. The divided Board concluded that “the motion was not passed.” “Burge continued to receive benefits. No administrative review was sought. The Attorney General, on behalf of the state, sued Burge and the Board, under section 1-115 of the Pension Code. The trial court held that deciding whether to terminate Burge’s pension was a “quintessential adjudicative function” that rested exclusively within the original jurisdiction of the Board, subject to review under the Administrative Review Law. The appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, reinstating the dismissal.Burke View "Madigan v. Burge" on Justia Law
In re Marriage of Donald B.
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
In re Rita P.
A psychiatrist at Chicago-Read Mental Health Center sought a court order authorizing involuntary treatment of Rita. Stating that Rita met the criteria for a diagnosis of “schizophrenia paranoid type,” the doctor requested authorization to administer specific medications, including Risperidone, for up to 90 days. At a hearing, there was testimony about Rita’s behavior before her hospitalization, about police response to a call about Rita’s behavior, and about Rita’s own descriptions of her delusions and trying to choke herself to kill the people inside her. Rita had not threatened anyone at Chicago-Read, and no cause existed to place her in restraints or administer emergency medication. Although generally cooperative, Rita refused to attend group therapy, and would not take medication. The circuit court authorized involuntary treatment. The appellate court reversed, finding that the trial court failed to comply with the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code, 405 ILCS 5/3-816(a), requirement that final orders “shall be accompanied by a statement on the record of the court’s findings of fact and conclusions of law.” The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the trial court order, reasoning that reading the code as “directory,” so that noncompliance can be excused, does not impair the safeguards the law is intended to protect.View "In re Rita P." on Justia Law
People v. Bingham
Bingham, then in her late teens, committed aggressive acts toward adults and children, including grabbing and kissing. She was declared a sexually dangerous person under the Sexually Dangerous Persons Act, 725 ILCS 205/1.01. The Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections was appointed as her guardian. She was to remain committed “until or unless [she] is recovered and released.” The appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. The limited evidence was insufficient to establish that it was substantially probable that Bingham would commit future sex offenses. A single incident, in which she attempted to grab a woman’s breast area through her shirt, was insufficient to establish that substantial probability. Another incident, involving Bingham touching the buttocks of 17-year-old Katie C, was not clearly intentional; Katie C. acknowledged that Bingham only touched her one time and stopped as soon as Katie C. asked her to do so. There was no evidence that the incident was done as a result of “arousal or gratification of sexual needs or desires.” Without evidence of either an act of sexual assault or acts of child molestation, the state failed to prove propensities toward acts of sexual assault or sexual molestation of children.View "People v. Bingham" on Justia Law
WISAM 1, Inc. v. IL Liquor Control Comm’n
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
People v. Cummings
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
People v. Davis
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
People v. Melongo
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
In re James W.
James, a 60-year old with a lengthy criminal record and a history of psychiatric hospitalizations, has been held involuntarily at the Chester Mental Health Center since 2003, under successive involuntary commitment orders entered after he had reached the mandatory parole date on his criminal sentences. As the most recent order was about to expire, the Chester facility filed a petition under the Mental Health Code (405 ILCS 5/3-813) alleging that James continued to be subject to involuntary admission, with certificates from a psychiatrist and a psychologist, stating that James was “[a] person with mental illness who, because of his illness is reasonably expected to inflict serious physical harm upon himself or another in the near future … is unable to provide for his basic physical needs so as to guard himself from serious harm.” The petition was filed on April 29, 2010. The court set the matter for May 5, 2010. James’s attorney appeared on that date and obtained an order for independent evaluation. The independent doctor was prepared to testify that James should remain at Chester; on May 19 James’s attorney advised the court that his client had elected to have a jury. James agreed to wait unit the first available jury date in August. At trial on August 23, James expressed surprise that he had a court date and stated that he was not feeling any better. The jury returned a unanimous verdict that James was subject to involuntary admission. The appellate court held that under these particular circumstances, the delay between the jury request and the actual hearing was significant enough to be prejudicial to the patient and reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, stating that, given all of his circumstances, the delay following James’s request for a jury trial did not cause him any prejudice.View "In re James W." on Justia Law
People v. Cregan
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