Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Illinois

by
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

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 1993, ISU student Lockmiller was found dead in her Normal apartment. Police questioned Lockmiller’s then-boyfriend, Swaine, and former boyfriends, including Beaman. At a meeting including the McLean County prosecutors and several detectives, the prosecutors decided to charge Beaman. In discussing Lockmiller’s relationship with Murray with defense counsel, the prosecution did not disclose Murray’s drug use and incidents of domestic violence against another girlfriend, nor Murray’s incomplete polygraph examination. At trial, the state argued that all other possible suspects were excluded by alibis. Beaman was convicted of first-degree murder. Beaman sought postconviction relief, based on failure to disclose material information on Murray’s viability as a suspect. In 2008, the Illinois Supreme Court vacated Beaman’s conviction. The state dismissed the charges. In April 2013, the state certified his innocence. Beaman filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 suit against the prosecutors and detectives with state law claims, including malicious prosecution, against the Town of Normal. The district court dismissed the claims. In 2014, Beaman filed a state court suit against the detectives and Normal, pleading the state law claims that the federal court had dismissed without prejudice. The circuit court granted defendants summary judgment, reasoning that Beaman could not satisfy the elements to establish malicious prosecution, noting testimony that the prosecutor rejected suggestions to investigate other avenues. The appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed. The appellate court erroneously focused its inquiry on whether the “officer[s] pressured or exerted influence on the prosecutor’s decision or made knowing misstatements upon which the prosecutor relied" and failed to consider whether the defendants proximately caused the commencement or continuance or played a significant role in Beaman’s prosecution. View "Beaman v. Freesmeyer" 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
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
After being found unfit to stand trial on a charge of domestic battery against his mother, Benny was admitted involuntarily to the Elgin Mental Health Center. He was medicated involuntarily and later found fit to stand trial. Benny was transferred to the jail, stopped taking his psychotropic medication, was again found unfit to stand trial and returned to Elgin. The state sought to administer psychotropic medication involuntarily. During one day of a two-day hearing, Benny was physically restrained. His attorney asked for the shackles to be removed. The security officer stated that he was “listed as high elopement risk” and submitted a “patient transport checklist.” The judge spoke to Benny, but denied the request. Benny interrupted testimony and indicated that the restraints caused him pain. The court granted the petition allowing involuntary administration of psychotropic medication, not to exceed 90 days. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated that ruling, holding that the appeal fell within the mootness exception for issues capable of repetition yet evading review. Courts may order physical restraints in involuntary treatment proceedings only upon a finding of manifest necessity; they must give the patient’s attorney an opportunity to be heard and must state on the record the reasons for allowing shackles. Benny’s attorney did not object to the court's procedures, ask for any additional opportunity to be heard, or request findings or an explicit statement of reasons. A specific objection was required to preserve procedural arguments, given that the procedure for allowing restraints in involuntary treatment proceedings was not established at the time of Benny's hearing. View "In re Benny M." on Justia Law

by
After being found unfit to stand trial on a charge of domestic battery against his mother, Benny was admitted involuntarily to the Elgin Mental Health Center. He was medicated involuntarily and later found fit to stand trial. Benny was transferred to the jail, stopped taking his psychotropic medication, was again found unfit to stand trial and returned to Elgin. The state sought to administer psychotropic medication involuntarily. During one day of a two-day hearing, Benny was physically restrained. His attorney asked for the shackles to be removed. The security officer stated that he was “listed as high elopement risk” and submitted a “patient transport checklist.” The judge spoke to Benny, but denied the request. Benny interrupted testimony and indicated that the restraints caused him pain. The court granted the petition allowing involuntary administration of psychotropic medication, not to exceed 90 days. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated that ruling, holding that the appeal fell within the mootness exception for issues capable of repetition yet evading review. Courts may order physical restraints in involuntary treatment proceedings only upon a finding of manifest necessity; they must give the patient’s attorney an opportunity to be heard and must state on the record the reasons for allowing shackles. Benny’s attorney did not object to the court's procedures, ask for any additional opportunity to be heard, or request findings or an explicit statement of reasons. A specific objection was required to preserve procedural arguments, given that the procedure for allowing restraints in involuntary treatment proceedings was not established at the time of Benny's hearing. View "In re Benny M." on Justia Law

by
Rozsavolgyi filed a charge of discrimination on the basis of disability with the Illinois Department of Human Rights against the city of Aurora. Rozsavolgyi had been employed by the city from 1992 until she was involuntarily discharged in 2012. Months later, Rozsavolgyi was notified that she had the right to commence a civil action. Rozsavolgyi filed suit, alleging civil rights violations under the Illinois Human Rights Act, 775 ILCS 5/1-101, including failure to accommodate her disability, disparate treatment, retaliation, and hostile work environment. The circuit court certified three questions for permissive interlocutory review to the appellate court under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 308. After the appellate court addressed each question Rozsavolgyi obtained a certificate of importance under Rule 316 as to one question: Does the Local Government and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act, 745 ILCS 10/1, apply to a civil action under the Human Rights Act where the plaintiff seeks damages, reasonable attorneys’ fees, and costs? If yes, should the court modify, reject or overrule its prior holdings that the Tort Immunity Act applies only to tort actions and does not bar actions for constitutional violations? The Illinois Supreme Court vacated and remanded the appellate court’s response. The question is “improperly overbroad, should not have been answered, and does not warrant” review. The question ignores the breadth of the Human Rights Act, which provides for numerous types of civil actions for unlawful conduct in a variety of contexts. View "Rozsavolgyi v. The City of Aurora" on Justia Law