Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Illinois
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Tillman filed a petition for leave to file a taxpayer action under 735 ILCS 5/11-303, to enjoin the disbursement of public funds, alleging that certain general obligation bonds issued by the state in 2003 and 2017 were unconstitutional. He claimed the bonds violated article IX, section 9(b), of the Illinois Constitution on the ground that they were not issued for qualifying “specific purposes,” which, he argued, refers exclusively to “specific projects in the nature of capital improvements, such as roads, buildings, and bridges.” The 2003 “State pension funding” law authorized $10 billion in bonds to be issued “for the purpose of making contributions to the designated retirement systems.” The 2017 law authorized “Income Tax Proceed Bonds,” ($6 billion) “for the purpose of paying vouchers incurred by the State prior to July 1, 2017.”The circuit court denied the petition. The appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the judgment of the circuit court. the necessary elements for laches have been met in this case: “lack of due diligence by the party asserting the claim” and “prejudice to the opposing party.” There is no reasonable ground under section 11-303 of the Code for filing the petitioner’s proposed complaint View "Tillman v. Pritzker" on Justia Law

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The plaintiffs, 12 tree planters who allegedly worked for Moore Landscapes under contracts that Moore executed with the Chicago Park District, sought unpaid wages, statutory damages, prejudgment interest on back-pay, and reasonable attorney fees and costs under the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act, 820 ILCS 130/11. They alleged that Moore improperly paid them an hourly rate of $18 instead of the prevailing hourly wage rate of $41.20.The appellate court reversed the circuit court’s dismissal order. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the dismissal. The Park District and Moore did not stipulate rates for work done under the contracts. The Act provides that, when the public body does not include a sufficient stipulation in a contract, the potential liabilities of the contractor are narrower than those provided under section 11, when a contractor disregards a clear contractual stipulation to pay prevailing wage rates, and “shall be limited to the difference between the actual amount paid and the prevailing rate of wages required to be paid for the project. View "Valerio v. Moore Landscapes, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act took effect in 2014, 410 ILCS 130/999, “to protect patients with debilitating medical conditions, as well as their physicians and providers, from arrest and prosecution, criminal and other penalties, and property forfeiture if patients engage in the medical use of cannabis.” The Department of Agriculture (DOA), charged with enforcing the provisions of the Act related to registering and overseeing medical cannabis cultivation centers, adopted Administrative Rules.Medponics petitioned for administrative review of a DOA decision, awarding a permit to Curative, to operate a medical cannabis cultivation center in Aurora. Medponics alleged that the location of Curative’s proposed facility violated the Act because it was located within 2500 feet of the R-1 and R-5 districts in Aurora, both of which Medponics alleged were zoned exclusively for residential use. DOA found Curative’s proposed location satisfied the location requirement because multiple nonresidential uses were authorized in Aurora’s R-1 and R-5 districts. The circuit court reversed the DOA’s decision.The appellate court ordered the permit reinstated to Curative. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. DOA’s interpretation of the location requirement is not erroneous, unreasonable, or in conflict with the Act; the definition is reasonable and harmonizes with the purpose of the Act. View "Medponics Illinois LLC v. Department of Agriculture" on Justia Law

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In December 2020, Jackson and Pope each filed a statement as an independent candidate for village president. Jackson's petition had 50 voter signatures. Pope's had 32 signatures. An objection alleged that the number of signatures was insufficient under 10 ILCS 5/10-3. At an Electoral Board hearing, Schmidt, the Glendale Heights clerk and election official, testified that the Du Page County Clerk’s Office sent an e-mail indicating that “due to COVID, we are reducing the points of contact, here is a list of forms.” Schmidt stated that she read the State Board of Elections 2021 Candidate’s Guide, and, relying on the numbers “for non-partisan” elections, concluded that 24 signatures were required. Schmidt admitted that she did not understand the distinction between independent and nonpartisan. She acknowledged that she was never notified that the statutorily required number of signatures had been reduced because of the pandemic. Both candidates testified that they relied on Schmidt's representations.The Board overruled the objection, finding that both candidates justifiably relied on Schmidt’s statements and excusing their statutory violations. The trial and appellate courts affirmed.The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, noting that the lowest possible correctly calculated number of signatures would be 118. While ballot access is a substantial right, the best safeguard of that right is fidelity to the Election Code and not unrestrained discretion by a local election official inexplicably confused about the statutory distinction between partisan and nonpartisan elections. A precise mathematical formula, clear and certain in its application, prevents impermissible political bias. View "Corbin v. Schroeder" on Justia Law

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Calumet City held a referendum proposing that candidates could not seek the office of mayor while simultaneously holding an elected, paid state office. Before the outcome of the referendum was certified, Representative Jones of the 29th District of the General Assembly filed nomination papers seeking the office of mayor. The referendum was later certified as adopted. The day after certification, objectors brought suit to bar Jones from appearing on the February 2021 ballot in light of the newly passed referendum. The Municipal Officers Electoral Board for the City of Calumet City sustained the objection and removed Jones from the ballot. The circuit court of Cook County affirmed, directing that Jones’s name appear on the ballot but that all his votes be impounded or suppressed. The appellate court summarily reversed and ordered that Jones appear on the ballot.The Illinois Supreme Court stayed the appellate court order and subsequently reversed in favor of Jones. The referendum became effective on November 24, 2020, the date the election was certified. Because Jones filed his nomination papers on November 16, 2020, he was legally qualified to run for mayor at that time. His nomination papers were not defective at that time. View "Jones v. Municipal Officers Electoral Board for the City of Calumet City" on Justia Law

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Moore, a tenured teacher since 1994, was advised by her students that another student had ingested some pills. Other school personnel immediately became involved in responding to the incident. Chicago Public Schools later approved dismissal charges against Moore, (105 ILCS 5/34-85), alleging failure to appropriately respond, failure to supervise, failure to perform certain duties, and failure to comply with Board policies and the state ethical and professional standards. Moore was suspended without pay pending the outcome of the dismissal hearing.On September 7, 2018, the hearing officer issued findings that Moore had alerted the administration to the student’s overdose and that she had not lied during the investigation and concluded that the Board’s evidence failed to establish cause for Moore’s dismissal. The Board found that Moore failed to act in a prudent and responsible manner, failed to check on the well-being of the student, and failed to notify her colleagues in a timely fashion. The Board determined that Moore’s negligent behavior did not warrant her dismissal but issued a warning resolution, required her to attend training, and imposed a 90-day reduction in her back pay.The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the Board’s decision. The appellate court erred when it held that section 34-85 precluded the Board from suspending a teacher without pay following a dismissal hearing; a 2011 amendment did not diminish the Board’s implied authority to issue a suspension once a determination is made that the conduct does not warrant dismissal. Sections 34- 18 and 34-85 govern different disciplinary sanctions (dismissals and suspensions) and are not in conflict. The Board articulated its findings and analysis supporting the sanctions. View "Board of Education of the City of Chicago v. Moore" on Justia Law

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Fox Lake patrol officer Zander was charged with misconduct arising from multiple job-related incidents. The chief recommended termination. Zander's union, FOP, assigned Attorney Carlson, an FOP employee. Zander had no input into the choice of an attorney, had no retainer agreement with Carlson, and was not charged for Carlson’s services. Under the Illinois Municipal Code (65 ILCS 5/1-1-1), police officers who face removal or discharge are entitled to a hearing before the local board of fire and police commissioners unless a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) provides for arbitration. The CBA between Fox Lake and FOP gave officers the option of pursuing either avenue. On Carlson’s advice, Zander chose arbitration. The arbitrator upheld the termination. Zander sued, alleging legal malpractice and that FOP has no right to employ attorneys to furnish legal services under its direction to FOP members, and cannot control what attorneys assigned to help FOP members may do and “should be vicariously liable.”The circuit court dismissed, citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s "Atkinson" holding, which immunizes union members and officers against personal liability for actions taken while acting as a union representative in the context of the collective bargaining process. The court noted the parallels between federal labor law and the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act. The Illinois Supreme Court agreed. But for the collective bargaining agreement. FOP would have owed Zander no duty. Zander’s claim against the union fell within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Illinois Labor Relations Board. View "Zander v. Carlson" on Justia Law

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Sparta instituted a policy for evaluating the performance of full-time police officers. Day-shift officers must accumulate at least 82 points, while the standard for night-shift officers is 65 points. Points are awarded for traffic citations, drug task force duties, investigations that take more than one shift, shooting range training; training outside the department, court time, and extra duty shifts. Awards for Officer of the Month and of the Year will be based on the most points earned over the Officer’s monthly minimum standard. Failure to reach the minimum monthly points will result in discipline that is corrective and progressive in nature. The Union alleged the policy establishes an unlawful ticket quota in violation of the Municipal Code (65 ILCS 5/11-1-12). The circuit court granted Sparta summary judgment.The appellate court reversed, holding that the statute prohibits consideration of the number of citations issued when evaluating a police officer’s performance based on points of contact. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. Section 11-1-12 first provides a general statement prohibiting citation quotas, defined as “requir[ing] a police officer to issue a specific number of citations within a designated period of time.” The second paragraph, applicable here, does not prohibit evaluating police officers with points-of-contact system and defines a “point of contact” as “any quantifiable contact made in the furtherance of the police officer’s duties,” with the sole exception being “the issuance of citations or the number of citations issued.” View "Policemen's Benevolent Labor Committee v. City of Sparta" on Justia Law

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The plaintiffs filed suit concerning flood damage to their Maine Township property after heavy rains in September 2008, alleging that public entities breached duties owed to them with respect to a stormwater drainage system located near their properties. Plaintiffs claimed that certain actions by the defendants increased water flow to the area and that there has been major flooding in the past. After a 2002 event, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources discovered “numerous bottlenecks and obstructions to flow as the causes of the invasive flooding” in the community. The trial court dismissed, finding that the defendants owed no duty to plaintiffs under the public duty rule and plaintiffs had not alleged any special duty. In the meantime, the Illinois Supreme Court (Coleman) abolished the public duty rule, which provided that a local governmental entity does not owe any duty to individual members of the public to provide adequate governmental services. The trial court found that the new law set forth in Coleman should not be retroactively applied.The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. Coleman clearly established a new principle of law, overturning decades of existing precedent. Given these circumstances and the two rationales for abolishing the public duty rule, the new law announced in Coleman would not be thwarted by its prospective application. Prospective application avoids substantial inequitable results for defendants who have relied upon the public duty rule throughout the long course of this litigation. View "Tzakis v. Maine Township" on Justia Law

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Cook County Sheriff Dart instituted disciplinary proceedings against several Sheriff’s officers (plaintiffs) by filing charges with the Cook County Sheriff’s Merit Board under Counties Code, 55 ILCS 5/3-7011. The plaintiffs filed motions with the Board to dismiss the charges. While the administrative proceedings were pending, the plaintiffs filed suit, seeking declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief against the Sheriff, Cook County, the Board, and the Cook County Board of Commissioners, asserting that the Board was not legally constituted because several of its members were appointed to or served terms that did not comply with the Code section 3-7002 requirements.The Illinois Supreme Court reversed the dismissal of the suit for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Because the plaintiffs challenged the authority of the Board to address the charges, the “authority” exception to the exhaustion requirement applied. The circuit court can adjudicate the requests for back pay and other claims, which do not fall within the particular expertise of the Board. The plaintiffs raised the issue before the Board, which refused to hear them until after the disciplinary proceedings were complete. Given that the Board had not taken any substantive action regarding the disciplinary charges before the filing of the lawsuit, the “de facto officer doctrine” does not apply. View "Goral v. Dart" on Justia Law