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Vara was convicted of child pornography (720 ILCS 5/11-20.1(a)(6)(vii)). The circuit court sentenced him to three years of imprisonment and imposed fines mandated by statutes: a $1000 child pornography fine (720 ILCS 11-20.1(c)), a $500 sex offender fine (730 ILCS 5/5-9-1.15)), and a $500 additional child pornography fine (720 ILCS 5-9-1.14). The court also imposed a $200 fine that was described at the hearing as a “sheriff’s office fine” but was referenced in the written sentencing order as a “sexual assault fine” (720 ILCS 5-9-1.7). The clerk of the Stephenson County Circuit Court included several entries in the electronic accounts receivable record pertaining to Vara’s conviction; some indicated that he was obligated to pay fines not specified in the judgment: “Court” ($50), “Youth Diversion” ($5), “Violent Crime” ($100), “Lump Sum Surcharge” ($250), “Sexual Assault” ($200), “Sex Offender Regis” ($500), “Medical Costs” ($10), “State Police Ops” ($15), “Child Pornography” ($495), and “Clerk Op Deduction” ($5). The appellate court vacated the challenged data entries, rejecting the state’s argument that it had authority to order imposition of mandatory fines that were not imposed by the circuit court. The Illinois Supreme Court vacated. The appellate court lacked jurisdiction to review the clerk’s recording of fines that were not ordered by the circuit court. View "People v. Vara" on Justia Law

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In 2011, Dr. Parmar died, leaving an estate valued at more than $5 million. Plaintiff was appointed as executor of the estate. At the time of Parmar’s death, the estate was not subject to taxation under the Estate Tax Act, 35 ILCS 405/1. Two days after Parmar’s death, the state revived the tax for the estates of persons who died after December 31, 2010. Plaintiff filed the estate’s Illinois estate tax return and paid the tax liability. Plaintiff eventually filed a second amended return, claiming that the amendment to the Estate Tax Act did not apply to his mother’s estate and no tax was due, then filed a purported class action challenging the retroactivity and constitutionality of the Act. Plaintiff requested a declaration that the Estate Tax Act applies only to the estates of persons who died on or after the amendment’s effective date or that the Estate Tax Act is unconstitutional. The Illinois Supreme Court upheld the suit’s dismissal for lack of jurisdiction; because the complaint seeks a money judgment against the state, it is barred under the State Lawsuit Immunity Act (745 ILCS 5/1). The complaint must be filed in the Illinois Court of Claims. The damages that plaintiff seeks go beyond the exclusive purpose and limits of the Estate Tax Refund Fund and potentially subject the state to liability. Plaintiff could have filed suit in the circuit court under the Protest Moneys Act (30 ILCS 230/1). View "Parmar v. Madigan" on Justia Law

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Perry filed suit under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) seeking the disclosure from the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation of information concerning a complaint against his structural engineer’s license. After the circuit court ruled on Perry’s motion for summary judgment, section 2105-117 of the Department of Professional Regulation Law took effect, which, if applicable, would exempt the type of confidential source information sought by Perry from disclosure. The appellate court affirmed the denial of Perry’s motion to reconsider. During the pendency of the Institute’s separate FOIA lawsuit against the Department, seeking information about complaints against licensees, 225 ILCS 410/4-24 was added to the Barber, Cosmetology, Esthetics, Hair Braiding, and Nail Technology Act, and, if applicable, would exempt the type of information sought by the Institute from disclosure. The circuit court granted the Institute summary judgment. The Illinois Supreme Court consolidated the cases and held that the amendments do not apply to the pending cases. Illinois’s retroactivity analysis governs where a change of law becomes effective during the pendency of a lawsuit. The legislature did not clearly prescribe whether sections 2105-117 and 4-24 should be applied to pending lawsuits, so courts must consider whether the changes are procedural or substantive. As both sections are substantive changes to the law, the amendments apply prospectively only. View "Perry v. Department of Financial and Professional Regulation" 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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In 1998, the defendant was charged with predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, criminal sexual assault, and aggravated criminal sexual abuse. He pleaded guilty to predatory criminal sexual assault of a child and was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment. In 2013, Bolingbrook Officer Alexander was patrolling a municipal park around 4:30 p.m. when he observed a van improperly parked, checked the van’s plates, and learned that it was registered to the defendant. The defendant acknowledged that he was a child sex offender but stated that his registration requirement had expired in 2010. Alexander informed the defendant that, as a child sex offender, he was forbidden to be on park property. Though the defendant was unaware of the ban, he was arrested for violating 720 ILCS 5/11-9.4-1(b), which provides, “It is unlawful for a sexual predator or a child sex offender to knowingly be present in any ... public park.” The trial court rejected a challenge that the law was facially unconstitutional and sentenced the defendant to 24 months’ conditional discharge plus community service. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the conviction and sentence, noting that the rational basis test does not require narrow tailoring. There is a rational relationship between protecting the public, particularly children, from sex offenders and prohibiting sex offenders who have been convicted of crimes against minors from being in public park. The court remanded for consideration of a challenge under the ex post facto clause. View "People v. Pepitone" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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State Farm issued two policies of motor vehicle insurance to plaintiff, covering a Pontiac Grand Am and a Pontiac GTO. Each policy provided liability, uninsured motorist, and underinsured motorist coverage in the amounts of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident. Each contained a “Driver Exclusion Endorsement” that excluded Evans. Plaintiff was a passenger in a Hyundai automobile that was owned and operated by Evans when Evans’s vehicle was involved in an accident with another automobile. Evans was at fault. Plaintiff was injured and had more than $30,000 in medical bills. Evans’s insurer paid plaintiff $20,000, the policy limit. State Farm denied plaintiff's claim for underinsured motorist coverage. The circuit court granted plaintiff summary judgment. The appellate court and the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, citing the Illinois Safety and Family Financial Responsibility Law (625 ILCS 5/7-601(a)), under which no one may operate a motor vehicle or allow a vehicle to be operated without obtaining sufficient insurance, and the Insurance Code (215 ILCS 5/143a, 143a-2), requiring automobile liability insurance policies to include uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. The court reasoned that the named driver exclusion violated Illinois mandatory insurance requirements and public policy where the exclusion barred coverage for the named insured. View "Thounsavath v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Defendant pleaded guilty to violating an order of protection, a Class 4 felony based on his prior conviction (720 ILCS 5/12-3.4(d)). The parties did not agree to a sentence, but the state agreed not to prosecute two counts of aggravated battery of a peace officer and another count of violating an order of protection. The court explained that the offense carried a sentencing range of one to six years’ imprisonment but misstated that the offense required a one-year term of mandatory supervised release (MSR). The court accepted the plea agreement and sentenced Defendant to three years’ imprisonment and one year of MSR. A year later, at a hearing where Defendant was present without counsel. the court entered an amended order, indicating four years of MSR as required by 730 ILCS 5/5-8-1(d)(6). Defendant was released from prison onto MSR and moved to “correct” the mittimus to reflect the original imposition of a one-year MSR term, arguing that he would not have entered a plea if he had been properly advised that he was subject to a mandatory four-year MSR term. The court stated that the only option to correct the sentence was a mandamus action in the Illinois Supreme Court. That court granted the state’s mandamus petition. The record does not support Defendant’s suggestion that the trial court would have been inclined to reduce his prison term had it imposed the correct MSR. The court declined to enter a new rule to allow statutorily unauthorized sentences to be corrected at any time by motion in the circuit court. View "Berlin v. Bakalis" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Manning’s second trial for first-degree murder established that the victim was a highly-intoxicated unwelcome visitor at a residence occupied by Manning and others. A fight ensued between the victim and four residents, including Manning. The victim was stabbed and died. Only Manning was armed. The court instructed the jury on self-defense and on second-degree murder, based on statutory mitigating factors: an unreasonable belief in the need for self-defense and provocation, with mutual combat being the requisite provocation, 720 ILCS 5/9-2(a) The jury asked: For approving mitigating factors to reduce charge to second-degree murder, if vote on mitigating factor is not unanimous, does it revert to first-degree murder? The court responded: Your verdict must be unanimous ... continue your deliberations. The jury found Manning guilty of first-degree murder. The court denied Manning’s request to poll the jury on the issue of mitigating factors. The Illinois Supreme Court upheld the conviction. A defendant’s failure to sustain his burden of convincing all 12 jurors that a mitigating factor exists does not nullify the jurors’ unanimous finding that the state has proven first-degree murder beyond a reasonable doubt. The response to the jury’s question was correct when considered with instructions the jurors had received that it may not consider whether the defendant has met his burden of proof with regard to second-degree murder until it has first determined that the state has proven beyond a reasonable doubt each element of first-degree murder.The statute places no burden on the state to disprove mitigating factors. View "People v. Manning" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendant was indicted on 15 charges of aggravated criminal sexual assault and three charges of criminal sexual assault. Before trial, the state successfully moved for admission other crimes evidence to show that defendant committed similar sexual assaults. Defense counsel indicated that Defendant intended to testify that the victims all consented to sex with Defendant in exchange for cash and drugs but that, after they provided the agreed services, Defendant took back the payments. Counsel asked the court to inquire of the venire whether “[t]he fact that you will hear evidence about … prostitution. Would that fact alone prevent you from being fair to either side?” The court refused, The victims testified about the attacks. Defendant testified. The jury found Defendant guilty. The appellate court remanded for a new trial. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed. There is no body of law indicating that the public harbors bias against the patrons of prostitutes to the extent that such a person’s testimony cannot be considered fairly. Defendant’s proffered question did not involve a matter that was indisputably true and inextricably a part of the trial but amounted to a preliminary argument regarding a disputed question of fact, which is generally not permitted. Even if the victims were prostitutes, it is difficult to conceive how a juror who could fairly judge the explicit sexual conduct would be rendered incapable of fairly judging defendant based on the fact he patronized prostitutes. View "People v. Encalado" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Antonicelli, was a passenger in a vehicle traveling on I-88. Three lanes were closed for construction. Browder was operating a semi-tractor and trailer, traveling behind Antonicelli’s vehicle. Rodriguez, under the influence of cocaine, made an improper U-turn through the median and collided with Antonicelli’s vehicle, causing it to rotate. Browder was unable to stop his semi and slammed into Antonicelli’s vehicle. Antonicelli suffered severe permanent injuries. Rodriguez pled guilty to aggravated driving under the influence of drugs and acknowledged fault. Antonicelli sued and entered ­ into a settlement with Rodriguez for $20,000, the limit of his insurance coverage. Rodriguez sought a finding of a good-faith settlement, informing the court that the insurance policy was his only material asset. The nonsettling Browder defendants counterclaimed for contribution against Rodriguez, alleging that Rodriguez’s conduct was intentional rather than negligent under the Contribution Act (740 ILCS 100/2). The court granted Rodriguez a finding of good faith and dismissal, allowing the Browder defendants to credit $20,000 against any future judgment. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, finding no basis for the allegation of intentional conduct. The Browder counterclaims alleging intentional conduct are separate and independent causes of action that do not change the nature of Antonicelli’s complaint, which alleged only negligent conduct. Requiring a court to make a determination as to each defendant’s fault before finding that a settlement agreement was in good faith would be impracticable and would defeat the Act's purpose of encouraging settlement in the absence of bad faith, fraud, or collusion. View "Antonicelli v. Rodriguez" on Justia Law