Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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Defendant was arrested when a Chicago police officer observed a revolver in defendant’s waistband. Police discovered that defendant lacked a Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card. Defendant was charged: Counts I and III alleged that defendant carried a loaded, uncased, immediately accessible firearm (720 ILCS 5/24-1.6(a)(1), (a)(3)(A); (a)(2), (a)(3)(A)), and counts II and IV alleged that he did so without a FOID card (720 ILCS 5/24-1.6(a)(1), (a)(3)(C); (a)(2), (a)(3)(C)). After defendant’s arrest, the Illinois Supreme Court issued its 2013 “Aguilar” decision, holding that section 24-1.6(a)(1), (a)(3)(A), (d)(1) was facially unconstitutional because it violated the right to keep and bear arms, as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The state entered a nolle prosequi on counts I and III. The circuit court granted defendant's to quash his arrest and suppress evidence with respect to counts II and IV on the ground that the officer only had probable cause to believe defendant was violating the statutory sections that were declared unconstitutional, so that probable cause was retroactively invalidated. The appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed. The void ab initio doctrine did not retroactively invalidate probable cause for defendant’s arrest because probable cause was predicated on a statute that was subsequently declared unconstitutional on federal grounds. Federal case law holds that probable cause for arrest would not be retroactively invalidated by subsequent declaration of a statute’s unconstitutionality on federal grounds. To hold that the void ab initio doctrine requires retroactive invalidation of probable cause would be tantamount to a repeal of the statute, which would violate separation of powers. View "People v. Holmes" on Justia Law

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The City of Chicago, charged defendants, members of the “Occupy Chicago” movement, with violating the Chicago Park District Code, which closes all Chicago public parks between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. and prohibits people from being inside any park during these hours. The circuit court of Cook County dismissed the charges, finding the ordinance unconstitutional on its face and as applied to the defendants. The appellate court reversed, holding that the ordinance did not violate the defendants’ First Amendment right to assembly. On remand for review under the state constitution, the appellate court again reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, first holding that the Illinois Constitution of 1970 is to be interpreted and applied in lockstep with the federal precedents interpreting and applying the assembly clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In arguing that the state constitution provided greater protection, the defendants forfeited any claim that the appellate court failed to properly conduct intermediate review under the applicable First Amendment jurisprudence. View "People v. Alexander" on Justia Law

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Nelson, and her codefendants, Hall, Cox, and Ball, were tried simultaneously but in severed bench trials for the armed robbery and stabbing death of Wilson. The prosecution produced five eyewitnesses, who gave generally consistent testimony. Police had followed a blood trail to the four defendants. There was DNA evidence linking defendants to the crime. All were found guilty. The appellate court rejected Nelson's argument that she was denied her sixth amendment right to conflict-free counsel where attorneys from the same law firm represented her and codefendant Hall and that the attorneys, in making their choice of defenses, decided to forgo asserting an innocence defense in favor of pursuing a joint defense of self-defense. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, finding that Nelson had not demonstrated an actual conflict. In light of the evidence, Nelson could not show that an innocence defense based on a lack of accountability was a plausible alternative defense. View "People v. Nelson" on Justia Law

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Appellate court erroneously declined to consider ineffective assistance of counsel claim on direct review where record was sufficient for consideration of that claim. A Coles County jury found Veach guilty of two counts of attempted murder, rejecting his theory that someone else committed the crimes. On direct review, defendant argued that his trial counsel was ineffective for stipulating to the admission of recorded statements of the state’s witnesses. The appellate court affirmed, finding the record inadequate to resolve the issue. The majority encouraged defendant to raise the issue in a postconviction petition. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, holding that the record was sufficient for the appellate court to consider defendant’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim on direct review. The state had conceded that the appellate court should have addressed the claim, but argued that counsel’s decision to stipulate to the witnesses’ recorded statements was not prejudicial nor was it deficient performance. In Illinois, a defendant must generally raise a constitutional claim alleging ineffective assistance of counsel on direct review or risk forfeiting the claim; issues that could have been raised and considered on direct review are deemed procedurally defaulted. View "People v. Veach" on Justia Law

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Officer Lenover was patrolling near Irving Elementary School when he noticed a car parked “partially in” a T-intersection, about 15 feet from school property. It was a weekday. There were 80-100 children playing in the school yard. Lenover ran the license plate and discovered that the car was owned by defendant, a registered child sex offender. Lenover approached and verified that the driver was defendant. According to Lenover, defendant admitted that he knew he was not supposed to be around the school. Lenover arrested him. Defendant later testified that he had driven a friend to the school, to deliver lunches to the friend’s grandchildren while defendant waited in the car. The friend stated that she had been inside the school for four to five minutes. Defendant denied telling Lenover that he knew he was not supposed to be near the school. The court found defendant had violated 720 ILCS 5/11-9.3(b), which makes it unlawful for a child sex offender to knowingly loiter within 500 feet of a school while persons under the age of 18 are present, and sentenced him to 30 months’ probation. The appellate court affirmed, holding that a child sex offender who is neither a parent nor a guardian of a school child “loiters” if he remains within “the restricted school zone for any purpose, lawful or unlawful, while children under age 18 are present,” rejecting defendant’s contention that the statute is unconstitutionally vague. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, rejecting defendant’s “legitimate purpose” defense. View "People v. Howard" on Justia Law

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Chicago's personal property lease transaction tax ordinance levies a tax on the lease or rental in the city of personal property or the privilege of using in the city personal property that is leased or rented outside the city. The lessee is obliged to pay the tax. In 2011, the department of revenue issued Ruling 11, as guidance to suburban vehicle rental agencies located within three miles of Chicago’s borders. Ruling 11 stated that, in the event of an audit, the department of revenue would hold suburban rental agencies responsible for paying the tax unless there was written proof that the lessee was exempt, based upon the use of the leased vehicle outside the city. Absent such proof, the department would assume that a customer who is a Chicago resident would use the leased vehicle primarily in the city and that a customer who is not a Chicago resident would use the vehicle primarily outside the city. Hertz and Enterprise filed suit. The circuit court enjoined enforcement of the ordinance against plaintiffs with respect to short-term vehicle rental transactions occurring outside the city’s borders. The appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court found the tax unconstitutional under the state constitution Home Rule Provision. Absent an actual connection to Chicago, Ruling 11, which imposed the tax based on only a lessee’s stated intention or a conclusive presumption of use in Chicago based solely on residency, imposed a tax on transactions that take place wholly outside Chicago borders. View "Hertz Corp. v. City of Chicago" on Justia Law

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An indictment alleged that defendant, in committing a battery, “knowingly made physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with Correctional Officer Jody Davis, in that the defendant threw an unknown liquid substance" on Davis "striking him about the body, knowing Jody Davis to be a correctional institution employee ... engaged in the performance of his authorized duties.” The state filed notice that defendant was eligible for mandatory Class X sentencing under 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-95(b), should defendant be convicted of the Class 2 felony of aggravated battery, 720 ILCS 5/12-3.05(d)(4)(i)(h). Following questioning and admonishment, defendant waived his right to counsel, electing to proceed pro se. Defendant then filed an unsuccessful motion to suppress an incriminating statement that he made to corrections officer Snyder. At his jury trial, defendant continued to appear pro se and was convicted. The appellate court affirmed defendant’s conviction but vacated defendant’s sentence and remanded, holding that defendant was not eligible for Class X sentencing. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the trial court judgment. Defendant was not in custody and was not coerced into incriminating himself during his interview with Officer Snyder; the court did not err when it denied defendant’s motion to suppress. Defendant was properly sentenced as a Class X offender. View "People v. Smith" on Justia Law

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In 2010, the circuit court adjudicated Minnis a delinquent minor for committing the offense of criminal sexual abuse (720 ILCS 5/12-15(b) and sentenced him to 12 months’ probation. The adjudication for criminal sexual abuse rendered him a “sex offender” pursuant to the Registration Act (730 ILCS 150/2(A)(5), (B)(1); the court ordered Minnis to register as a sex offender. On December 17, 2010, defendant reported to the Normal police department to register. He disclosed his two e-mail addresses and his Facebook account. Defendant’s May 2011 registration form listed the same Internet information. Defendant registered again in August 2014, including his two e-mail addresses, but omitting his Facebook account. On September 9, Normal police officers viewed defendant’s publicly accessible Facebook profile online; Minnis had changed his Facebook cover photo only one month before his August 2014 registration. The circuit court of McLean County dismissed a charge of failure to register, finding that the Internet disclosure provision was overbroad in violation of the First Amendment. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed and remanded for trial, treating the challenge as one to facial validity. The Internet disclosure provision survives intermediate scrutiny. It advances a substantial governmental interest without chilling more speech than necessary. View "People v. Minnis" on Justia Law

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Defendant was charged with aggravated robbery, a Class 1 felony (720 ILCS 5/18-5). Before trial, the prosecution and defense agreed that the sentencing range would be 4-30 years. Defendant’s counsel stated that the state had tendered a “certified court docket from the ’04 JD case” indicating that defendant, as a juvenile, had been adjudicated delinquent on multiple counts of residential burglary, which would make defendant eligible for an extended-term sentence. Counsel also indicated that defendant denied having an adjudication for residential burglary. The court admonished defendant that he faced a sentencing range of 4-30 years. At trial, the evidence was limited to the aggravated robbery charge. No evidence regarding defendant’s prior juvenile adjudication was introduced. The jury found defendant guilty. A presentencing investigative report indicated that defendant, as a juvenile, had been adjudicated delinquent in 2005 of multiple offenses, including three counts of residential burglary. The appellate court and Illinois Supreme Court affirmed defendant’s extended-term sentence of 24 years’ imprisonment, rejecting arguments that the sentence violated Supreme Court rulings in Apprendi v. New Jersey (2000) and Shepard v. United States (2005). Defendant’s prior juvenile adjudication is the equivalent of a prior conviction under Apprendi and falls within Apprendi’s prior-conviction exception and an exception in section 111-3(c-5) of the Illinois Criminal Code. The state was not required to allege the fact of his juvenile adjudication in the indictment or prove its existence beyond a reasonable doubt. View "People v. Jones" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a complaint alleging medical negligence and loss of consortium against defendants (doctors and medical providers). Defendants moved for leave to file a 12-person jury demand and “to declare Public Act 98-1132, which amended 735 ILCS 5/2-1105(b), as unconstitutional.” Act 98-1132 limits the size of a civil jury to six persons and increases the amount paid per day to jurors across the state. The circuit court found the provision regarding the size of a jury facially unconstitutional based on article I, section 13, of the Illinois Constitution, which protects the right of trial by jury “as heretofore enjoyed.” The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, finding that “as heretofore enjoyed,” means the right as it was enjoyed at the time the constitution was drafted. Transcripts from the convention debates make clear that the drafters did not believe the legislature had the authority to reduce the size of a jury below 12 members and the drafters did not act to give the legislature such power. The provision regarding jury size cannot be severed from the remainder of the Act, which addresses juror pay, so the Act is entirely invalid. View "Kakos v. Butler" on Justia Law