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Defendant and his brother, Jimmy, ambushed armored truck guards. Defendant was shot in the head. Jimmy died from gunshot wounds. Defendant was charged with first-degree felony murder based on attempted armed robbery (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(3)), attempted armed robbery while armed with a firearm (8-4, 18-2(a)(2)), and unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon (24-1.1(a)). Defendant was found fit to stand trial although his ability to recollect the incident was impaired. Possession of a firearm was an element of the predicate offense to attempted armed robbery. Jimmy had an apparent sawed-off shotgun that actually consisted of metal pipes taped to a piece of wood. Defendant had an inoperable unloaded .22-caliber derringer. Before jury selection, the state entered a nolle prosequi on attempted armed robbery and unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon charges. During the jury instruction conference, the prosecutor sought a firearm sentencing enhancement instruction. Defense counsel objected. The jury found defendant guilty of first-degree murder while armed with a firearm. The court sentenced defendant to 25 years’ plus a 15-year term for possession of a firearm. The appellate court reversed because count I did not identify which of the attempted armed robbery offenses was the predicate for the felony murder charge. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed. Defendant was aware that the felony murder charge was predicated on attempted armed robbery with a firearm; his attorney presented a defense to that charge. Neither defendant nor the appellate court identified what other actions defendant could have taken, had the count I allegations particularly referenced possession of a firearm. View "People v. Carey" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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David attended a pledge event at Northern Illinois University's Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. Vodka-laden hazing ensued. By the end of the night, David’s blood alcohol level reached more than five times the legal limit. David lost consciousness and died during the night. His estate sued the fraternity’s national organizations: the local chapter and its members; and certain non-member sorority women. The circuit court dismissed. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of the national organizations. The complaint’s allegations were insufficient to allege an agency relationship under which the Nationals would be vicariously liable for the conduct of the local members. An affirmative duty to aid or protect another against an unreasonable risk of physical harm or to control the conduct of another arises only within the context of a legally recognized “special relationship” that did not exist here. The other defendants may be sued for negligence. While no liability for the sale or gift of alcoholic beverages exists in Illinois outside of the Dramshop Act, the court noted the differences between a social host situation and an alcohol-related hazing event. A hazing injury is reasonably foreseeable and is likely to occur; the burden of guarding against injury is small, and the consequences of placing that burden on the members are reasonable. The women were more than guests. They were an integral part of the event and occupied a position of influence over the pledges. View "Bogenberger v. Pi Kappa Alpha Corp., Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Cohen was riding his bicycle on Lakefront Trail, a shared-use path that runs along the shore of Lake Michigan, when his front wheel caught in a crack in the pavement and he fell. Cohen sued the Chicago park district, alleging it acted willfully and wantonly in failing to maintain the path and was responsible for his injuries. The circuit court granted the park district summary judgment, concluding that it was immune from suit under the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act, 745 ILCS 10/3-107(a), which grants absolute immunity to local public entities for injuries caused by a condition of a “road which provides access to fishing, hunting, or primitive camping, recreational, or scenic areas” or was immune from suit under section 3-106, which immunizes local public entities for injuries occurring on recreational property, except when the local public entity engages in willful and wanton conduct proximately causing the injuries. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed in part. Section 3-107(a) is inapplicable The district is, however, immune from suit under section 3-106. Lakefront Trail is not open to public, motorized traffic and is not a “road” within the meaning of section 3-107(a). The district’s actions were not willful or wanton. Cracks in paved surfaces are unavoidable in climates such as Chicago’s. The risk of injury from the crack was not an extraordinary and unusual risk; there were no prior injuries involving the crack. View "Cohen v. Chicago Park District" on Justia Law

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Erie is a Chicago “Federally Qualified Health Center” (FQHC), 42 U.S.C. 254b (2012). FQHCs rely heavily on federal grants and Medicaid reimbursement. Erie Employees are federal employees under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 42 U.S.C. 233(a). Erie was founded as a project between Northwestern Memorial Hospital (NMH) and Erie Neighborhood House in 1957. NMH provides financial support and technical assistance, but Erie physicians seeking NMH privileges are required to apply for them. In 2005, Yarbrough went to the Erie after searching for a clinic that would not require insurance coverage. Yarbrough was informed that she would have her ultrasounds done at Northwestern and would likely deliver her baby at NMH. Based upon information she received during the visit, Yarbrough believed that Erie and NMH were the same entity. Yarbrough sued NMH. based on her daughter’s premature birth, alleging medical negligence. The Illinois Supreme Court answered a certified question: A hospital cannot be held vicariously liable under the doctrine of apparent agency set forth in Gilbert v. Sycamore, for the acts of the employees of an unrelated, independent clinic that is not a party to the litigation. Yarbrough sought treatment at Erie but looks to impose liability on NMH. Erie is neither owned nor operated by NMH. While Erie receives some charitable assistance from NMH, it relies heavily on federal money. Erie does not utilize the Northwestern name, Northwestern-related branding, or Northwestern’s trademark purple color. View "Yarbrough v. Northwestern Memorial Hospital" on Justia Law

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In 1996, defendant was indicted for the manufacture or delivery of cocaine in excess of 900 grams, a Class X felony. The Du Page County court granted bail; defendant posted a cash bond and regularly appeared in court. In June 1998, defendant failed to appear and his bond was forfeited. During the next 30 days, defendant did not surrender. A bench warrant issued for his arrest. A judgment was entered in the bail amount for the state. Defendant was tried in absentia and sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment. In 2014, police stopped defendant for a traffic offense. Defendant presented false identification. Later, defendant revealed his true identity and admitted he had used false identities. Defendant began serving his sentence and was indicted for the violation of his 1996 bail bond, a Class 1 felony. Defendant claimed that, under the general statute of limitations for felonies, the state had three years to bring that charge. The state filed a superseding information, which alleged continuing violation of bail bond (720 ILCS 5/32-10(a)) The appellate court concluded that a 1990 appellate decision, Grogan, was improperly decided and that violation of bail bond is a continuing offense. The Illinois Supreme Court agreed, reversing Grogan; violation of bail bond is a continuing offense under 720 ILCS 5/3-8. The 2014 indictment was, however, untimely, because defendant's intervening conviction ended his duty to surrender and appear. View "People v. Casas" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Charged with first-degree murder, Staake was convicted of second-degree murder (720 ILCS 5/9-2(a)(1)) for the stabbing death of Michael Box. The appellate court affirmed, finding that the state’s amendments of the initial charge from second-degree to first-degree murder did not amount to a “new and additional” charge for speedy-trial purposes and Staake’s failure to make an offer of proof deprived the appellate court of a proper record to determine whether the trial court abused its discretion in granting the state’s motion in limine to preclude Staake from presenting evidence and argument as to an intervening cause of death (Box’s reluctance to accept medical treatment). The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. The first-degree murder charge was not a new and additional charge; it relates back to the original second-degree murder charge. Any delays attributable to Staake on the initial charge are also attributable to him on the subsequent charge. Staake, having conceded that the state had proven causation beyond a reasonable doubt, cannot now claim that he was precluded from arguing a lack of causation; the trial court made it clear that its ruling in granting the motion in limine was conditional and based on a lack of evidence to show anything other than that the stab wound caused Box's death View "People v. Staake" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Christine, represented by Goldstine, sought dissolution of marriage from Andrew. Andrew was represented by Boback. Holwell later became Andrew’s counsel. Before withdrawing, Boback successfully moved to disqualify Goldstine for improperly ordering Christine to provide Andrew’s mail that arrived at the marital home, opening and viewing the mail. Holwell billed Andrew $37,094.49 for the disqualification matter. Later, Jaquays appeared for Christine. LeVine appeared for Andrew. Christine sought interim attorney fees, arguing that she had paid Jaquays a retainer of $5000 and had an outstanding balance of $27,142.60 and that if the court determined that Andrew lacked the ability to pay her fees, it should order disgorgement from the money that Andrew had paid to Holwell. Andrew also sought attorney fees, owing $17,500.38 to Holwell and $26,000 to LeVine; Holwell testified that she was holding $13,000 that Andrew had paid to Boback because of a dispute as to who owned the money. The court found that both parties lacked an ability to pay reasonable attorney fees. Andrew had paid $66,382.28 to Holwell, $10,000 to LeVine, and $23,639.99 to Boback. Christine had paid $5000 to Jaquays and $13,117.04 to Goldstine. The court held that to “level the playing field,” each party should have $59,069.65 for attorney fees. The court ordered Holwell to disgorge $40,952.61 for payment to Jaquays. Holwell was held in contempt. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed reversal of the disgorgement order. Fees that have already been earned by an attorney in a dissolution of marriage proceeding are not considered “available funds,” such that they may be disgorged under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/501(c-1)(3). View "In re Marriage of Goesel" on Justia Law

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Herndon sued Whiteside, doing business as Beam Oil, for breach of contract and conversion because defendant refused to pay plaintiff royalties arising from an oil and gas lease. The Macon County circuit court dismissed, finding that plaintiff did not own the claimed overriding royalty interest but defendant did. The Fourth District affirmed the dismissal of the conversion claim but remanded the breach of contract claim. Defendant appealed. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the dismissal. The instrument of assignment, signed after a series of transactions, unambiguously transferred all of plaintiff’s interest to defendant, so defendant’s refusal to pay plaintiff royalties was not a breach. Plaintiff and third parties each assigned to defendant “all of [their] right, title and interest in and to the oil, gas and mineral leases *** together with a like interest in and to all personal property located therein.” The instrument has no inconsistency or ambiguity that needs clarification. View "Ramsey Herndon LLC v. Whiteside" on Justia Law

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Brown was charged with being an armed habitual criminal and home invasion with a firearm. Brown entered a negotiated guilty plea to being an armed habitual criminal and was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment, after the court explained that the charge was a Class X felony with a minimum sentence of six years and a maximum sentence of 30 years, and admonished Brown of his trial rights and the consequences of waiving those rights. Brown responded that he understood and that he agreed with the state's recommendation of 18 years. He denied that he was promised anything or forced to accept the plea. Brown later sought a reduction of sentence, asserting that he received ineffective assistance because his counsel erroneously advised that he would serve only 50% of his sentence. The statute requires a person convicted of armed habitual criminal to serve 85% of the sentence (730 ILCS 5/3-6-3(a)(2)(ii). The court dismissed without an evidentiary hearing. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. Brown’s allegations were insufficient to establish prejudice. There is little doubt that Brown would have been convicted of both charges and he has a significant criminal history. By pleading guilty, he received only a single felony conviction and a mid-range sentence. Brown avoided conviction for home invasion, a Class X felony with a mandatory 15-year firearm enhancement, for a sentencing range of 21-45 years’ imprisonment. Nothing in his plea colloquy demonstrates that Brown’s primary focus was serving 50% of his sentence; he denied that he was promised anything. View "People v. Brown" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Citibank provided sales financing to Illinois retailers who offered customers the option of financing their purchases, including the amount of Illinois tax due on the purchases. Citibank originated or acquired consumer charge accounts and receivables from the retailers on a non-recourse basis. When a customer financed a purchase using that account, Citibank remitted to the retailer the amount the customer financed, which included some or all of the purchase price and the sales tax owed based on the selling price. The retailers then remitted the sales tax to the state. Under the agreements between Citibank and the retailers, Citibank acquired “any and all applicable contractual rights relating thereto, including the right to any and all payments from the customers and the right to claim Retailer’s Occupation Tax (ROT) refunds or credits.” Citibank filed a claim for tax refunds under 35 ILCS 120/6 for ROT taxes paid through retailers on transactions that ultimately resulted in uncollectible debt. The Department denied Citibank’s claim. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the denial, noting the legislature’s clearly expressed preference in the statutory framework for reporting, remission, and refund only through the retailer. Sophisticated lending institutions no doubt anticipate the eventuality of default and can order their commercial relationships accordingly. View "Citibank, N.A. v. Illinois Department of Revenue" on Justia Law