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Defendant drove over the center line of a road and struck head-on a truck driven by Wood, causing Wood, who was pregnant, great bodily harm and permanent disability, and great bodily harm to defendant’s passenger, her 14-year-old son. Defendant consented to blood and urine samples on the day of the accident. The urine test revealed the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) metabolite, which results from cannabis use. Before trial, defendant acknowledged that the state was not required to show impairment, but argued that she should be allowed to rebut the presumption of impairment and present an alternative basis for the cause of the accident. No medical records were presented. The defense later asserted that it would have presented evidence that defendant’s low blood pressure might have caused her to lose consciousness. The court rejected defendant’s claim, finding that the Vehicle Code indicated a legislative intent to require “strict liability as to the accident.” Defendant was convicted of aggravated driving under the influence (625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(6), (d)(1)(C)). After reversal by the appellate court, the Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the trial court holding. The trial court erred in finding that defendant was barred, as a matter of law, from raising as an affirmative defense that the accident was caused solely and exclusively by a sudden unforeseeable medical condition that rendered defendant incapable of controlling her car. Defendant, however, failed to make an adequate offer of proof to support this affirmative defense View "People v. Way" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Plaintiff (Carle Foundation) owns four Urbana parcels of land that are used in connection with the operation of plaintiff’s affiliate, Carle Foundation Hospital. Before 2004, the parcels were deemed exempt from taxation under the Property Tax Code (35 ILCS 200/15-65(a) because their use was for charitable purposes. From 2004-2011, the Cunningham Township assessor terminated plaintiff’s charitable-use tax exemption. For tax years 2004-2008, plaintiff filed unsuccessful applications with the county board of review to exempt the parcels. Plaintiff filed no applications for tax years 2009-2011. In 2007, plaintiff filed suit. In 2012, Public Act 97-688 (section 15-86) took effect, establishing a new charitable-use exemption specifically for hospitals. Plaintiff argued that section 15-86 applies retroactively. The court agreed, but held that it was “obvious that resolution of the question of whether the standard established by section 15-86(c) applies to plaintiff’s claims will not resolve the merits of those claims.” The appellate court reversed, finding that section 15-86 violated the Illinois Constitution. The Illinois Supreme Court vacated, holding that the court lacked appellate jurisdiction because the trial court erred in entering an order under Rule 304(a). Plaintiff’s exemption claims and plaintiff’s request for a declaration as to what law governs those claims matters are “so closely related that they must be deemed part of a single claim for relief.” View "Carle Foundation v. Cunningham Township" 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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In 2010, plaintiff (age 15) was playing floor hockey with 11 other students in his physical education class when a “squishy” ball bounced off his stick and hit him in the eye, causing permanent injury to his eye. Plaintiff alleged that Cunningham, the instructor, was willful and wanton in failing to require the students to wear protective eyewear. Goggles were available, but plaintiff testified that he probably would not have worn them, had he been aware that they were an option. Cunningham testified that she thought the use of plastic sticks and squishy balls negated the need for goggles and that there were safety rules in place. Defendants asserted affirmative defenses alleging statutory immunity under the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act, 745 ILCS 10/2-201, 3-108. The trial court directed a verdict for defendants. The appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, reinstating the directed verdict. There was no evidence that defendants were aware of facts which would have put a reasonable person on notice of the risk of serious harm from the activity, which would have triggered the “willful and wanton” exception to the Act. View "Barr v. Cunningham" on Justia Law

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Tuke and Heroy married in 1980 and divorced in 2006. Heroy was ordered to pay $35,000 per month in permanent maintenance, based on a finding that the couple had enjoyed a lavish standard of living while married. The court found that Tuke could reasonably be expected to earn $40,000-$50,000 per year, based on her prior experience as a law librarian and publisher of a law bulletin. Months later, Heroy sought to terminate or modify the award. Tuke sought contribution to her attorney fees. In 2012, the court concluded that Heroy had proven that his income had decreased, justifying reduction of the maintenance award to $27,500 per month. The court concluded that Tuke had some ability to pay her attorney fees but that if she were required to pay all of the fees, her financial stability would be undermined, while Heroy was able to pay Tuke’s fees. The court instructed Heroy to pay $125,000. Heroy appealed; the court ordered Heroy to pay $35,000 in prospective attorney fees. The appellate court concluded the maintenance award should be $25,745 per month but reversed the attorney fee awards. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the trial court holding. That court properly considered the factors in the Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act; the record supports that Tuke’s financial stability would be undermined if she were required to pay all of her attorney fees. The court carefully considered the factors set forth in section 510(a-5) of the Act, including Tuke’s efforts at supporting herself. View "In re Marriage of Heroy" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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In April 2011, Pearse, a convicted sex offender, registered the address of his Belvidere home under the Sex Offender Registration Act, 730 ILCS 150/3. In October, an officer verified his presence at that address, which had been entered into the state database. In January 2012, a police officer was dispatched to a Forest Park hospital and filled out an “initial” sex offender registration for Pearse, listing the hospital as Pearse’s address and his home as a “secondary” address. While the secondary address is entered on the form, it is not entered into the state database. About two weeks after his release from the hospital, Pearse was arrested at home for failure to register a change of address. The appellate court affirmed his conviction. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, noting the statute’s lack of clarity, but finding no statutory basis for imposing a duty to “reregister.” The Act requires notification of temporary absence from a registered address, which was accomplished in this case. The court noted that the form used for registration includes several terms that do not appear in the statute. View "People v. Pearse" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Plaintiff was employed by the railroad, as a switchman and conductor. On August 9, 2008, plaintiff was riding in a railroad van, going from a railway yard to a train, driven by the railroad’s agent, Goodwin. The van was rear-ended by Behnken's vehicle. Plaintiff suffered a severe back injury and can no longer perform his job duties. He is employed by the railroad as a security guard at significantly reduced wages. Plaintiff filed suit under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), 45 U.S.C. 51, alleging that Goodwin had negligently cut in front of Behnken and that Goodwin’s negligence caused the accident. Behnken testified that she was drunk at the time of the collision, that she was arrested for driving under the influence, and that she was found to be legally intoxicated two hours later when she took a breath test. Behnken stated that she did not see the van before she hit it and that she either “fell asleep or was blacked out” and did not know if she had her headlights on. The jury ruled in favor of the railroad. The appellate court reversed, holding that the FELA does not allow a defendant railroad to argue that a third-party’s negligent conduct was the sole cause of the employee’s injuries. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed. Under FELA, the employee cannot recover unless the railroad was a cause, at least in part, of the plaintiff’s injuries. In this case, after considering all the evidence, the jury agreed that it was not. There is no basis for disturbing that determination. View "Wardwell v. Union Pacific Railroad Co." on Justia Law

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Defendant, then 17 years old, was arrested and charged with eight aggravated unlawful use of a weapon (AUUW) counts and one unlawful possession of a firearm count. On June 2, 2009, defendant, as part of a negotiated plea agreement, pled guilty to count I (720 ILCS 5/24-1.6(a)(1), (a)(3)(A)); the state agreed to a nolle prosequi on the remaining charges. The court accepted the plea and sentenced defendant to 24 months’ probation based on the Class 4 felony offense of AUUW. Defendant completed his sentence. In 2013, defendant brought a petition under 735 ILCS 5/2-1401, seeking to vacate the conviction as void under the Illinois Supreme Court’s 2013 decision, People v. Aguilar, that the Class 4 form of AUUW was facially unconstitutional. Conceding that defendant’s conviction should be vacated, the state moved to reinstate AUUW counts that were previously nol-prossed. The court denied the motion on the basis that reinstatement of the charges would violate the one-act, one-crime doctrine. The appellate court determined it lacked jurisdiction to consider the state’s appeal. The Illinois Supreme Court concluded that the statute of limitations served as an absolute bar to refiling the charges, rejecting an argument that its decision will have a chilling effect on plea bargains. View "People v. Shinaul" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Stone Street discovered that a judgment had been recorded against its property for failure to pay $1050 in fines and costs imposed by Chicago’s department of administrative hearings for violations of the building code more than a decade earlier. Stone Street sued, arguing that the original administrative proceedings were a nullity and could not serve as the basis for the judgment because it had not been given the requisite notice and had no opportunity to contest the alleged violations before judgment was entered. While notice was never given to Stone Street, a person named Johnson entered a written appearance in the administrative proceeding that culminated in the fine. Johnson represented that he was there on behalf of Stone Street, but Johnson, who died before the litigation arose, was not an attorney, had no affiliation of any kind with the company, and did not live in the property. The Illinois Supreme Court held that, bbecause Stone Street was never properly served with notice and because Johnson had no authority to appear on the company’s behalf, the Department failed to acquire personal jurisdiction over it. The Department’s 1999 judgment was therefore void ab initio and could be attacked at any time, either directly or collaterally. View "Stone Street Partners, LLC v. City of Chicago Department of Administrative Hearings" on Justia Law

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The Department of Children and Family Services indicated a finding of child abuse against Grimm. Grimm, a teacher, claimed that the report was inaccurate and requested its expunction. An administrative law judge recommended that Grimm’s request be denied. Nine days later (July 30), the Department issued its decision in a letter signed by its director, addressed to Grimm's attorney and indicating that it was sent via certified mail; it adopted and enclosed the ALJ's decision, stating, “you may seek judicial review under the provisions of the Administrative Review Law, 735 ILCS 5/3-101 … within 35 days of the date this decision was served on you.” On September 4, 36 days after the date of the letter, Grimm filed her complaint for judicial review, stating that her attorney received the decision no earlier than July 31, and that she did not receive the decision until August 12 or 13. The Department stated that it served Grimm when it mailed the letter. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the trial and appellate courts in finding that the Department’s decision was misleading and violated due process. The courts balanced Grimm’s constitutionally protected interest, the risk of an erroneous deprivation of that interest, and the value of substitute procedures against the burden on the Department to change boilerplate language in a letter announcing its final decision. View "Grimm v. Calica" on Justia Law