Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Illinois

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Clark pled guilty to charges of burglary and unlawful use of a credit card and was released on bond pending the imposition of sentence. While awaiting sentencing, Clark was found guilty of violating 720 ILCS 5/31-6(a) for knowingly failing to report to the Whiteside County Jail after leaving a substance abuse treatment center, as required by her bail bond. Section 31-6(a) has two independent clauses: one contains an escape from custody provision and the other contains a knowing failure to report provision. The appellate court found that Clark's failure to report did not constitute an escape because she was not in custody while on bond awaiting sentencing. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the judgment of the circuit court. The plain and unambiguous language of the knowing failure to report provision of section 31-6(a) does not contain a “custody” element; the statute is violated when two elements are proved: a person is convicted of a felony, and the person knowingly fails to report to a penal institution or to report for periodic imprisonment. View "People v. Clark" on Justia Law

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In 2014, the defendant was charged with four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against a nine-year-old girl. During deliberations, the judge indicated on the record that she had received a note from the jury: “After deliberating for five hours, and despite our best efforts, we are at an impasse.” The judge explained that the jury had also, earlier, informed the bailiff that they were at an impasse. The judge questioned the foreperson in open court in the presence of the jury. After the judge conferred with the attorneys, the judge discharged the jurors and the court declared a mistrial. The prosecution announced its intention to retry defendant. The court notified the parties, without objection that the matter was continued to reset for trial. Thereafter, defendant unsuccessfully moved to bar further prosecution based on double jeopardy principles, arguing that there had been no manifest necessity to declare a mistrial. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the denial of that motion. When a mistrial is declared, a retrial may proceed without offending double jeopardy principles if the defendant consents or there is a manifest necessity for the mistrial. Manifest necessity was evidenced by two statements from the jury indicating. The judge initially urged the jurors to continue and subsequently took care to clarify where the jury stood with respect to the deliberative process. The judge specifically asked the foreperson whether additional time would be helpful and expressed concern about coercion. View "People v. Kimble" on Justia Law

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Fillmore, an inmate at the Sumner, Illinois Lawrence Correctional Center, sued three Corrections officers for failing to follow mandatory legal procedures before imposing discipline upon him for violating prison rules relating to “unauthorized organizational activity” by “intimidation or threats” on behalf of the Latin Kings gang. Fillmore claimed violations of Illinois Administrative Code provisions relating to the appointment of Hearing Investigators to review all major disciplinary reports; service of the report no more than eight days after the commission of an offense or its discovery; provision of a written reason for the denial of his request for in-person testimony at his hearing; not placing him under investigation; failing to independently review notes, telephone logs, and recordings; denial of his requests to see the notes he had allegedly written; and lack of impartiality and improper refusal to recuse. Fillmore alleged he made a timely objection to the committee members’ lack of impartiality, but the committee failed to document that objection. The circuit court dismissed the complaint. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed that Fillmore failed to state a claim for mandamus or common-law writ of certiorari for alleged violations of Department regulations. Department regulations create no more rights for inmates than those that are constitutionally required. The court reversed with regard to his claim that defendants violated his right to due process in revoking his good conduct credits View "Fillmore v. Taylor" on Justia Law

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A jury found defendant guilty of four counts of first-degree murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(1), (a)(2)), and specifically found that defendant, age 16 at the time of the crime, personally discharged a firearm that caused the victim’s death. Defendant was sentenced in 2010. Illinois law then prescribed a sentencing range of 20-60 years for first-degree murder (730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-20(a)) and mandated a minimum 25-year additional term for personally discharging a firearm that caused the victim’s death. The court stated that it “considered all of the relevant statutory requirements," merged the counts, and sentenced defendant to 25 years on the murder conviction and 25 years for the mandatory firearm add-on. While defendant’s appeal was pending, the U.S. Supreme Court held (Miller v. Alabama) that imposing on a juvenile offender a mandatory sentence of life without the possibility of parole, without consideration of the defendant’s youth and its attendant characteristics, violated the Eighth Amendment. The appellate court denied defendant leave to file a supplemental brief, then affirmed defendant’s conviction and sentence. The Illinois Supreme Court subsequently held that Miller applied retroactively to cases on collateral review. Defendant filed a pro se postconviction petition, which the circuit court summarily dismissed as frivolous. While defendant’s appeal was pending, the U.S. Supreme Court held that Miller applied retroactively to cases on collateral review; the Illinois Supreme Court extended Miller’s holding to mandatory de facto life sentences. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed a remand for resentencing. Defendant’s sentence was greater than 40 years and constituted a de facto life sentence. The circuit court failed to consider defendant’s youth and its attendant characteristics in imposing that sentence. View "People v. Buffer" on Justia Law

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Defendant was charged with aggravated battery of a child, heinous battery, and aggravated domestic battery. The indictments alleged that defendant immersed his six-year-old stepson, J.H. in hot water. The court admitted J.H.’s out-of-court statement to his nurse at Stroger Hospital. The state also offered expert testimony from Dr. Fujara, a specialist in child abuse pediatrics and from White, a retired investigator with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Defendant acknowledged that he falsely identified himself at the hospital. The trial court found him guilty. The appellate court held that the trial court erred in admitting J.H.’s statement identifying defendant as the offender under the hearsay exception for statements made for the purpose of medical diagnosis and treatment and held that the double jeopardy clause barred retrial because the evidence was insufficient to prove defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, reasoning that J.H.’s hearsay statement was the only identification evidence placing defendant in the bathroom when the injury occurred. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, concluding that the double jeopardy clause does not bar retrial. Dr. Fujara offered persuasive expert testimony that J.H.’s burns resulted from forcible immersion in hot water, ruling out alternative causes and rebutting defendant’s argument that J.H. may have been burned accidentally as a result of a faulty water heater. Defendant was the only adult present in the house at the time J.H. was injured and did not seek prompt treatment. View "People v. Drake" on Justia Law

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The circuit court found section 25(b)(2) of the Drug Dealer Liability Act, 740 ILCS 57/25(b)(2), facially unconstitutional. The Act provides a civil remedy for persons injured as a result of illegal drug use. Persons who may sue for damages include: a parent, legal guardian, child, spouse or sibling of the individual drug user, an individual who was exposed to an illegal drug in utero, an employer of the drug user, a medical facility, insurer, governmental entity, employer, or other entity that funds a drug treatment program or employee assistance program for the individual drug user or that otherwise expended money on behalf of the drug user, or a person injured as a result of the willful, reckless, or negligent actions of a drug user. Under section 25(b)(2), a plaintiff may seek damages from “[a] person who knowingly participated in the illegal drug market if: (A) the place of illegal drug activity by the individual drug user is within the illegal drug market target community of the defendant; (B) the defendant’s participation in the illegal drug market was connected with the same type of illegal drug used by the individual drug user; and (C) the defendant participated in the illegal drug market at any time during the individual drug user’s period of illegal drug use.” The Illinois Supreme Court concluded that the section is unconstitutional and severable. Section 25(b)(2) requires no relationship between the parties whatsoever for liability to attach and violates substantive due process protections. View "Wingert v. Hradisky" on Justia Law

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Webb was charged with misdemeanor unlawful use of weapons (UUW) statute (720 ILCS 5/24-1(a)(4)) after he was discovered carrying a stun gun in his jacket pocket while in his vehicle on a public street. Greco was charged under the same section after he was found carrying a stun gun in his backpack in a forest preserve, a public place. No concealed carry permit is available for stun guns. Both defendants moved to dismiss, arguing section 24-1(a)(4) operated as a complete ban on the carriage of stun guns and tasers in public and was, therefore, unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. The circuit court and Illinois Supreme Court agreed with defendants. Stun guns and tasers are bearable arms under the Second Amendment and may not be subjected to a categorical ban. Section 24-1(a)(4) constitutes a categorical ban. View "People v. Webb" on Justia Law

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In 1993, ISU student Lockmiller was found dead in her Normal apartment. Police questioned Lockmiller’s then-boyfriend, Swaine, and former boyfriends, including Beaman. At a meeting including the McLean County prosecutors and several detectives, the prosecutors decided to charge Beaman. In discussing Lockmiller’s relationship with Murray with defense counsel, the prosecution did not disclose Murray’s drug use and incidents of domestic violence against another girlfriend, nor Murray’s incomplete polygraph examination. At trial, the state argued that all other possible suspects were excluded by alibis. Beaman was convicted of first-degree murder. Beaman sought postconviction relief, based on failure to disclose material information on Murray’s viability as a suspect. In 2008, the Illinois Supreme Court vacated Beaman’s conviction. The state dismissed the charges. In April 2013, the state certified his innocence. Beaman filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 suit against the prosecutors and detectives with state law claims, including malicious prosecution, against the Town of Normal. The district court dismissed the claims. In 2014, Beaman filed a state court suit against the detectives and Normal, pleading the state law claims that the federal court had dismissed without prejudice. The circuit court granted defendants summary judgment, reasoning that Beaman could not satisfy the elements to establish malicious prosecution, noting testimony that the prosecutor rejected suggestions to investigate other avenues. The appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed. The appellate court erroneously focused its inquiry on whether the “officer[s] pressured or exerted influence on the prosecutor’s decision or made knowing misstatements upon which the prosecutor relied" and failed to consider whether the defendants proximately caused the commencement or continuance or played a significant role in Beaman’s prosecution. View "Beaman v. Freesmeyer" on Justia Law

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In 2008, Defendant was charged with the sexual assault of his 10-year-old daughter, J.G. The indictment alleged that defendant inserted his fingers in J.G.’s vagina, licked her vagina, and touched her buttocks. After his conviction, Defendant filed multiple pro se collateral challenges to his convictions and at various times was represented by different attorneys. In 2015, Defendant filed a pro se motion seeking DNA testing under the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (725 ILCS 5/116-3). The state argued that the controversy at trial was not whether another individual had committed the crime but whether the alleged assault occurred at all. At a hearing, Defendant appeared pro se but was accompanied by attorney Brodsky, who sought to file a Supreme Court Rule 13 limited scope appearance. The court denied Brodsky’s oral request, stating that allowing the motion would mean that attorney Caplan, Brodsky, and the defendant were all working on the case. Defendant later argued extensively in support of his DNA motion. Brodsky was not present. The appellate court vacated the denial of the motion, citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s "Powell: decision concerning a court's refusal to hear chosen counsel. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, finding no “Powell” violation. A section 116-3 action is civil in nature and independent from any other collateral post-conviction action and Brodsky’s request failed completely to comply with the requirements of that rule. View "People v. Gawlak" on Justia Law

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Defendant was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. His driver’s license was summarily suspended under Illinois’s implied consent statute (625 ILCS 5/11-501.1). Defendant filed a petition to rescind the statutory summary suspension, arguing that he was arrested in a privately-owned Walgreens parking lot that was not a “public highway,” as defined by the implied consent law. At his hearing, defendant, the only witness, testified that he was parked in a Joliet Walgreens parking lot and “was sleeping behind the wheel” when he “was woken up by police officers,” who arrested him. The state successfully moved for a directed finding, arguing he had not met his initial burden of proof. The Appellate Court and the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. Defendant was required to present affirmative evidence to make a prima facie case for rescission. Defendant’s testimony did not specify the proximity or physical connection of the parking lot to the storefront or the location of his car within the parking lot; was obliged to produce “enough evidence to allow the fact-trier to infer the fact at issue and rule in [his] favor.” Defendant’s mere reference to “Walgreens,” without more, establishes nothing about either the identity of the entity that maintained the lot or the public’s use of the lot, the essential components for a prima facie showing that the parking lot was not a “public highway.” View "People v. Relwani" on Justia Law