Articles Posted in Court trends

A U.S. District Court judge in Chicago has ruled that the federal law prohibiting drug addicts and people who illegally use controlled substances from possessing firearms does not violate the Constitution’s Second Amendment. U.S. District Court Judge Robert W. Gettleman of the Northern District of Illinois acknowledged the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2022 had adopted a new standard for determining whether particular conduct may be regulated by the government without running afoul of the right to bear arms.

The U.S. Supreme Court in New York Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, 142 S.Ct. 2111 (2022), narrowed the category of firearm-related acts that the government can regulate.

“When the Second Amendment’s plain text protects certain conduct, the government can regulate such conduct only if it can demonstrate that the regulation is consistent with the historical tradition of firearm regulation in the United States. Otherwise, the courts must conclude that the individual’s firearm-related conduct is protected because it falls within the Second Amendment’s ‘unqualified command.’”

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In 2011, the Texas Legislature adopted a new congressional districting plan and new district team maps for the two houses of the State Legislature to account for population growth shown in the 2010 census. In order to comply with the Equal Protection Clause, the Fourteenth Amendment forbids “racial gerrymandering,” that is, intentionally assigning citizens to a district on the basis of race without sufficient justification.  Shaw v. Reno, 509 U.S. 630, 641.

The Court stated that other legal requirements tend to require that state legislatures consider race in drawing districts. Like all states, Texas is subject to ¶2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA), which is violated when a state districting plan provides “less opportunity for racial minorities “to elect representatives of their choice,” League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry, 548 U.S. 399 (425).

At the time, Texas was also subject to ¶5, which barred it from making any districting changes unless it could prove that they did not result in retrogression with respect to the ability of racial minorities to elect the candidates of their choice. Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama, 575 U.S. ____, _____.

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On June 14, 2018, the Union League of Chicago’s Public Affairs Committee’s Administration of Justice Subcommittee, chaired by Kreisman Law Offices’ principal Robert D. Kreisman, visited the Restorative Justice Community Court (RJCC), a criminal court in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood.

Members of the committee observed a court session and met with RJCC Judge Colleen Sheehan. They discussed how this alternative court gives youth ages 18 to 26 in the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago who are charged with non-violent offenses an opportunity to turn their lives around through this program.

The restorative justice idea is to not just punish those who have committed a crime and are convicted. The idea is restore these individuals to a way of life that can be productive for the community in which they reside, in this case the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago.  Education, job training, resume development and drug treatment are avenues available to those who agree to pass through this system.

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Emanuele Secci was injured after his motorcycle was involved in a crash with the defendant Aram Tonakanian, who was driving a green and white taxi marked with United Independent Taxi Drivers‘ insignia. The jury found that Tonakanian was United’s agent, but not an employee. With that verdict, the trial court granted United’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) under the state’s code of civil procedure.

The appeal of that trial judge’s order resulted in an appeal where the appellate court reversed the trial court’s order and reinstated the jury’s verdict. In doing so, the appeals panel concluded that California law does not preclude consideration of controls required by public regulations in finding an agency relationship.

In this case, viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, Secci, the appellate court concluded that the evidence presented at trial was more than sufficient to support a jury finding that Tonakanian, the taxi driver whom the jury found responsible for the crash and Secci’s injuries, that he was United’s agent and thus, United was vicariously liable for Tonakanian’s acts.

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By July 1, 2017, e-filing of civil cases in Illinois will be mandatory for the Illinois Supreme Court and Illinois Appellate Courts. Beginning Jan. 1, 2018, e-filing of civil cases will be mandated for all Illinois courts.

The Illinois Supreme Court entered an order this year, M.R.18368, which set the timeline for mandatory e-filings statewide. A unified e-filing system is designed to increase court efficiency and streamline the litigation process for lawyers and pro se litigants.

The Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC) has hired Texas-based Tyler Technologies to roll out a centralized, statewide e-filing system. The Tyler Technologies’ platform is currently being used in 19 states.

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The Illinois Supreme Court has reversed a decision by a trial judge and the Illinois Appellate Court that dismissed a lawsuit against the East Joliet Fire Protection District regarding the death of Coretta Coleman. Her family claimed that the defendant, East Joliet Fire Protection District and its ENTs, were both negligent and willful and wanton in their conduct for choosing not to respond to a 911 call.

Coleman had called an ambulance by 911 because she was having difficulty breathing. This happened in June 2008. She gave the 911 dispatcher her address and told the person to “hurry.”  The 911 dispatcher asked Coleman to hold and transferred the call from the Will County dispatch to the Orland Central dispatch.

Deviating from written protocol, the Will County dispatch hung up after making a transfer without communicating to Orland Central dispatch the nature of the emergency. When Orland Central dispatch attempted to ask Coleman questions, it received no response and did not know whether the call was dropped or if Coleman was still on the line. The Orland Central dispatch staffer hung up and placed the call in line for an ambulance dispatch.

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The Illinois Supreme Court has affirmed an order of the circuit court judge who granted a petition filed by the guardian ad litem (GAL) for the minor, A.A., to vacate a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity (VAP) signed by the respondents Matthew A. and Caitlin S. with regard to the minor. The appellate court affirmed and held that after DNA testing established that Matthew was not the biological father of A.A., the trial court was not required to make a “best interest of the child” determination prior to granting the petition.

Following A.A.’s birth on April 26, 2013, Matthew and Caitlin signed a VAP pursuant to section 6(a) of the Illinois Parentage Act of 1984, 750 ILCS 45/6(a). Caitlin, A.A.’s mother had been married to Jakob S., who signed a denial of paternity as to A.A.

On June 10, 2013, the state filed a petition for adjudication of wardship in juvenile court following an investigation of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) into the conditions of the home where A.A. was living with Caitlin, Matthew and Caitlin’s three other children. The state claimed that there was neglect and an injurious environment based upon inadequate supervision, lack of cleanliness in the home and hygiene issues concerning the four children.

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In a recent Chicago Daily Law Bulletin article, retired Cook County Circuit Court Judge Hon. Dennis Dohm wrote that the clear language found in Illinois’ 1970 Constitution, Section 13 titled “Trial by Jury,” of Article I’s Bill of Rights states that “the right of trial by jury as heretofore enjoyed shall remain inviolate.”

Judge Dohm compared that language of the 1970 Illinois Constitution to the State’s 1870 Constitution on jury trials, which stated, “The right of trial by jury as heretofore shall remain inviolate [but the trial of civil cases before justices of the peace by a jury of less than 12 men may be authorized by law].” The 1970 Constitution language as shown above includes none of that language that is shown in brackets. Justices of the peace were abolished by the 1962 Judicial Article to the 1870 Illinois Constitution.

It may be of historical note that in 1818 and 1848, Illinois had enacted constitutions that likewise stated that the right of trial by a jury was mandated by similar language as found in the 1870 and 1970 constitutions.

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√On Nov. 4, 2008, Ulrika Bjorkstam and Joseph Daniel Dray were injured in a plane crash in Mexico City.

On Nov. 3, 2009, the two injured parties filed a lawsuit against MPC Products Corp and Woodward Inc., which manufactured the horizontal stabilizer actuator that the plaintiffs alleged was faulty in the plane in which they were traveling.

MPC and Woodward’s principal place of business was in Illinois. However, the companies moved for a dismissal on the grounds of forum non conveniens, arguing that Harris County, Texas, was the more appropriate forum for this case. Forum non conveniens is Latin term used in the law that pertains to the place that is considered most convenient for the parties, discovery of the facts of the case and the eventual trial. In Illinois, the legal concept of forum non conveniens is discretionary with the judge presiding. The factors of the place of the controversy, the witnesses’ location, the residence of the defendant, the location of the place where a contract was made and other similar issues are weighed by the court if the venue of the case is challenged.

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In September 2010, Thomas Berz was riding his bike in an Evanston alley when he hit a pothole. Berz fell off his bike and suffered a traumatic brain injury. He sued the City of Evanston in July 2011 claiming that it was negligent for choosing not to maintain the surface of the alley. A month later, Evanston filed a motion to dismiss on the basis that the Tort Immunity Act (745 ILCS 10/1-101 et seq.) protects the city from plaintiffs who are injured from using property differently than its intended use. 

The circuit court judge dismissed the case in November 2011, but granted Berz leave to amend his complaint. Berz amended the complaint providing new photographs of the alley’s condition and included greater detail on how this incident took place. Berz argued that under the Evanston Municipal Code and city-published bicycle maps, he was an intended user of the alley.

However, the trial court disagreed with Berz and dismissed his amended complaint in August 2012. But Berz filed a third amended complaint, arguing that his bike was a vehicle and therefore an intended user. Again, the city moved to dismiss arguing that a bicycle rider was not an intended user of an alley and the court agreed dismissing Berz’s complaint in November 2012.  Berz appealed to the Illinois Appellate Court, which reviewed whether a bicyclist was considered an intended user of the alley based on state law, the city’s ordinance and signage in the alley.

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