First Amendment Lawsuit Against Cook County Circuit Court Not Appropriate in Federal Court
Courthouse News Service had filed the federal lawsuit against the Cook County Circuit Court claiming that the Court violated its First Amendment rights when it failed to provide immediate access to newly filed complaints. The district court ruled in its favor and issued an injunction ordering the Circuit Court Clerk to implement a system that would provide access to newly filed complaints contemporaneously with the Clerk's receipt of those complaints.
On appeal, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the injunction granted by the district court. Although the Seventh Circuit did acknowledge that the First Amendment protects the right to access, the Court determined that federal courts should not be deciding whether state courts have violated a right of access. In sum, the Court held that the district court should not have exercised jurisdiction over this dispute, and the case should be heard in state court.
Quorum Forum Episode 13.5 (Part 2 of Our Transgender People Episode) is Now Live!
Part 2 of our Quorum Forum Podcast Episode on Transgender People is now live. Information about the podcast is below:
In part two of their discussion at the 40th Illinois Public Employer Labor Relations Association Annual Conference, transgender panelist Sophie Michaels, Palatine Park District’s Michael Clark, and Ancel Glink’s Keri-Lyn Krafthefer talk about best practices in policy development for all-inclusive public facilities, staff training, and options available to make facilities accommodating to transgender individuals. Specifically, Mike talks about his experience making public facilities accessible to transgender individuals.
You can access this episode here.
Appellate Court Says Illegal Use Becomes Legal Upon Annexation
In a break from long-established precedent, the First District Appellate Court recently created a new category of legal nonconforming uses in situations involving the annexation of illegal uses.
In Giannakopoulos v. Adams, No.11 CH 17516 (Oct. 29, 2018), a municipality annexed property containing an excavation business that included the storing and servicing of commercial vehicles and equipment. No annexation agreement was entered into between the parties and the municipality did not rezone the property or grant zoning relief when it annexed the property to the municipality. The use was illegal at its inception in 1954 under the Cook County Zoning Code and remained an illegal use thereafter, first under county zoning and, upon annexation, under the municipality’s residential zoning designation.
In 2011, after being unsuccessful in getting the municipality to enforce its zoning regulations, a next door neighbor brought suit against the excavation business under the Adjoining Landowner Act, 65 ILCS 5/11-13-15, seeking to enjoin the operation of the illegal use. The trial court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, holding that the municipality had no authority as a non-home rule unit of government to legalize the defendants’ use of their property unless it first complied with one of the three procedures set forth in the zoning statutes (map amendment, variance, or annexation agreement).
On appeal, the First District disagreed, holding that because the illegal use was “established” prior to annexation, it automatically became a legal nonconforming use “as-is” when the municipality annexed the property. In other words, the appellate court found that annexation, in and of itself, can convert an illegal use into a legal use without the annexing authority needing to comply with state zoning laws.
A petition for leave to file an appeal with the Illinois Supreme Court has since been filed.
Post Authored by David Warner, Ancel Glink
Disclosure: Ancel Glink attorneys represented the plaintiff before both the trial court and appellate court.
Age Discrimination Law Applies to State and Local Governments Regardless of Number of Employees
The U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on the application of the federal
Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) to small state and local government employers in the recent decision Mt. Lemmon Fire District v. Guido.
The Court ruled 8-0 that the ADEA applies to state and local governments regardless of the number of employees employed by the unit of government. The ADEA defines “employer” as a “person engaged in an industry affecting commerce who has 20 or more employees” or “(1) any agent of such a person, and (2) a State or political subdivision of a State.” Some government agencies had interpreted the definition to mean that the law only applied to government employers with 20 or more employees. In an opinion written by Justice Ginsburg, the U.S. Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the definition of “employer” separated private employers with 20 or more employees from state and local government employers with any number of employees.
The lawsuit involved a challenge against the District when it laid off two employees who claimed they were terminated because of their age in violation of the ADEA. The District argued that the ADEA did not apply because the District employs fewer than 20 people. The Ninth Circuit disagreed, and the case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court which upheld the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in favor of the two employees.
This is a significant ruling for small units of government that may have taken the position that they were not subject to the ADEA because they employed less than 20 people.
Service Requirements of Election Code Must Be Strictly Followed
A group of citizens filed petitions for two binding referendum questions that would have been placed on today's ballot in Chicago. The ballot questions would have asked voters whether the office of Chicago mayor should be subject to a term limit of two terms and whether Chicago should establish an elected position for a "Consumer Advocate for taxpayer and consumers." Objections were filed challenging the two referenda, and a hearing officer for the Board of Election Commissioners for the Chicago Electoral Board held a hearing on the objections. At the conclusion of the hearing, and based on the hearing officer's recommendations, the Electoral Board issued a ruling that the two referenda not be on the ballot.
Former Governor Pat Quinn and others filed a lawsuit to appeal the Electoral Board's ruling. The objectors filed a motion to dismiss, claiming the court did not have jurisdiction over the lawsuit because the appellants failed to comply with the service requirements that require service on all parties within 5 days. Although the lawsuit was served on the Electoral Board, the Board of Elections, and the attorney for the objectors on September 17th, the objectors were not personally served until September 19th. The trial court granted the motion to dismiss based on the failure to comply with the service requirements.
The appellate court agreed with the trial court, holding that the service requirements in section 10-10.1 of the Election Code must be strictly followed, and a court has no jurisdiction to review an electoral board's decision if service is faulty. In this case, the objectors were not personally served within the statutory time period, so the circuit court had no jurisdiction to hear the appeal of the electoral board's ruling.
The appellate court did, however, reverse the circuit court's dismissal of the plaintiffs' mandamus claim in its lawsuit, and remanded that portion of the complaint back to the circuit court.