"The Brief" - The ALA Blog

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  • September 07, 2021 8:27 PM | Carson Griffis (Administrator)

    By:  Carson Griffis*

    In Taylor v. Ways, Nos. 20-1410 & 20-1411, the Seventh Circuit clarified the scope of its jurisdiction when a party files an interlocutory appeal from a denial of qualified immunity.  

    Unlike most other defenses,  the denial of a qualified immunity defense may be immediately appealed by a defendant, but only to the extent the appeal  raises legal questions.  If the defendant's arguments are dependent on, and inseparable from, disputed facts, then the court of appeals lacks jurisdiction.  

    In Taylor, the plaintiff sued three officials in the Cook County Sheriff's Office, alleging that he was fired because of his race.  At the summary judgment stage, the district court denied all three officials qualified immunity based on evidence that one of them had used a racial slur toward the plaintiff.

    The officials filed an interlocutory appeal of the denial of qualified immunity, and the plaintiff argued that the Seventh Circuit lacked jurisdiction.  Because some of the officials' arguments raised legal questions, the Seventh Circuit concluded that it had jurisdiction, but not over every argument raised by the officials.  It concluded that it lacked jurisdiction over one official's argument that his actions were not the proximate cause of the plaintiff's termination because the facts over what caused the plaintiff's firing were disputed.  Given the conflicting evidence over whether that official had used a racial slur, the court held that it could not, as a matter of law, find that the official's alleged racial animus had no effect on the decision to terminate the plaintiff. 

    The court left open the question of whether proximate cause, which is typically a factual issue, could ever be an appropriate subject for an interlocutory appeal from the denial of qualified immunity. 

    *Carson Griffis is an Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Appeals Division of the Office of the Illinois Attorney General.  No comments made in this post are made on behalf of the Office of the Illinois Attorney General, nor do they reflect the views or opinions of the Office of the Illinois Attorney General.

  • August 05, 2021 6:05 PM | Carson Griffis (Administrator)

    The Illinois Appellate Court, Third District, has adopted new rules of procedure which will become effective on September 1, 2021.  The new rules will replace all existing local rules currently in effect.

    The Justices and court staff who worked on this project believe that the new rules will not only enable it to carry out its work more efficiently, but also answer procedural questions often asked by attorneys and litigants in a clear and concise manner.

    The new rules are available here.

  • July 08, 2021 4:09 PM | Carson Griffis (Administrator)

    The Second District of the Illinois Appellate Court has announced that it will resume conducting in-person oral arguments in August 2021 at its Elgin courthouse.  The court clarified that it will entertain motions for an argument to be conducted remotely depending on an attorney's or party's particular circumstances. 

    Additional information about the scheduling of August arguments will be included with the argument acknowledgment forms usually sent two weeks before an argument date.  Questions may be directed to the clerk's office at (847) 695-3750. 

    The court's full press release on this topic may be found here.

  • June 15, 2021 5:03 PM | Carson Griffis (Administrator)

    By:  John M. Fitzgerald

    In her acceptance speech at the 1954 Academy Awards, Audrey Hepburn told the audience, “I want to say thank you to everybody who in these past months and years have helped, guided and given me so much. I'm truly, truly grateful and terribly happy.”

    I have very little in common with Audrey Hepburn, but as my term as ALA President reaches its conclusion, my feelings can be described much the same way.  The past year has had its share of challenges.  This marks the first, and hopefully last, bar year in which in-person meetings were not feasible.  But our officers, directors, committee co-chairs and members responded admirably.  We held a record number of events remotely, our members volunteered countless hours for our first-ever virtual Moot Court, and our members stuck with us notwithstanding a dramatic change to the way in which we meet and hold events.

    Thank you for giving me this wonderful opportunity.  Serving as the President of the Appellate Lawyers Association has been a great honor and a joy.  I offer my best wishes to our new President, Scott Howie, and I am confident that he will be a great leader for our association.

    At this moment, as we emerge from a once-in-a-century pandemic, I feel very proud to be a member of the ALA.  I am confident that the new slate of officers and directors will do outstanding things in the months and years ahead, and I look forward to seeing all of you at future ALA events

  • June 15, 2021 1:10 PM | Carson Griffis (Administrator)

    The Office of the Illinois Attorney General is currently accepting applications from experienced attorneys for Assistant Attorney General positions in its Civil and Criminal Appeals Divisions.  These positions offer ALA members the opportunity to brief and argue a wide variety of cases in state and federal reviewing courts in Illinois, including the Illinois Supreme Court and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.  

    Additional details about the Civil Appeals Division position and application process may be found here, and additional details about the Criminal Appeals Division position and application process may be found here.

  • June 08, 2021 4:03 PM | Carson Griffis (Administrator)

    On June 7, 2021, the Illinois Supreme Court entered an order delaying the transition to the new appellate court district boundaries recently enacted by the Illinois General Assembly.  Public Act 102-0011, which took effect on June 4, 2021, updated the boundaries of the Second through Fifth Districts of the Illinois Appellate Court.

    In response, the Illinois Supreme Court ordered that "[a]ppeals and other matters shall continue to be filed in the judicial districts as they existed on June 3, 2021, until further order of the Court."  The court explained that the delay was necessary to faithfully execute the law's changes while ensuring continued access to justice and an orderly transition to the new boundaries. 

    The text of Public Act 102-0011 may be found here.  A copy of the Illinois Supreme Court's order may be found here.

  • June 08, 2021 3:57 PM | Carson Griffis (Administrator)

    The Appellate Lawyers Association joins bar associations all across America in celebrating Pride Month and recognizing the many contributions of LGBTQ+ members of the bench and bar.  We celebrate LGBTQ+ members of the ALA and recommit ourselves to the struggle for justice and equality for all Americans.

    From Romer v. Evans to Lawrence v. Texas, and from United States v. Windsor to Obergefell v. Hodges, Supreme Court opinions have marked milestones in the struggle for LGBTQ+ rights.  With great pride, we pay tribute to the justices, lawyers and litigants who made those victories possible, and we look forward to future victories in the fight for equality.

  • June 02, 2021 6:51 AM | Carson Griffis (Administrator)

    The Supreme Court of Illinois is seeking applications for the position of Clerk of the Supreme Court of Illinois with a start date of December 1, 2021.  More information about the position may be found in the Court's vacancy announcement and recruitment brochure.

    Candidates should forward a letter of interest, resume, self-edited writing sample of no more than 5 pages, and completed Judicial Branch Employment Application to courtemployment@illinoiscourts.gov.  The Judicial Branch Employment Application is available here.

    The position is open until filled, but applications received on or before June 25, 2021, will be given first consideration. 

  • June 02, 2021 6:46 AM | Carson Griffis (Administrator)

    On May 5, 2021, the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, adopted new local rules, to take effect on July 1, 2021. This represents the court’s first revision to the rules since 2008 and reflects, among other things, the court’s transition to electronic practice.

    This long-anticipated revision results from the significant efforts of Presiding Justice Mathias Delort, Justice David Ellis and Presiding Justice Carl Walker. The Rules Committee’s work was furthered by its consultation with the Executive Committee, the other justices of the First District, Clerk Thomas Palella, Deputy Clerk Tina Schillaci, and Appellate Attorney Julia Maness.

    The ALA remains grateful to the Rules Committee for the opportunity to provide input and looks forward to the implementation of the new rules.

    Click here to view the new First District Local Rules.
  • May 17, 2021 7:10 AM | Carson Griffis (Administrator)

    By:  Kimberly Glasford

    Last week, the First District Appellate Court determined in People v. Tolbert, 2021 IL App (1st) 181654, that an incarcerated, pro se defendant’s postage meter label did not constitute proof of mailing under Illinois Supreme Court Rules 373 and 12(b)(6).

    Rule 373 states that if the clerk of court receives a pro se incarcerated defendant’s notice of appeal or other documentation after the due date, “the time of mailing” constitutes the time of filing. That rule also specifies, however, that proof of mailing must be provided as set forth in Rule 12.

    In turn, Rule 12(b)(6) states with respect to documents mailed by an incarcerated pro se litigant, that “service is proved . . . by certification under section 1-109 of the Code of Civil Procedure of the person who deposited the document in the institutional mail, stating the time and place of deposit and the complete address to which the document was to be delivered.”

    In Tolbert, the defendant’s notice of appeal was received after the 30-day filing period. Additionally, he did not provide the certification called for by Rule 12(b)(6). Yet, his envelope displayed a postage meter label dated one day before the defendant’s 30-day filing period expired. 

    After examining the Mailing Standard of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (Apr. 5, 2021), the reviewing court determined that postmarks and postage meters were sufficiently similar to consider caselaw addressing postmarks.

    In Huber v. American Accounting Ass’n, 2014 IL 117293, the supreme court found that a postage label from an Automated Postal Center (APC) showed the date of sale, but not necessarily the date that the envelope was placed in the mail. Absent an attorney certificate or non-attorney affidavit, the defendant had failed to provide proof of mailing with respect to his APC-labeled notice of appeal.

    The Tolbert court also observed that one First District decision and one Second District decision had determined that a legible postmark constitutes sufficient proof of timely mailing for jurisdictional purposes. People v. Humphrey, 2020 IL App (1st) 172837; People v. Hansen, 2011 IL App (2d) 081226. That being said, another Second District decision as well as a Fourth District decision had reached a contrary conclusion. People v. Lugo, 391 Ill. App. 3d 995 (2009); People v. Blalock, 2012 IL App (4th) 110041.

    The Tolbert court sided with the latter group. Specifically, the reviewing court found the plain language of Rule 373 and Rule 12(b)(6) were clear and unambiguous. Additionally, the supreme court had amended Rule 373 in 1981 to eliminate postmarks as a method of proof. If postmarks did not constitute adequate proof of mailing, neither did postage meter labels.

    In light of the court’s determination that the defendant’s postage meter label did not constitute the proof of mailing called for by the rules, he could not take advantage of the mailbox rule. Accordingly, the court dismissed his appeal as untimely.

    While the litigant in Tolbert was incarcerated and pro se, the case is a good reminder to the rest of us to be familiar not only the rule but also how the courts are interpreting it.


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DISCLAIMER: The Appellate Lawyers Association does not provide legal services or legal advice. Discussions of legal principles and authority, including, but not limited to, constitutional provisions, statutes, legislative enactments, court rules, case law, and common-law doctrines are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.

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