By Kimberly Glasford
Law Clerk to Hon. Terrence J. Lavin, Illinois Appellate Court, First District
In Wing v. Chicago Transit Authority, 2016 IL App (1st) 153517, the appellate court once again found that a litigant’s failure to comply with procedural rules in the circuit and appellate courts foreclosed meaningful review of her claims.
There, the plaintiff, who was represented by counsel in the circuit court, filed a pro se appeal from the judgment entered against her following a jury trial. In short, she asserted that unfair procedural irregularities occurred below. The defendant responded, however, that it would be improper for the appellate court to review the merits of the plaintiff’s claims due to her own failure to follow procedural rules. The appellate court agreed.
First, the appellate court found that the plaintiff failed to file a posttrial motion and, consequently, failed to preserve the issues raised in this civil appeal pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 366(b)(2) (eff. Feb. 1, 1994).
Next, the appellate court found it could not review the merits of the appeal because the plaintiff failed to file a report of proceedings, directing the plaintiff to the oft-cited rule set forth in Foutch v. O’Bryant, 99 Ill. 2d 389, 391-92 (1984). See also Ill. S. Ct. R. 321 (eff. Feb. 1, 1994); Ill. S. Ct. R. 323 (eff. Dec. 13, 2005). The court further noted that while the plaintiff attached documents to her appellate brief, those documents were not included in the record on appeal.
Finally, the appellate court found the plaintiff’s opening brief failed to comply with Illinois Supreme Court Rule 341(h) (eff. Feb. 6, 2013). Specifically, the brief omitted the requisite statement of the issues, statement of jurisdiction and statement of facts. Additionally, the plaintiff’s argument section did not properly set forth cohesive arguments with citations to authority. Due to these deficiencies, the appellate court affirmed the circuit court’s judgment.
Presiding Justice Hyman and Justice Mason each filed a special concurrence. Justice Hyman essentially added that the plaintiff’s concerns may have reflected her misunderstanding of the trial process and, thus, could be alleviated by explaining that process. In contrast, Justice Mason observed that the appellate court routinely refused to consider matters outside the record and found that the plaintiff’s concerns should not be addressed in this appeal.
While the pro se nature of the plaintiff’s claims in Wing places some doubt on whether a posttrial motion would have had any merit, the case nonetheless reminds trial attorneys intending to pursue an appeal that they must file such a motion, including all potential contentions. Moreover, Wing provides a short checklist of procedural challenges for appellees attempting to secure an affirmance.