Cases Pending, co-chaired by Gretchen Harris Sperry (left) and Catherine Basque Weiler, has been updated to discuss the Illinois Supreme Court's November Term, which begins today, November 13, 2017, with oral arguments scheduled for November 14-16, 2017. A total of 7 cases will be heard – 2 criminal and 5 civil. The following criminal cases are scheduled for argument this Term:
People v. Robert Carey, No. 121371: November 14
People v. Leshawn Coats, No. 121926: November 14
Below is a summary for one criminal case, People v. Robert Carey. Summaries for this case and others pending with the Illinois Supreme Court can be found in our Cases Pending publication, accessible to ALA members on the ALA's website.
People v. Robert Carey
Defendant Robert Carey was charged with multiple offenses, including felony murder while committing attempted armed robbery (count I) and attempted armed robbery with a firearm (count II). The appellate court agreed with defendant that the indictment's description of count I was deficient. The indictment alleged that the murder occurred during commission of attempted armed robbery, listed the date and location of the offense, provided the statutory citation for felony murder, and named the accused and the victim. But the court found the count deficient because it did not specify which of two forms of attempt armed robbery was alleged, i.e., attempted armed robbery with a firearm or attempted armed robbery with a dangerous weapon other than a firearm.
Before the Illinois Supreme Court, the State argues for reversal on multiple bases. First, count I fully informed Carey of the felony murder charge in compliance with longstanding precedent describing sufficiency of indictments. Second, even if count I were deficient, review of the indictment as a whole sufficiently informed Carey of the charge given that count II specifies attempted armed robbery with a firearm. Third, Carey cannot establish prejudice because the detail of the weapon used was irrelevant to his theory of the case. Finally, even if the indictment were deficient, the appropriate remedy should have been to treat the predicate felony for felony murder as attempted robbery and affirm the conviction rather than to vacate the felony murder conviction.
In response, Carey asserts that the appellate court's opinion was correct for several reasons. First, during the trial, the State argued that the predicate felony was committed on both bases, i.e., with a firearm and with a dangerous weapon other than a firearm. Second, count I cannot be interpreted in light of count II because the latter was nolle prossed before trial. In the alternative, on cross-appeal, Carey argues that the State failed to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt because the State failed to prove that the firearm element given that the parties agreed that the gun Carey carried was inoperable.
The following civil cases are scheduled for argument this Term:
People v. Robert Carey, No. 121371: November 14
In re N.G., Nos. 121939, 121961 (cons.): November 14
People ex rel. Matthew Hartrich v. 2010 Harley-Davidson, No. 121636: November 15
Antonicelli v. Rodriguez, No. 121943: November 15
The Bank of New York Mellon v. Laskowski, No. 121995: November 15
Jenner v. Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, No. 121293: November 16
Below is a summary for one civil case, Antonicelli v. Rodriguez.
Antonicelli v. Rodriguez
At issue is whether a counterclaim alleging that a defendant is an intentional tortfeasor precludes a finding that the defendant has entered a good faith settlement shielding him from further liability. The plaintiff was severely injured when Defendant Daniel Rodriguez, who was driving under the influence of cocaine, struck the plaintiff’s vehicle, which then collided with a semi-truck. The plaintiff sued Rodriguez and two co-defendants—the truck driver and his employer—alleging that they were negligent. The co-defendants filed a counterclaim for contribution, alleging that Rodriguez’s acts were intentional and that damages should be apportioned accordingly. Rodriguez and the plaintiff settled. The circuit court entered a finding that the settlement was made in good faith, then dismissed both the plaintiff’s claims against Rodriguez and the co-defendants’ counterclaims. The circuit court affirmed the good faith finding.
Before the Illinois Supreme Court, the co-defendants argue that Section 2-1117 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-1117), which protects minimally responsible defendants from paying entire damage awards, requires a trial court to consider the respective fault of the defendants before making a finding of good faith. The co-defendants further argue that deciding whether to approve a settlement, courts should look to the totality of the circumstances surrounding the settlement, including, in this case, the uncontroverted evidence that Rodriguez acted intentionally. In response, Rodriguez argues that settling intentional tortfeasors may be discharged from liability under the Act, that the appellate court’s decision furthers the Act’s purpose in promoting settlements, and that Section 2-1117 does not affect a defendant’s ability to settle under the Joint Tortfeasor Contribution Act (740 ILCS 100/2).