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"The Brief" - The ALA Blog

  • January 26, 2024 3:18 PM | Paul Coogan (Administrator)

    This post was authored by Carson Griffis. Carson is counsel in the Litigation and Investigations group at Croke Fairchild Duarte & Beres, where his practice focuses on complex commercial litigation in both trial and appellate courts.

    In the age of e-filing, the Illinois Supreme Court’s recent decision in Waukegan Hospitality Group, LLC v. Stretch’s Sports Bar & Grill Corp., 2024 IL 129277, offers appellate practitioners several crucial lessons. First, it is important to confirm that a notice of appeal is being e-filed in the correct format under the local rules to reduce the likelihood that it will be rejected. Second, practitioners may want to consider submitting a notice of appeal for e-filing with enough time to resubmit the notice of appeal before the deadline in case it is rejected. Finally, if a notice of appeal is rejected after the deadline, practitioners should follow the appropriate procedures to create a record showing good cause or a reasonable excuse for the late filing.

    Waukegan Hospitality Group, LLC, initiated an eviction action in the Lake County circuit court. After a bench trial, the circuit court entered judgment in favor of the tenant on March 1, 2021. According to Waukegan Hospitality, it submitted a notice of appeal for e-filing on April 1, 2021, which the clerk rejected on April 6, 2021. Waukegan Hospitality resubmitted the notice of appeal the same day, which the circuit court clerk accepted.

    The appellate court dismissed Waukegan Hospitality’s appeal for lack of jurisdiction because its notice of appeal was untimely, and the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. The Court emphasized that two potential avenues for relief exist if a notice of appeal submitted for e-filing is rejected after the relevant deadline has passed. First, under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 9(d)(2), “[i]f a document is rejected by the clerk and is therefore untimely, the filing party may seek appropriate relief from the [circuit] court, upon good cause shown.” Second, under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 303(d), a reviewing court “may grant leave to appeal” on “motion supported by a showing of reasonable excuse for failure to file a notice of appeal on time, accompanied by the proposed notice of appeal and the filing fee, filed in the reviewing court within 30 days after the expiration of the time for filing a notice of appeal.”

    Although the Court did not lay out a specific test for what may constitute a “reasonable excuse” or “good cause,” it offered two examples of situations that might satisfy those standards. First, citing Bank of Herrin v. Peoples Bank of Marion, 105 Ill. 2d 305 (1985), the Court stated that it had found a “reasonable excuse” under Rule 303(d) when an attorney recorded the incorrect date of a final judgment and, after discovering the honest mistake, immediately did everything possible to correct the error. Second, the Court stated that the circuit court clerk’s erroneous application of local rules in rejecting a notice of appeal likely would be a “compelling case” of “good cause” or “reasonable excuse.”

    In Waukegan Hospitality’s case, however, it did not seek relief under Rules 9(d)(2) or 303(d), so the documents supporting its position were not in the record on appeal. Instead, Waukegan Hospitality simply included them in the appendix to its opening brief. Because they were not in the record, the Court disregarded them under the longstanding principle that materials outside the record may not be placed before a reviewing court in an appendix.

    Finally, the Court left open the question of whether Rule 9(d)(2) is a proper method of establishing appellate jurisdiction, noting the split of authority on that issue. Compare O’Gara v. O’Gara, 2022 IL App (1st) 210013, ¶¶ 46-47 (Rule 9(d)(2) may be used establish appellate jurisdiction) with Waukegan Hospitality Grp., LLC v. Stretch’s Sports Bar & Grill Corp., 2022 IL App (2d) 210179, ¶ 15 aff’d 2024 IL 129277 (Rule 9(d)(2) “may not apply to a notice of appeal” because circuit court loses jurisdiction 30 days after final judgment). Because Waukegan Hospitality had not sought relief under Rule 9(d)(2), its applicability to a notice of appeal was not before the Court.


  • January 25, 2024 9:54 AM | Paul Coogan (Administrator)

    This post was authored by by ALA Board Member Kimberly Glasford.

    When the trial court denies a defendant pretrial release under the Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today Act (SAFE-T ACT), he may appeal under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 604(h) (eff. Sept. 18, 2023). Additionally, “[t]he appellant may file, but is not required to file, a memorandum” in support of the appeal. Id.

    In People v. Duckworth, 2024 IL App (5th) 230911, the defendant appealed the denial of pretrial release by filing the notice of appeal form approved by the Illinois Supreme Court. The defendant checked the boxes setting forth issues for appeal. He did not, however, elaborate on the grounds for relief in the spaces provided for that purpose. The Office of the State Appellate Defender (OSAD), which was appointed to represent the defendant, subsequently filed a notice indicating that he did not intend to file a memorandum under Rule 604(h).

    The State moved to dismiss the appeal, arguing that the notice of appeal was deficient given that defendant had merely checked the boxes. In response, the defendant, through OSAD, argued that checking the boxes was sufficient to show his desire to appeal and the notice itself conferred jurisdiction on the appellate court. OSAD further argued that the defendant’s arguments could be ascertained in a matter of minutes by reading the transcript.

    The appellate court found that the timely-filed notice of appeal was sufficient to invoke the court’s jurisdiction. Id. ¶ 5. That being said, the court rejected OSAD’s argument that the defendant was not required to provide arguments supporting the issues raised on appeal. Id.

    The reviewing court observed that Rule 604(h) requires a defendant’s notice of appeal to describe the relief requested and the grounds for that relief. Thus, some form of argument was required. Additionally, the reviewing court is not a depository into which the defendant may dump the burden of research and argument. Duckworth, 2024 IL App (5th) 230911, ¶ 6. “To presume, as contended by OSAD, that this court would present arguments on behalf of the appellant and then issue a ruling on those same arguments is both incredulous and contrary to well-established Illinois Supreme Court rules governing appeals.” Id. ¶ 7.

    The reviewing court found that the defendant failed to comply with Rule 604(h)’s requirement that the notice of appeal describe the grounds for the relief requested. Id. ¶¶ 6, 8. The defendant had also failed to cite evidence in the record or make any legal argument to support his claims. Id. ¶ 8. Furthermore, OSAD had declined to rectify these deficiencies. Id. Accordingly, the appellate court concluded that the defendant forfeited the issues raised on appeal, warranting dismissal. Id.

    Duckworth shows that while Rule 604(h) does not itself require a defendant to file a supporting memorandum, a defendant’s duty to present a proper argument nonetheless does require him to file one if his notice of appeal did not otherwise adequately develop his claims.


  • January 18, 2024 2:53 PM | Walker Mondt (Administrator)

    Today, the Supreme Court assigned the Honorable Amy E. Sholar, Circuit Judge of the Third Judicial Circuit, to the Fifth District Appellate Court.

    Judge Sholar was first appointed to the bench as a Third Circuit Judge on April 30, 2021, and won election as a Resident Circuit Judge for Madison County in 2022. She has served as the Presiding Judge of the Family Division and was appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to serve on the Judicial Inquiry Board in May 2023.

    Judge Sholar earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Southern Illinois University and her Juris Doctor from the St. Louis University School of Law.

  • January 02, 2024 10:47 AM | Walker Mondt (Administrator)

    December 26, 2023

    JOB VACANCY ANNOUNCEMENT

    Chambers of the Honorable Freddrenna M. Lyle

    First District Appellate Court

    Chicago, IL


    Justice Freddrenna M. Lyle, of the First District Illinois Appellate Court, is seeking a full-time judicial secretary/law clerk for her chambers in Chicago, Illinois. The judicial secretary/law clerk conducts legal research and assists in drafting memoranda, opinions, and orders. This position also requires performing various administrative duties.

    DUTIES INCLUDE:

    ·         Assist in drafting opinions, orders, and memoranda.

    ·         Edit and cite check final draft orders, opinions, dissents and/or special concurrences.

    ·         Advise the Justice on research of court rules and points of law on pending appeals.

    ·         Research the law regarding issues identified by the parties or the court.

    ·         Study current legal publications, recent opinions of the Illinois Supreme and Appellate Courts, and other relevant state and federal cases; interpret new statutes according to legislative intent and review recent legislation.

    ·         The position also requires secretarial duties, including but not limited to, corresponding with the Springfield courthouse and other chambers, tracking the status of motions and cases, paying bills, maintaining case files, and keeping the library up to date. The successful applicant must have the ability to comport oneself in a manner which is cognizant of the Court’s ethical responsibilities.

    ·         Perform other duties as assigned.

    KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS:

    • 1.  Working knowledge of, and ability to apply, federal and state laws and court decisions to pending legal cases.
    • 2.  Working knowledge of, and ability to apply, court procedures and rules of evidence.
    • 3.  Skill in analyzing legal issues and writing persuasively.
    • 4.  Skill in applying legal principles and specialized knowledge to individual cases and problems.
    • 5.  Ability to communicate effectively.
    • 6.  Ability to apprise the Justice of new statutes and recent legislation changes.

    EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE:

    Applicants must have a JD from an accredited law school. It is also preferred that the applicant be licensed or registered for a state bar exam.  Law Review/journal experience is preferred. Applicant should possess excellent research, case analysis, and writing skills.  Experience as a law clerk in a reviewing court is strongly preferred. Excellent computer and technology skills required.

    PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS:

    This position requires the ability to sit or stand for extended periods of time. This is a professional office working environment requiring telephone usage and the ability to process and read large volumes of written documents in electronic formats.

    OTHER REQUIREMENTS:

    Applicant must possess the ability to travel throughout the state, including overnight stays as required for educational conferences. Applicant may be required to submit additional materials for the position.

    Interested individuals should send a resume and short professional writing sample (5 page maximum) by email to courtemployment@illinoiscourts.gov.

    This position will remain open until filled. However, those individuals submitting materials by Tuesday, January 9, 2024, will be given first consideration.

    EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER


  • November 16, 2023 2:58 PM | Paul Coogan (Administrator)

    The Illinois Judicial Ethics Committee has revised and updated its Judicial Election/Campaign FAQs in light of the recently promulgated Illinois Code of Judicial Conduct. The FAQs provide guidance on applying the Illinois Code to real-world scenarios that judicial candidates often encounter. Aspiring judges or incumbents running for election or retention may benefit from a review of the FAQs. 

    The FAQs are posted on the Illinois Judges Association's website, here. 

  • November 13, 2023 9:35 AM | Paul Coogan (Administrator)

    The Public Interest Law Initiative will be hosting a virtual CLE program on the Basics of Administrative Appeals, which will feature speaker Nadine Wichern of the Illinois Attorney General's Office.

    The program will take place on Zoom on December 12, 2023 from 12:00pm to 1:00pm. The program is free for volunteers and legal aid attorneys. Advance registration is required. 

    Register by visiting: www.pili.org/event/cle-series-administrative-appeals

  • November 08, 2023 12:17 PM | Paul Coogan (Administrator)

    The Illinois Supreme Court returns to session for the November Term, with oral arguments scheduled for November 14-16 and November 21.  A total of 11 cases will be heard this Term: 4 criminal and 7 civil.  The civil cases will be heard on the following dates:

    November 15, 2023

    127464, 127487 (cons.) – Kopf v. Kelly

    128763 – The State of Illinois v. Elite Staffing, Inc.

    128767 – The State of Illinois v. Colony Display LLC

    November 16, 2023

    129155 – In re Marriage of Arjmand

    129164 – City of Rock Falls v. Aims Industrial Services, LLC

    November 21, 2023

    129263 – Cammacho v. City of Joliet

    129471 – Arlington Heights Police Pension Fund v. Pritzker

    The Court will hear several cases of interest this term, including In re Marriage of Arjmand and The State of Illinois v. Elite Staffing and Colony Display, which will be argued separately. Below are abbreviated summaries for these cases.  Full summaries for these cases, as well as criminal and disciplinary cases pending before the Court, can be accessed by ALA members on our website: www.applawyers.org/casespending

    In re Marriage of Arjmand

    This Petition raises the question of whether the denial of a petition for substitution of judge for cause can be reviewed on Rule 304(a) interlocutory appeal from another judgment. This matter arises out of lengthy dissolution of marriage proceedings in which the Petitioner brought claims against certain financial institutions, claiming he suffered damages as a result of their alleged violations of certain orders previously entered in that case. During the pendency of those claims, the Petitioner sought to substitute his trial judge for cause and later sought his recusal, both of which were denied. The trial court subsequently dismissed the Petitioner’s claims against the financial institutions and he appealed that dismissal pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 304(a). On appeal, the Petitioner challenged not only the dismissal of his claims, but also the propriety of court denying his requests for substitution and recusal. The Second District reversed the dismissal of the Petitioner’s claims, but it declined to consider the denial of his petition for substitution of judge and motion for recusal, finding that it lacked jurisdiction to consider such rulings. The Petitioner sought leave to appeal this finding. In his Petition, he argues that the Second District’s ruling creates a split among the appellate districts, noting that both the First and Fourth Districts reached the propriety of the denial of a motion for substitution of judge on interlocutory review in Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center v. Berlin, 268 Ill. App. 3d 184 (4th Dist. 1994) and Partipilo v. Partipilo, 331 Ill. App. 3d 394 (1st Dist. 2002).

    State of Illinois v. Elite Staffing and Colony Display  

    The Illinois Attorney General filed this action against three staffing agencies, Elite Staffing, Inc., Metro Staff, Inc., and Midway Staffing, Inc. (the “Agency Defendants”), and their mutual client Colony Display, LLC (“Colony”), alleging that the defendants entered into unlawful conspiracies in violation of the Illinois Antitrust Act (the “Act”) (740 ILCS 10/1 et seq.). The State alleged that Colony hired all three Agency Defendants to recruit, select, hire, supervise, assign and fire employees at its display manufacturing and installation company. The State further alleged that the Agency Defendants “agreed with each other to not recruit, solicit, hire, or ‘poach’ temporary employees from one another at Colony’s facilities,” and that “Colony facilitated the Agency Defendants’ agreement by acting as a go-between to communicate about the agreement among the Agency Defendants and by assisting in enforcing the Agency Defendants’ no-poach conspiracy.” The State also alleged that, at Colony’s request and with its facilitation, the Agency Defendants agreed to fix the wages of their temporary employees at a below-market rate determined by Colony.

    The defendants separately moved to dismiss. The Agency Defendants argued that their business of “supplying labor,” which they refer to as “labor services,” is exempt from the Act’s coverage. Colony argued that the alleged facilitation of conspiracies by a vertical non-competitor (Colony) removes them from the ambit of subsection 3(1) of the Act. The circuit court denied their motions to dismiss, but certified two questions for interlocutory appeal under Supreme Court Rule 308:

    1. Whether the definition of “Service” under Section 4 of the [Act,] which states that Service “shall not be deemed to include labor which is performed 60 by natural persons as employees of others,” applies to the Act as a whole and thus excludes all labor services from the Act’s coverage.

    2. Whether the per se rule under Section 3(a) of the Act, which states that it applies to conspiracies among “competitor[s],” extends to alleged horizontal agreements facilitated by a vertical non-competitor.

    The First District Appellate Court answered the two certified questions as follows:

                1. Services provided by staffing agencies are generally not excluded from the Act’s coverage. Modifying the question, the appellate court held that the “Service” exclusion in the Act allows individuals to engage in otherwise anticompetitive behavior regarding their own labor, including by participating in collective bargaining and related conduct, but does not permit temporary staffing agencies to engage in anticompetitive conduct in providing their services.

                2. Yes, the per se rule can apply to horizontal agreements facilitated by vertical non-competitors when such agreements demonstrate naked restraint of competition. The appellate court held that the nature of an agreement and the conduct at issue must be         analyzed to determine whether the violation of the Act can be deemed a per se offense, rather than simply considering the horizontal (i.e. competitors) or vertical (i.e. a non-competitor at a different level of distribution) parties to the agreement.

    In their petition for leave to appeal, the Agency Defendants argue that the Act does not apply to alleged wage and hiring coordination because the Act excludes “labor which is performed by natural persons as employees of others” from the “services” it regulates. The Agency Defendants argue that federal courts applying Illinois law have reached that conclusion, which the circuit court declined to follow and the appellate court improperly distinguished. The Agency Defendants also argue that the appellate court improperly changed the focus of the certified question, from whether labor services are excluded from the Act’s coverage to whether the Act applies to labor-related services provided by temporary staffing agencies.

    In its petition for leave to appeal, Colony argues that Section 3(1) of the Act does not apply to non-competitors as a matter of law, such that an alleged vertical agreement between and/or among non-competitors cannot constitute a per se violation of the Act. As such, Colony argues that the State’s claim against Colony under Section 3(1) of the Act must be dismissed as a matter of law, as only a claim under Section 3(2) of the Act could be filed against a vertical non-competitor co-conspirator. Section 3(2), under which the State did not bring a claim against the defendants, applies a more stringent rule of reason analysis, taking into consideration facts peculiar to the business and weighing alleged anticompetitive effects against their procompetitive justifications.


  • November 07, 2023 10:10 AM | Walker Mondt (Administrator)

    By: Carson Griffis

    When it comes to appellate jurisdiction, labels may not tell the whole story. That is the lesson from the Illinois Appellate Court’s recent decision in Gateway Auto, Inc. v. Commercial Pallet, Inc., 2023 IL App (1st) 230185, which held that, although an order was characterized as “final and appealable” by the circuit court, it was not immediately appealable under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 304(a).

    The plaintiff, Gateway Auto, Inc., leased a building in Chicago from Les Hagan. The building next door was owned by 1300-08 W. Randolph, LLC (“Randolph”), which began negotiating with Hagan about purchasing the building that Gateway was renting. Gateway filed suit, eventually amending its complaint to assert a single claim of tortious interference with prospective business relations against Hagan, Randolph, and one of Randolph’s agents. While Gateway’s action was pending, it was evicted from the building. Hagan and Randolph then filed counterclaims against Gateway for its failure to pay rent and removal of fixtures from the building prior to its eviction. Randolph also filed a motion to dismiss Gateway’s claim against it, which the circuit court granted, disposing of the only claim against Randolph with prejudice. Gateway filed a motion to reconsider the grant of Randolph’s motion to dismiss, which the circuit court denied, adding, “This is a final and appealable order.” Gateway then filed a notice of appeal from the orders granting Randolph’s motion to dismiss and denying its motion to reconsider.

    Randolph argued that the appellate court lacked jurisdiction because the counterclaims remained pending, so there was no final judgment disposing of all claims against all parties. In response, Gateway argued that the court had jurisdiction under Rule 304(a), which allows for appeals from “a final judgment as to one or more but fewer than all of the parties,” because the grant of Randolph’s motion to dismiss finally disposed of all claims against Randolph. Ill. Sup. Ct. R. 304(a). And, Randolph argued, the circuit court’s statement that its order was “final and appealable” satisfied Rule 304(a)’s requirement that the circuit court make “an express written finding that there is no just reason for delaying either enforcement or appeal or both.” Id.

    The appellate court dismissed Gateway’s appeal for lack of jurisdiction. The court recognized that the order granting Randolph’s motion to dismiss was final because it disposed of the only claim against Randolph. But, the court explained, that order was not appealable under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 301 because the counterclaims remained pending in the circuit court. And although the circuit court’s order denying the motion to reconsider said that it was “final and appealable,” it did not refer to immediate appealability, the justness of delaying an appeal, or Rule 304(a) itself. Accordingly, the circuit court’s statement did not satisfy Rule 304(a)’s express written finding requirement.

    In reaching that conclusion, the appellate court agreed with the reasoning of Palmolive Tower Condominiums v. Simon, 409 Ill. App. 3d 539 (1st Dist. 2011), which also held that a finding that an order was “final and appealable” was insufficient to invoke Rule 304(a). And the court declined to follow Com-Co Insurance Agency v. Service Insurance Agency, 321 Ill. App. 3d 816 (1st Dist. 2001), which held that a statement that an order was “final and appealable” implicitly recognized that an immediate appeal was proper under Rule 304(a).

    Gateway Auto is a reminder that a lack of clarity can be the difference between the existence and absence of appellate jurisdiction. Requesting and drafting circuit court orders that strictly follow the language and requirements of the Illinois Supreme Court Rules is thus critically important.

    Carson is counsel in the Litigation & Investigations group at Croke Fairchild Duarte & Beres, where his practice focuses on complex commercial litigation in both trial and appellate courts.

  • October 09, 2023 9:41 AM | Paul Coogan (Administrator)

    Justice James R. Moore of the Fifth District Appellate Court in Marion, Illinois is seeking an Appellate Court Law Clerk/Administrative Assistant. Approximately 80% of the work will be as a law clerk, and approximately 20% of the work will be performing administrative tasks. The salary for this position is $91,761.

    To qualify for this position, the applicant must have graduated from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association and passed the Illinois Bar Exam or its equivalent. A minimum of one year of appellate practice experience as an appellate court clerk or attorney at a private firm or government office is preferred, but will consider all applicants with an excellent academic record. 

    This position requires the ability to sit or stand for extended periods of time in a professional office working environment requiring telephone usage and the ability to process written documents.

    Interested individuals should submit a letter of interest, resume, professional writing sample, a transcript, official or unofficial, of law school grades, and two (2) references to Megan Orso at: morso@illinoiscourts.gov.

    This position will remain open until filled. However, those individuals submitting materials by October 20, 2023, will be given first consideration.

  • October 09, 2023 9:35 AM | Paul Coogan (Administrator)

    Justice William E. Holdridge of the Illinois Appellate Court, Third District, is seeking a Judicial Law Clerk/Administrative Assistant for an opening in his chambers in Peoria, Illinois. This is a remote position with in-chambers presence as needed. Illinois residency is required or willingness to obtain upon job offer. The salary for this position is $91,761 per year. 

    ESSENTIAL DUTIES:  The Judicial Law Clerk/Administrative Assistant will conduct legal research and draft memoranda, orders, and opinions for the Justice. Duties also include reviewing and editing the work of fellow clerks and administrative duties.

    EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE:  Graduation from an ABA-accredited law school and licensed to practice law. Law review/journal experience and prior experience as a judicial law clerk and/or appellate lawyer is strongly preferred. Applicants with an outstanding academic record in core courses and superior research, analytical, and writing skills preferred.

    PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS:  This position requires the ability to sit for extended periods of time. This is a professional office working environment requiring telephone usage and the ability to process and read large volumes of written documents in electronic formats.

    To apply, submit a cover letter, resume, one writing sample, law school transcript, and two references to holdridgeoffice@illinoiscourts.gov.  The position will remain open until filled.


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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