Which deadline for filing a Notice of Appeal applies when the supreme court rules differ from the General Assembly’s statute? And what happens to the appeal when the Notice of Appeal meets the General Assembly’s deadline but not the supreme court’s?

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the General Assembly’s deadline applies.

In People v Illinois Commerce Commission, 2014 IL 116642 (11/20/14), the State of Illinois appealed an adverse ruling in a financial reconciliation matter that was filed under the Illinois Public Utilities Act. The Act allows 35 days to file an appeal; the Illinois Supreme Court Rules permits 30 days. The State met the General Assembly’s 35-day deadline, but missed the 30-day deadline.

The Illinois Appellate Court had ruled that the separation of powers doctrine required the courts to embrace the supreme court’s filing deadline. But the supreme court rejected that idea. Here’s what the supreme court said:

It is true our court has concurrent constitutional authority with the General Assembly to promulgate rules concerning direct appellate court review of administrative decisions. It is also the case that the rules of our court control appellate court review of administrative decisions in the absence of an explicit exercise of rulemaking authority by the legislature or in those situations were a rule enacted by the legislature is in direct conflict with a rule promulgated by our court. … We have never suggested, however, that Supreme Court Rule 335 requires courts to give controlling effect to the 30-day appeal period in Supreme Court Rule 303(a) whenever review of administrative orders lies with the appellate court.

Supreme Court Rule 335(i)(1) provides simply that certain Supreme Court rules, including Rule 303(a)’s 30-day filing period … apply to administrative review by the appellate court “[i]nsofar as appropriate.” … We have found it appropriate for courts to apply the 30-day deadline set forth in Rule 303(a) when the legislature has failed to explicitly state a time within which administrative review in the appellate court must be commenced. … At the same time, however, we have made clear that if the legislature wished to enact its own time period for seeking appeal of administrative decisions by the appellate court, it had the authority to do so. … We could not conclude otherwise without running afoul of the principles of special statutory jurisdiction.

The State met the General Assembly’s 35-day deadline, so the supreme court reversed the appellate court and ruled there was appellate jurisdiction.

The Illinois Supreme Court’s single-paragraph opinion in Keating v. City of Chicago, 2014 IL 116054 (11/20/14), is remarkable because the court was unable to render a decision.

The case involved the validity of Chicago’s red-light camera program [registered owner ticketed if the vehicle is photographed violating a red-light signal]. The First District Illinois Appellate Court affirmed dismissal of the case (2013 IL App (1st) 112559-U, a Rule 23 non-precedential opinion) deferring to Chicago’s home-rule authority.

Several people who were ticketed and who paid the fines appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court. Two of the seven supreme court judges recused themselves from the case. (We don’t know why because they don’t tell us.)

The Illinois Constitution requires a concurrence of four supreme court judges to decide a case. But the remaining five judges apparently agreed they couldn’t muster four votes together, “so that it is not possible to secure the constitutionally required concurrence of four judges for a decision.”

So what happens when the supreme court can’t decide a case? “The effect of this dismissal is the same as an affirmance by an equally divided court of the decision under review but is of no precedential value.”

William Huber filed a lawsuit to dissolve the American Accounting Association. The Association asked the trial court to dismiss the lawsuit, which it did.

Huber appealed. He mailed his Notice of Appeal to the court, but it arrived two days after the 30-day deadline.

That would have been okay had Huber included an affidavit (required of a non-lawyer) or certificate (required of a lawyer) of mailing with the Notice of Appeal. But Huber did not. He argued that a postmark on the envelope, dated two days before the 30-day deadline expired, was sufficient proof of mailing within the time required.

But the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that Huber’s so-called postmark was not a postmark at all. This is what the supreme court said:

What plaintiff identifies as a “postmark,” appearing in the upper right hand corner of the envelope, is actually a postage label from an Automated Postal Center (APC). An APC is a self-service kiosk, generally located in post office lobbies, that allows customers to mail letters and packages, buy postage, look up ZIP Codes, and access other postal services, such as “USPS Tracking,” and certified mail. …  The postage label at issue here reveals on its face that it was dispensed at an “APC.” An “APC label does not constitute an official U.S. postmark.”

The APC label shows only a “Date of sale” of “04/03/13.” [Two days before the deadline.) The date of sale is not necessarily the date plaintiff placed the envelope in the mail and the post office took custody of it. … Thus … the APC label at best indicates that plaintiff may have mailed his notice of appeal on April 3, 2013. The APC label does not establish that plaintiff, in fact, did so.

The late Notice of Appeal deprived the appellate court of jurisdiction, so the supreme court affirmed dismissal of Huber’s appeal.  Here’s the link to the supreme court’s opinion in Huber v. American Accounting Association, 2014 IL 117293 (11/20/14).

The Illinois Supreme Court did not decide whether a postmark would suffice in lieu of an affidavit or a certificate. But take a look at IRMO Sheth, an appellate court opinion explained three postings below. The Sheth court certainly falls in the camp that a postmark alone does not meet the Illinois Supreme Court Rules.

Chester Bross Construction Company was the low bidder on a number of Illinois Department of Transportation projects. But instead of awarding Bross the work, the Department suspended Bross from competing for any Department contracts for two years. The suspension was based on a dispute over whether Bross complied with a required internship program.

Bross asked the trial court to review the Department’s two-year suspension order. Bross appealed after the trial court sustained the suspension.

The two-year suspension expired while the case still was pending in the appellate court. So the first question the Fourth District Illinois Court of Appeals had to answer was whether Bross’s appeal was moot. [ “An issue is moot if no actual controversy exists or where events occur which make it impossible for the court to grant effectual relief.”]

Bross argued that the appeal fell under two exceptions to the mootness doctrine – (1) the public-interest exception and (2) the collateral-consequences exception. But the appellate court ruled in favor of the Department, concluded the exceptions did not apply and the case was moot, and dismissed Bross’s appeal.

Bross’s appeal did not qualify for the public-interest exception because “the question in this case is based on specific evidence and actions involving only plaintiff,” so the appeal “does not present a question of a public nature.”

Nor did the collateral-consequences exception apply. The appellate court ruled that Bross had:

. . . not demonstrated any specific or concrete legal impact likely to result from the suspension. As a result, we find this case does not fall within the collateral-consequences exception to the mootness doctrine. Any company ever suspended by IDOT, as well as anyone else ever subject to an adverse ruling by a court or administrative body, could make this same argument. If we allowed a moot appeal to go forward under the collateral-consequences exception in cases such as this, the exception would nearly eliminate the mootness doctrine.

So the appellate court threw out Bross’s appeal. Read the whole case, Chester Bross Construction v Department of Transportation, 2014 IL App (4th) 130164 (3/27/14), by clicking here.

Anita and Sushil Sheth got divorced. Sushil was custodian on several of the couple’s two children’s financial accounts. Anita asked the trial court to remove Sushil as custodian. The trial court did so, and also denied Sushil’s reconsideration request.

Sushil appealed. He apparently mailed the notice of appeal within the 30-day jurisdictional requirement. But his “Certificate of Service” was not notarized. The court received Sushil’s notice of appeal after the 30 days passed.

The First District Illinois Appellate Court dismissed Sushil’s appeal. The court ruled that it did not have jurisdiction to consider Sushil’s arguments because Sushil did not submit proper proof — that is, a notarized Proof of Service — that the notice of appeal had been mailed within the 30-day deadline  So even though Sushil’s proof of service included all of the required information, his appeal was dismissed for lack of a notary public’s stamp.

Here’s how the court explained it:

[T]here was no certificate by an attorney or affidavit by a nonattorney as required by [Illinois Supreme Court] Rule 12(b)(3). While Sushil submitted a “Certificate of Service,” that document was not notarized, meaning that it cannot be considered an affidavit. Our supreme court has stated that “Illinois courts have defined the term [‘affidavit’] in consistent fashion for over 100 years,” and that “an affidavit must be sworn to, and statements in a writing not sworn to before an authorized person cannot be considered affidavits.” . . .  Here, since Sushil’s “Certificate of Service” was not sworn to before an authorized person, it cannot be considered an affidavit and, therefore, Sushil has not complied with Rule 12(b)(3)’s requirement that proof of mailing be in the form of a certificate by an attorney or an affidavit of a nonattorney.

Read the whole case, IRMO Sheth, 2014 IL App (1st) 132611, by clicking here. 

Lake Environmental was doing asbestos removal at Scott Air Force Base in southern Illinois. The State, claiming that Lake had violated regulations, persuaded the Department of Public Health to revoke Lake’s asbestos removal license. Lake asked the trial court to review the department’s decision. But while that review was still pending, the State filed another complaint in the Department that asked for penalties and an injunction.

The trial court reversed the Department’s decision to revoke the license. Lake then asked the court to sanction the State. The trial court denied the sanction request, but did not say why. So Lake appealed the denial of sanctions to the Illinois Fifth District Court of Appeals.

The appellate court ruled that it had no basis to affirm the denial of sanctions because the trial court’s terse denial did not meet the requirement that a court must provide a reasoned analysis for its sanctions ruling.

This is how the court explained it:

“A reviewing court should not be put in the position of making the trial court’s findings” and “should not be required to speculate as to which of the determinitive facts and legal theories the trial court relied on in deciding” whether to allow or deny sanctions.

The appellate court reversed the no-sanctions decision and sent the case back to the trial court with directions to issue an opinion stating “with specificity” why it denied sanctions.

Click here to read the entire opinion, Lake Environmental v. Arnold, 2014 IL App (5th) 130109 (7/10/2014).

“Hey, c’mon Sr. illinoisappellatelawyerblog.com. Two months between postings? How do you expect to keep your readers? We’re writing briefs. We need all this stuff you write about. Nobody else does it, at least not like you. What’s your excuse now?”

“No excuses, none that are worth talking about anyway. Stick with me, my friend. I’ll do better.”

General contractor Kiferbaum Construction was sued by a subcontractor’s employee who was injured at the work site. Kiferbaum was represented by Jacobson & Riseborough. Kiferbaum got excess insurance from Evanston Insurance.

Kiferbaum’s insurers, including Evanston, settled with the employee. The insurers were left to fight about the amounts each would pay the employee. Jacobson & Riseborough committed Kiferbaum to participate in the settlement agreement, which required Kiferbaum to reimburse Evanston for $1 million the insurer put into the settlement pot. But Kiferbaum argued it did not give J&R authority to make the commitment. The trial court agreed and gave Kiferbaum summary judgment against Evanston’s claim for the money.

Unhappy about being saddled with the $1 million payment, Evanston sued J&R. Evanston’s first two complaints were dismissed {because they were premature; i.e., Evanston hadn’t been injured yet], but the trial court gave Evanston a chance to file another complaint that would meet legal standards. Evanston filed a second amended complaint, but the trial court, finding the complaint was filed too late under the statute of repose [six years from the offending act], dismisssed that one too. The trial court then denied Evanston’s request for reconsideration.

Inn the Illinois Supreme Court, Evanston argued (1) its second amended complaint “related back” to its original complaint, which was filed timely, and (2) the original complaint was not premature and should not have been dismissed. But Evanston did not make these arguments in its original opposition to J&R’s dismissal request.

So the Illinois Supreme Court ruled Evanston forfeited those arguments, and refused to consider them. Raising the arguments for the first time in a request for reconsideration was not good enough to preserve them for appeal. Here is the supreme court’s reasoning:

The purpose of a motion to reconsider is to bring to the court’s attention newly discovered evidence that was not available at the time of the original hearing, changes in existing law, or errors in the court’s application of the law … Arguments raised for the first time in a motion for reconsideration in the circuit [trial] court are forfeited on appeal.

The rule is loud and clear: An argument is forfeited if you wait to raise it on reconsideration. Read the whole case, Evanston Insurance v. Riseborough, 2014 IL 114271 (2/21/2014), by clicking here.

More than 58 percent of the voters in Country Club Hills, Illinois passed a referendum that reduced the number of city aldermen from 10 to five. About three weeks later, a group of unhappy aldermen sued the county clerk. They asked the trial court for a preliminary injunction to void the referendum because, they argued, the clerk exceeded her authority by not including certain language on the ballot.

Two weeks later, the trial court denied the injunction request because the discontented aldermen still had time to file as independent candidates for one of the five alderman positions.

Instead, the aldermen appealed. They asked the appellate court to void the referendum result and to place the question, with the disputed language, on the next ballot. That election, at which the voters elected five aldermen, was held about four months later, while the appeal was still pending.

But the First District Illinois Appellate Court refused to hear the appeal because: (1) the election of the new aldermen to fill the five new positions already had been held, (2) rendering the appeal moot, and (3) an appellate ruling on the denial of the preliminary injunction would not trump the mootness doctrine. The public policy exception to the mootness doctrine did not apply because “an opinion from this court on the trial court’s denial of preliminary relief would not provide an authoritative determination of the issues at the heart lof this case … In the absence of a continuing legal controversy and finding no reason for the exception to the moootness doctrine to apply, we dismiss this appeal.”

Read the whole case, Davis v. City of Country Club Hills, 2013 IL App (1st) 123634, by clicking here.