If you called my office the last couple of days, you got a recorded message saying you reached a number that is no longer in service.

That’s true — it is no longer in service. Temporarily anyway, until Comcast fixes a problem that did not exist for the first 17 years Steven R Merican PC has been operating.

The details give us agita. But rest comfortably with assurance that SRMPC, publisher of this blog, continues its appellate practice, and at the moment intends to do so for at least another 17 years. (We’ll re-assess then.) We hope, with the same telephone number.

Overwhelmed by the white screen? Let Oscar Peterson’s piano massage your creative synapses with this 1964 version of C Jam Blues. (Ray Brown on bass and Ed Thigpen on drums.)

And remember this tried and true method to forge through writer’s block: What happened next; what happened next; what happened next …


Warren County Soil is important to Illinois appellate practitioners because it clears the confusion over the standard of review in appeals from orders growing from 2-1401 disputes. (Illinois Civil Procedure Code § 1401 allows relief from judgments that are more than two years old.) This is what the Illinois Supreme Court said:

[W]e hold that when a section 2-1401 petition presents a fact-dependent challenge to a final judgment or order … the petitioner must set forth specific factual allegations supporting each of the following elements: (1) the existence of a meritorious defense; (2) due diligence in presenting this defense; and (3) due diligence in filing the section 2-1401 petition for relief … The quantum of proof necessary to sustain a section 2-1401 petition is a preponderance of the evidence, and the circuit court’s ultimate decision on the petition is reviewed for an abuse of discretion … In addition, when the facts supporting the section 2-1401 petition are challenged by the respondent, a full and fair evidentiary hearing should be held … Relevant to this appeal, the trial court may also consider equitable considerations to relax the applicable due diligence standards under the appropriate limited circumstances …‍

But when the fight concerns only a question of law — e.g., a claim that the judgment was void — then there is a de novo standard of review (no discretion given to the circuit court).

Illinoisappellatelawyerblog was born to worry. And opinions like Estate of York feed that congenital behavior.

The First District Illinois Appellate Court woke us to attention with its first words. “The case before us serves as a cautionary tale to litigants to adhere to Illinois Supreme Court Rule appellate filing deadlines, to timely file requests for extensions of time with good cause shown, and to specify all grounds of appeal in the notice of appeal.”

Dread always follows that kind of lead. Here’s what happened.

The Eckersalls’ divorce included a fight over custody of their children. The couple agreed on a visitation schedule, but not on the terms and conditions of visitation. So the trial court entered a standard “Custody/Visitation Injunction Order” that in essence prevented either spouse from addressing the divorce case with the children.

Catherine Eckersall appealed the order because she felt it interfered with her parenting rights. The First District Illinois Appellate Court dismissed the appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction. The court ruled that the custody/visitation injunction order was not really an injunction and could not be appealed before the end of the lawsuit. After that appeal was dismissed, the trial court finalized the Eckersalls’ divorce.

But Catherine was still upset about the custody/visitation order. She appealed the appellate court’s dismissal to the Illinois Supreme Court. The supreme court took the case, but in the end ruled that the custody/visitation order was moot because it was superseded by the trial court’s final divorce order.

Daewoo International paid American Metals Trading $14.5 million for pig iron. But American Metals didn’t deliver, so Daewoo started an arbitration proceeding. In support of the arbitration, Daewoo got an order of attachment against American from a New York trial court. To support the attachment — i.e., trace where the money went — the New York court allowed Daewoo to obtain discovery and to depose American’s directors and officers, four brothers led by Luis Monteiro.

Daewoo believed it could serve subpoenas on American and Monteiro in Illinois. So Daewoo filed a petition in an Illinois court to ask for the subpoenas.  Forty-eight days after the court allowed the subpoenas, Monteiro asked the court to quash them. He argued that Daewoo did not comply with Illinois Supreme Court Rule 204(b), the rule that permits an Illinois court to allow discovery in a case from another jurisdiction. The Illinois trial court refused, and ordered Monteiro’s deposition to proceed.

Litigation over the validity of the New York and Illinois trial courts’ discovery orders continued. After Monteiro ran out of options, he filed a notice of appeal in Illinois. On appeal, Monteiro continued to argue that Daewoo did not comply with Rule 204(b).

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 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.)

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.