Shane Kolody was traveling on Amtrak with $280,000 in small bills. The government seized the money, then sued to keep it pursuant to the Illinois Drug Forfeiture Act. Kolody’s motion to dismiss the State’s amended complaint was denied. But his motion for reconsideration, based on misapplication of the forfeiture law, was granted.
The State appealed from the order granting reconsideration and dismissing the complaint. Kolody and the State agreed that the standard of review was “abuse of discretion.” But the appellate court disagreed, and applied the less deferential “de novo” standard. “When reviewing a motion to reconsider that was based only on the trial court’s application (or purported misapplication) of existing law, as opposed to a motion to reconsider that is based on new facts or legal theories not presented in the prior proceedings, our standard of review is de novo … ‘Where a party’s motion for reconsideration merely asks the trial court to reexamine its earlier application of existing law,’ this court’s review is de novo …”