First District Illinois Appellate Rules De Novo Standard Of Review In Intervention Matter

The City of Chicago and the Chicago Board of Education were denied leave to intervene in a valuation dispute. Reversing the trial court, the First District Appellate Court deviated from the usual standard of review on intervention matters. Here’s the court’s reasoning:

An order denying leave to intervene as of right is generally reviewed for a clear abuse of discretion as to timeliness, inadequacy of representation, and sufficiency of interest . . . In the instant case, however, the trial court did not base its decision upon, nor even address, any of these factors. Rather, the trial court denied the petitions to intervene based upon its decision that the Property Tax Code . . . was a complete and comprehensive statute that enumerates all of the parties who are involved and all of their rights. The trial court concluded that the legislature did not intend to permit taxing bodies to intervene in specific tax objection cases, i.e., cases involving challenges to property assessments (as opposed to rate challenges), because the Property Tax Code does not expressly provide for a right of intervention by taxing bodies in specific tax objection cases. In order to determine whether the trial court applied the correct legal criteria in the exercise of its discretion, we must construe the pertinent statutes. Thus, the issue on appeal involves a question of law and our standard of review is de novo . . .

The case was remanded for a hearing on whether the intervenors met the usual standards. For the whole case, Madison Two Associates v. Pappas, No. 1-04-0911 (2/9/07), click here.