Chicago's red light camera program set to face Supreme Court May 20 in Ottawa

By Bethany Krajelis | May 2, 2014

The Illinois Supreme Court will hear arguments later this month over a challenge to Chicago’s red light camera program.

This case -- Elizabeth Keating et al. v. City of Chicago—is one of 13 slated for the court’s May term, the last one expected to take place in Chicago before arguments return to Springfield, where the court's building has been under renovation since last year.

Arguments will be heard May 13, 14 and 20 in Chicago and on May 21, the justices will take a road trip to Ottawa to hear their final two cases of the term at the appellate courthouse there.

Besides the red light camera case, one of the two that will be heard in Ottawa, the Supreme Court will be presented with a variety of civil issues this term ranging from attorney’s fees and debt collection to personal injury and professional regulation.

At issue in Keating is whether the Cook County Circuit Court erred in dismissing a suit that seven motorists brought over the city’s red light camera ordinance.

Among other allegations, the plaintiffs argued the city lacked home rule authority to enact the 2003 ordinance and that a 2006 state law authorizing red light camera programs in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, Madison, McHenry, St. Clair and Will counties is unconstitutional.

The circuit court, however, dismissed the suit for failure to state a claim after determining the ordinance was valid and the enabling statute was constitutional.

It also dismissed the claims of two of the plaintiffs for lack of standing on the basis they were not issued red light camera citations from the city and further held the remaining plaintiffs’ claims were barred because they voluntarily paid the fines for the citations.

The First District Appellate Court affirmed, saying dismissal was appropriate based on the plaintiffs’ failure to state a cause of action, but determined the lower court erred in tossing the suit on the basis of the voluntary payment doctrine.

The justices will also hear arguments in the following cases during their May term:

  • Virginia Bruns v. The City of Centralia, etc.(Fifth District), a personal injury case dealing with the “distraction” exception to the open and obvious rule regarding foreseeability of injury.
  • Angelo Consiglio, M.D. et al., v. The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, et al., (First District) a consolidated appeal by health care workers whose licenses were revoked based on convictions or sentences that required them to register as sex offenders.
  • Morton Goldfine, et al. v. Barack, Ferrazzano, Kirschbaum & Perlman, et al. (First District), a securities and legal malpractice matter dealing with attorney’s fees and the formula for calculating damages under the Illinois Securities Law.
  • LVNV Funding LLC v. Matthew Trice (First District), a case over whether a judgment against a debtor is void when a collection agency is not registered with the state as required by the Illinois Collection Agency Act.
  • Nationwide Financial, L.P., v. Michael Thomas Pobuda et al. (First District), a property dispute between a bank and a couple over a prescriptive easement claim and the elements needed to prove exclusive use of property.
  • Mary Slepicka v. State of Illinois (Fourth District), a case dealing with venue that stems from the Department of Public Health’s approval to grant the involuntary transfer/discharge a nursing home resident based on nonpayment.
  • Lake County Grading Co. v. Village of Antioch (Second District), a breach of contract case dealing with claims involving a third-party beneficiary.
The court will also hear arguments in the criminal matters of People v. Ronald Patterson (First District); People v. Ivan Perez (Second District); People v. Mickey D. Smith (Third District), and People v. Jose Gaytan (Fourth District), as well as in the involuntary commitment case of In Re Lance H. (Fifth District).

Arguments are slated to begin at 9:30 a.m. each day the court convenes in Chicago and at 11 a.m. in Ottawa, where along with Keating, the court will hear arguments in Smith. 

The appeals panel in Smith reversed the defendant's conviction and sentence for murder  and remanded the matter in order to let him withdraw his guilty plea and proceed to trial after determining his plea agreement was void because he was not admonished about the mandatory firearm enhancement and it was not included in his sentence.

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