SPRINGFIELD–Citizens in the DuPage County area will get a rare public opportunity to see the Illinois Supreme Court in action as it will hear oral arguments in one civil case and one criminal case on the campus of Benedictine University in Lisle.
The event, scheduled for May 19, is the first time in two years that the Court has heard oral arguments outside of Springfield or Chicago and this program will mark the first time that it will have heard arguments at an educational institution.
The program stems from Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Rita B. Garman's initiative to demonstrate a greater level of transparency in the judicial process by bringing the Court to the people of the state.
"We are very much looking forward to our visit to Benedictine University. Such visits serve not only the purpose of making the work of the judicial branch more accessible and transparent, but also an educational purpose," Garman said in an April 25 press release. "I am delighted that the Illinois Supreme Court has the opportunity to bring the work of the court to the students and faculty of Benedictine University and other schools and to the people of DuPage County and the surrounding area."
The court usually conducts its business in the Illinois Supreme Court Building in Springfield.
“The court and the people who did the planning here looked at several different locations, but ultimately chose Benedictine for its location in the suburbs," said Bethany Krajelis, a spokesperson for the state Supreme Court. “That is an area the court has never heard arguments in, and it’s a relatively rare thing for the court to hear arguments outside of Springfield."
Krajelis also said the auditorium's large capacity was a factor in the selection process.
One of the newest academic buildings at Benedictine, the 125,000 square-foot, four-story Goodwin Hall opened on October 17. It is the largest classroom building on campus and its auditorium seats 600.
In May 2014 arguments were presented in the Third District Appellate Courthouse in Ottawa, and, prior to that, a program was held in Mount Vernon’s Fifth District Appellate Courthouse as part of a September 2008 ceremony honoring Abraham Lincoln. The court also heard oral arguments in its Chicago courtroom for five terms in 2013 and 2014 while the 110-year-old Springfield building was undergoing renovations.
In addition to the Illinois Supreme Court and Benedictine University, sponsors of next month’s event include the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, the DuPage County Circuit Court, the Supreme Court Historic Preservation Commission,and the DuPage County Bar Association.
Along with the general public, students and teachers from more than three dozen high schools in DuPage County have been invited to participate in the program. Prior to the event, members of the bar associations will visit participating schools to better educate students about the court process and discuss the two cases that will be argued.
The criminal motion to be heard will be the People v. Mark Minnis, a First Amendment case involving the Sex Offender Registration Act. The defendant was charged with failure to properly disclose his new Facebook account, but the trial court deemed the statute unconstitutional. The State of Illinois is appealing that ruling.
The civil case is Randall W. Moon, etc., v. Clarissa F. Rhodes. It centers upon the statute of limitations in wrongful death cases with regard to rules for discovery. Legal briefs in both cases and a link to the live stream have been posted to the court's website.
“The court wanted to have one civil case and one criminal case”, Krajelis said. “These were two that were ready to be heard,” she said.
Anyone wishing to attend is asked to arrive early as doors to the auditorium will close promptly at 10 a.m.