SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Supreme Court has again invited the state's lawmakers and chief executive to a special evening session to observe the court in action. And two days later, the court will convene before an auditorium filled with students, teachers and other members of the public in Chicago's western suburbs during a rare session outside of Springfield, offering many a chance to see the court in action who may not otherwise get the chance. 

Illinois' governor and legislators are invited to a special evening session of oral arguments on Tuesday, May 17, Illinois Supreme Court spokeswoman Bethany Krajelis said in an email interview.

"Having an evening session makes it possible for governor and legislators to observe the Supreme Court as arguments are typically held during the day when they are working," Krajelis said. "The evening session highlights the court's continuing effort to make its work more accessible and transparent."

The state's highest court also plans to change its venue and hear arguments in a case on May 19 at Benedictine University in Lisle, to which local students and teachers, in addition to members of the public, are invited to attend.

"There will also be a live stream of the arguments online so those who cannot attend in person can still participate," Krajelis said. "The court also makes audio and video of arguments available on its website, along with opinions, orders and other information about the judicial branch."

The session at Benedictine University would mark the third time in recent years that the state high court has changed its venue to hear oral arguments outside of Springfield and Chicago.

Saturday's evening session for legislators was announced last week. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and the entire General Assembly were invited to attend the Supreme Court's hearing of arguments in People v. James Cherry, a Fifth District case that involves the state's armed violence statute. The Cherry case, one of several dozen significant criminal cases pending before the Illinois Supreme Court, involves a defendant found guilty by a jury on counts of armed violence and aggravated battery with a firearm.

"The appellate court vacated the defendant's conviction for armed violence, finding that the plain language of the armed violence statute prohibits predicating armed violence on any part of the aggravated battery statute," the announcement for Saturday's session said. "The State appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court."

This year's invitation to the governor and other lawmakers is the second year in a row that such an invitation has been issued.

"In March 2015, the Supreme Court held its first evening oral argument in well over a century," Chief Justice Rita B. Garman said in the invitation. "This presented a wonderful opportunity for the executive branch and members of the legislature to observe the court in session. Given the success of last year's event, we are looking forward to hosting you and your colleagues again this year."

The governor and several lawmakers attended last year, Krajelis said.

At the May 19 session, Supreme Court justices will hear arguments in two cases starting at 10:30 a.m. in Benedictine University's Daniel L. Goodwin Hall of Business, according to the university's announcement.

Students and teachers from more than three dozen DuPage County schools have been invited to participate in person or via live stream, according to the university announcement.

At that session, state Supreme Court justices are expected to hear oral arguments in The People v. Mark Minnis and Randall W. Moon, etc., v. Clarissa F. Rhode, etc., et al. Briefs for both cases are posted to the high court's website.

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