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Pritzker signs venue restriction bill for constitutional challenges

Wednesday, Jun 7, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Before the SAFE-T Act was scheduled to take effect last December, state’s attorneys and others filed suits in multiple counties in what appeared to be a deliberate attempt to overload the attorney general’s office. Hearings in different counties were scheduled at the same time.

Tom DeVore avoided taking his pro-covid cases to higher courts because he was content to file lawsuits in friendly counties and just obtain exemptions for his clients, like Darren Bailey. Eventually, all covid cases were consolidated by the Supreme Court in Sangamon County.

DeVore was also charging clients $200 each to get in on lawsuits against the assault weapons ban in friendly counties.

* From the Tribune

Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday signed into law a measure that requires lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of executive orders or state laws to be filed in either Cook or Sangamon county.

The Democratic-controlled state legislature passed the bill along party lines last month. Democrats who supported the legislation said it was necessary to prevent people with a grievance against the state from selecting the county in which to file a lawsuit based on where they think they can get a favorable ruling. […]

State Rep. Dan Caulkins of Decatur, who has sued the state over the sweeping gun ban signed into law in January, voiced similar objections during the floor debate on the bill last month.

“They pass unconstitutional laws to make law-abiding citizens criminals, and then they make those same citizens travel hundreds of miles to a kangaroo court that they control,” Caulkins said of Democrats. “Tyrants are always the same, whether kings or lawless Chicago politicians.”

Rep. Caulkins is currently suing the state over a constitutional issue and he didn’t vote Present.

And while I do appreciate the fact that some people will have to hire a distant lawyer or pay their attorney to travel to Springfield or Chicago, constitutional challenges are often appealed, so many would eventually wind up in Springfield anyway.

* From Senate Republican Leader John Curran…

“Courts exist to serve the people, which is why they are located where people live. This legislation is clearly an attempt by the Governor and the Attorney General to send constitutional challenges to courts that they believe will be more favorable to the Administration.

“In doing so, they are discrediting judges in suburban and downstate Illinois, and creating geographic barriers to citizens accessing our court system. I continue to strongly oppose this legislation that creates unnecessary burdens for people exercising their legal rights.”

Sangamon County’s circuit judges are all Republicans. Presiding Circuit Judge Ryan Cadagin is a Republican. Circuit Judge John Madonia is a Republican, as is Adam Giganti, Gail Noll, Raylene Grischow and Robin Schmidt.

* From a Democratic staff analysis of the legislation…

Other statutes that require venue in Cook or Sangamon:

    • 15 ILCS 205/10(c) - Cases brought by the Attorney General of Illinois to eliminate pattern or practice of constitutional violations must be brought in Cook or Sangamon

    • 15 ILCS 205/7 - Cases brought by the Attorney General of Illinois to compel compliance with Section 3.5 of the Open Meetings Act are to be brought in Sangamon or Cook County.

    • 225 ILCS 107/150 - Judicial review of certain final administrative decisions under the Professional Counselor and Clinical Professional Counselor Licensing and Practice Act brought by a person not residing in any Illinois county must be brought in Sangamon County.

    • 205 ILCS 740/26 - Judicial review of certain final administrative decisions relating to the Collection Agency Act by a person not residing in any Illinois county must be brought in either Cook or Sangamon.

    • 225 ILCS 427/145 - Judicial review of certain final administrative decisions relating to the Community Association Manager Licensing and Disciplinary Act by a person not residing in any Illinois county must be brought in either Cook or Sangamon.

Probably not the most solid precedent, but it does exist.

       

39 Comments
  1. - Jerry - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 12:41 pm:

    Unconstitutional?

    Like Regulating the Militia according to the Constitution of the United States of America:

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.


  2. - @misterjayem - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 12:43 pm:

    “What’s the point of my filing a nuisance lawsuit if it ain’t even gonna be a nuisance??”

    – MrJM


  3. - Al - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 12:49 pm:

    Concerned about the limited venue for Constitutional challenges. Seems arbitrary. Did the other 100 counties agree to this? Seems like a deliberate slight. The Judges in the other counties must feel insulted.


  4. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 12:50 pm:

    ===Did the other 100 counties agree to this? ===

    Counties don’t vote. Also, counties don’t legislate at the state level.


  5. - TheInvisibleMan - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 12:54 pm:

    There also seems to be a motivation from the court itself to let the legislature define this, instead of the courts doing so under a new state supreme court order.

    One of the constants in how the courts were responding to the flurry of lawsuits seemed to be statements from the courts along the lines of “let the legislature handle these problems through legislation”.

    So the legislature handled the problem through legislation.

    “Sangamon County’s circuit judges are all Republicans.”

    I have yet to hear an argument against this bill, that doesn’t include one or more blatantly false statements. But that’s usually from social media wonks, and not coming from the *Senate Leader*. Curran simply can not be taken seriously after making a statement like that.

    I shouldn’t feel like I’m ‘punching down’ on Curran, but I’m starting to.


  6. - Big Dipper - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 1:03 pm:

    The appellate court that hears appeals from Sangamon County is primarily Republican as well.


  7. - NIU Grad - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 1:08 pm:

    This is the result of one attorney blatantly abusing a system that has existed for decades for personal profit, short-term headlines, and long-term judicial losses. If Republicans are upset about this change, blame DeVore.


  8. - Gddyap - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 1:08 pm:

    The statutes cited are not on point. None of them purport to ban residents of 100 Illinois counties from challenging Illinois statutes on state constitutional grounds — unless they travel to another county that may be hundreds of miles away.


  9. - Adam Laroach's son Drake - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 1:10 pm:

    I can understand the limit on executive orders, but to limit the jurisdiction for constitutional challenges of state statutes to just two counties is a bit concerning. Do any other states have similar restrictions?


  10. - Mason born - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 1:15 pm:

    I think they should of added a 3 rd location honestly. Say Down by Du Quoin or Marion, it’s just under 4 hrs from Cairo to Springfield. Yes it would give grifters like DeVore another opportunity but the AG’s office is a statewide office and having to send staff to one additional location doesn’t seem like a huge reach. The courts are there for the relief of the citizens, if those citizens decides to represent themselves making it a 8hr trip seems improper for the citizen. Not personally incensed by the change just think with our geography another site would make sense. Just my 2c.


  11. - TheInvisibleMan - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 1:21 pm:

    –unless they travel to another county that may be hundreds of miles away.–

    Self-imposition of a hardship on yourself, to be able to then complain about it and try to blame everyone but yourself, isn’t the courts problem.

    Everyone else will just e-file from home.


  12. - JB13 - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 1:21 pm:

    Yeah, those “precedents” are oranges to this lemon.

    The other laws restrict the *Attorney General* and people who *don’t live in Illinois.*

    If that’s the best they can do, they better hope the Ds on the state Supreme Court are wiling to stretch the constitution as far as they are.

    In the words of Bilbo Baggins: “Thin, like butter, scraped over too much bread”


  13. - Southern Belle - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 1:25 pm:

    I do not care if the judges are Democrat or Republican. An individual citizen has a right to file a suit in their own circuit court. This is just another example of the majority party trying to rule through the judiciary. They have no respect for the Constitution whatsoever.


  14. - Flyin'Elvis'-Utah Chapter - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 1:26 pm:

    “Judges in other counties must feel insulted.”

    Probably not as big a snowflake as you.

    Probably have dockets that are already too much and are saying “good riddance”.


  15. - Lucky Pierre - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 1:29 pm:

    Clearly the legislature and the Governor need a refresher on separation of powers and co equal branches of government


  16. - Tequila Mockingbird - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 1:32 pm:

    If you want to fight the king
    You have to go to the kingdom.


  17. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 1:37 pm:

    ===Clearly===

    Clearly you’ve never had adult interactions where litigation venues are decided by contract.

    If a constitution is a contract with the people of Illinois…

    You are tiring.


  18. - Benjamin - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 1:44 pm:

    I can see the objections on theoretical grounds, but as a practical matter close to half of all Illinoisans live in Cook and Sangamon counties (mostly in Cook alone). And a sizable chunk of the remainder live within an hour’s drive.

    If this is found to be unconstitutional, though, the next best thing would be to have lawsuits on constitutional issues on a law automatically consolidated and sent to Sangamon County when more than one is pending simultaneously. That would discourage abuse and set a central-ish venue.


  19. - Big Dipper - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 1:54 pm:

    Maybe if some of these rural counties didn’t elect less than stellar circuit court judges this wouldn’t be an issue.


  20. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 1:56 pm:

    ===Maybe if some===

    This I don’t buy. This is not the context.

    The context is the state as an entity, to sue on constitutional grounds, file where the “contract” should be litigated, by law.

    That’s it.


  21. - Unstable Genius - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 2:06 pm:

    Great idea to push this to Cook County Courts - corruption free Cook County courts - underutilized court system because of low crime rate - most Cook County judges are conservatives - OK, maybe not.


  22. - Dotnonymous x - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 2:12 pm:

    This should be known as the DeVore Rule.


  23. - Flyin'Elvis'-Utah Chapter - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 2:14 pm:

    “didn’t elect less than stellar circuit court judges”

    Now we’re talking math. Rural counties, by definition, have less people. Therefore choices, and quality, on everything, are greatly narrowed.


  24. - duck duck goose - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 2:16 pm:

    In addition to the list of statutes, any challenge of an AG opinion under the Freedom of Information Act or the Open Meetings Act may be brought only in Cook or Sangamon. This restriction applies to both public bodies and private citizens.


  25. - unafraid - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 2:19 pm:

    If this can allowed this for only two counties then it can be allowed for only one county. A very slippery slope and one should not be proud to have voted for this.


  26. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 2:24 pm:

    === A very slippery slope===

    “Sure, Jan”

    Get a GA to change it now, and a governor to sign it.

    (Sigh)


  27. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 2:26 pm:

    === Great idea to push this to Cook County Courts===

    The path to the ILSC starts in Sangamon or Cook.

    If you’re already complaining about the venue then the law is likely doing what it was designed to do, keep frivolous wins from clogging space or wasting time.


  28. - Manchester - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 2:27 pm:

    This would not have even been considered if not for Tom DeVore and his filing of nuisance lawsuits. I hope it stops some of the silliness.


  29. - Lucky Pierre - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 2:30 pm:

    Illinois is only trying to limit frivolous lawsuits against the government, not against Illinois businesses and citizens


  30. - Homebody - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 2:51 pm:

    I can think of at least three more statutes that require bringing cases in Cook or Sangamon. The common thread is that they are all about when the state government is a defendant.


  31. - Pundent - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 3:06 pm:

    =If conspiring to deprive the people of Illinois of their rights was a crime, you could put Harmon away for life.=

    Tom DeVore enters the chat.


  32. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 3:11 pm:

    Here’s a chain of thought to the ridiculous;

    * You should be able to sue in any court.

    Ok, they did that. They lost, even before getting to the ILSC, these were losing cases, less the initial filings.

    * The upper courts and ILSC keep getting it wrong

    How can these courts continually rule within the law that the lower courts ruled incorrectly, and further, at times calling out the thinking of the judge.

    So…

    * If all these cases ended with losses outside the lower courts, are you arguing you need at least a paper win to “own the Libs”, as you know the end game is still a loss?


  33. - ChicagoVinny - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 4:14 pm:

    This is checks and balances in action. The legislature and governor checking the power of a handful of downstate judges that got out over their skis.


  34. - Arsenal - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 4:22 pm:

    ==I do not care if the judges are Democrat or Republican. An individual citizen has a right to file a suit in their own circuit court.==

    That right has always been sharply limited. For one thing, you don’t have it if the inciting events did not happen in your own circuit.

    ==Clearly the legislature and the Governor need a refresher on separation of powers and co equal branches of government==

    Well, someone does, but, as usual, it’s you. That the legislature and the executive can limit the jurisdiction of the judiciary has long been understood as one of the checks on the judiciary that makes it co-equal to the other two branches.


  35. - duck duck goose - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 4:23 pm:

    In article 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the Illinois legislature sets venue requirements, dictating by statute where court cases may be brought and heard. I don’t understand how this particular statutory venue requirement would be a separation-of-powers issue when none of the other venue requirements are.


  36. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 4:27 pm:

    ===do not care if the judges are Democrat or Republican. An individual citizen has a right to file a suit in their own circuit court===

    Whatever you do, don’t look at your homeowners insurance, mortgage…

    It’s like folks have never read a contract before /s


  37. - Stix Hix - Wednesday, Jun 7, 23 @ 6:33 pm:

    –Probably have dockets that are already too much and are saying “good riddance”.–

    Yeah, try getting a “speedy trial” in my rural county.


  38. - Eire17 - Thursday, Jun 8, 23 @ 5:45 am:

    Need to take this out of the DeVore silo. Let’s say a farmer in Cairo has a problem with some new rule/statute being imposed on him by the Dept of Agriculture—should he decide to test the constitutionality of that why should he have to file in one of only two courts in the state to grieve his position?
    Why have circuit courts? Are they just for traffic tickets and family law now? Also where does this end?
    Will another venue issue be that only cases valued at over 1 million can be filed in certain counties? Also this knocks out 3 Appellate Court Districts as well.
    I don’t think it is constitutional.


  39. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jun 8, 23 @ 9:50 am:

    ===Let’s say a farmer in Cairo has a problem===

    This is almost never a thing. If one farmer has this problem, a lot more do as well and the Farm Bureau would be the one to handle the legal end.

    You’re not gonna find a whole lot of expert state constitutional attorneys in the Cairo region, either.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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