Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Illinois Supreme Court Refuses to Rule on FOID Constitutionality for Second Time

In a split 4 to 3 decision, the Illinois Supreme Court has refused to rule on the constitutionality of the Firearms Owner's IDentification card (FOID) requirements in Illinois. This is the second time the Court has refused to rule on the same case. From the decision:

“Mandates of this court are not to be treated lightly but are to be obeyed.” Id. Where the cause is remanded by this court “with specific directions, the court below has no discretion, but must pursue the mandate” of this court. Chickering v. Failes, 29 Ill. 294, 302-03 (1862). Accordingly, the circuit court’s orders of April 26, 2021, and June 15, 2020, must be vacated. The cause is remanded to the circuit court to reenter the modified order that was originally entered on June 4, 2020, at the direction of this court. On remand, the circuit court shall not entertain any motion from any party, nor take any action other than entering the modified order. Because the circuit court’s orders must be vacated, we do not reach any other issue in this appeal.

The majority, writing the opinion, says the Circuit court did not do what it was told to do.

The dissent wrote this:

The last time this case was before the court, Justices Karmeier and Theis referred to this court’s remand as an “unexpected and pointless exercise” and a “meaningless and wasteful act.” People v. Brown, 2020 IL 124100, ¶¶ 39, 59 (Karmeier, J., dissenting, joined by Theis, J.) (Brown I). I cannot think of a better description for the remand that the court issues today.

In a move that appears to be unprecedented in Illinois jurisprudence, this court, while expressing no opinion on the merits of the case, forces the trial court to take a particular position on the merits and denies that court its inherent power to reconsider its own ruling. The trial court reconsidered that ruling because it found that it was both legally erroneous and that it “force[d] the defendant to take a position not of her own choosing, one that she will lose on appeal and one which will unnecessarily delay (perhaps by years) the ultimate disposition of this case.” In concluding that the trial court was not allowed to entertain defendant’s motion to reconsider, the majority both mischaracterizes what happened below and misreads and misapplies this court’s precedents. As I will demonstrate below, the trial court did absolutely nothing wrong, and there is nothing in this court’s precedents supporting the majority’s disposition. Indeed, our case law compels the opposite result. This court should consider the State’s appeal on the merits.

The dissent says the Circuit Court did exactly what it was told to do.

In 2020, the Illinois Supreme Court refused to hear the case, sending it back to the Circuit Court, and telling the court to do certain things. The majority says it did not do what it was told;

The Judges who agreed to send it back were Chief Justice Anne Burke, with Justices Kilbride, Garman, and Neville concurring.

Justice Karmeier and Justice Theis dissented.

Justice Michael J. Burke did not take part in the decision.

In the 2022 decision, the Justices opinions were shuffled about a bit.

Chief Justice Anne Burke wrote the decision and Justices Theis, Neville and Carter joined with her.

Justice Michael Burke dissented, joined by Justices Garman and Overstreet.

Justices Karmeier and Kilbride were no longer on the Court.

Justices Carter and Overstreet had joined the Court.

From the dissent, in 2020, with which Justice Theis concurred:

There is good reason to proceed to the merits here. Remand to the circuit court to enter a new order dismissing the case on statutory rather than constitutional grounds is a meaningless and wasteful act. As I have noted, no plausible claim can be made that the conduct with which defendant is charged falls outside the plain language of section 2(a)(1) of the FOID Card Act (430 ILCS 65/2(a)(1) (West 2018)). To order the circuit court to enter such an order would be tantamount to compelling it to make a legal determination that none of the parties requested, that the court itself never meant to make, and that would have no chance of being affirmed on appeal. And when the forced order is ultimately reversed by the appellate court, as the law would require, what will happen? The circuit court will simply enter another order declaring the statute invalid, putting the parties and the litigation in precisely the same position they are now. Nothing will have been gained. Time will have been lost. Judicial resources will have been wasted. Defendant will remain in legal limbo.

In 2022, Justice Theis and Justice Garman must have changed their minds and reversed their positions.

Justice Theis agreed with the Chief Justice to send the case back to the District Court in 2022, reversing what he agreed with in 2020 . Justice Garman agreed with the dissent that the Illinois Supreme Court should have heard the case, reversing his position from 2020.

Justice Michael Burke was heard on this iteration of the case, and joined the dissent.

To an outsider, it looks as if the Court did not want to handle this hot potato. The dissent appears to make more sense than the opinion. Now the case is returned to the circuit court. It is not clear what will happen next.

The case may be appealed to the appeals court, but the lengthy opinion of the Supreme Court appears to say it may be appealed *and* that the Supreme Court decision in this case is final.

This correspondent believes challenges to the FOID law in Illinois will continue until either the state Supreme Court reaches a decision on the issue, or the United States Supreme Court reaches an opinion which would make a state supreme court opinion moot.

This correspondent expects prosecutors in Illinois will be reluctant to prosecute  cases involving the FOID card, for fear the FOID card requirement will be challenged and found to be unconstitutional.


©2022 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This article sort of makes my point about how corrupt most of the courts in this country are. I am not an attorney But I have represented myself seven times and lost only once. The time I lost that judge was already on Probation for another case she screwed up . why or how did I lose ? I documented 22 state and federal laws she violated in one 45 minute hearing. I filed an appeal documenting every violation. The appeals court could find no errors in her ruling. I bought an audio transcript of the hearing. 45 minutes of hearing about ten minutes of speaking on the Audio transcript. she required the clerk to edit the transcript. The very last statement she made on that transcript is absolute proof she violated federal law. Federal Code 96-611 numerous violation of just that code. she violated the States codes No District court can declare an emergency to impose jurisdiction that is in compliance with 96-611. Her last recorded statement on the transcript. I have declared an emergency and taken jurisdiction. But the appeal court found no errors. and refused to listen to the audio transcript. I have been to court in 5 states and most of them are corrupt. I won six times but they are still corrupt.