Today we conclude our preview of the civil oral arguments in the Illinois Supreme Court’s November term with a look at the numbers for Stone Street Partners, LLC v. City of Chicago Department of Administrative Hearings. Our detailed summary of the facts and lower court opinions in Stone Street is here.
Stone Street began in 1999 when a City building inspector found various building code violations in one of plaintiff’s buildings. But the City didn’t mail the notice to the plaintiff’s business address or registered agent – instead, it sent the notice to the property itself. Someone appeared at the hearing on the plaintiff’s behalf, filed an appearance and presented exhibits. Nevertheless, the plaintiff was found liable and fined. The administrative judgment was filed with the Circuit Court and in 2009, the City recorded the judgment with the Recorder of Deeds. The plaintiff maintained that it knew nothing about any of this until it got a copy of the judgment in a FOIA request in 2011. The plaintiff filed a motion to vacate and set aside the administrative order based on lack of notice, claiming that the person who represented the plaintiff at the hearing had no authority to do so. The administrative hearing officer denied the motion to set aside, so the plaintiff filed a complaint for administrative review. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss. The Appellate Court affirmed dismissal on the first cause of action to set aside the judgment, but reversed dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims for quiet title and declaratory judgment.
Between 2000 and 2014, the Supreme Court has heard fifty cases in which the primary issue was government or administrative law. It has reversed in 37% of cases where the plaintiff challenging the government won at the Appellate Court, but has reversed 50% of government wins from the Appellate Court.
The individual Justices’ voting records are consistent with this data. Justices Burke, Thomas, Karmeier and Theis have all voted for the plaintiffs in more than sixty percent of Government and Administrative law cases. Only Justices Kilbride, Freeman and Chief Justice Garman have supported the plaintiff less than sixty percent of the time; none of the Justices have voted for the plaintiffs less than half the time.
Turning to an analysis of decisions below, only Justices Kilbride, Freeman, Thomas and Theis have voted to reverse thirty percent or more of plaintiffs’ wins below in cases at the Illinois Supreme Court. Justices Burke and Karmeier are the least likely to vote to reverse such decisions. Justices Burke, Thomas, Karmeier and Theis are the Justices who most frequently vote to reverse wins for the government before the Appellate Court. Since Stone Street was a mixed result below, with the plaintiffs winning some claims and the City winning others, this suggests that Justices Kilbride, Thomas and Freeman are the most likely Justices to be sympathetic to the City’s viewpoint, while Justices Burke, Karmeier and Theis are the most likely to be sympathetic to the plaintiffs.
Tomorrow, we’ll resume our data analytic review of the Court’s oral arguments between 2008 and 2014 with day one of our analysis of Justice Lloyd Karmeier’s questioning patterns.