January 2012

Christopher Keleher Wins in Sixth Circuit on Appointment in Criminal Appeal

Christopher Keleher was appointed by the Sixth Circuit Court of Federal Appeals to handle the case of Gary Clay, who previously was convicted by a jury of violating 18 U.S.C. § 2119 and 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(ii). Mr. Keleher drafted the appellate briefs and presented oral argument to the Court in Cincinnati. The appeal involved an interpretation of Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b), and whether the district court erred in admitting evidence of a prior conviction. Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b) allows the government to introduce evidence of "other crimes, wrongs, or acts" committed by the defendant so long as the evidence is not used merely to show propensity and if it "bears upon a relevant issue in the case." Chris convinced the Sixth Circuit that the U.S. Attorney admitted evidence for improper purposes. In a 2-1 decision, the Sixth Circuit held the district court abused its discretion in admitting evidence of prior bad acts. The Court further agreed with Clay that the errors were not harmless. The Court thus reversed and remanded for a new trial.

This is a significant victory, when it is considered that only about 5% of criminal appeals are successful. Congratulations to Chris on his very successful pro bono representation of Mr. Clay.

Rettburg and Lemley Obtain Dismissal of Municipal Federal Class Action Claim

Congratulations to Chicago office shareholders Paul Rettburg and Brandon Lemley for their recent victory in Markadontas v. Woodridge.

On January 11, 2012, Chief Judge James Holderman granted the Village of Woodridge's Motion to Dismiss a putative class action in Markadontas v. Woodridge. Woodridge enacted Village Code Section 5-1-12(A), which states: "Booking fee: When posting bail or bond on any legal process, civil or criminal, or any custodial arrest including warrant." The code states that the booking fee is $30.

Plaintiff was arrested, taken to the Woodridge Police Department, and charged with shoplifting. Upon being booked, the arresting officer required Plaintiff to pay the $30 booking fee, which he did. Plaintiff later sued, claiming Section 5-1-12(A) is unconstitutional. Specifically, he alleged Woodridge violated his Fourteenth Amendment due process rights by requiring him to pay the $30 booking fee upon his booking at the jail. Plaintiff also sought class action status.

The Village of Woodridge moved to dismiss the suit in its entirety under Rule 12(b)(6), and the Court granted it. The Court found that the ordinance did not violate the Plaintiff's procedural due process rights under United States Constitution. The Court reasoned that there was no risk of erroneous deprivation of the arrestees rights because it is charged to all individuals who are arrested. Additionally, additional procedures would not provide any additional safeguards. As such, the $30 fee passed constitutional muster.

Turiello, Farmans and De Angelis Win in Second District Appellate Court

Chicago shareholder Jennifer Turiello successfully obtained a decision by the Second District Appellate Court upholding the trial court's summary judgment ruling on behalf of Q&H's client, a homeowners' association. In this premises liability case, the plaintiff suffered severe and permanent injuries when she slipped and fell on ice located on the sidewalk outside of her townhome. The plaintiff appealed the trial court's order granting summary judgment in favor of the homeowners association under the Illinois Snow and Ice Removal Act. On appeal, the Second District Appellate Court affirmed the trial court's order, and held that the homeowners' association was immunized from liability under the Snow and Ice Removal Act. The initial decision by the trial court to grant summary judgment in favor of the homeowners association was obtained by Joliet office shareholder Janet Farmans and associate Aaron De Angelis.

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