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People v. Board of County Com'rs

NOVEMBER 18, 1968.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS EX REL. WILLIAM HETTLEMAN AND THOMAS A. MCMANIGAL, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,

v.

BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF COOK COUNTY, WILLIAM G. CLARK, ATTORNEY GENERAL, JOHN J. STAMOS, STATE'S ATTORNEY OF COOK COUNTY, JOHN W. DALY, PRESIDENT COOK COUNTY LAW LIBRARY ADVISORY BOARD AND WILLIAM J. POWERS, JR., EXECUTIVE LIBRARIAN, COOK COUNTY LAW LIBRARY, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. THOMAS C. DONOVAN, Judge, presiding. Affirmed.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE BURMAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.

Rehearing denied December 30, 1968.

William Hettleman and Thomas A. McManigal (hereinafter referred to as plaintiffs) filed a petition pro se in the Circuit Court for leave to file a complaint in quo warrantor against the Board of Commissioners of Cook County. The plaintiffs sought to have the Board of Commissioners be required to show by what warrant it claimed to have defrayed the cost and expense of moving approximately 140,000 volumes, records and equipment, constituting the library property of the Chicago Law Institute, during the period of August 22, 1966, to September 3, 1966; to have paid to the Public Building Commission approximately $22,000 for each month thereafter, as rental for the space occupied on the 29th floor of the Chicago Civic Center in which to house the property of the Chicago Law Institute; and to have paid, since August 22, 1966, wages and salaries to sundry employees of the Chicago Law Institute and others to provide services to the members of the Chicago Law Institute in the use of said library and in the upkeep of the premises on the 29th floor of the Civic Center.

The petition further recited that the plaintiffs requested the State's Attorney of Cook County and the Attorney General of the State of Illinois to file such a complaint in quo warrantor, but that both the State's Attorney and the Attorney General refused plaintiffs' request. The plaintiffs further alleged that they were residents and taxpayers of Cook County; that they have been and are members in good standing of the Chicago Law Institute, a not-for-profit Illinois corporation; that they have a pecuniary interest in the said corporation which is being violated contrary to the Constitution of Illinois; and that all of the foregoing acts and expenditures by the Board of Commissioners were direct, wilful and deliberate violations of the Constitution of the State of Illinois and various Illinois statutes.

A motion was filed by the Board of Commissioners and by John W. Daly, President of the Cook County Law Library Advisory Board to dismiss the petition for leave to file a complaint on the grounds that the petition did not comply with section 9 of the Quo Warrantor Act (Ill Rev Stats 1967, c 112, § 9) which contains the prerequisites necessary to bring a quo warrantor proceeding. A motion to strike the motion to dismiss the petition was filed pro se by the plaintiffs.

On June 5, 1967, an order was entered denying the plaintiffs' petition for leave to file their complaint in quo warrantor. The next day, June 6, 1967, the plaintiffs' motion to vacate the order denying them leave to file a complaint was denied. The plaintiffs then filed an appeal in the Illinois Supreme Court and that Court transferred the case to this Appellate District.

We were advised by the plaintiffs in their brief and during oral argument that a decree was entered on July 13, 1966, by Judge Donald J. O'Brien in a case involving the same series of occurrences as the instant case. The decree approved a contested contract executed on December 6, 1965, between Cook County and the Chicago Law Institute. The contract gave all of the Institute's assets, including its unique and valuable library collection of about 140,000 volumes to Cook County. The last mentioned paragraph of the Contract states, as follows:

The transfer of the Institute's law library to the County shall be made at the expiration of thirty-five days from the entry of a decree by the trial court . . . unless an appeal has been taken before the expiration of the thirty-five days. If an appeal has been taken from the decree . . . then the transfer shall not be made until the decree is finally affirmed or the appeal dismissed . . . If a favorable decree is finally entered, the transfer shall take place . . . thereafter. Both the Institute and the County shall execute any and all checks, documents, bills of sale and other papers . . . for the purpose of making the transfer effective and for title to the law library and other assets transferred to it.

On August 10, 1966, Robert S. Cushman, attorney for the Chicago Law Institute wrote a letter to Daniel P. Coman, Assistant to Seymour Simon, President of the Cook County Board, advising him that the notice of the appeal of Judge O'Brien's decree was not made a supersedeas because no supersedeas bond was filed within the time allowed. The letter went on to state:

[Y]ou have offered to relocate the Institute's law library . . . and operate the library as a County law library under the applicable statutes. All costs of the relocation will be borne by the County of Cook. All invoices . . . received by the Chicago Law Institute on or after August 8, 1966, will be paid for by the County. All employees of the Institute will resign as of August 12, 1966, and will become employees of the County of Cook as of August 15, 1966. . . . If the decree is finally reversed, the County will, at its expense, return the Institute's law library to its present location. . . . [T]he library of the Chicago Law Institute will be moved during the period from August 16 to August 31, 1966, and thereafter will be located on the twenty-ninth floor of the Civic Center.

On August 12, 1966, a notice was posted on the entrance door of the Institute on the 10th floor of the County Building stating that the Institute "will be moved to and thereafter be located on the 29th floor of the Civic Center." All members were thereafter barred from entering the premises on the 10th floor of the County Building.

The plaintiffs apparently maintain that the ouster of the Chicago Law Institute by Cook County from the 10th floor of the Cook County Building, between August 22, 1966, and September 3, 1966, violated a valid and subsisting lease agreement in which the plaintiffs had and have both personal and proprietary rights. The plaintiffs further argue that they have been and are summarily and illegally deprived of these rights. They state that the lease agreement was in force up to the time the July 13, 1966, decree was entered by Judge O'Brien. Plaintiffs question the right of the Institute's Board to dispose of the lease or any other asset of the Institute or to authorize Cook County to oust it and its members from the 10th floor of the County Building in light of the vote of the Institute's members at their special meeting on June 18, 1965, refusing to donate the Institute's assets to the County.

The plaintiffs allege that the Board of Commissioners of Cook County has acted and expended public monies in direct, wilful and deliberate violation of article IV, section 20 of the Constitution of the State of Illinois, sections 958 and 959 of chapter 34 of the Illinois Revised Statutes, and of other Illinois Statutes. By quo warrantor the plaintiffs seek to require the Board of Commissioners to show by what warrant it claims the right to use the monies of the taxpayers of Cook County to defray the costs of moving the library, to pay $22,000 monthly rental, to pay wages and salaries of the Institute's employees, and to conduct, operate and maintain the Institute Library in the Civic Center Building.

In the case at bar there is only one issue on appeal, and this is whether or not the plaintiffs are entitled to file a complaint in quo warrantor. Section 9 of the Quo Warrantor Act of 1937 (Ill Rev Stats, 1967, c 112) states the ...


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