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In Re Appointment of Special State's Attorneys





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Will County; the Hon. MICHAEL A. ORENIC, Judge, presiding.


Ted Grabavoy, chairman of the Will County Board of Supervisors, appeals from an order appointing four special State's Attorneys and from an order denying him leave to intervene in this cause.

In preparing the county budget for the year beginning December 1, 1975, the county board deleted the salaries of four part-time assistant State's Attorneys from the budget. The State's Attorney filed a petition requesting the Circuit Court of Will County to appoint special State's Attorneys to have charge of cases in four categories: (1) to prosecute traffic offenses in five courts handling such cases, (2) to prosecute violations of the county health ordinance, (3) to prosecute suits filed by the county to recover moneys expended as a result of mental hearings, and (4) to handle the defense of four civil suits pending against the county. The petition alleged that the State's Attorney and his 14 full-time assistants were fully occupied with other duties, and that elimination of the four part-time assistants would have "an adverse effect on the criminal justice system" in Will County.

When Grabavoy and another member of the county board appeared in court in opposition to the petition, the court granted leave to the county board to file sworn pleadings or responses to the petition. Thereafter, Grabavoy, as an individual, filed an unverified motion to dismiss the petition which was stricken because it was not signed under oath. Then Grabavoy filed a sworn petition to intervene, again in his own name, and after a hearing, the petition was denied. The court subsequently granted the original petition, appointing four special State's Attorneys as requested, and ordered the appointees to file with the supervising judge monthly reports of services rendered.

In a memorandum opinion, the court said:

"This Court takes judicial notice of the great volume of pending cases in which the People of the State of Illinois are plaintiff and the steady annual increase in the number of such cases. Reduction in the work force of the State's Attorney can only lead to an unmanageable backlog, a result absolutely unacceptable to the public. Such violation of the constitutional principle of speedy justice would be intolerable * * *.

The Court further finds that the filing of a separate order of appointment in each such case would impose an intolerable administrative burden on the Clerk of the Court and the State's Attorneys [sic] office, IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the Order entered by this Court be spread on the records of the Circuit Court of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit in Will County as a General Order to the same force and effect as if said Order were entered in each individual case prosecuted by Special State's Attorneys."

On appeal, Grabavoy contends, first, that the petition to appoint special State's Attorneys should not have been granted, and second, that it was error to deny his petition to intervene. The State's Attorney contends that Grabavoy had no standing to bring an appeal.

In order to dispose of these issues in logical fashion, we must first consider the question of Grabavoy's petition to intervene.

Although the trial court granted permission for the county board of supervisors to intervene as a party to the petition, Grabavoy sought to intervene as a private person, not on behalf of the county or county board.

• 1, 2 Section 26.1 of the Civil Practice Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 110, par. 26.1(1)(b)) permits intervention as a matter of right when the representation of the applicant's interest by existing parties may be inadequate and the applicant will be bound by an order in the action. Since the county would be subject to a court order to pay the expenses of the special State's Attorneys, the county had a right to intervene (Will County Board of Review v. Property Tax Appeal Board (1971), 48 Ill.2d 513, 517, 272 N.E.2d 32, 35), but that right does not extend to individual members or officers of the county board.

• 3 Grabavoy argues that, as a private person, he can nevertheless represent and protect the county's interest. The law of Illinois is to the contrary. In Marsh v. People (1907), 226 Ill. 464, 471, 80 N.E. 1006, *fn1 our supreme court stated:

"The member selected chairman of the [county] board is merely its presiding officer and otherwise has no superior powers to any other member of the board. * * * `The supervisors have no power to act individually. It is only when convened and acting together as a board of supervisors that they represent and bind the county by their acts.'"

(Pauly v. County of Madison (1919), 288 Ill. 255, 260, 123 N.E. 291; Bouton v. Board of Supervisors (1877), 84 Ill. 384; County of Stephenson v. Bradley & Bradley, Inc. (2d Dist. 1971), 2 Ill. App.3d 421, 275 N.E.2d 675, 678.) Thus, in the absence of a resolution of the board of supervisors authorizing Grabavoy to act on behalf of the county, he had no power to act individually, and the ...

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