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People v. Hagerty

OPINION FILED JANUARY 25, 1982.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

JULIA M. HAGERTY, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ROBERT J. DEMPSEY, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE GOLDBERG DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied March 8, 1982.

The State's Attorney of Cook County brought this action on behalf of the People of the State of Illinois to recover unpaid real estate taxes for 1974 through 1977 from Julia M. Hagerty (defendant). Upon plaintiff's motion, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of plaintiff in the amount of $48,217.80. Defendant appeals.

It is first necessary to review the pertinent provisions of the Revenue Act of 1939 with respect to unpaid real estate taxes. An excellent summary was set forth by this court in People ex rel. Larson v. Rosewell (1980), 88 Ill. App.3d 272, 273-74, 410 N.E.2d 404, appeal denied (1980), 81 Ill.2d 605:

"The Revenue Act of 1939 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 120, par. 482 et seq.) provides two basic methods to enforce the payment of taxes levied upon real property: an in rem proceeding against the property; and an in personam proceeding against the owner. The in rem proceeding encompasses two different and distinct statutory actions. The first type of in rem proceeding commonly referred to as the annual tax sale, is authorized by section 225 of the Revenue Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 120, par. 706). Such a sale for the full amount of delinquent taxes may occur `[a]t any time after the first day of September next after all of such delinquent taxes on lands and lots shall become due in any year, * * *.' The second type of in rem proceeding is an action instituted pursuant to section 235a of the Revenue Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 120, par. 716a) which is commonly referred to as the Scavenger Act. Section 235a, unlike section 225, requires that tax delinquency continue for a period of five years or more. Property subject to the Scavenger Act is sold to the highest bidder, even though the bid may be less than the full amount of the unpaid taxes. Section 275 of the Revenue Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 120, par. 756) authorizes an action by the county board to recover from the owner of tax delinquent property which has been forfeited to the State the full amount of taxes due.

Normally the entire tax liability for real estate would be met through a judgment and sale of the property pursuant to section 225. [Citations.] * * *.

The Revenue [A]ct apparently anticipates that some property will not be purchased at the annual tax sale and therefore will be forfeited to the State. As a result supplementary statutory procedures such as the action for unpaid taxes and the scavenger sale were enacted to serve as a `backstop' for property which was not purchased at the annual tax sale.

Section 275 which authorizes the action for unpaid taxes provides in pertinent part:

`The county board may, at any time, institute suit in a civil action in the name of the People of the State of Illinois in the circuit court for the whole amount due for taxes and special assessments on forfeited property; * * *.' (Emphasis supplied.)"

I

Defendant first contends an issue of material fact remains as to the validity of the alleged forfeiture of the subject property. Defendant argues the motion for summary judgment did not contain either the required prerequisites as to process (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 120, par. 720) or the applications for judgment and sale (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 120, par. 706), without which there could be no valid forfeiture.

• We disagree. Attached to the motion for summary judgment are the judgment orders for sale granted by the circuit court on the motion of the county collector for each of the tax years in question. Because defendant did not object to the applications, the judgments and orders for sale act as a default judgment against the property for each of the years in question. See People ex rel. Thompson v. Clark (1975), 34 Ill. App.3d 228, 232, 338 N.E.2d 408, appeal denied (1976), 62 Ill.2d 591.

It is undisputed following these judgments the property was offered for sale for each of the years in question. Section 246 of the Revenue Act of 1939 expressly states (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 120, par. 727):

"Every tract or lot so offered at public sale, and not sold for want of bidders * * * shall be forfeited to the State of Illinois: * * *."

Copies of official Cook County records indicating the forfeiture of the subject property and an affidavit attesting to the accuracy of such records were also attached to the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. Such records are competent evidence. (See People ex rel. Thompson v. Clark (1975), 34 Ill. App.3d 228, 232.) The ...


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