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MCNEIL v. SPRINGFIELD PARK DIST.

April 2, 1987

FRANK MCNEIL, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
SPRINGFIELD PARK DISTRICT AND THE SPRINGFIELD ELECTION COMMISSION, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mills, District Judge:

OPINION ORDER

In short: preliminary injunction denied.

This case is before the Court upon Plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 65(a) seeking to enjoin the April 7, 1987, elections of the Springfield Park District. Plaintiffs challenge the system of electing the Park Board trustees under § 2 of the Voting Rights Act. 42 U.S.C. § 1973 (Supp. II, 1984).

I. Preliminary Injunction Standard

Whether the issuance of an injunction is appropriate "depends upon a balancing of several factors, including the likelihood of success on the merits, the lack of an adequate remedy at law, the prospect of irreparable harm if the injunction is not issued, and a comparison of the relative hardships imposed on the parties." Washington v. Walker, 529 F.2d 1062, 1065 (7th Cir. 1976). The merger of law and equity under the Federal Rules has not altered the precept that injunctive relief is to be governed by traditional principles of equity jurisprudence. J. Moore, J. Lucas, K. Sinclair, Jr., Moore's Federal Practice, ¶ 65.18(1) (2d ed. 1986) (citing Stainback v. Mo Hock Ke Lok Po, 336 U.S. 368, 382 n. 26 (1949).

Among the principles of equity to be considered in this instance is the availability of equitable defenses; most notably, Defendant has raised the equitable defense of laches.

II. Facts

Because the Court decides the request for preliminary relief based upon the time-lines of its filing, it will not go into a detailed recitation of the facts giving rise to the alleged voting rights violation. It will instead focus on the facts as they relate to the timeframe surrounding the filing of the suit and subsequent motion to enjoin the elections.

On April 2, 1985, these same Plaintiffs filed suit against the City of Springfield alleging violations of § 2 of the Voting Rights Act. That suit proceeded through an 11-day trial and on January 12, 1987, Chief Judge Baker found the Springfield commission form of government violative of § 2 of the Voting Rights Act. McNeil v. City of Springfield, 658 F. Supp. 1015 (C.D.Ill. 1987).

Thereafter, on January 20, 1987, the Plaintiffs filed three separate suits against the Springfield Park District, Springfield Board of Education, and the Convention Center Board. Only the suit against the Park District is subject to the present request for a preliminary injunction.

Although this action was filed on January 20, 1987, Plaintiffs did not seek to enjoin the April 7, 1987, elections until March 9, 1987. As a result, candidates have already filed nominating petitions and statements of economic interest. The assignment of ballot position have been made and absentee balloting has begun.

Based on this timetable and the facts surrounding it, the Court concludes that the equitable doctrine of laches counsels ...


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