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06/08/87 Richard Ryan, v. Steve Landek Et Al.

June 8, 1987

RICHARD RYAN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT

v.

STEVE LANDEK ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, FIRST DIVISION

512 N.E.2d 1, 159 Ill. App. 3d 10, 111 Ill. Dec. 97 1987.IL.761

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Eugene L. Wachowski, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE BUCKLEY delivered the opinion of the court. CAMPBELL and O'CONNOR, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE BUCKLEY

The newly formed Bridgeview Party (the party) circulated petitions to nominate John A. Oremus, Anne Cusack, Raymond P. Lederman, John T. Curry, John L. Pentz, and Michael J. Pticek for political offices in the village of Bridgeview. Included in the party's nomination papers was a certificate naming the officers of its party. The certificate listed Steve Landek as secretary and Chester Haraf as treasurer of the party.

Richard Ryan (Ryan), the plaintiff, filed an objector's petition to the party's nomination papers alleging defective wording on the petitions and that the party improperly appropriated the corporate name of the village of Bridgeview. The Bridgeview electoral board (the board) held a hearing on Ryan's petition on February 8, 1987. The board was composed of Samuel J. Ruffolo, Steve Landek, and Chester Haraf. Landek and Haraf were officers of the party at the time of the hearing and had circulated the party's petitions.

Ryan moved for recusal of Landek and Haraf at the outset of the hearing because of their potential bias and interest in the proceedings. The board overruled Ryan's motion and rejected his objections, ordering that the name of the party and its candidates appear on the ballot. The circuit court affirmed the board's decision on appeal. This appeal raises the same issues that were before the circuit court. I

We first address Ryan's contention that the board refused to afford him a fair, impartial and unbiased hearing. It is a well-settled principle of law that due process guarantees a party appearing before an administrative tribunal be Judged by an unbiased decision maker. (Withrow v. Larkin (1975), 421 U.S. 35, 46-47, 43 L. Ed. 2d 712, 723, 95 S. Ct. 1456, 1464.) A hearing wherein the adjudicator has a substantial pecuniary interest in the proceedings has been held to be fundamentally unfair and violative of due process. (Ward v. Village of Monroeville (1972), 409 U.S. 57, 61-62, 34 L. Ed. 2d 267, 271-72, 93 S. Ct. 80, 84.) Illinois Judges, for example, are required to recuse themselves when they or a member of their family have a financial stake in the case. (87 Ill. 2d R. 66.) Further, Judges are required to recuse themselves when a close relative is a party or attorney in the case, or when the Judge has previously acted as counsel in the case. (87 Ill. 2d R. 67.) Similarly, a blood relationship between a party and an administrative hearing officer has been held to compel disqualification. Mank v. Board of Fire & Police Commissioners (1972), 7 Ill. App. 3d 478, 484, 288 N.E.2d 49, 53.

Not all allegations of bias, however, rise to the level of a due process violation. For example, the court in In re Objection of Cook (1984), 122 Ill. App. 3d 1068, 1072, 462 N.E.2d 557, 560, held that the allegations of political bias levied against electoral board members were insufficient to compel a substitution of board members or a change of venue. In Cook, the objector claimed a substitution of board members or a change of venue was necessary because she could not receive a fair hearing before a board that consisted entirely of her and her attorney's former political adversaries. In rejecting the objector's claims, the court reasoned that the Election Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 46, par. 1-1 et seq.) only provides for substitution of electoral board members when a board member is a candidate for an office and nomination papers for that office are the subject of the board's action. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 46, par. 10-9(6).) It further reasoned that if an objector or candidate is still aggrieved with the decision of the board, he or she can secure judicial review in the circuit court of the county where the hearing was held. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 46, par. 10-10.1.) The court concluded that these statutory protections precluded finding an implied right to substitute board members or change venue, "whenever an objector feels a conflict is present." In re Objection of Cook (1984), 122 Ill. App. 3d 1068, 1072, 462 N.E.2d 557, 560.

Cook is analogous to the instant case. Similar to Cook, Ryan alleges he cannot receive a fair hearing because of political bias. Even if we assume these allegations to be true, we agree with Cook that the Election Code does not provide for substitution when an objector alleges political bias. The legislature has set up a stable mechanism for addressing preelection grievances. The statutory provisions allowing substitution under particular circumstances and judicial review adequately insure an objector a fair hearing. It is not the province of courts to inject provisions not found in a statute (Droste v. Kerner (1966), 34 Ill. 2d 495, 504, 217 N.E.2d 73, 79) and upset the preelection process. II

We next address Ryan's argument that the affidavits of the party's circulators do not conform to the requirements of section 10-4 of the Election Code. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 46, par. 10-4.) Ryan alleges the affidavits are defective because they state:

"I . . . do hereby certify that I am a registered voter of the political division for which the candidate is seeking ...


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