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Carver v. Adams County Sheriff

October 20, 1998

KATHY CARVER, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
THE ADAMS COUNTY SHERIFF, ROBERT NALL; THE ADAMS COUNTY SHERIFF'S MERIT COMMISSION; KELLY DEAVER, CHAIRMAN OF THE ADAMS COUNTY MERIT COMMISSION; SCOTT TUTT, SECRETARY OF THE ADAMS COUNTY MERIT COMMISSION; JOE HAUBRICH, BOARD MEMBER OF THE ADAMS COUNTY MERIT COMMISSION; RON SPARKS, BOARD MEMBER OF THE ADAMS COUNTY MERIT COMMISSION; AND LARRY HOOD, BOARD MEMBER OF THE ADAMS COUNTY MERIT COMMISSION, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Steigmann

IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS

Appeal from Circuit Court of Adams County No. 97MR121

Honorable Michael R. Roseberry, Judge Presiding.

On October 22, 1997, defendant Adams County Sheriff's Merit Commission (Commission) notified plaintiff, Kathy Carver, that it was suspending her for 10 days without pay. Thirty-five days later, on November 26, Carver filed a complaint for administrative review in the circuit court (735 ILCS 5/3-102 (West 1996)), but she did not have sum- monses issued until December 3. The circuit court dismissed the com- plaint because Carver failed to have summonses issued within 35 days of the Commission's serving its decision upon her, as required by the Administrative Review Law (Act) (735 ILCS 5/3-103, 3-113 (West 1996)).

Carver appeals, claiming that (1) she is entitled to the "good- faith effort" exception to the statutory requirement that she have summons issue within the 35-day time limit; and (2) the Commission's failure to notify her of her appeal right tolled the 35-day limit. We affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

According to Carver's complaint for administrative review, defen- dant Robert Nall was the sheriff of Adams County, and Carver was an Adams County deputy sheriff. In March 1997, Nall requested the Commis- sion to terminate Carver for her allegedly dishonest conduct during the preparation of a search warrant. After providing notice to Carver, the Commission held a hearing, at which Carver was represented by counsel.

The Commission decided not to terminate Carver but suspended her for 10 days without pay. It notified her of its decision via mail on October 22, 1997. However, the notice did not inform Carver of her right to appeal the decision in the circuit court. Nor did the notice inform Carver of the time limit for filing such an appeal.

On November 25, 1997, Carver's attorney sent eight copies of the complaint to the Adams County circuit clerk. A cover letter instructed the circuit clerk to return seven file-stamped copies to the attorney's office. The letter also indicated that "it is imperative that this [c]omplaint is filed no later than November 26, 1997 [(35 days after the Commission mailed its decision to Carver)]." (Emphasis in original.) The letter did not request the circuit clerk to issue summonses. On November 26, 1997, Carver filed a complaint for administrative review of the Commission's decision, pursuant to the Act (735 ILCS 5/3-103 (West 1996)).

On December 3, 1997, Carver's attorney sent seven file-stamped copies of the complaint back to the circuit clerk, along with prepared summonses for each of the seven defendants. A cover letter instructed the circuit clerk to forward the complaints and summonses to the appro- priate offices for service.

Defendants subsequently moved to dismiss the complaint, asserting that because section 3-103 of the Act required both the filing of the complaint and the issuance of summonses within 35 days of Carver's being notified of the Commission's decision (735 ILCS 5/3-103 (West 1996)), Carver's failure to have summonses issue within that time limit required dismissal. In February 1998, the circuit court conducted a hearing on defendants' motions, granted them, and dismissed Carver's complaint.

This appeal followed.

II. ANALYSIS

Carver appeals, arguing that (1) she is entitled to the "good-faith effort" exception to the statutory requirement that she have summons issue within 35 days of the Commission's serving its decision upon her; and (2) the Commission's failure to notify her of her appeal right tolled the 35-day period. ...


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