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Spiel v. The Property Tax Appeal Board

December 22, 1999

ROBERT SPIEL, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
V.
THE PROPERTY TAX APPEAL BOARD, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County. No. 98--MR--94 Honorable Henry C. Tonigan and Stephen E. Walter, Judges, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Rapp

(The Lake County Board of Review, Defendant-Appellee).

JUSTICE RAPP delivered the opinion of the court:

In this administrative review action, defendant, the Property Tax Appeal Board (PTAB), appeals the order of the circuit court of Lake County instructing PTAB to assume subject matter jurisdiction over property tax appeals filed by plaintiff, Robert Spiel, and remanding the matter to PTAB for a decision on the merits. We reverse the judgment of the circuit court of Lake County and confirm PTAB's initial determination that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Spiel's property tax appeals

The record indicates that Spiel's attorney filed a request for the valuation of three parcels of real property used for open space purposes for the 1996 assessment year as provided by section 10--155 of the Property Tax Code (Tax Code) (35 ILCS 200/10--155 (West 1996)). The record does not indicate when this request was filed with the Lake County supervisor of assessments. Apparently in February 1997, Spiel's attorney, having received no notice of whether the open space status had been granted or denied, called the supervisor of assessments. The supervisor of assessments stated that the property had been denied open space status and that the board of review had ended its session for hearing 1996 assessed valuation appeals. On February 26, 1997, the supervisor of assessments sent a letter to Spiel's attorney indicating that one of the parcels was being denied open space status and two of the parcels were being granted open space status for the 1996 assessment year due to an error on the part of the supervisor of assessments. The correspondence from the supervisor of assessments included a PTAB form "for you to file if you wish to pursue this matter."

It is undisputed that Spiel did not file a complaint with the Lake County Board of Review (Board of Review), nor was any hearing held on this matter by the Board of Review. On March 27, 1997, Spiel filed three separate appeal forms for the 1996 assessment year with PTAB. On February 4, 1998, after hearing testimony and reviewing the record, PTAB, relying on section 16--160 of the Tax Code (35 ILCS 200/16--160 (West 1996)), determined that "[w]ithout a decision from the board of review the Property Tax Appeal Board lacks jurisdiction over [Spiel's] 1996 appeal[s]." PTAB reasoned that "[u]pon rejection of [Spiel's] petition for open space it was incumbent upon him to seek a hearing before the board of review in a timely manner," which he failed to do.

On February 26, 1998, Spiel filed a complaint for administrative review with the circuit court of Lake County. Following full briefing and a hearing on the matter, the circuit court ordered PTAB to assume subject matter jurisdiction over Spiel's appeals and remanded the matter to PTAB for a decision on the merits. Parenthetically, we note that the record does not contain a transcript of the hearing, apparently because no court reporter was present.

On October 22, 1998, PTAB issued a remand decision on the merits finding that Spiel was entitled to the open space valuation he sought. On December 2, 1998, the circuit court filed PTAB's remand decision, giving it full force and effect, and its order contained the language "[t]his is a final and appealable order." PTAB timely appealed.

Initially, we must remark upon the grossly deficient brief filed by Spiel's counsel, which exhibits a total disregard of our supreme court rules.

Spiel's brief contains the following "Statement of Facts and Argument" section, in toto:

"Plaintiff-Appellee hereby incorporates the Statement of Facts and Argument presented by Plaintiff before the Circuit Court of Lake County in the action filed for administrative review of the initial PTAB decision.

Plaintiff incorporates, and agrees with, the decision of the Circuit Court, as to the appropriateness of subject matter jurisdiction before PTAB in this matter.

Plaintiff further incorporates, and agrees with, the final decision, after remand from the Circuit Court, of PTAB as the appropriate ultimate disposition of the matter in controversy." Spiel makes no attempt to address the arguments made by PTAB in its brief. In PTAB's reply brief, it notes that "Spiel's 'brief' is not an appellate brief in the traditional sense." We agree with PTAB.

The reviewing court is "entitled to have briefs submitted that present an organized and cohesive legal argument in accordance with the Supreme Court Rules." Harvey v. Carponelli, 117 Ill. App. 3d 448, 450 (1983). Strict adherence to the supreme court rules is necessary to expedite and facilitate the administration of justice. See Harvey, 117 Ill. App. ...


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